I was by myself heading toward a massive supercell that popped up in
southwestern Stearns county. In an effort to get to it as fast as possible
I hopped on the only road that really gave me any chance (Highway 55) and
blasted west directly into the supercell.|
As I got closer I could hear on the radio some very scary reports of 2-3" hail and many reported sightings of tornadoes. I had radar and could see that I was on a direct collision course with the supercell. Unfortunately for me, there really are not a lot of north-south road options off of 55 in that part of the county.
So I ended up having to go right through the storm. Again going by poor memory alone [writing this chase account 4/10/03], I recall the storm having very little precip. Dare I say LPish? Driving through the core I got a bit worried, and worry and lack of self confidence gets you in trouble. I started to second-think my decision of going through the core and turned around and got on the east side of the storm.
Sitting in the path of the storm (again) on the east side of Belgrade, I pulled up next to a cop. We were watching the storm pass over us. Somehow I felt safer with him nearby (bad decision). Since the storm was so dry, it was really difficult to determine where the core was anymore. ...and before I knew it I was behind the storm.
BSing with the cop, I looked up, and man did I see rotation! This definitely was tornadic! Unfortunately for me, it was right next to us. I pointed it out to the cop and he quickly sped off, turned on his nitrous or something, because I got in my truck and could not keep up with him! I was chasing a cop. Ha.
In a matter of seconds as I was driving back west (away from the vortex) it touched down, literally no more than a few hundred yards away on the other side of the road. I could briefly see the rain and wind rotating in the opposite ditch until I was blinded with 0 visibility. I pulled into a parking lot and turned around to see what was going on because suddenly it was so windy and rainy (like someone dropped a water balloon on me out of a clear sky) I couldn't see a thing and just had to stop and sit it out. My truck shook and rain and hail began to pound on my truck on the sides....from all sides, as the winds shifted by the second.
I had to have been within the greater tornadic circulation.
After a few more seconds of frantic panic on my part, I took my pulse and gripped my shaking hands on the wheel and headed back home.... that was enough for one day. :-)
Yet another tornado that I didn't get a picture of because I was preoccupied with something else. Bah.
According to the NCDC report of the event, it rated an F1 with the following description: "Roof partially off small cafe. Siding peeled off and lumber tossed around a lumber yard. Large steel tank blown off trailer." The width was 25 yards, and had no measured length. I.E. it was a brief touchdown and then lifted.