South Dakota Storm Chase

Every year my family reunion is at the end of June and has been in South Dakota for the past couple years, last year I wasn't big into storm chasing so I didn't know that this is peak tornado season in SD, I was able to capture this image of a huge storm a whim, but it was a complete surprise, this year I was ready for action. 

The storm prediction center was predicting a less than zero percent chance of tornadoes for the region on Friday so I knew I wanted to be out and ready to chase when the convection started up. I started out the day by going to Custer state park for a leisurely 3 mile hike atop of little devils tower, I'm trying to get in shape for a backpacking trip this coming week!

On my way back to the ranch I was seeing some very interesting clouds around Hot Springs, upon checking the radar I saw a large storm developing in Wyoming that was slowly headed toward Edgemont, SD. I promptly headed West towards the storm, as I dropped down into Edgemont I was presented with this monster of a storm.

Within a few minutes I noticed a small wall cloud and circulation on the ground, this was my first tornado! Albeit a small, weak one.

The storm was moving very erratically so I was leary to get in front of it with a not so great road system South of Edgemont and a report of 4.5" hail in it's path, so I let the storm pass and followed behind it. As I tracked along the hail was becoming larger and larger, I was beginining to question whether I should continue on when a truck emerged from the storm that had all of it's windows blown out from the hail...that's it, I'm turning around!

The mammatus clouds behind the storm were unbelievable, extremely photogenic.

This was a great chase and potentially one of my last of the year, I'm glad I was able to stay safe and avoid major hail damage (there were reports of softball size hail), but I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't stay ahead of this storm to see the real show. This storm produced an incredibly photogenic tornado that Reed Timmer was on (of course), you can check it out on his blog TVN intercepts a massive tornado in South Dakota!

I'm still kicking myself for being so close to seeing this incredible tornado, although I probably would have been driving back to Colorado without any windows :) Maybe next year!