Although the decision to chase today was not a difficult decision, we did realize that the chase would be a long day and a difficult chase due to the storm speeds of 55mph+. As I looked at this the day before, it seemed the initial target would be Kirksville, MO. After consulting with Brian Stertz and my son Ryan, we finally made the decision to move the target further north to the Iowa / Missouri border in the Missouri Highway 136 corridor between Highway 63 and I-35. Lucerne, MO was the town in the middle and chose that as the target.
I left home about 8:45, filled up the tank, picked Ryan up at his place and took off for the 'border', Iowa / Missouri border that is. After a quick lunch in Macon, MO at the border, Taco Bell that is, we headed for the target city. Storms had begun firing back on the Kansas / Missouri border, but none were severe at this point. We continued our trek toward the storms and as we reached the target area, the cells in the front of the line moving up at us began becoming severe. As we moved a bit closer and watched the storm increase in intensity, the northern most cell began to get supercellular characteristics and became tornado warned. By this point, we were in position, but a bit too far to the east to see underneath the structure for a tornado and knew it would zip past before we could get there. We backtracked east a few miles and found a road that would take us north (Highway U) and crossed over into Wayne, County Iowa. We hustled our way up that road and found a wide open area to view the area of interest now back a little to the southwest of us. We sat for a few minutes watching a large wall cloud.
We watched that area and just as it started to lose a bit of structure, I noticed to the north of this wall cloud in an area of some heavy rain, a small, needle funnel appeared out of a shield of rain. It took me a few seconds to realize there it was actually a funnel dropping down. It came out of the rain and danced around and within a matter of 10 seconds or so, pranced right back into the rain to not be seen again. By the time I alerted Ryan and got the camcorder turned toward it, the tornado was gone. Once Ryan was alerted, he quickly positioned his body to a spot to see it dancing on the ground and then was able to get one lone picture before it escaped back into the rain. Because we never had time to really set the camera to capture a quality picture, it is a bit on the grainy side.
Once the opportunity eluded us, we knew we needed to get moving to keep up with the storm. We continued north and then turned east on Iowa Highway 2 playing with several more areas of velocity indicated rotations. As the storms began lining out and the areas of rotation were getting wrapped up into the line and weakening, we decided to call it a day. We hit Highway 63 south and began our trek back home. Little did we know, the day was not over yet.
As we drove and no longer paid much attention to the radar screen, there came into view out of the front windshield and area that looked very ominous. A darkened area very much in the shape of a large bowl. I, somewhat jokingly told Ryan I was turning the dash cam back on to catch the tornado about to cross the road in front of us. A few seconds later I was practically demanding Ryan to get the camcorder on the area coming up to the road as I was realizing this may be a real thing. He immediately got the camcorder going and I parked the car on the side of the road so we could watch it cross right in front of us. He handed me the camcorder so he could take some pictures with his camera. It did cross and had an apparent funnel almost touching the ground. The camcorder was inconclusive if it ever made contact as it passed right by us. After it was by us, we did pull the velocity view up on the radar screen and it did have a well defined signature.
Update: The Des Moines Weather Service confirmed our EF0 Tornado in Wayne, County Iowa.
593 miles, around 13 hours.
Click on the link below to see video of some of these storms.
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