April 8th 1999 Chase Report

This ended up being one of the rare days where SPC puts a high risk in Iowa. Of course we had morning classes, but thankfully none of us had afternoon classes. When we left, this was the target zone for SPC.

We didn't quite agree with the area of high risk, so we started moving to the south. We figured that if we took I-35 south out of Ames, we would be in a good position to go west or east depending on where the storms developed. The main problem that day, like most Iowa chases, is that there was a low stratus deck obscuring the sky. When the storms did develop, it made it very difficult to tell what was what and where you were in relationship to the storms. The one thing that was certain about that day was that the storms when they developed would be moving very fast.

We left Ames around 12:30 PM and headed south. When we got close to the Iowa-Missouri border, we learned that storms had actually developed due west of our position. We got off the interstate and traveled west to intercept the storm. These storms were moving to the east northeast at over 60 miles per hour.

There was just so much that happened that day, I can't even begin to remember. We ended up driving constantly for a four hours at 60+ miles per hour. The reason is that we got sandwiched between two lines of supercell thunderstorms. The entire sky was rotating and again, it was hard to tell what was happening. We did see one tornado for sure off near Macksburg while the below warning was in effect.

Weather Alert!!!

Click here for warning

We only got to see that tornado for about 30 seconds before it disappeared behind a hill. Since we didn't get a chance to stop, all I got was video which I have had a problem video capturing. If I can get a good capture, I will post the image.

The storms eventually died as they moved into Eastern Iowa giving us a chance to escape and return safe and sound. This storm system did produce multiple tornadoes and lots of hail.

DISCLAIMER: Remember storm chasing exposes chasers to many hazardous and potentially deadly weather conditions such as lightning, dangerous roads, damaging winds, hail, and flying debris which puts the chaser's life at risk, particularly those who
have little or no experience and/or storm structure education. Learning to deal with these is best done by understanding supercells and thunderstorms, and riding with an experienced chaser before attempting to chase on their own. The author of these pages does not encourage storm chasing and is therefore not responsible for any actions as a result of what is seen here!

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Last updated 07/4/99 09:37 PM