May 12, 1997
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Date: 5/12/97

From: Paul Vincent Craven

Monday brought cold air funnels to the Central Iowa. I was getting dinner ready when TV-8 put out a tornado warning for Polk county, just north of us. I grabbed the camera and ran out the door as my wife watched the TV-8 Doppler and updated me by radio.

This is what I saw when I first headed east from Indianola. Note the lowering in the left side of the picture.

Here I zoomed in on the lowering. I don't know if it ever amounted to anything.

An east-west line of storms was moving mostly south and a little west at 25kt. The first reports were from an off-duty NWS employee who saw a cold-air funnel making contact with the ground. It looked like there were sizeable cells on either side of the line, so I kept ahead of the storm in the middle of the two cells.

Looking over the NWS warnings (thanks to Ed Carp!) it looked like there were funnels coming from both the east and west ends of the storm (?). Most of the west end view for me was obscured by rain. I thought I had a good view of the east end of the storm, but I couldn't see any funnels or rotation at all.

Above is my view to the east as I travelled between the two cells.

And these are a couple shots to the west. Later I saw a cell to the west, but there was so much rain under it, I couldn't fire off any good shots.

Going east would put me on unfamiliar roads (I had no chase partner with me) w/o enough gas. Going for the west cell would mean driving through heavy rain just before I'd get to the funnel. So I sat between the cells listening to the TV8 reports being relayed over the radio. There were even touchdowns reported in towns I had driven through to get to my position! I should have saved on the gas.

The only interesting convection I saw was a weak gustnado or similar. Pictured above is a photo soon after. There was dirt/scud traveling to the east (right) on the ground. I had looked in my rear view mirror and saw rain/dust moving horizontally a few hundred yards behind me. Frightening! A quick check revealed cars driving through it and no funnel above. I don't know what it was, but I didn't stay to find out, even if it was weak. This was taken in Pleasentville.

When the storm was breaking up I picked the weakest looking rain between the two cells and waited for the storm to pass overhead. Even though it looked weak, I felt like I had a slurpee dumped on me. My car was covered in slush. What do you call that kind of precipitation? We certainly did have cold air aloft!

Soon after the storm passed, I got some good shots of a farm house being pummeled. I would guess that this is hail coming down, but I don't know for certain.

I don't know what this was. My best guess is rain being illuminated by the sun. I thought it was hail at first, but it did not continue to extend to the ground.

Here are a couple shots of the storm as I headed back to Indianola. It was breaking up at this time. This part of the storm was reported to have produced some cold-air funnels. It would be the west cell I had talked about earlier, and couldn't get to because of the rain.