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                   Tuesday, April 30, 2024

April 2024 Storm Chasing Recap

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
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This is a running-updates post for events covered in April 2024.

April 2024 Event List

April 1: St. Louis supercell and lightning

Two supercell tornado targets were evident this day. The first, and what I thought was the better, target was along the dryline in southeastern Oklahoma where deep-layer and low-level shear would be very good toward sunset. Models indicated isolated supercells in this area. The second tornado threat was along a warm front that stretched east across northern Missouri into central Illinois, not far from the St. Louis metro area. Supercells were also shown by models south of the front in the St. Louis metro. Although the warm front was the most likely location for tornadoes, the ambient warm sector still had a sufficient low-level wind profile for tornadoes. Again, as I've said many times, if there's a tornado risk at home,. I'm usually not going to go anywhere - and today was no exception.

The problem with both targets was extensive cloud cover and precipitation that threatened to greatly hinder destabilization. However, a nice area of clearing had developed in southern Missouri, with that air mass in line to move into the St. Louis area. The warm front itself to the north was completely socked in with clouds and precip, and didn't appear that it would be an option for good storms. I initially drove up to Wentzville to await the development of storms that models suggested would start on the eastern edge of the area of stratiform rain. This indeed did happen, and the first storm ramped up quickly to the southwest. I moved down to Dardenne Prairie to get my first look at it:

The storm continued to organize and turn hard to the right, with the mesocyclone tracking just south of Highway 40 (I-64). This was the view at Chesterfield.

I moved ahead of the storm to Ladue as the strengthening circulation prompted a tornado warning. An occlusion was visible here, but I had to use my drone to get a view of it. A tornado was confirmed to have just ended or possibly still be in progress at the time of this image.

The storm was moving a little faster than I expected, so I decided to go into Illinois to get ahead of it again. I accomplished this via I-255 at Pontoon Beach. The storm's low-level meso had weakened, but it had some interesting laminar stacked plates:

A midlevel funnel appeared on the western side of the storm, apparently associated with an old occlusion:

I went back to Brentwood for a short dinner break at sunset, then headed to the parking garage to shoot lightning in the large area of storms and electrified stratiform approaching the area. I ended up having to switch to another location due to the strong southerly winds blowing rain onto the lens, then returning to the parking garage after storm outflow turned winds northwesterly. I only captured one somewhat distant cloud-to-ground bolt while stopped way down during a short interval of close lightning.

With the next day looking to be a long all-day trip, I needed to get home to sleep. I packed up at 11:30pm before the arrival of the last round of electrified stratiform that would be arriving sometime well after midnight.

April 2: Jeffersonville, Indiana tornado (Louisville metro)

I captured a tornado in the northern Louisville metro area. This event has its own page here.

April 8: Total solar eclipse of April 8, 2024: Vermont and New Hampshire

Virginia Beach chaser Bill Coyle, my brother and his family from Raleigh, my sister and her family from Boston and I traveled to Vermont and New Hampshire to observe the 2024 eclipse.

This event has its own page with photos, video and a log of the trip.

April 11: Lightning at Richmond, Indiana

During my return trip westward from the eclipse, I passed through a storm system moving through the Midwest and Appalachians. The 10% tornado risk area in eastern Ohio and West Virginia outlned by the SPC appeared to be busting, thanks to widespread clouds and precipitation early in the day. So, I continued farther west where some breaks in the clouds were creating some instability close to the surface low on the Indiana/Ohio border. The first few blips on radar appeared along I-75 from Cincinnati to Dayton, so I exited I-71 and headed through Xenia to Park Layne to intercept the strongest one. I arrived to find a weak shower with no structure or motion in the updraft base. I headed west on I-70 to the Indiana border where some showers were encountering the area of instability. One of these intensified into a thunderstorm that moved through Richmond. I intercepted it on the east side of town. A hazy wall cloud was visible, but only briefly. There was some sporadic lightning. My dashcam captured a relatively close strike along I-70.

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