Milaca, MN Supercell

May 10, 2011

This is probably my favorite chase of the year (as of June 4). I only had to drive about 2.5 hours from home to reach the target area near Wadena, MN, and I also started with low expectations. The MLCAPE was about 4000 J/kg, which means some very interesting things could happen, but the forcing looked a little weak. From Wadena, I got on multiple storms that seemed only to die as I got on them. However, I kept moving southeast to the next storm, and the fourth one I found near Rice, MN was the charm. Initially, this storm looked bigger than the others, but a left-moving storm (calved from the tornadic St. Michael storm) threatened to ruin the whole show. There was no choice but to move east and wait things out while the storm interaction played itself out. Fortunately, the updraft from Storm Four emerged intact, albeit a little anemic. In about 30 minutes, the storm restrengthened to a full-fledged, very nicely-structured supercell. I continued with this storm for nearly two hours as it moved eastward at only 15 mph! Even better, the road network was great. That sure was a treat after chasing fast-moving storms in the non-gridded roads in Texas!

First storm of the day near Almora, MN. It quickly dissipated.

Second storm near Staples, MN. It quickly weakened as I approached it.

Storm Three ahead.

Storm Three shriveled when I arrived.

Now east of Storm Four.

Oh, No! A left split is about to attack.

After the split moves by, I still see an updraft on Storm Four. Hooray!

Updraft base of Storm Four expands.

Mammatus and the St. Michael tornadic storm in the distance (and also the one that sent the left split at my storm).

Storm Four is looking much healthier now.

Rear flank downdraft (RFD) cuts into the updraft base.

Definitely a supercell storm.

The sunset illuminates the sky in brilliant color as lightning shoots out from the updraft barrel.

Sunset, supercell, and lightning. A very fine moment!

Here's a video capture at the same time (to compare color).

Nighttime lightning!

Lightning with rain-filled updraft base to the left.

Lightning and updraft base.

Video summary of the chase:

2011 | All Storm Chases | TornadoBob Home