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Lightning and severe storms in STL - January 17 expedition in Missouri
HD VIDEO: January lightning over the Arch in St. Louis (select 1080p option and full screen for HD)
As I've said many times, the reason it's so great to be an expeditioner in the United States (specifically the Midwest) is that we don't have a true 'off season' for storms. Winter severe weather events are common at least once or twice each November-February period annually here - it's one of the reasons I moved to this region. This night's setup was a warm, moist airmass transported northward by strong southerly winds ahead of an upper level trough. A low pressure system at the surface developed and moved northeastward, dragging a strong cold front southeast across the Midwest. Along and ahead of the front, numerous strong thunderstorms developed, aided by strong upper level support.
The best area for supercells was in southwestern Missouri after sunset, but as this region is difficult to chase due to trees and hills, I opted to make this primarily a lightning outing in eastern Missouri and the STL region. I started after the first storms of the evening in Bowling Green, MO, then generally dropped south and east along Highway 61, I-70 and I-64, ultimately ending up in downtown St. Louis. Just about every core was filled with small hail, the largest I estimated to be about quarter size on I-70 just west of Wentzville. The hailstones were very soft, smashing into pieces on impact like snowballs. A second round of storms moved through St. Louis around 5:30AM, but was generally less cooperative with lightning photo ops. All in all, a great way to kick off the 2012 chase photo/video folders!
Here are some screen captures from video:
And finally, a lone still from near I-70 at Foristell:
Other observer reports from this day:
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