July 11th
Northern Minnesota Tornado
My original plan was to target Grand Forks, ND along a surface warm front and out ahead of a surface low also
coming out of North Dakota.  A family issue delayed me just enough to make a last minute adjustment as the cap
broke and storms quickly fired just east of the Minnesota / North Dakota border.  The first cell which went up
east of Fargo, ND was the one I really wanted as I felt the tornado chances quickly diminshed the further south
and west you went.  Just outside of Fergus Falls, MN, I stopped to watch this area of towering cumulus which
was developing rapidly as a tornado watch was issued.  The udraft on this was very good despite not dropping any
precip yet so I decided I would make the commitment plus the Fargo storm had already gone severe and was
moving rapidly northeast away from me.
Moved north to Rothsay, MN where the base appeared it was going to stetcb out into a linear mess along the
surface boundary.  One thing which was nice about the chase day was I didn't need the GPS as this storm was
going through the area I grew up in so I already knew the roads and where and where not to go to be able to see as
this storm moved to the east and into the lake country.
Cullen couldn't make the chase today so I was stuck doing
everything myself including taking stills out the window.  
Heading south down 59 north of Pelican Rapids to catch Ottertail
county road 4 on high ground where I'd be able to see to the
A couple of miles east of highway 59 on county road 4, the storm begins to take on a look much more that of a
supercell than a linear mess.
Still heading east on county 4 looking over the south bay of Lake Lizzie.  I don't think that is a funnel off the
lowering.  The storm is not warned at this point.  Smaller cells to the immediate south were getting ingested so I
knew this was still getting stronger.   I still had my doubts it would tornado as this was on the very southern edge
of the best mid level wind support and the surface winds were more southerly than out of the south east.
Near Loon Lake outside of Vergas, MN, things started to get interesting in a hurry.  A RFD cut rapidly appeared as
the cell went tornado warned.  The samll wall cloud was spinning like crazy and I actually used eSpotter for the
first time to report it to FGF (The National Weather Service office in Grand Forks which is responsible for this
Just outside of Vergas, MN.  This thing had crazy cascading RFD and was really cranking now.  The video shows a
ropey white horizontal funnel as I came through Vergas.  The area nearly right over head was also starting to occlude
to I made the choice to head east on 228  instead of north east on CR4 still and  directly to Frazee, MN.  In
hindsight, I wish I would have as the tornado would have been VERY close but  it was a safety call  and I can live
with that.
Still heading east on 228 southwest of Frazee, MN.  This was the only spot I could find which was open but of
course there had to be a hill.  A couple of deputies stopped and watched this with me.  I am sure this was on the
ground as the video clearly shows debris underneath..  If you look closely, there is a slender  rope funnel in front of
the wall cloud.  The area above us kept trying to organize and I didn't feel safe sitting there so I left the deputies
with a little advice to also move as this was the area there would be new development if the northern area was to
occlude.   They opted to move with me.
A couple of more miles to the east and right at the intersection of US highway 10 and 228.  The area of rotation
was getting so wrapped up I couldn't belive there wasn't a nice tornado on the ground still.
Success finally!  A small elephant trunk touches down northeast of Frazee, MN.  The deputies
reported it so this is one Sheriffnado I can confirm. Sorry about the blur as I was slowly rolling
ahead to try to line up the tornado with the only gap in trees to be able to get a somewhat
unobstructed shot given how far away I was.
The cell begin to rapidly loose it's supercell characteristics near Wolf Lake and the tornado warning was dropped
so I bailed on the storm at highway 71 so I could try to intercept another tornado warned storm in Wadena
county.  Once I got outside of Menahga, MN, I was able to see the back of the tower and base of another severe
warned storm which flared up south of the old tornado warned cell.
Raggety updraft area on the back side of the previously tornado warned cell coming out of Wadena county near
one of my favorite towns in Minnesota.  Nimrod.
After getting blasted by a 84 mph wind gust coming out of the St. Cloud area which almost blew me off the
road, I headed south on I94 to try and make it home before the line hit.  I also started hearing reports the city of
Willmar had gotten hit by a tornado  and according to the radar data, it appeared the cell would pass very close
to where I live.  It's one of the few times I was hoping a supercell would line out.  I called Cullen and Melinda
so they were aware when the sirens went off, it was the real deal and to take cover.
The cell did in fact line out as it got to my home where only some gusty winds and small hail occurred.
After having some dinner with Melinda, the sky lit up with beautiful mammatus as the sun set below the horizon.
Looking southeast from home as the line of storms crosses the Minneapolis metro area.
One final look as the moon comes out from behind the storms marking the end of a very fun chase day.
2008 Chases Main
Majorly cropped and contrast enhanced from the RAW file.
About this time I was wishing I had brought the new camera and the 70-200 lens.
This was about the most solid it was ever in contact with the ground I could see.  It rapidly dissipated as it passed
behind the power pole to the right.  There were reports of additonal touchdowns to the east but I never saw any.