The night before the chase, I made a forecast with the primary focus for severe weather development to be with initiation west-northwest of Mankato, tracking through the Mankato area. Note my forecast graphic above compared to the storm reports that came in from the event. Read the forecast discussion email that I sent out the night before.
This Monday I was working on a friend's computer in Prior Lake, MN. I had high confidence that there would be tornadoes across south-central Minnesota and wanted to chase, but was limited by this prior engagement. By about 5:00 I was able to head out of Prior Lake and get on the road toward my target of Mankato. The intent was to get there, stop for data and then readjust my target based on what I saw at that time.
After listening to some wind directions reported on NOAA, I had a feeling that I might want to head west prior to getting to Mankato so I stopped at St. Peter to do the data dump. This is where I met up with Jim Rosvold. Jim and I agreed that we wanted to head west toward an area of congested cumulus which appeared to be just northeast of a mesolow and along a weak warm front. This was the setup I had been forecasting for, and to my surprise it actually appeared to be occuring.
Once we got to the city of Essig, MN, the chase was on. We noted a VERY low and ominious tail cloud feeding off of an area of the congestus which had the highest (but not impressive) returns on radar. In a matter of minutes the cell exploded and became the tornado producer. Driving south and then east we eventually got to the south of the city of Searles, MN where we witnessed a very cool looking tornado which lasted about 2 minutes.
At 7:52 p.m. I reported the tornado to the National Weather Service. I had also reported a funnel just prior to touchdown and another report thereafter mentioning another brief touchdown.
0052 UNK 4 S NEW ULM BROWN MN 4424 9446 REPORTED BY TRAINED SPOTTER MOVING THROUGH SEARLES (MPX)
Here is a 2 minute video clip of our perspective of the tornado taken by Jim Rosvold: Click for video.
Chris Gullikson and Scott Weberpal's account just on the other side and closer.
Another tornado was visible over 5 miles away from us touching down near Lake Crystal, MN. However, I did not get photos of this pretty white tornado.