Tornadoes: 1 (EF-2)
Hail: Pea size
Sunday was a challenging chase, and one that I thought would end in a bust that turned out to be pretty good! My initial target was just east of Kansas City. The obvious target of the day was down in Arkansas, but I was ignoring that due to the poor terrain. Further north, the tornado chances were not as good, with S-curved hodographs, but still some good 0-3km shear. The biggest plus was the flat and fairly open terrain of northern Missouri. Other targets I had considered included the area near Joplin, MO where there are a few open spots, and further away in Nebraska above the arching dryline. The Nebraska play would have been more likely had I chased up there on Saturday, but models pointed to a cap bust on Saturday, so I didn’t chase, and that’s what ended up happening.
When I got to St. Louis I was very close to taking I-44 toward Joplin instead of staying on I-70. Early convection was on the KS/MO border and didn’t show any signs of letting up. I thought about turning south once again when I got to Columbia, but stayed on I-70. My hopes were that the line would become surface based and at least form embedded supercell structures, but that didn’t happen. I exited south toward Sedalia, and intercepted the line just south of town. Once it was in view it was clearly elevated. Not much excitement there, so I continued south. This elevated junk was hanging around too long, and was not going to give the atmosphere up here a chance to recover for a second round of storms, and models were not breaking out convection this far north.
Some storms began to develop as I was making my way south, and at one point I thought a storm west of Joplin could make it. It became severe warned, and even had a reported wall cloud on it, but as it got away from the better air, it dissipated. So I continued south once again. At this time I noticed there was a Cu field building in NE Oklahoma into SE Kansas. I decided to get to Springfield and see if something developed off of that Cu field.
Storms did fire, but seemed to struggle to get going. I drove around Springfield, frustrated thinking I’d end up with nothing, and even considered going down into Arkansas. I was too far out of position, though, as by the time I could reach those storms, it would be after dark. The storms firing in NE Oklahoma were actually starting to get some strength, so I decided to head toward Joplin.
Finally, there were some storms that resembled supercells! The sun was shining as I closed in on these storms, so I knew they were in a much better environment. My optimism increased considerably as I approached these storms.
My target was the southern cell that was currently severe warned. I was afraid that the cell to the north would be interfered with by this one, and have the inflow cut off. I took the exit to Diamond, and dropped south. I got behind some slow-moving trucks hauling farm equipment, so I decided to take the next west option. There was a gas station there on the corner, and I needed to stop for a bathroom break, so I did that. As I left the gas station and headed west, to my surprise there was a funnel cloud due west! I had to double check the radar… that was not the storm I was going after. So I continued west, getting brief views of the funnel in between trees. I couldn’t tell if there was any ground circulation, then the storm went tornado warned with a reported tornado! I finally got a good view after crossing I-44 on East 32nd Street on the south side of Joplin, where I shot this video.
Although I was about 15 miles away, it wasn’t a bad view. I finally ended a 2 year tornado drought! This was my 7th tornado, and 2nd on a solo chase. After it lifted, I then pursued the cell to the south that I had originally targeted. I was in hopes I could get a 2nd tornado, this time from closer range. I got into a great position, and watched a huge inflow tail form, and the RFD really wrap up. Several bouts of rising motion forming a wall cloud occured, but there was never an area of really tight rotation. Eventually I lost the storm to the north, where it had a large lowering on it, but I could never confirm ground circulation. I haven’t seen reports of any tornadoes on that storm.
I ended the chase with a couple beautiful cells as the sun set, giving them an orange glow. I let the core of one pass right over me, but there was nothing more than tiny pea size hail in it, and some gusty winds.