Day 8: Why we were not in Iowa

I believe this Tuesday was marked down as a risk day already as a “Day 5” in SPC (I may be mistaken) but all parameters pointed early on as this was going to be a day of great potential for long-lived strong tornadoes. The main issue was however that the storms were likely to be Dixie-styled 50 mph northeast movers, which would give you a very brief window to watch any tornadoes in a possible risky position. It was also expected to be a QLCS system with embedded tornadoes soon after initiation, also difficult to chase.

The other issue of the day was that we were chasing in Colorado until late and stayed in Goodland, KS. Even though we left at 6 a.m. it was a long drive towards eastern Nebraska/western Iowa were the storms were supposed to initiate. The tour guide, Peter Wharton, was very negative towards the possibilities to chase the storms in Iowa due to the speedy nature of the storms and that it was “out of reach” from our starting position in Goodland, KS, in the morning. He chose to aim for the southern part of the storm system where the supercells could possibly stay discrete for a longer time. It was also a better position for the storms for the day afterwards (in Texas).

Long story short. We ended up in central western Missouri, on a south end Charlie that was torn apart by the strong upper winds, barely severe warned at the time we watched it. The Iowa storms were fast, and difficult to chase, as expected but the tornadoes appeared close to the highways so there were multiple reports and tons of photos/videos flowing in on our social media channels with some SPECTACULAR footage by Reed Timmers’ team on a violent multi vortex tornado tearing down wind turbines. Eventually, and unfortunately, one of the tornadoes was determined an EF-4 with casualties reported 🙁

I am not an experienced storm chaser, I have never chased storms myself (outside of tours and partners) so to some extent I am in no position to question the decisions by our tour guide. However, it was with a great deal of frustration I was watching the day unfold. With us finally ending up in inside a town in Missouri, with a hidden view of a barely severe warned storm while other tours were experiencing tornadoes in Iowa – from a storm system that apparently was possible to chase. Others had been able to either cut Colorado short and make it into Iowa or just got there in time. I am not sure exactly what can be said in hindsight, and what could have been understood beforehand. All I can say is that this was a very frustrating day.

We continued down to Wichita, KS, for an early dinner that I didn’t participate in as I was starting to get sick to my stomach after a bad Subway wrap in Yuma, CO, the day before 🙁

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