Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Wednesday, July 31, 2024

July 2024 Storm Chasing Recap

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July 2024 has been an incredible month for storms in the Midwest. This is a running-updates post chronicling events covered during the period.

July 2024 Event List

July 4: Gouldsboro, PA thunderstorm

This storm over Gouldsboro, PA displayed a wall cloud briefly, but otherwise nothing else of interest. This drone view was looking north.

July 6: Mount Pocono, PA thunderstorm

These storms overperformed from model expectations and woke me up at 3am. I didn't get out in time to catch the more lightning-active lead storm. As with the previous three events in heavily-forested central/northeast Pennsylvania, the only views I could manage of storms was via drone, which required being out of heavy rain. A second storm trailed the first by a few minutes, but didn't produce any visible bolts before or after the heavy cores were overhead. This was the view of the shelf cloud and core of the second storm overtaking Mount Pocono, PA:

July 7: St. Louis metro storm bust

Models had consistently shown some new storms firing behind an outflow boundary pushing south from ongoing activity in central Missouri, so I began the drive west to await this activity. As I drove west, towering cumulus that was visible behind the outflow fell apart, and the next few model runs backed off of the storms forming in the metro. The outflow moved south through the area quietly with no forther activity in the St. Louis metro area.

July 8: St. Louis lightning barrage

I wasn't expecting a good event this day, with overcast from Beryl streaming north over the region and models only showing a brief burst of convection in the metro area during the afternoon. Storms far overperformed from what was anticipated, with very lightning-active cells developing in/moving through the metro.

I started in Kirkwood where a new cell started dropping frequent bolts overhead. Unable to find a view in time, I moved back into downtown to await this activity's arrival there. There was quite the barrage of bolts over the city when this occurred, but the storm was not cooperating with me. The wind pushed the heavy rain into whatever direction I angled the car, forcing me to shoot mainly through my windshield. I declined to save the lone bolt I caught on high speed during the peak of the barrage, as I was afraid I'd miss a building/Arch strike during the camera's long save interval.

The dashcams with their rolling shutter and views through rain-soaked windows were the only cameras to catch less-than-stellar views of a couple of the closest bolts. One struck in front of the treeline near the Gateway Geyser at Malcom Martin Memorial Park:

July 9: Tornadoes in southwestern Indiana from Hurricane Beryl remnants

A career day with two significant tornadoes (EF3 and EF2) in southwestern Indiana from Mount Vernon to near Johnson (just west of Evansville). This event has its own page here.

July 11: St. Louis metro storms

A low-key day with instability but very little shear meant a typical summertime "pulse" thunderstorm chase. As usual in these situations, I don't travel very far, but go out looking for new storm updrafts going up on existing boundaries for the slim chance that a landspout spins up. I followed storms going up on an outflow boundary from at home westward into St. Louis. At one point, a brief cinnamon-swirl circulation developed at cloud base over south Belleville, as did an interesting cylindrical precip core. Otherwise, I didn't see anything else of note. The storms also did not produce much lightning in the metro, I saw only two bolts.

July 13: Predawn southern Illinois bolt-from-the-blue

Storms defied all of the models that had shown the region rain-free overnight, firing after 2AM near Murphysboro in southern Illinois. They appeared to be triggered by a remnant MCV spinning in place, persisting and redeveloping in nearly the same spot through sunrise and triggering flash flood warnings. I saw a few "bolts from the blue" (negative cloud-to-ground lightning strikes originating from the tops of the storm and striking away from it), though my view of all but one was mostly obscured by surrounding clouds. I shot these photos from New Baden looking south through daybreak. The storms were about 45 miles away.

July 14: Chicago severe storm and upward lightning

The first of a two-day trip for storms in Chicago yielded this storm that produced at least a dozen upward flashes to the buildings, including 7 to the Sears Tower.

A collage of the stills from the DSLR, which I had framed on a vertical composition of the Sears:

Chicago upward lightning

A stack of the above images:

Several mesovortices on the leading edge of the line prompted tornado warnings with sires sounding downtown, and this possible funnel appeared over the syline:


July 15: Downtown Chicago tornado

Tornado behind the Chicago skyline during a derecho event. This chase has its own page here.

July 16: St. Louis metro-east lightning and flooding

I left Chicago early on the morning of Tuesday the 16th, but did not make it south in time for most of the flooding thunderstorms that persisted through midday in mostly the eastern St. Louis metro. By the time I got to Lebanon, the waters had mostly receded. Getting over to shoot the closed section of I-64 past Nashville was going to be impossible at that late of a point, so I just stayed near home and shot some high-speed lightning video. I captured an interesting intracloud-to-ground flash southeast of New Baden at 6,000fps:

July 17: Distant southern Illinois lightning

Thanks to the St. Louis and I-64 corridor storms lasting so long, they pushed outflow far to the south, much farther than models had predicted. This meant that instead of another possible big storm day in the metro area, activity would be too far south and displaced from the upper-level support to be worth traveling out of the area for. I went out to look at the storms after they fired on the boundary after midnight, trying for a few stills with the 50mm lens from New Baden. Bolts were visible in the stratiform region of the storms down near Carbondale and Marion, 65 miles away.

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