I had very mixed thoughts and concerns about the day with targets that
varied throughout the day.|
Mel was gracious enough to allow me to ride along with her on the chase for the day so because of that I did go. But with my own personal uncertainty if I were to drive alone, I'm sure I wouldn't have gone. I'm glad I opted to go.
Mel and I left at around 12:30 p.m. with an initial target of Alexandria. We met Peggy in Alexandria and decided to go further to the northwest as Todd (Sprinky) and Doug (LightningBoy) both were on top of things and told us that there was a nearby cell to the southwest of Fargo, moving to the NNE at ~30 at this point.
As we drove closer to Fargo it was nearing 5:30, or was projected that we'd be in Fargo around that time. With the size of the town and time of day we didn't want to go through for fear of getting caught in traffic. So instead from Barnesville we took 9 north in hopes to intersect the storm somewhere NE of Fargo.
Once we got between Averill and Borup we noticed the cell in question and found some nice "structure" where the wall cloud should be. However, after looking due west of us we could see a new thunderstorm blowing up. I can't say I've personally ever see a storm pop up as fast as this one did. Again, my uncertainty didn't help the decision making process, so I'm very glad Mel and Peggy were there to decide to take that southern cell instead, even though at this point it was no more than a rain shower.
We headed west out of Borup towards the little town of Perley in an effort to cross the river into ND and get on the back side of that cell before it turned severe. Unfortunately this thing exploded into a severe storm faster than I have ever seen. We were driving south for a short jog before we were to turn west and initially saw some light rain in the far distance, and before we were able to head west again, a matter of maybe a mile, a huge cloud of heavy rain and hail was upon us. We scampered a bit to get out of the way of this storm, allowed it to pass just to our east with no more than maybe quarter size hail and began to follow it to the ENE.
From here on out we meandered from Perley to Leonard which is to the NW of Bemidji from around 6:00 to 9:00 or so. During almost the entire duration of that period we had a rotating wall cloud or series of wall clouds. Maybe as many as 3 at one time. Very defined, nice structure, at times perfect vertical motion. Unfortunately no tornado ever dropped that we could see. Occasional wind damage along our path but not much else. But what a fun chase! It was thrilling to be able to keep up with a storm that was moving around 50-60mph for so long and yet have the storm maintain such strength.
Click to enlarge map.
On the way back home Mel and I got to where I left my truck at a K-Mart and two cops came racing up, kind of half-searched my vehicle, thought I was drinking (give me a break, been on the road 14 hours and getting a 6' guy out of a low car like Mel's is going to make anyone wobble a bit) and held us up a bit while they ran us through their computers. That was interesting.