May 29th, 2018... Storm Chase Re-cap in NW Wisconsin.
The recent heat wave across the upper-midwest has brought hot temps and stormy weather across Minnesota and Wisconsin.
High CAPE values (convective available potential energy), with little to no shear, mixed in with high heat indices, has led to development of scattered, strong, pulse-type cells with elevated bases and tops.
Some of these pulse storms have went severe-warned. Mostly for radar indicated hail up to 1-inch in diameter.
With the absence of strong shear these cells are notorious for dying out just as quickly as they develop. The updrafts simply get swallowed up and choked out by their own precipitation.
Storm structure is also affected by the lack of shear.
May 29th was no different...
I was done with work at 3 PM in Menomonie in Dunn County. Heading out across the parking lot where I work I noticed dark and looming clouds to the southwest.
I turned on my CB radio in my car and tuned into the weather band to listen to the current weather conditions.
Strong storms were already forming along the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and moving north at a meager 30 MPH.
I got home and checked the radar on the laptop. Sure enough, scattered and unorganized clusters were all over Minnesota and along the WI/MN border. One cell looked rather decent. It had a nice looking precip-core and 1-inch hail marker.
I packed my things and headed out.
I had low expectations on this trip, but I already have begun to feel slightly desperate to get out there and see at least one good storm before the end of the month of May.
I thought May 29th would be fruitful, but not so much.
The strong cell that I been watching on radar went severe warned for Pierce County as I was heading west on Hwy. 29 toward Spring Valley. The towns on the path were River Falls and Ellsworth.
It didn't take long for the cell to quickly dissipate though.
I caught a glimpse of the storm's base. It was too late though. Rain was already filling up the updraft area, killing the storm.
Radar was showing a cluster of storms beginning to form between Eau Claire and Durand in Pepin County.
They were slowly moving north and slightly northwest.
On the way back to Menomonie on Hwy. 12 east, I could see the rising storm towers to the east bubbling up into the atmosphere like plumes of volcanic smoke. I was excited to see that.
It didn't take long for these new born cells to form deep and strong hail cores.
When I got back to Menomonie in Dunn County, the entire Chippewa Valley had multiple pulse cells developing.
I parked in the Marketplace grocery store parking lot to take a little time to evaluate my options.
I watched a cell form to the northeast. The base was elevated and weak. But the overall structure wasn't too bad. Just like the other storm earlier, rain choked out the storm's updraft and it fizzled away.
A strong cell began to form over Elk Mound in eastern Dunn County. The cell was slowly pushing northward. It developed a nice looking V-shaped precip core and was producing 1-inch diameter hail near Elk Mound. Then a 2-inch hail marker appeared on radar.
I quickly made my way east toward the storm and toward the town of Colfax, which was in direct path of this storm.
The cell went severe-warned as I was on Hwy. 40 south of Colfax a few miles. I didn't notice any key structure with the cell which concerned me.
I parked on the southern fringe of town in a bowling alley parking lot and let the storm come to me.
Since there wasn't any structure to gawk at I wanted to sample the precip core and see some hail come down. This isn't a popular practice in storm chasing as it can be very unsafe. But I knew I was going to be okay knowing this storm really didn't have the bark, nor the bite at this point.
Hail did fall on my location, but only pea-sized.
The radar was still showing a 1-inch hail marker on the cell. Im sure there were quarter size hail stones within the storm, but they were melting fast as they descended to the earth.
Other than that, some gusty winds and heavy rain.
The warned cell quickly dissipated and congealed with a cluster of strong storms that had formed and went severe-warned in parts of Chippewa County, moving north towards the city of Rice Lake in Barron county.
Hunter Anderson was near the Rice Lake area when the cluster of storms arrived at his location.
He was able to take some photos of some awesome looking structure as the storms were moving into the Rice Lake area.
I was on the back side of the storm cluster heading north on Hwy. 53 from Bloomer. The storm structure on the back side wasn't very impressive either.
A couple of LSR's (live storm reports), showed up on radar in Rice Lake.
One was for a power outage and the other for a 12-inch diameter tree that had fallen from the storm on the far east end of town.
Hunter and I decided to link up and go look for these damages.
One confusion we ran into was the report for the power outage was reported on the eastern side of town, but the report was made on the western side of town near Poskin Avenue.
Power seemed to have been restored too before we both made it into Rice Lake.
There was some light tree debris scattered various lawns across the city from storm winds.
No major damage from what we seen.
We weren't sure if we found the actual tree that was reported down, but we did come across a large oak tree that was snapped in half out in the middle of a plowed farm field. It was a distance out there and we didn't want to trespass to get a closer look. It was relatively close to where the storm report was made. The tree could easily be assumed that it fell over last summer too.
The chase was finished and we both headed back home.... -Joe.
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