Widespread “Junkus Eruptus”

September 1, 2007 by
Filed under: Summary 

or, “Better to Look Down than Up

South-central South Dakota

17 Jun 2007

SHORT: High based multicells, brief supercells and cactus flowers seen. Too many storms, too much outflow.

LONG: Elke and I began the day at a very old, hole-in-the-wall motel in Newcastle WY, wishing we had that aeroplane with which to jet unimpeded to eastern ND. By the end of the day, we were glad for no such aircraft, except for the view it may have afforded of some of the early stage convective towers.

Our caravan chase partner for the day, Vince Miller, was fortunate to get a new alternator installed in his car on a Sunday, and was able to meet us at Wall Drug. [Yeah, it’s a cartoonishly gaudy tourist trap, but their bookstore has a nice selection of Great Plains, American Indian and western themed literature.]

Unfortunately, we didn’t see much convectively; although the verdant rolling grasslands of central SD and the eastern edge of the Badlands made a pleasing visual diversion from the mush going on above.

Whiile still in Wall, we noticed towers going up to the S and glaciating — with inflow air around Pine Ridge SD that was 102 deg F! Yuck. A deep and persistent Cb also could be seen to the WNW about 60 miles — behind the front in an area of NW surface winds. Gag.

Neither of these options were particularly promising meteorologically, so we roamed about the area between Wall-PHP-Kadoka for awhile, stopping occasionally to photograph cactus flowers, grasslands and the growing complex of storms that evolved from the hot-air convection. The ob at PIR, ahead of the front, held promise with winds often E of due S and dew points 66-68 deg F. Shallow Cu did form along the boundary near PHP, but never amounted to more. The anvil canopy from the Badlands multicells expanded by the millisecond, soon casting an enormous shadow over much of southern and central SD. This cooled the air mass measurably beneath (upper 80s to low 90s instead of mid-upper 90s), but also, probably squashed enough heating to render development along the front unlikely.

So with the afternoon growing elderly, we headed S from Kadoka, staying on the NE and E edge of the growing complex of heat-fired storms. Some updrafts may have weakly rotated anticyclonically on the N side of the cluster. We also saw a couple of short lived and very high based wall clouds form on the S side of their storms’ cores, but those quickly were undercut. Between Martin and Mission, we finally threw in the towel after:

    1. Having to double back a long way N out of a typically wretched South Dakotan rural roadwork zone (on SD 73), where the entire roadway turns to gravel for a few miles, then hard dirt for several more, then loose dirt for several more, then narrow, rutted and very soft dirt not fit for 2WD cars…

    2. Watching the entire scene from horizon to horizon devolve into an anvil canopy with occasional fuzzy cores and midlevel bases beneath.

Vince and we parted ways NW of Mission, and Elke and I headed to the Rosebud Casino buffet for dinner (not bad) then to VTN for lodging, in advance of our leisurely two-day trip home. These Indian casinos that are proliferating across parts of the Great Plains are good dinner options for chasers because their buffets or restaurants stay open late — no need to worry about settling for 5-hour old curly fries or cardboard-like, lukewarm pizza 10 minutes before closing time in some tired old town.

I’ve been meaning to chase with Vince for years, and finally did…too bad it wasn’t more productive weatherwise. I am glad, though, that his car got fixed and that he was able to get out and roam a small piece of the Great Plains with us today. We hope to hook up with Vince for more storm observing attempts in the future; his deep appreciation for the Great Plains, whether weather or not, is something to which we can relate quite well.

It was a rather drab next-to-last intercept of the 2007 storm intercept vacation for Elke and me, tempered in a pleasant way by the sight of the SD prairies and the fresh, earthy aroma of rain thereon.


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