Wright County Minnesota
Ahhhh, the power of the May sun shows through. With a large cut off low
to the west, temps at 18,000 feet hovering around -15C, and just a little
instability, kaboom! What was supposed to have been some marginally
severe hail storms ended up being low topped mini supercells (barely 30k ft
in height) producing damaging hail and even a brief, weak
tornado about 18 miles to my east (was within my personal "no chase" area).
Speaking of my "no chase zone", this is pretty much it for the "local area" for me. Being located west of the metro area
by a good 30 miles, I have no reason to head into the populated, tree infested suburban and urban areas. I had a near bad
experience about 10 years ago with traffic that came to a halt and there was nothing I could do with an F3 (pre "E" scale)
just to my west/southwest. That is probably the most scared I have been since no matter how good I am at getting around
storms and tornadoes in the prairie areas, I had no control in this situation. A Sunday afternoon and grid lock. Just sitting
and waiting to die thanks to a bunch of morons all trying to hide under an overpass. Well, Darwin heard my pleas and the
tornado passed just south of us. I swore never again to chase in an urban area or areas where I couldn't make a road
choice at will. Some chasers do it. That is their choice. My choice to to live to chase another day. My family likes my
choice as well.
Bascially the area (including that which is off the map) is bounded by MN 25 on the west, I94 to 169 up to highway 95
over to I35. South of the Twin Cities metro, anything east of I35 down to the Iowa border is off limits too. The
exception (at will) is the I94 corridor in Wisconsin from Hudson over to Eau Claire. Once per uear I play intercept on I94
with cells coming out of the bluff country of Minnesota but it has to be what looks like a big day before I will consider
Anyhow, back on topic here. After doing a quick tire rotation on the car, Cullen I headed out to near Howard Lake, MN in
southern Wright county to take a look at some developing cells. This one had a really good funnel look alike about 2
minutes before this shot was taken. The Crow River valley didn't agree with visibilty to shoot though. Still hd a nice curl
with good rotation for a couple of minutes but it was quickly undercut. Notice the second cell in the distance off to the left?
Here is the second cell just to the north of Howard Lake. Not bad structure. The HLFD was reporting "marble sized hail".
Um, SKYWARN 101? I'll donate $0.91 in change for each HL fire rig which is used for SKYWARN operations to help get
accurate reporting in the future. If that is what it takes, I'm serious.
This cell had decent rising motion on the right side in the inflow region. I love mini supercells as you can see the entire
textbook structural make up of their beastly big cousins. Note the well defined outflow / gust front area to the left side.
The HL cell soon gusted out as well but showed signs of becoming a decent hailer so we high-tailed it for home. Just as we
pulled into the driveway, the cell caught back up with us. This hybrid cork-screwed updraft with a mini shelf cloud made
it's way from west to east across our lake. This put us directly in the vault area on the edge of the core. HAIL ZONE!!
Cullen keeps on eye on the initial small hail hitting the water on the bay from the upper deck (yes, it is covered).
OK!!! THIS IS MORE LIKE IT!!! Trees getting shredded, nickle (and some larger) hail coming down in
copious amounts, the raspberry bushes getting decimated (sorry kids, maybe next year). Oh yeah, notice in the
photo about dead center the guy in the boat coming across the bay. Stupidity should be painful!
HARD CORE kids! Nothing like standing barefoot in hail! Notice my daughter, Cailyn, on the right. She insisted
on wearing two hats just in case some more big hail fell. Note the tree debris stuck to everything. The winds
gusted into the 40 mph range only, but,the hail roar was awesome!
A self-portrait of sorts as the cell heads east towards the metro area and
treats us to a double rainbow. Shot was taken from the house in town.
Tried to get some lightning shots off the second round of mini cells late
that night but nothing was going to the ground. All elevated instability.