Storm Chase Report
June 1, 1997
Paul Vincent Craven,AA0PE
Ok, not a severe weather chase but interesting rotation nonetheless. At the end is a more technical explanation as to what happened given to me by someone who knows more than I.
I was out walking with my wife in a rather wooded section of town. The sun was just illuminating the bottom of some ragged clouds, not much depth to them. As we headed back I saw something interesting developing through the trees.
When I was able to get a better look I saw a stream of clouds moving fast in one direction out of the bottom of a 'cell' (not big enough to be a cell, only a few thousand feet thick w/o precipitation) moving in the opposite. I'd never seen anything quite like this before so I grabbed the camera, put the top down on the convertible and drove out to the Indianola High School to take some pictures.
I got a good view of the 'cell' moving in all sorts of strange directions. To me it looked like a little non-rotating wall cloud. I called up my dad on the radio to have him look at it. As we started following it, the emergency manager came on the radio with reports of wind damage.
After a while we noticed some rotation. By this point I had moved out to Pickard Park. At one point (no, I didn't get this part on video, but I did get some stills) we had very tight fast counter-clockwise rotation. It was higher up than the base of this fake-wall cloud, and I didn't know what was going on.
There were reports of a rope-like tornado from fire-department-related sources. We didn't see anything, but it was farther south than we were looking. If it existed, I still can't believe we missed it.
Initial inspection by local EMS (not the NWS people who really know) revealed broken branches in the area and light debris scattered in the field where the reported tornado was. Nothing to indicate a tornado. There was decent flow moving towards the 'cell' at about 35 mph. I didn't get a reading as the wind meter was in the other car.
I ran my video up to a TV meteorologist, John McLaughlin, who showed me what was up on their Baron Doppler radar. The 'cell' was the outflow boundary of a collapsing storm to the north hitting the southerly wind. This made for lots of swirls and calls to the police department nothing that most professional weather people would get concerned about.
Later follow-up by John found the hanger doors and the Indianola Nash airport bent open 30 degrees, and some 70 lb packages of shingles that were relocated. This happened at either end of the outflow boundary. There was perhaps some other influence (a mini-gravity wave?) that aided in the development of this. As I don't have the background try to explain or understand this, I'll skip it.