March 29, 2017   

Once again, the decision to chase this day was made the night before, this knowing the drawback would mean chasing the hills and trees of Southwest Missouri.  My son Ryan and I would be chasing without our usual chase partner today as Brian Stertz was tied up at work.

Our goal was to be down in the Springfield, Missouri area by 4:00pm.  We left fairly early and were down there by 2:00pm.  We stopped in Stafford, Missouri, just to the east of Springfield.  We topped off the gas tank and grabbed lunch at the McDonalds.   From that point we were just watching and waiting.  The whole area was initially in an Enhanced Risk, 10% hatched for tornadoes.   We played the waiting game for the next several hours as we watched storms go up in Eastern Kansas, some northwest of us in Missouri, and some to our southeast in Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas.  None of the storms close to us showed any signs of gaining strength.  

As the afternoon and early evening wore on, it was becoming obvious that the storms out to the west were not going to become tornadic.  The Storm Prediction Center had even downgraded the hatched area and moved the risk area further to the east.  That was our cue to move ourselves eastward toward the storms coming up to I-44 from the south.  As we drove up the highway, the storms in front of us and the storms moving up toward us created a low, elongated rainbow.

We drove through the middle cell of three cells that had lined up north to south on this string of storms near Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.   Lot of low scud moving around as we drove through the middle of the cell, but no real circulation.  Every now and then, one of those cells would show a weak velocity signature, but nothing would sustain.  As we moved further east, the cells seemed to be gaining a bit of strength.  As we got to the St. James, Missouri exit, we decided to take a closer look at that cell that crossed over the highway and was now just to our west.  We moved up Highway 68 to the north and watched.  Unfortunately, light was giving way to the darkness of night.  We stopped at the intersection of Highway 68 and "H" and watched.  At this point, I saw a wall cloud form quicker than I have ever seen one form in my whole life.  Went from near nothing to a full wall cloud in a matter to probably less than a  minute.  We were unable to determine if there was any circulation to speak of although the radar velocity had a marker.

As this cell went past our location and became rain wrapped, we back-tracked to I-44 again and jumped back on east bound I-44.  More cells were popping all around us now.  When we got to Cuba, Missouri, a storm to the north of us caught our attention again with a bit of rotation.  We shot up north on Highway 19 to catch up with it.  It was already to the east of the highway, but we had the opportunity to find an opening to take a look.  It was also very interesting as it had a wall cloud that was very low to the ground.  Because of the storm being several miles away, the low light, and a tree line in the distance, we could not see the base to know if there was anything trying to form on the bottom.  Lightning strikes were almost non-existent as well. 

This was the last we saw of the cell.  Terrain in that area gives little opportunity for a clear view.  We continued north through Owensville, Missouri and then east on Highway 50.  We were glad that the storms were heading the same direction we needed to get home.

12.5 Hours  -  460 Miles

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

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