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                   Friday, March 4, 2011 - 10:30PM CST

March 4 chase: Lake St. Louis and Chesterfield, MO bow echoes

By DAN ROBINSON
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25 Years of Storm Observing
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EXPEDITION VIDEO: March 4 storms - Wentzville to Chesterfield, MO

One thing I've learned in weather expeditioning is to never ignore a surface low that manages to entrain some instability, no matter how weak. Today we had that very situation just west of St. Louis, about 500-700 j/kg CAPE, steep lapse rates (sub-zero 850mb temps), backed surface winds ahead of the low, a good burst of upper level support and a cold front to kick off convection. I targeted Bowling Green, MO this afternoon, but got a late start, not getting on the road until after 3PM. I originally was trying to get ahead of the storm headed straight for Bowling Green, but was about 20 minutes too far behind.

I instead decided to hang back in Wentzville for the southern storm, which developed into a strong bow echo headed for my location. The storm briefly isolated itself, with some interesting features partially hidden in the rain. I couldn't really confirm rotation, so I hesitated to officially call it a wall cloud. Close lightning made this storm worth the drive. Later, a second bow echo developed just west of Chesterfield, weakening slightly before moving through the town. Power flashes lit up the sky near Spirit of St. Louis airport, but I didn't see any other signs of serious wind damage-in-progress. Another enjoyable and relatively inexpensive outing to log the second chase of the season.

Lightning at Lake St. Louis, MO:

Storm feature at Lake St. Louis:

Power flash in Chesterfield, MO with second storm:

Lightning continued in the stratiform precip region of the storm complex deep into the night, here over the Illinois prairie at New Baden at 1AM:

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