Andrew Revering
St. Francis, SD May 27, 2002
The setup for this chase appeared as if it would be a slight risk over a small part of Nebraska primarily and south-central South Dakota. Our target location the night before we left was St. Paul, Nebraska, just north of Grand Island. Jerry Veverka drove down from Phillips, WI to my place in St. Paul. Arriving here at 7 a.m., we took off for Sioux City, IA where we would get data and better define our target.

We arrived at the Arby's just on the Nebraska side of Sioux City at 1:00 p.m. We took a half hour to look at data and select a more specific target location. Unfortunately picking out a boundary this day was very difficult. There appeared to be a few very hard to define boundaries, but selecting a location we could get to in enough time that made sense was a difficult task. We decided to take the northern route along I-20 to get to Valentine, NE as soon as we could.

Getting a little discouraged, we started heading north at about 5:30 to head toward I-90 in southern South Dakota where we would be able to get data and see if it was time to bail. Fortunately, about 6:00 p.m., before we got to I-90, we started seeing a tower going up to our northwest in far southern South Dakota in the Mission/Winner area. We immediately decided to persue this option hoping it would go severe.

We took Highway 18 west through Winner when we noticed our cell had rapidly begun to dissipate, however, there was a new cell to the southwest of the one we were eyeballing which appeared to be stealing the energy from cell #1. In no time at all this cell rapidly became the show and went severe.


Travelling around the cell from the north side, we got to Rosebud, SD and headed south toward St. Francis. It was at this point where we really began to see the core of the storm well. It was a big wet monster. From our location we could not tell if this was a supercell, line or multicellular storm. I still don't know, but the assumption is that this was the first cell which began the formation of a line. However, throughout the life-cycle the storm appeared to be rotating.

Jerry, who was able to view some archived radar said that rotation of the cell on base-reflectivity over time was apparent. When we got to St. Francis and south of there, we could see what appeared to be a very large hail & rain shaft. Our hail shaft assumption and photos did verify as 1.25" hail was reported just to the SW of our location as we took the pictures above, and farther south 1.75" hail was reported.

Being that the road options were horrible for getting on the back side of this storm, we decided to VERY slowly core punch. Knowing that the storm was more or less stationary, this was a very slow and difficult task. For the next hour or so we slowly drove into extremely heavy rain driven rain and some pea sized hail, even on the outskirts of this storm. As we moved slowly into the core our visibility dropped down to between 1/4 mile to a mile at times and very close cloud to ground lightning surrounding us.

Here is a radar view of the storm we were on... the slightly detacted northernmost cell on the Nebraska/South Dakota line, centered just west of Valentine, NE.


On the way back north to I-90 to head back to Minneapolis, we were treated with a gorgeous sight. To our east a beautiful complete rainbow with a very high arch reaching from one side of the sky to the other. Unfortunately it was too dark for any of those pictures to turn out. To our West, the most amazing sunset I have ever seen. A diffused orange/brown sky. The image to the left is not altered in any way, that's exactly the way it looked, and it was great. A little happiness to keep us cheery as we started our 10 hour trek back home.


After it was all said and done I had 22 hours of straight driving and Jerry had 28 hours of drive time. Thus the life of a storm chaser. Needless to say we were doing the jello-head neck bob on the way back through Minnesota. I took the opportunity of getting Jerry on camera sleeping with the infrared feature of my camera. He looked dead. I thought I'd share that with everyone on the Internet.