Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wave and blizzard chase...

Wave chase and blizzard chase….Date March 22 2011.

I was watching this system for about a week on the computer models, Tim Burr from up in the Duluth was also watching this…He and myself knew it was going to be a wind jammer of a storm system….My other friend Derek Mckay from Clayton was also watching this system…I emailed him a few different times letting him know I was heading up to the head of Lake Superior for the wave action…At first I knew he thought I was crazy, One of his emails back to me was something like holly cow Dirk there’s blizzards watches up for the area….Looking at the computer models I felt the snow wouldn’t start up there until after 1 PM… Will talk about this in a little.

The setup to the storm event…

Deep area of low pressure moved from Nebraska into IA throughout the day and overnight hours of the 22nd Meanwhile a strong area of high pressure was over Canada…With the track of the low and the high to North this caused a very tight pressure gradient throughout the whole area… This also caused severe thunderstorms down in IA and Southern WI…. To be honest with everyone the thought at one time was to head to IA and storm chase…Looking at the models on the 22nd I really thought the cap was going to hold and if any storms did fire they would be fast bookers and lineout rather fast…So I was glad I tossed that idea out the window the night before….

The morning of the 22nd.

Called Derek asking him if he wanted to ride up North. He was concerned about what the conditions could turn into, so was I… I told him we will prepare for the worst and be ready if we needed to stay overnight up in Superior…So we agreed to head up…Meanwhile we were already getting sleet and snow up here at my house Derek was getting sleet… I told him take his time in getting here as we now have more daylight into the evening hours…Looking at radar I seen we were going to be able to drive out of the sleet/snow area in about Central Washburn County…Seems like the precip was not making too much of a Northward advancement… Sure enough looked at some of the latest computer runs and some real time info sure enough the high pressure to the North was sending dry air into them areas….We left my house place around the noon hour…The roads were crappy, however the farther North we got conditions were getting better, though we did run into one area of heavy snow up around the Minong area….It was about three to five mile wide band we had to get through, after that it was smooth sailing all the way to Wisconsin Point… That was our first stop.. Was able to talk to another friend from MN, when Doug was telling me about what the latest computer model runs were showing down in IA I was happy to be heading North… He also gave me some other good advise which I can’t go into or I will have to kill anyone who reads this lol (just joking) however something’s have to be kept a secret…Was also able to talk with another friend Craig he drives truck and he was down South getting hail and all kinds of good weather, but at least he was in warm air… We reached Wisconsin Point around 1:15- 1:30 PM…. By time we got up there the winds have really picked up…When we got out of the truck you could hear how pissed Lake Superior was, got the camera out and made a beeline to the beach, sure enough the waves were big still Lake Superior had bigger waves planed for us later in the afternoon… We worked the Wisconsin point areas really hard got lots of pictures…Must have been around 3 PM I was getting hungry, so it was decided we would go and eat at Breakwater yup the place I always stop at great food great service and its close…. This may have been our down fall as I wanted to get out to the other area that Doug told me we should go, Was talking to him and I really didn’t think I would have time to make it out there before we lost the best daylight for shooting pictures and vids…So after we got done eating instead of taking a chance on going out to the other part and not knowing some info we decided to head back out to Wisconsin Point, at this time it started to snow lightly so that also help in the decision process…. We got back out to the Lake the snow once again ended, however now the winds really picked up…..Derek had his hand head gauge was recording winds 30 to 35 MPH his highest gusts was 42 MPH… I’m sure we hit 50 MPH at times, however he never recorded it as he also wanted to get more pictures and vids of the waves… The wind would take your breath away..It was awesome felt like I was in a inflow area of a thunderstorm, however it was so freaking cold even dressed warm still had to go back to the truck to warm up…The sea spray, sand blasting, and ice jobs we were getting, all I can say it all stung felt like a 1000 bees stinging you, though I never been stung by 1000 bees before… The wind would blow the sea spray, ice and sand to the truck which was a ways from the beach..The grass and bushes from the truck to the beach was all glazed over by ice….Before we get the pictures….Yup Lake Superior decided she needed my cell phone more than I did… I looked for that damn thing no luck, so had to get another one when I got back home..Got to talk to a lot of nice people up there once again… All of them just like me said this was the best and biggest waves we have seen for many years.. We all agreed that Lake Superior was really pissed off and she showed us everything she had to offer…It was awesome! I loved every second of it, even if I was not taking pictures or vids…..What is funny it was really hard to talk or hear other people talk you both had to stand with your back towards the wind to hear and talk and that still was very hard….Ok time for some pictures before I talk about the white knuckle drive home……

The two pictures above Derek took,while I was looking for my cell phone.
The drive home started off rather well some light snow started to fall at the as we were heading out, by time we got to the rest area just South of Superior the road was snow covered about ½ inch or so……The snow really started to pick up when we got South of Highway 2.. From that point South it kept getting worse and worse almost got to a point were I was thinking about pulling off the road and riding the storm out….There was times with the heavy snow falling and the very strong winds the vis was down to zero I mean you could not see no more than 3 feet in front of the truck that was with low beams on, turned the high beams high forget it you didn’t see nothing…I wish I could have got some video of that, however as luck has it my battery in my camcorder was dead by then….Anyway we kept pushing it slowly…25 MPH was top speed for the longest time….Avg speed home was 35 MPH…Very long trip back but safety was the utmost important thing…After we got South of Spooner the snow was not to bad, however it mixed back with sleet and drizzle..I could tell there was some ice under the snow covered road… We did see two accidents one looked rather bad, we didn’t stop as the police were already there on both accidents….Got back to my place and there had to be 7 inches of not more of snow on the ground…Then Derek asked me if I seen lightning I said no I must have missed it, then I hear the thunder… Yup I did get to some lightning afterwards nice thundersnow we had going on… Derek decided he was going to try to make it home…He got up the neighbors and turned around and camped out at my place… The morning came we went out took some snow readings came up with 10.50 inches of snow… Thinking is that might be on the low side, however did run with and called the NWS with my report.. Later in the day I was still not plowed out so I had to see if I could get out, well I got stuck at the end of my driveway after about 20 mins was out and head to town to eat… Got back home then a little while Derek headed out… It was a very fun two days that is for sure…. Would I do it again? Oh hell yes in a heartbeat… I would not have changed anything about it….