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Our first tour of the season departed May 22 with a target area of Northwestern Minnesota and Eastern North Dakota. The Storm Prediction Center indicated a slight risk of severe weather in a large area that included most of Minnesota and the Eastern Dakotas and extended well into Kansas. However, we decided the best area for severe storms later in the afternoon would be near the surface low pressure in the Northern region of the risk area, where lift and directional wind shear would be best.
As we waited in NE South Dakota a Severe Thunderstorm Watch was finally issued along the North Dakota/ Minnesota border. Just as we entered North Dakota, just west of Fairmount we stopped to photograph a developing cell, and were soon rewarded with the sight of a rotating "land spout" funnel cloud! This unusual phenomenon typically appears on high- based storms and is not associated with a wall cloud. The funnel persisted approximately two minutes and we were able to get some excellent video--please see our short video clip.
We continued north and east to the town of Perham, MN where multiple updrafts were exploding around us. Most of these cells were sheared off rapidly by strong winds aloft, but one fired directly overhead and rapidly reached severe levels. We followed this storm northeast through difficult chase country (lakes and hills!) until dark and then broke our chase for a late supper. This cell maintained severe status for over three hours!
All in all, a very satisfying day, especially given the limited moisture available. We are pleased to say we were on target for the only severe storms that occurred in our five- state chase territory!