Chase Log: April 16-17, 2002

I am in the process of reposting chase logs from my past sites. Here is one of them.

4/16/02 Severe Weather is expected much of this evening. Although the models keep changing on where the soup is going to go, were going to be in some of it (all times approx)

10:24 pm CDT – I get off the phone with my fiancé and grab some caffeine. Then I hop in my truck and head for… West. My intentions aren’t yet intended but I’ll decided where I’m going when I get there.

10:40 pm – I am a few miles west of Ames on HWY 30 and check in with K0DMX the SKYWARN station at the National Weather Service in Des Moines, Iowa. I try repeatedly to raise the operator. Finally he replies that “some station calling, your not making it into the system.” then another Ham operator jumped in and noted that he could hear my signal but that my audio level (the volume of my voice on the radio) was too low and un readable. This goes on for a while and I keep trying to make it in but don’t make it.

10:50 pm – Spotting isn’t very fun, useful, or for that matter safe without a WORKING radio so I stop my westward travel and stopped in a school parking lot to check out the problem. I called up repeatedly and finally got someone on the CARC repeater and the provided me with some assistance. a few minutes later Matt, KB0MGQ, hopped on and started helping me troubleshoot. I didn’t get it working good, but I got it to where it would work and it would reach the SKYWARN repeater.

11:00 pm I can see lightning far north and far south and all points in between. I’m looking generally west parked just off of HWY 30. I decide to proceed west with the intent on intercepting the storm and tracking it in toward the Ames area. I knew that my radio was having problems but I had enough signal to work efficiently. Also I had 2 backup radios, neither have enough power to reach the SKYWARN net repeater but if I needed to get a message out then I could go through our repeater here on campus, I knew N0YM and KB0MGQ were monitoring as were other hams and they had access to the SKYWARN repeater and could relay if all else failed my fingers and toes were crossed that all else wouldn’t fail.

I made contact with K0DMX and advised him of my name, location and mobility. he said it was a bit early for the lines to be moving in. I asked him if he needed anyone in any specific location. he said that I was in “about” the right location. My main question, having not seen radar in hours, was where the storms were going to swing. either north of hwy 30 or south. K0DMX suggested that I sit on or around HWY 30 and wait till they got closer.

11:20-11:40 pm – I make it past Boone, IA to the junction of 169 and HWY 30. And I report my location and conditions. I find a nice little tuck-in spot off of 169 a few hundred feet south of 30 and stop, turn my headlights off and my rotating light on. I’m facing South-South-West and viewing pretty active cells. it’s dark as all get out but the lightning is showing me what I need to see. the occasional cloud to ground lightning strike lights up the base of the storm. ? At one point I see what appears to be a rain free base with a rain shaft near by. I watch the area close and every few seconds get some kind of look under it. ? Suddenly I see a figure under the clouds, I can’t make it out and I reach for the radio to call it in as a wall cloud. there was definitely some type of lowering. I waited just a minute. it’s a tough call at night, calling something like that in, if even closely matched with a radar return could set off sirens county wide. I finally observe my surroundings, I put my spotlight on the clouds above me and saw they were moving east. shining it at the grass showed a strong wind from the same direction. but it didn’t feel right. so I didn’t report it, though given any contradiction to my feeling I would have immediately reported it. the lightning hit again and showed me a different scene, the rain free area was now a rain shaft. and the clouds I saw were off to one side, they were scud clouds and had no significance to the storm.

Suddenly there was lightning above me and a huge downpour began. continuous lightning ensued above me taking my eyes off of the storm to the southwest. though how could I have missed this one? I should have seen it coming.

I proceed to change locations due to intense lightning above me. I move first to the north but can’t get an angle on the storm so go back under it and head south of it and place myself between the two storms.

K0DMX called me on the radio and requested a report. I wasn’t sure of what to tell him cause I didn’t know where all the extra lightning came from. So I mentioned a few things but after a slight hesitance on my part he told me that radar was showing a second line that had “suddenly” formed. cool, I hadn’t been blind. so I gave him a report; position, condition, weather, plans, etc..

I seemed to be the only mobile station and covering the most interesting area out of all of them so he took his time to get as many details as he could from me.

12:00 am – I turned around on a gravel road. south of HWY 30. as I turned around a local cop passed me. then turned on his lights backed up (I was stationary watching a outbreak of lightning) and caught my attention. He rolled down his window as did I. and he turned off his lights and I likewise turned off my rotating light. He just stared at me. I don’t know but I would have expected him to say something. so guessing I might have missed something, I said something implying such. the guy seemed very rude, maybe just because it was so late and he was grouchy. he asked: “Can I help you?” I replied that I didn’t think he could. then he asked what I was doing. (this is where I figure the flashing lights and the SKYWARN decals on the side of my truck would give him a hint. But non the less I reply. “oh, I’m just out spotting.” then real rude like he said: for who!? (again I would have thought that the SKYWARN signs on my truck would give him a hint). I replied, “SKYWARN, and the National Weather Service.” then his mood totally changed. from rude to lacking a personality. So he asked about the storms and such, and I tried to finish the conversation with ‘so, yap, just doing a little spotting.’ he replied that he was “doing a little of the same.” and he drove off, in the direction of which I told him the storm was at.

12:15 am (or so) all was diminishing at my location so after a conversation with K0DMX I returned to Ames. and I was back and secured at around 1am. K0DMX’s parting words were: talk to you tomorrow night, we’ll be doing this again.

Most of what I saw was lightning. the storms did developed but rarely crossed the severe parameters. a house fire was reported as a consequence of lightning in Ames but aside from that I knew of no damage. 3am in bed.

This entry was posted in Old Blog.