June 17, 2017  
As the spring severe storm season winds down, my son Ryan and I took a trip up to Northeastern Missouri for what may be the final tornadic storm opportunity of the spring.  As pretty typical, we left early so we could make a side trip and hit the Ted Shanks Conservation Area on the way up.  Saw a few raccoons, variety of birds, couple turtles, and some fish as we drove through the large Conservation Area.  Oddly enough, did not see a single snake.

After that, we had a late lunch in Hannibal, Missouri waiting for things to set up.  The first indication of cells forming were up in East Central Iowa.  Then a small cell popped up at the border to our northwest near Lancaster, Missouri. There was a bit of hesitation to jump on this cell as we did not want to put ourselves out of position in the event of development east or south of this initial area.  After meeting up at a gas station and having a brief conversation with Tom Stolze and watching the cell continue to grow on radar, Ryan and I made the decision to go for the storm.

We made our way up Highway 61 and then west on Highway 136.  Our goal was to meet (beat) the storm to Memphis, Missouri, then hit the road south on the west side of town to stay out of the way.  As we neared that city, the storm began turning southeast at the forward speed of 50mph.   We became concerned about not beating the storm and feared the large hail in the storm may engulf us, so rather than taking the chance, we bailed for an alternate road south 10 miles before town.  We waved at Tom as we saw him pass us at that intersection as he continued heading into Memphis, Missouri.

We drove south several miles, then found a road west.  This gave us a fairly decent, safe vantage point to watch the storm from the southern side of the storm and were able to move along it on the south side.    At one point, the storm became tornado warned, but the view into the area of interest was obstructed by clouds out in front of the rotating area.  The shelf cloud and storm structure was incredible on this beast of a supercell.  We maneuvered our way along and ahead of the storm for several hours until dusk stopping every now and then for a photo opportunity.

As oddities would have it, during the entire daylight chase, we managed to stay just a mile or two out of the rain and just ahead of the enormous hail and wind that were reported in the storm.  The usually bad road network of Northeastern Missouri actually was working in our favor for this chase as east, south, and southeast road options seemed to keep us just out of the reach of the storm.  There were a few times where we thought the storm would cut off the road access we needed, but each time we barely made it just before the rain and hail.  There were plenty of breaks in the hills and the trees to keep very good tabs on the storm and get some decent photo opportunities.  At one point we stopped to say "Hi" to Tyler and Jesse as they were parked on the side of the road observing the storm.

We got out ahead of the storm around dark and worked our way on a gravel road back to Highway 61 and stopped at the Canton, Missouri exit lining ourselves up with the storm cell coming at us.  We took cover here hoping for a hail show as we let the storm go through us.  Once again, Tom Stolze pulls up next to us as we pull under the cover just as the rain begins.  No hail, but had our first rain of the day as it poured down. 

Tom, Ryan, and I had dinner at the Steak & Shake at that building as several other storm cells passed through with very heavy rain and an estimated 60mph wind event.  Then after dinner, a white knuckle drive from Canton down to Hannibal, Missouri from the blinding rain before we broke out of the heavy rain for the rest of the drive home. 

One other interesting note from the chase today, other than Tyler and Jessie's vehicle and Tom's vehicle, I only saw one other obvious chaser the entire day.  Not sure who it was in the van.  What a difference from the chaser chaos in the plains.

   TOTALS:   15 Hours  -  467 Miles

Click on the link below to see video of some of these storms.

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