April 19th, NW Iowa

An advancing warm front advecting North into central Iowa promised an interesting day. Moderate instability, good shear – what’s not to like about this? Chasers from all over the country were out on this one, as it looked to be the best Nebraska/Iowa/Illinois play so far this season. SPC was all over it, bullseye on Iowa.

Zach Sharpe and I headed out in our New Way Ford “Storm Hunter” sponsored vehicle, hooking up with several chaser friends to caravan. Our initial target was along the triple-point which looked focused near Loveland, Iowa (near the Iowa/Nebraska border). We sat at this location for several hours, as friends Aaron and Isaac shot pics of nearby trains. Friends from WeatherNationTV were parked about 10 miles from us, but we decided to hold in our current location as we believed going any farther North could mess us up when initiation started.

And then….

Initiation began about 100 miles away along a crashing cold front near Lincoln, NE. Chasers went after it in droves, including our friends from WeatherNationTV. We decided to hold fast. Even though storms were going Severe Warned in Nebraska. We honestly thought the best play for the day was going to be any storm that could fire in the warm sector and ride the frontal boundary. Sadly, we watched storm cell after storm cell pop up and cross the boundary into cool air, where they died. Meanwhile, everyone in the world is chasing along this cold front / squall line.

We aren’t buying it. We want tornadoes, not squall lines. We moved south and about 40 miles east, hoping again that a cell would move along the warm front boundary. It was nearing sunset and we were getting discouraged. Zach and I decided to head home.

Less than 20 miles later, we see a storm pop up a few miles to our north. It looks to be strengthening, and velocity showed rotation. WHAAAA??? Okay, CHASE IS ON!

We were slowed down by gravel roads and at one point we hit outflow from another cell that hit us with such torrential sideways rain we actually had to stop for a few minutes before we could continue. It was *really* starting to get dark by now.

The cell we were about 5 miles behind went tornado warned, and a KCCI meteorologist texted and said radar correlation coefficient indicated a debris ball. We arrived in the town of Halbur, IA just in time to film some B-roll of minor damage. We moved on to Carroll, IA, where it was reported a roof was torn from a machine shed. We arrived and saw the damage, but when we asked the property owner if we could shoot video, she asked us not to, so we left.

We sold our video package to KCCI and did several live hits to KCCI throughout the afternoon, so it was a somewhat profitable day even though there wasn’t much going on other than severe storms. We followed the cold front back home and saw great lightning from the back side.

Summary: Meh.