Sunday, May 29, 2011

05.28.11 Southern Twin Cities MN

It was another day of crazy weather across the southern Twin Cities metro as severe storms fired very unexpectedly (in many people’s minds).  Going into Saturday, it appeared if there was going to be any severe weather, it was going to be north of the metro in eastern Minnesota.  I’m not going to make any excuses.  I didn’t see this coming as I was expecting to spend a pleasant afternoon over at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.  Fortunately,  the storms were headed for Scott County and were local, so I was already in a somewhat decent spot to get on these storms.  It appeared that the storms were going to move in a northeasterly direction and clip Shakopee as well as the heart of the Twin Cities, but then the supercell decided to make a more easterly progression as it came into Scott County.  Here is the radar base reflectivity of the supercell as it tracked through Sibley and Scott Counties:


As the storms approached, I could see mammatus clouds build in from the southwest over Canterbury, which is a signal that active weather is in the area.  After hearing about a tornado warning issued for Sibley and Carver Counties at 2:39 PM, I left Canterbury Park to chase.  I didn’t want to have my car just sit in the parking lot and get hailed on either had the cell continued to move northeast.  I got my anemometer setup and hit the road towards Prior Lake.  Saw just a ton of heavy rain out of this and some pea size hail.  I wanted to get further south and east, so I took County Road 21 from Highway 13 to Interstate 35 to head south.

I got off at the Lonsdale exit on I-35 and headed a little bit west so I could get a better look at the tail end of the supercell.  The cell was going to cross north of me, so I knew I was going to be safe even if a tornado was going to touch down.  At 3:58 PM, I shot the only  photo of the day of this lowering of the cloud base as I looked to my northwest, which placed the storm north of Lonsdale.


Here is the NEXRAD radar image from 3:57 PM.  I’m just to the southeast of the little notch on the southern end of the supercell in Little Chicago township.



Because I used my cell phone for taking the photo (because I was caught off-guard, I had no equipment other than a ham radio and cell phone with me), I was able to geotag my location of where I took the photo.  It’s amazing what you can do with technology nowadays, and I find geotagging to be important for severe weather reporting so I’m able to get a better sense of where I am when I shoot photos.  I really like having this ability for recalling information.

I had to stop for gas before continuing and the delay caused me to fall behind the storm as it marched east and I wasn’t able to catch up to the storm again until I got to Red Wing.  From Red Wing, I decided to call it a day since it’s difficult to chase in the bluffs along the Mississippi River due to the poor visibility, as well as the limited road network.

Here are the storm reports from around southern Minnesota for the day.  The majority of the reports were for hail, but a brief spin-up tornado was reported at 2:38 PM just west of Gaylord with funnel cloud reports in Henderson and New Prague.


It was quite an active day and surprise, which seems to be following the theme of this year.  I’m thinking this will be a very active year as we head towards June for the Upper Midwest.  As I mentioned in a previous post, it’s important for the public to to take safety precautions and have safeguards in place.  You never know when disaster might affect you!


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