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Chase Log: June 13th, 2024 - Missouri Supercells with Big Hail, Sunset Mammatus

June 13th, 2024 offered up a weird little setup in parts of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. Sometimes weird setups do weird things and I had the day free after my morning work so I was game to drive over and check it out. Colin was in it with me, so I made my way to his place in the late morning and we departed in my car together right around 1:00 PM CT with an initial target of Centerville, Iowa.

An east-west oriented cold front was slowly sagging southward across Iowa and northern Illinois during the afternoon, with temperatures in the lower 90s and dew points around 70 ahead of it. A burst of mid-level flow would graze the northern edge of the target area, but surface winds and low-level shear would never be all that impressive. Still, there'd be a little ambient vorticity along the boundary and thermals were quite impressive and that gets me into "I wanna see what happens when the storm erupts" mode. Maybe it yanks some swirly air upward so hard you force an attempt at tornadogenesis a time or two before the storms congeal into a bigger mess.

With shear lacking as it was, I kind of figured your ceiling is an hour or two of discrete supercells before the impressive downburst potential takes over and you've got high-precipitation supercells with surging RFDs and an eventual pivot to bowing storm segments producing swaths of significant wind damage.

We took my car because I was ready for a good old fashioned summertime skydrama throw-down. If the tornado mode part of the day fails, I wanted to pivot into documenting some of the most severe weather conditions of the day. The goal would become centering myself in a 'destructive' tagged severe thunderstorm warning with some 80 MPH winds and baseball sized hail. You know, a real gentle time. Ideally you find a town with some structures to shelter your vehicle under, and perhaps even a nearby place for you to shelter yourself should anything get uncomfortable. I'm all for a fun time, but it's good to remember you are objectively putting yourself into harms way and you aren't in control once the storm swallows you. It's the same approach I take when documenting summertime derecho events - find the worst of it, but put some thought into where you ride the storm out. At any rate, since it was going to be my idea to square up a potentially damaging thunderstorm late in the day, I was fine to take my car.

None of that really materialized. Storms did erupt in nuclear fashion, and they did produce some pretty big hailstones and a few corridors of significant wind damage across northeast Missouri. I'm admittedly a bit spoiled after a spring full of high-end tornadic supercells, and while the storms in Missouri on Thursday didn't hit their ceiling from a photogenic standpoint it was still nice to get out the tripod and stand around watching a storm a couple of times.

We also met fellow storm chaser and lover-of-making-videos-about-storms Ethan Moriarty and his brother Connor and visited for a few minutes at a Casey's in Edina, Missouri - moments running into friends from far corners of the country like that make some of these more borderline storm chasing days all more the more worthwhile.

If you're ever on the fence about heading out for a storm chase, and you've got the flexibility and means to do it that day, just go! You never know what or who you'll get to see out there.

The combination of a storm at peak intensity and an easy intercept never aligned, but we snuck into Lewistown, Missouri behind a rather intense hail storm and searched for some big stones in the ditch. We found a few stones approaching 2" to 2.75" in and just north of town.

Making our way back toward Illinois we stopped a few times to admire the mammatus that essentially spanned horizon to horizon as the sun hit the... horizon. The setting sun lit the mammatus and underbelly of the storms a glowing orange color as we went 0 for 2 looking for pizza at Casey's along the route home. Bless you Casey's-in-Bushnell for keep us from going 0 for 3.

I pulled back in the driveway in Urbana around Midnight. The pavement was wet from storms earlier in the night, but they'd moved off and the night as still. I fell asleep quickly after getting the car unloaded, but was awakened around 2:30 AM by super bright lightning flashes and loud, explosion like thunder. Another little storm had popped up right over town and brought a 30 minute downpour and lightning display. I pointed the camera out the back door for a few minutes hoping to catch a close bolt of lightning but was too tired for much more and ended up using the storm to fall back asleep. The 5 AM alarm for work and morning forecasting would hit hard soon.

Severe warned thunderstorm producing hail near Edina, Missouri:

Big hail in Lewistown, Missouri:

Mammatus as we make our way through western Illinois at sunset:

More to come, I think. My schedule is complicated this weekend so I'm out for whatever transpires the next couple of days. The summer ridge establishes itself in the coming week, but I'm starting to think we see another run of high frequency severe weather from the Dakotas into the Midwest and Great Lakes ~ June 20-30.


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