Missouri Tornadic Supercell
A massive supercell thunderstorm dropped four EF-0 tornadoes (confirmed) between the afternoon and early evening hours on September 9th, 2014 in northwestern Missouri.
The back story behind this event was very interesting. In fact, this was probably my favorite storm chase to date for various reasons. I started the afternoon near Lincoln, Nebraska and noted that a supercell was developing to my southeast. This storm showed a visible hook on radar with some strong rotation on radar. Storm chasers near the storm had a rotating wall cloud on camera, but there was no tornado.
I raced east for nearly an hour before I finally caught up to the storm near the Missouri border. I saw a visibly rotating thunderstorm with a low wall cloud. As I moved into Missouri, the terrain became quite difficult to chase as I was in a valley. Trees and hills obscured my view and cell data was virtually non-existent. I reached I-29 and tornado sirens began to blare. As I looked north, there was the thunderstorm, stretching across more than 180 degrees of the horizon. To the northwest, the hue was very blue, likely indicating hail. To the northeast was the very low wall cloud.
I drifted southeast to keep just ahead of this storm. I had very little radar data to work with, but occasionally I would get a scan. Around 5:50 p.m., I pulled off the highway as I finally had a good view to the northeast. Around this time, an EF-0 tornado was reported under the massive storm. I had a good visual, but I wanted to get closer. For the next two hours, I drifted closer to the storm, occasionally backing off as I was getting too close.
At one point around 7:15 p.m., I saw an odd rotating cloud above the ground. It began to lower and was some sort of wall cloud-like feature. Not only was this rotating, but other appendages were also protruding from the clouds. It was very fascinating. Looking back at the reports, the National Weather Service did confirm a brief tornado between 7:10 and 7:15 just to my north.
I had multiple very close calls with lightning strikes, shortly before sunset, and then I knew it would be a good idea to back off and not get too close. One of the strikes was only a few hundred feet in front of me, with a branching cloud-to-ground lightning strike that left me momentarily jaw-dropped. I froze for a few seconds, but then jumped into my car to drive further south. It wasn’t long after sunset that I completely bailed from the storm. Between late afternoon and early evening, four tornadoes had touched down from this incredible supercell. The setup included a warm front that was draped from near the Nebraska/Kansas border, eastward into Missouri. One additional EF-0 tornado was also reported that evening in eastern Missouri.
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