Neither Andrew Smith nor I (both Hokie Stormchase alumni) chased with the Virginia Tech Stormchase crew this year and we both chafed at not heading west to see storms. Our mutual commiseration resulted in a time-restricted chase that we had high hopes for.
When we began planning this trip the long range models held a chance for some decent Northern Plains chasing. As time grew near, however, model solutions jumped around quite a bit as the “Death Ridge” began to loom over the central U.S. states. Given the uncertainties for a decent setup (and given a strong desire to NOT waste a lot of time and money) we eventually cut down our trip to a quick jaunt to the Midwest to hopefully catch a couple of nice storms. Boy, were we overly optimistic…
Rolling out of town Thursday evening (6/9) we targeted northwest Ohio for Friday afternoon, overnighting in West Lancaster OH (southeast of Xenia). Model solutions indicated a morning MCS would clear out early enough to allow convection to refire by late afternoon. Fortunately – for us – we decided to catch the remains of the MCS before heading to our target area. We at least saw something on Friday.
We motored northwest to Dayton and then maneuvered around a convective line that was traversing the area.Finally getting behind the rain we set up shop in a church parking lot and watched as the line moved to the southeast. It had some interesting features and exhibited some cloud-to-ground lightning (CG) so it was fun to watch.
When this cleared through we continued north and wound up pushing west into northern Indiana to try to find something worth chasing that afternoon. We kept an eye on some weak activity west of Roanoke (!) Indiana before concluding the chase day was officially done around 6:30.
Based on model results we drove north into Michigan and overnighted in Coldwater. It appeared that storms would fire in southern MI late the next afternoon so it looked like a good place to start from on Saturday June 11th. When we awoke that morning the SPC seemed to agree with us:
Getting a late start – after all we didn’t have far to go – we leisurely looked at the short range models and concluded that we’d actually be better off heading south and west back into Indiana. Thus we boogied in that direction and got into position to watch cumulus clouds build:Finally seeing a return on radar we went after this cell southwest of Ft. Wayne:
It tried but just couldn’t get going anymore than this:
Convection appeared to be firing along an outflow boundary to the west as more of these popped up but none of them ever broke the cap (which turned out to be pretty stout). We noticed on radar a more robust storm northwest of Ft. Wayne so we sped in that direction to intercept it.
By the time we got into position east of the city this complex – on which the NWS had put out a “special weather statement” via weather radio – fizzled. It literally evaporated as we watched. We waited as more such cells built and died and finally called it a day around 6:30. (No “six o’clock magic” this trip!)
We headed back south to overnight again in West Lancaster. Along the way I did manage to fire off a number of photos of the setting sun:
We weren’t the only ones “skunked” Saturday. Here’s the SPC storm report page. Compare it to the Day 1 outlook above…not much love for the Midwest and the Northeast.
And that was it for the first Hokie Stormchase alumni trip. More next year? Perhaps. But at least we proved the feasibility of Ohio valley chasing. It’s not that far away!