The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
-Psalm 19:1

Do you know that God controls the clouds and makes his lightning flash?
-Job 37:15

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Storm Chasing Dew Style... in south Georgia...

Are you ready for this story...? It all starts with a stalled frontal boundary that basically set up shop in the south... you know, down in my neck of the woods... well, all morning it just sat there, no interaction whatsoever with available moisture feed. There was a solid stratus deck most of the morning. I was beginning to think... D--v--d. I even went to get my hair cut. To quote Mikey, "I always get my hair done before I chase :)" Yes, folks, he fits into the team perfectly... picks on me just as hard as the rest of them. lol. Well, after my hair appt is when things started to pop up, so I finished up some necessary business and headed out the door hoping to catch some hail, as the cells were firing with potential hail cores when they hit my county. Cool. Bf and I sat at a spot facing northwest, watching a baby cell approach, which according to Mikey, produced a potential hail core just to our east... problem. We both had somewhere to be within the hour, so our hands were tied. Grr... Alabama Mike let me know of a much larger and impressive cell approaching in the next 45 minutes. No good, I had pain and torture in 20. UGH! How could it be?! A great hail potential, and I HAD TO LEAVE IT?!? Alabama Mike was trying to convince me that I "didn't necessarily need to show up" at my appointment. I didn't feel right just not showing, and I really needed therapy... so, I drove to my appointment, but on my way, sat facing north at an interesting structure off to the west, the beautiful cell that Alabama Mike had told me about. I let that overtake me as I raced to my appointment.

While I am at the appointment, I am steadily talking with Alabama Mike, texting Meso Mike, Storm Chasing Mikey and even got a call from someone who lives 1/4 of a mile from the spot that bf and I were parked in to tell me that she had 2" HAIL at her house!!! UGH! Doesn't it figure? I continue talking to Alabama Mike throughout the appointment getting updates on the ferocious cell that is headed my way. He can't understand why it hasn't been warned because it seems more than worthy, showing a meso and strong VIL. For almost 20 minutes he talks about how this cell should be AT LEAST severe warned. Finally, my weather radio goes off... significant weather statement... then, many minutes later, severe thunderstorm warning... FINALLY! Well, he is still telling me how unbelievable the cell is on radar, when all of the sudden, my radio goes off again, TORNADO WARNING!!! (Thanks to Rick for this really cool grab of the hook that I was after...) Despite the fact that I am in the middle of hands-on therapy, I sit upright, like a bolt, and my therapist looked at me and said... "I know, you've got to go, right?" I said, "I have to." He told me to go on. I was out of there! I already had text messages from Meso Mike telling me of a "tornado (warning) ten miles south of valdosta" (4:46PM) to head to Lake Park (4:53PM--I was there at that point), asking if I was on it... one from Rick saying "you aint missing nothing..." (4:42PM raised eyebrow-you were kidding, right? maybe the double negative meant that I needed to get off my booty and chase), text from Mikey (4:37PM) telling me of the rotation over I-75 and a "tornado warning right at 41!!!!" (4:49PM) and of course from Alabama Mike at 4:50PM saying "go south fast"... no kidding! So I hauled tail south on I-75 racing to beat this storm and get a look, no longer thinking too hard about hail, just wanting a look. I was doing a little low flying, apparently not too fast though, breezed right on by the county deputy, who did nothing... thankfully.

Then, I see it. I see the wall cloud, over the interstate. OH MY! It had scud like you wouldn't believe.It was amazing and turbulent, and I was racing down the interstate trying to get into a better viewing spot, all the while getting advice and direction from the awesome members of the Southern Weather Brigade, including Jay now (4:57PM), who was reporting on the "Hail to 3" on AE (GR Analyst, lucky dog). hook-like formation with sl rotation." At that point, I could see what looked like a hail core and could see where there might be very slow rotation, but I wasn't picking it up well moving however fast I was moving down I-75. Let me take a minute to thank the incredible guys who were wonderfully supportive during my first real solo chase! Thanks Alabama Mike, Storm Chasing Mikey, Mr. Rickster, General BS (Jay), and Meso Mike. You guys are incredibly awesome, and I am so glad to be on a team with you!!! Kudos, guys. Back to my story, though. Well, as the "rotation (was) traveling right next to 75" as Mikey said at 5:00, and I could see the wall cloud clearly; I chased it all the way down to Jasper, FL, where I pulled off on the side of the interstate and started snapping pics of this amazingly awesome supercell off to my east, which I could see in its entirety. AWESOMENESS! I watched as it drifted away since I had to pick up Mini-Dew and her friends way up in Georgia within a half hour... more low flying. All in all, awesome chase. I even shot a bit of video...
I have spoken with Rick and Meso Mike tonight, both of whom are chasing the lightning in the storms firing up tonight. I can just barely see the tops lighting up, a brilliant light display, but only sporadic bolts shooting out the top... but it was cool talking to Mike about 40 miles to my north shooting the same flashes I was seeing. He and I would say, "Oh WOW!" during the exact same moments at the same flashes. I can't wait to see what he got. I tried shooting some, but it wasn't working for me. It was just the cloud tops lighting up for the most part, but the flashes were happening EVERY SECOND, no kidding. I'm sure the guys got some terrific lightning shots from where they were. It was a magnificent show for me, just not photographable.

A couple of quick updates... first, my friend down the road from where I was that had the severe hail sent me some pics. Here is one. Thanks, Teresa!!! Apparently, the hail hit 15 minutes after I left my location. Grrr. I also got a call from JJ, who lives near Teresa, telling me her yard was covered in hail. Then, I walked into the office to be told that just after I left yesterday (you know, in pursuit of hail), it hailed at the office. Double Grrr...

Today... we are looking at a moderate risk for severe weather in the central plains with talk of tornadic action later today. MANY, MANY chasers will be out chasing this multi-day severe weather outbreak in the plains. What stinks is that this is the weekend that the Weather Brigade was planning to head out there. Figures. It being a holiday weekend, I'm sure they are all pumped. There has been a public severe weather outlook issued.

For the southern high plains...
As I mentioned, there is more forecasted where that comes from, so stay tuned.

Update on Woodstock event, May 20th... UPDATE: It has been confirmed by the National Weather Service-Peachtree City that the damage in Cherokee County on May 20, 2008, was the result of an EF-1 tornado. The report is available here (click here). The governor has declared a state of emergency for Cherokee County, as a result of the tornado. Also, according to the Augusta Spotter newsletter:
From Tuesday’s event, we had two confirmed tornadoes in our viewing area.

Vidette, Ga. (Burke County): EF-0. Path was nearly 12 miles long and 1/3 mile wide!

Olar, SC (Bamberg County): EF-1. Winds near 90mph. Tornado on the ground from 1 mile north of Olar to 2 miles ENE of Ehrhardt. Several homes and mobile homes were damaged. Baseball size hail damaged crops.

We also had numerous reports of hail of various sizes all over Georgia-Carolina. Some of the other areas hit hardest with the hail include south Augusta near Diamond Lakes Park, North Augusta, Girard, and Keysville.
Did I mention that I caught a cool wall cloud?!!!


  1. How exciting! You are so lucky! I'm trying to build a team here.
    You sure do have a great one!
    wesme pictures makes me want to see some action more then evr now!

  2. We had a real storm! I was excited to show D what hail looked like. When I opened the door it came in and I handed her a piece to hold. Turned my back and she said "it's good to eat too!"

  3. I was right there with you Dew.. you describe it so well... I felt the thrill of the chase and the joy of what you experienced. Fantastic post.... and more.

    Catch you again for Sky Watch

  4. That was incredibly awesome Dew! As I was reading your post, I can feel your happiness and excitement... The pictures are great! :) Congratz on that one!

  5. Totally awesome photos! It all sounds so exciting.

  6. Great update Dew. My forecast contains zero thunderstorms, while you GA folks have it all to yourselves thru Sat Night. Real fair!


  7. Jess, It was awesomeness! Good luck building the team. It was so funny while I was racing back up to pick up Mini-Dew, all I could think was... this is the epitomy of a Meso-Momma!!! Leaving a storm to pick up the kid. Grrr. Looks like rain for the next few days for you. Enjoy.

    Teresa, thanks so much for the hail pics. That is a riot about D eating it!!! Too funny! Kids.

    Tom, Awesome, glad you could come along! It was truly thrilling. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest the whole time. Adrenalin was rushing through me. I love that feeling. I hope I haven't wasted all my skywatch shots... lol

    Ice, I am so glad you enjoyed my post. It was truly a happy moment, thrilling. Thanks!!!

    Musings, Thanks. It was wonderfully exciting! I look forward to next time.

    SCM, Thanks. Sorry about your outlook. I don't mean to be a weather hog... well, maybe I dew... lol In the immortal words of everyone's mother at some point in time, "Life's not fair." :O) I really appreciate all the guidance. You rock!!!

  8. Glad to have helped. Way to go on the solo chase and awesome wall cloud!! I must admit it didn't look like much but with a perfectly timed run in with the sea breeze it spun it perfectly.See guess that feeling I blogged about came through after all...;-P...Looking forward to the next storm!

  9. Great story....filled in the parts I didn't know about! A great day indeed? That was such a cool wc!

  10. Rick, sorry I didn't check in as much as I should have. I had so much going on. It was hard to focus on everything at once.It did fire hard. It was an incredible wall cloud!

    Mike, A great day, INDEED! Incredible wall cloud. Glad it didn't produce... the farmer, owner of the field sent me a message on youtube saying that he was out there picking beans, would have been "sucked right up"... good grief.

  11. Awesome super cell shots. It looked like that the last time I went to the beach. They passed over so fast and dropped the temperature drastically when they swept over--we thought we were going to see a tornado or a water spout--but nothing happened except wind, sprinkles, and dark wall clouds.

  12. If you saw wall clouds, there was definitely that possibility.


Dew comment, please...