This is a log of the severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in central and eastern Missouri on September 22, 2006. This was a small but sucessful "spot chase" chase (local) trip in the Midwestern US (Missouri). This special trip was made by myself and was only one day, September 22, with this day available for chasing. The chase began in Saint Louis, Missouri and the target from Rolla, MO to near Springfield, MO pretty much along the Interstate 44 corridor. Although not the best "country" for chasing, the concept of "have to go where the storms are" applied here indeed. This chase day involved observations of at least four dangerous supercells, a couple being cyclic supercells that produced tornadoes! One storm produced a tornado (which was intercepted) that caused severe damage in Saint James, Missouri. This was another trip dedicated to severe thunderstorm research in this area, which includes the Great Plains and the Midwestern United States. Keep in mind that this chase log is scientific evidence and portrays my on-going storm chasing research. It has been placed on this page for easy reference and meteorological interests. Please do not plagiarize or copy this document to other sites for distribution.

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The following entries are all storm chases and interceptions performed in central and eastern Missouri in the Midwest United States on September 22, 2006. This log is based on a storm chasing effort by myself - Chris Collura (Florida Skywarn storm spotter code B036 - KG4PJN). The main chase vehicle was a 2006 Ford Focus (my personal vehicle). States chased (includes travel states): MO (1 state). Total mileage: 391 Miles.

Communications employed are 2m VHF HAM radio, wireless Internet, and cellular phones. The ability to shoot HIGH DEFINITION video also was an advantage on this short chase trip! Other state-of-the-art equipment was also employed including video and camera gear, GPS, and a laptop computer for navigation, video / photo editing, and Internet. The main chase duties were ambidexterous, with "multi-tasking" with navigation using the GPS, radio communications, driving many miles, editing footage, and preparing forecast data.

I left Saint Louis (my place opf residence for a temporary computer IT project) on September 22 just before noon after forecasting and trying to pinpoint where storms would initiate. The primary "target area" was anywhere along Interstate 44 near Rolla, Missouri. Looking at a warm frontal boundary, developing surface low in E Oklahoma, little cloud cover, and incredibly strong shear over this area, I decided that this area would be the place to be for initial storm development. Sure enough, the Storm Predicition Center (SPC) issued a PDS (particularly dangerous situation) tornado watch box for this same region. September 22 was a highly sucessful chase day, with tornadoes and supercells intercepted (unfortunately with damage). The chase moved along I-44 then into eastern and southeastern Missouri. After finished chasing, I returned to Saint Louis for late dinner and was back at my residence there. The chase involved some interesting terrain, some with hills and trees, making it a bit challenging to get into position on storms. This also involved the worst driving conditions imaginable, even in very remote regions.

All chases and observations are in chronological order and a chase number is assigned to each entry. Please bear in mind that all observations adhere to modern storm analysis standards and do not include all storms that occurred in a given area for a particular chase period.

Any kind of storm such as a thunderstorm, tornado, waterspout, tropical cyclone, and extratropical storm can be chased or observed. I have tried to keep this log of any storms that I have observed as accurate as possible, while using terms and expressions to abide by those used by most meteorologists and storm spotters today.

Storm chasing and observation can be extremely dangerous and may result in serious injury or death. I have received intermediate and advanced training for storm spotting in 1996. I strongly urge anyone who is to try their hand at storm spotting to get training before doing so. You must also have a good understanding of meteorology and storm dynamics. "If you don't know what you're doing, Don't do it!" Contact your local National Weather Service office for information on storm spotting and about training to become a Skywarn storm Spotter.


September 22 - Today was a very interesting chase day as I was solo and chasing in my temporary "home" state of Missouri. Left Saint Louis around noon and headed to the southwest along Interstate 44. A developing low pressure area was setting up in eastern portions of Oklahoma / Kansas and backing winds were forecasted to increase in the target area, which was near Rolla, Missouri, along with a warm front, weak dryline bulge to the west, and moisture axis of high dewpoints (lower 70's). Shear was also a big factor in this case, with windfields from 850 MB all the way up to 250 MB extremely powerful, all increasing and veering with height (SSE at surface, SW at 850 MB, W at jet stream level). The core of the jet stream, starting with the exit region at well over 125 knots (at 300 MB) was already in place. Helicities were at least 500 with a forecast CAPE of 2,000.

The trip began heading southwest on I-44 to the primary target area near Rolla, MO. When stopping in Rolla and checking radar, supercells were already developing as I arrived right at the moment of initiation. This storm quickly became a supercell near Vichy, MO and developed a "flying eagle" signature on the radar image. I continued north for intercept on highway 63, and got a great view of the storm, with continuous CG lightning, a nice wall cloud, and striations on its updraft. To stay ahead of this storm, I needed to take some back roads to catch up with Highway 68 to my east, then headed southeast. The storm produced a destructive tornado which passed just 1/4 mile to my south of my position on Highway 68. Debris was noted about a thousand feet in the air, powerlines sparked, and sure enough, the grim damage path was encountered a few minutes later on the north side of Saint James, MO. The tornado was followed along I-44 out of Saint James to Cuba, MO, then farther northeast until it dissapated. The tornado lasted about 14 minutes (starting at 2:35 PM CDT).

Another supercell thunderstorm was encountered in Jefferson County east of Lonedell, Missouri near Highways 30 and 47 at about 4:30 PM. The core of this storm was encountered with golfball hail, and major damage was noted to a ranch while headed south and behind the supercell on Highway 47. This was tornado damage, but the tornado was not observed. A third supercell was encountered in Saint Francios county east of Knob Lick while headed south on Highway 67 at about 5:30 PM. This storm was observed from the backside, but a funnel / possible tornado was noted on its rear flank from about 10 miles away. This storm did produce a large wedge tornado as it crossed into Illinois later (the wedge was not observed). Finally, a fourth supercell storm was encountered near Hillsboro, Missouri along Highway 21 with incredible shelf-cloud structure, strong winds, and large hail around 7:30 PM. I wrapped up the chase and headed back north along Highway 67, then Interstate 270 to western Saint Louis (Creve Coeur) for dinner and returned to my apartment by 9:30 PM.


The diagram above is a map showing the chase area for this short chase trip. The heavy blue line is the chase path around central and eastern Missouri as well as the chase itself. The initial target area is shaded in yellow (that is the area forecasted where convective initiation should occur) and is centered near Rolla, Missouri and along the Interstate 44 corridor. Compare the initial target area with the graphic from the SPC mesoscale discussion product and watch box area from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). The target is initially north and east of the SPC products since the warm front is moving northward with a developing low pressure system to the west. The red X's are where supercell and / or tornado interceptions were done. The red circle is my start and finish location in Creve Coeur near Saint Louis, Missouri.


Above are three cropped products from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). The image to the left is the tornado probability for the 1630z convective outlook. Note the 15% hatched area, denoting that there is a 15% chance tornadoes can develop within 25 miles of a given point in that area, and with the possibility of those tornadoes being F2 or stronger. The middle image is the SPC Mesoscale Discussion (MD) showing important weather developing that may leade to the formation of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes. The MD product has a graphic, like this one, showing fronts, lows, boundaries, and surface / aloft factors for the importance of the MD. An MD is often issued before a severe weather watch box, like the one in the image to the right. The red parallelogram is the areal extent of the box, and affected counties within it are colored. This watch box also had what is called "strong wording" saying "This is a particularly dangerous situation with the possibility of destructive tornadoes..." Such a watch box is called a PDS watch box. Another watch area was also issued after storm initiation to cover the areas east of the watch area shown to the right above. Compare the areas that SPC forecasted with the target area in my chase forecast and map above above.


In the diagram above, two other important products from both the SPC and National Weather Service are shown. To the left is a radar (base reflectivity) image taken about 5 PM CDT on September 22, 2006 over eastern Missouri. At least three intense supercell thunderstorms are on-going at the time. Note the "flying eagle" signature in the upper-right most circled cell. To the right is a preliminary storm reports graphic showing actual severe weather events that did happen and were reported. The graphic shows severe (3/4" or more) hail as a green dot (or a black triangle if over 2"), tornadoes as a red dot, and severe (58 MPH or more) winds as a blue dot (or black sqaure if over 75 MPH). Note the red dots appearing in central and eastern Missouri in the diagram to the right. Those tornadoes were from the supercell storms, many the ones chased that day.


1). September 22, 2:30 PM - Interception and observation of an extremely severe and tornadic supercell thunderstorm from north of Interstate 44 from Vichy, Missouri in Phelps County near Highway 63 then through Saint James along Highway 68. The storm was a classic supercell thunderstorm and produced a destructive tornado that struck the northern portions of Saint James, Missouri with severe damage (especially to a gas station) near I-44 and Highway 68. The tornado was noted as a field of airborne debris under a rapidly rotating cloud base on the SW side of the supercell. The tornado was on the ground for about 15 minutes and passed only 1/4 mile south of my observation point! The tornado was at least 1/4 of a mile wide (about 1,500 yards) causing high-end F1 damage. The storm was followed to the northeast along Interstate 44 through Cuba, Missouri. Trucks were overturned on Interstate 44. The supercell storm and its associated tornado continued east and northeast. Other conditions encountered with this storm were very strong winds (over 70-MPH), mainly with the rear-flank downdraft (RFD), small hail, frequent lightning, and torrential rains. The main hail core (up to baseball sized) was not intercepted. Damage observed was severe structural damage to at least one gas station, car wash, debris (building and tree) strewn across the side of Highway 68, power knocked out, and an overturned truck on I-44. Conditions causing the storms were a surface boundary (warm front) and diffuse dry-line interaction, surface heating, and a low pressure system in a strongly sheared (directional shear) environment, and very strong winds (jet stream) aloft. A 2006 Ford Focus was used to chase the storms. Documentation was still digital photos and HD video. A tornado watch (PDS for "Particularly Dangerous Situation") was also in effect for this area until 9 PM CDT.

2). September 22, 4:30 PM - Interception and penetration of another extremely severe and tornadic supercell thunderstorm in Jefferson County near Lonedell, Missouri along and near Highways 30 and 47. The storm was another classic supercell thunderstorm and produced a tornado which caused damage in the same county. The tornado was not directly observed but the core of the storm was penetrated where very strong winds (over 65-MPH), frequent lightning, torrential rains, and hail up to golfball sized were encountered. A large wall cloud was noticed on the southwest side of this storm, but no rotation was noted. A damage path, however, was encountered behind this storm, that was undoubtedly tornadic in nature. A ranch and house on it was heavily damaged in this path. Conditions causing the storms were surface boundaries, surface heating, and a low pressure system in a strongly sheared (directional shear) environment, and very strong winds (jet stream) aloft. A 2006 Ford Focus was used to chase the storms. Documentation was still digital photos and HD video. A tornado watch (PDS for "Particularly Dangerous Situation") was also in effect for this area until 9 PM CDT.

3). September 22, 5:30 PM - Interception and observation of another extremely severe and tornadic supercell thunderstorm in Saint Francios County near Knob Lick, Missouri east of Highway 67. The storm was another supercell thunderstorm that moved across and near Pilot Knob and Ironton, and affected extreme northern Madison County. This storm was not penetrated (although its core had at least golfball, or larger hail). The fast-moving storm was viewed from its western to southwestern side, where a large RFD slot and funnel (possibly a tornado) was observed. This is the SAME storm that continued to the east and produced a wedge tornado across the river near Carbondale, Illinois. Conditions causing the storms were surface boundaries, surface heating, and a low pressure system in a strongly sheared (directional shear) environment, and very strong winds (jet stream) aloft. A 2006 Ford Focus was used to chase the storms. Documentation was still digital photos and HD video. A tornado watch (PDS for "Particularly Dangerous Situation") was also in effect for this area until 9 PM CDT.

4). September 22, 7:30 PM - Interception and penetration of a very severe supercell thunderstorm near Hillsboro, Missouri near Highway 21. The storm was an HP type supercell thunderstorm. The storm had rotation in the mid levels and had the impressive "stacked plates" appearance to its rear-flank shelf cloud. When the storm became more outflow dominant, the core of the storm was penetrated. Strong winds gusting near 60-MPH, frequent lightning, torrential rains, and hail up to quarter-sized was encountered briefly in this storm. This storm did have a history of wind damage and power outages. Conditions causing the storms were surface boundaries, surface heating, and a low pressure system in a strongly sheared (directional shear) environment, and very strong winds (jet stream) aloft. A 2006 Ford Focus was used to chase the storms. Documentation was still digital photos and HD video. A tornado watch (PDS for "Particularly Dangerous Situation") was also in effect for this area until 9 PM CDT.

This concludes the Chase Log for the Missouri short tornado chase trip in September 2006. The summary includes a total of 4 severe thunderstorms, three of which produced tornadoes. Out of these three tornadoes, two were observed (including the damaging tornado in Saint James, MO), and the third the damage path being encountered. The main chase vehicle conducting all chases was a 2006 Ford Focus. This information was prepared exclusively for the National Weather service and the team of Skywarn storm spotters.


Video Of Missouri Severe Outbreak On September 22, 2006


Convective initiation promptly begins one the target area of Rolla, Missouri is reached. In this picture, looking west on Interstate 44, a rapidly developing supercell storm is in the making. The main updraft is barely visible to the right, but a rock-hard anvil can be seen overhead in the distance (extends to the upper-left).
A barrage of cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning increases in intensity on the northeastern side of the developing supercell storm. The view here is to the north from 4 miles north of Rolla, MO along Highway 63. Note the band of clouds marking the forward-flank boundary.
Looking west of Highway 63, an impressive updraft base is developing with a nice rear-flank shelf cloud on the southwest side of the supercell. The storm is southeast of Vichy, Missouri. Note the rounded shape of the storm base and main flanking line feeding into it from the far lower-left.
Here is a picture of the northeastern (forward flank) side of the supercell, which is now about 10 miles or so west of Saint James, Missouri. Incredible inflow "feeder band" type clouds indicate a well-developed inflow into the rapidly intensifying storm. The view here is to the north, and the cloud bands are moving rapidly from right to left.
This is a picture looking southwest from about 2-3 miles northwest of Saint James, Missouri while stopped on Highway 68. The entire "bowl shaped" lowering is rapidly rotating during tornado-genesis. This tornado, however, did not have a very visible funnel, until debris was picked up by the circulation. The "dusty material" which looks like precipitation just under and to the left of the lowering's bottom is NOT rain, but debris being lifted into the air.
Here is another view of the developing tornado. The lowering is rapidly rotating and has developed a visible funnel on its northern side (to the right in this picture). This tornado now is about 2 minutes away from hitting the northern portion of Saint James.
This is a picture of the closeup under the rotation. Small swirls of debris is visible under the violently rotating clouds. Any rain is "tagging", where rain in the foreground is moving left to right, and rain in the background is moving right to left (tornado circulation). Still no visible "funnel" touching the ground, but debris confirms a full-fledged tornado is ocurring. It is just entering the northern portions of Saint James in this picture.
After waiting for the 1/4 mile wide tornado to pass merely 1/4 mile south of me, with a loud bang as a pole transformer explodes, I cautiously continued south on Highway 68 into Saint James. The power pole is destroyed to the left, and the tall sign is damaged. This is just north of Interstate 44 along Highway 68.
This is a picture of some damage to a gas station along Highway 68 in Saint James, Missouri just north of Interstate 44. If you look at the convenience store in the center of the picture, you can see it is severely damaged. By the way ... Look above the pickup truck and damaged carwash to the upper-left and you can see the tornado moving off to the east and northeast!
Here is a picture of an unfortunate person and his car across the street in Saint James who was caught off-guard when the tornado hit. The man is OK but his car was damaged as a gas pump blew over and fell right ontop of it as he was getting gas. Note that the canopy of the gas station is also tilted a bit. This is typical strong-F1 damage, where winds can be from 72 to 112 MPH.
Here is another picture of the tornado moving away to the east and northeast after crossing Interstate 44. The tornado is between Saint James and Cuba, Missouri and is moving to the northeast at over 45 MPH. This view was taken looking to the east-northeast from the I-44 and Highway 68 overpass in Saint James. Note the "tube" of dust and debris being lofted into the tornado. At this point, a packing plant was being heavily damaged.
Another supercell storm develops near Lonedell, Missouri well south of I-44 and near Highways 30 and 47. This storm is to my west in this picture, and an anvil can be seen spreading overhead with cloud-to-cloud (CC) lightning in the anvil to the upper-right in this picture.
The core of the supercell near Lonedell is penetrated along highway 47 in an attempt to get to the rear flank of the storm. This is called "core punching" and is not recommended unless you know what you are doing. In this picture, 65-MPH winds, or higher, are blowing across the road with hail up to golfball-sized. The white "streaks" to the left are bouncing hail stones. Meanwhile, about 5 miles to my southwest, a ranch is being destroyed by another tornado.
This is a picture looking east to a supercell thunderstorm that crossed north of Madison County causing more tonrado damage. These storms are moving very fast, so if you are behind one, you will NOT catch up with it anymore. In this picture, a large funnel can be seen on the rear-flank (view is to the east) of the supercell updraft, and is quite possibly another tornado. This cyclic supercell storm had a history of tornadoes, one of which was nearly a mile wide after this picture was taken and the storm crossed into Illinois near Carbondale.
Beautiful mammatus clouds float high overhead as more storms develop to the west and their anvils are blown over by the intense jet-stream winds aloft. These cloud formations also denote severe (or greater) turbulence aviation-wise.
This is a picture looking to the north at some smaller cumulus "turkey tower" type clouds. Note that these clouds are smaller since they are well below the anvil of the storms to my west. What is trying to be shown here is the incredible amount of speed and directional wind SHEAR. The cumulus clouds "try" to grow vertically but are instantly toppled over from left to right because the winds increase and change direction as you go higher up in the atmosphere.
Another supercell storm develops west of Hillsboro, Missouri just before dusk and trudges rapidly to the east and northeast. In this picture, looking west and southwest, the ominous and striated rear-flank shelf cloud looms over the horizon.
Interesting lowering under and just behind the rear-flank shelf cloud of the HP supercell southwest of Hillsboro. This can be scud or a funnel. Trees and hills in this part of the Midwest make it hard to confirm if a tornado is actually on the ground or not.
A bright bolt of lightning blasts through the shelf cloud of the rear-flank of the Hillsboro storm and strikes the ground ahead of it.
Here is another picture and a closer view of the rear-flank gust front / shelf cloud associated with the HP supercell southwest of Hillsboro. The color was very strange in this storm (went from yellow-brown, then green - hail - then grey). The view here is to the south and southwest, just before the storm became outflow dominant and lashed Hillsboro with strong winds and large hail.

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