March 30th, SW Iowa

Initial Target: Extreme SW Iowa
Storm Intercepts: Clarinda, IA
Features: Lame-o cell
States: Iowa
Miles: 345
Summary: Waiting. Lame. Waiting.

Although it appeared the best chances for tornadic activity would be in SE Kansas and Eastern Oklahoma this day, there were three factors that kept us in Iowa:

1. We knew if we actually went to SE Kansas, there would be a good possibility the weather would troll us into Eastern Oklahoma.
2. We HATE chasing Eastern Oklahoma because of the terrain
3. I absolutely had to be back at work at 8am the next morning for an important event at work.

So we exercised the only viable alternative – SW Iowa.

There was a finger of warm front with clearing skies poking from Kansas into the southern Nebraska/Iowa state line, with reasonable (but not optimal) dewpoints in the upper 50’s and lower 60’s. A cold front was crashing down from Northern Nebraska, firing storms along the boundary. We wanted to stay south of that mess and hoped to get an isolated storm firing in the warm sector as afternoon heating did its thing.

I picked up fellow chasers Brennan and Kirk mid-morning, and off we went. Our initial target was Shenandoah, Iowa, a tiny little town in the SW corner of the state. We camped out at the local Burger King. For nearly 5 hours.

Waiting for storms to initiate can be very boring, but the three employees working at the Burger King kept us entertained. In our time there we heard cattle noises like a cow giving birth, what appeared to be a pig squealing, and a dog barking. They would all go out for a smoke break at the same time, leaving the fry machine beeping for minutes at a time. We were waiting for the place to catch fire at any moment. At one point, I went to the bathroom and surprised the employees (who were all coming in from yet another smoke break) because they didn’t realize we were still there. Good times in Shenandoah. Thanks for the free wireless, BK.

Anyway, we were a bit disheartened because it was getting late (5pm-ish) and although there was a little agitated cumulus, nothing appeared to be firing up in a healthy way. We decided to head East a bit, and when we walked out to the car, lo and behold! About 20 miles to our East was a nice looking cell! The chase was ON!

So we catch up to the cell near Clarinda, IA –  just in time to watch it weaken and begin metaphorically circling the drain. UGH.

We caught some heavy rain. Yay. Nothing else anywhere near on radar. We headed home with tails between our legs.