Perkins & Zeibach Counties South Dakota
This was an INCREDIBLY frustrating day. I felt confident something significant was going to occur in either southwest
North Dakota or northwest South Dakota for a few days and headed up to Eric Whitehill's house in Fargo to cut the drive
to either Bowman, ND or Faith, SD.
After settling on Bowman as I felt confident the area to the north east of the surface low and near a lifting warm front,
Wednesday morning it was time to head west on I-94 then drop down to the border .One for the random stuff file along
the way. The worlds largest holstein cow located high above New Salem, ND.
A cool little isolated cell on the way northwest. Minnesota had seen some "tornado warnings" earlier in the day but not
worth hanging around for.
The "Geese in Flight"sculpture. The Enchanted Highway out near Dickinson, ND is worth checking out as a time killer.
Small world as west of Dickinson, I met up with fellow Minnesota based chaser Dean Baron.
After grabbing some lunch with Dean, he wanted to check out some of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This the
the Painted Canyon just off I-94 near Medora, ND.
Dean and killed some time waiting on initiation at Chimney Park in Medora. A Cu field was building to the southeast of
Bowman so it was time to head south.
After watching a lot of towers struggle at Bowman, kept dropping south and east and hung out on this tornado warned
storm in Perkins county South Dakota near Bison. Despite the large wall cloud, the cell never looked like it was going to
produce. About the time reports of multiple tornadoes from the next cell to the south started coming in. Time to go!
Now is when things got really hairy. After going through Faith, SD (I will regret not going with that target for a long, long,
time) the idea was to head east on 212 and get through Dupree to the clean side of the cell. The cell was basically
stationary so no big deal....or so I thought.
While heading towards Dupree, SD, the South Dakota State Patrol had the road blocked. I figured it was because of the
tornado warning or debris around the town. No biggie, I'll just roll up and ask him if I can proceed. I do it all the time
and when they see I'm a chaser, they usually waive me on through with a "good luck" or "be careful". This time there
was 3 FEET of water gushing across the road from north to south thanks to 6"-8" of rain up in the core to the north of
this stationary beast of a supercell. I turned around and decided I would head back to Faith and go around the long way
giving up on any chance of a tornado but get some nice lightning/structure shots from the south then come back up to
Eagle Butte. I no sooner crested the hill behind me when more water came rushing down from the north cutting off my
only way back west! I was trapped!...a long with several other chasers, the state patrol, and some locals. However, at
one point Tony Laubach ran over and jumped in my back seat so we could get our annual chat in. About this time Tony
made the comment of "we are going to be stuck here for a while unless a tornado gets us first". About now I was sending
out messages on Facebook so my friend and family would know I was stuck and to call the pizza guy for an airdrop.
Then this happened:
Take close note of the powepole up by the State Trooper at the beginning on the video. It's fine. Now, I am VERY
critical of chasers who do stupid things to get the money shot. I'm not taking about Casey or Timmer as they have taken
steps to mitigate the calculated risks chasers take every time they head out. Sometimes crap just happens. I wasn't
trying to get closer to a tornado or get into the path of an approaching torn. This was simply a case of when everything
goes wrong regardless of what you do to minimize the risk. The broad parent circulation north of Dupree suddenly
spawned a satellite couplet (given the history of this storm it really isn't surpising) right on top of us. Tony measured a
peak sustained wind of 79kts while I had 82 mph on my anemometer which was lower than his. All I could do was cinch
the seatbelt as tight as I could, and press down on the brake pedal to try to hold the car in place.
This scan immediately after we got hit. Note the pole by the trooper snapped off to the north while the one by me went
south? The tornado reports on the map are from earlier and not associated with what just happened to us. Scary as
heck...no doubt about it.
After shaking off what happened and waiting around for an hour or so, the troopers gave us the OK to proceed as the
water was receding and no longer a dangerous threat to sweep vehicles off the road. It took forever to get through Eagle
Butte. Between more flooding I had to wait for plus A LOT of debris on 212 from the earlier tornadoes, I pulled into
Faulkton, SD around 3am to sleep for a couple of hours after taking one lighting photo just to say I did it. What a crazy
end to the day.