Insanity in South Dakota on May 22, 2010!

Chase Stats
SPC Outlook: SLGT
States Driven: SD
Departure City: Sioux Falls, SD
Target City: Pierre, SD
Ending City: Milbank, SD
Outcome: Tornadoes (9), Wall Cloud, Hail (1"), Intense Inflow
Chase Pics: Gallery

Had an absolutely amazing chase day on Saturday, and most likely it was the storm of the year. Definitely my best chase over the years. We drove out Friday morning, and stayed the night in Sioux Falls, SD. The night before, I was looking over the models, and they did not look nearly as good as the previous runs. I was kinda bummed, but went to bed hoping that maybe tomorrow would pan out. We woke up in the morning, ate breakfast, and headed west towards Chamberlain, SD. Before we got to Chamberlain, I decided to head NW to Pierre, SD. After grabbing lunch at Subway in Pierre, we headed north, and sat for around 30 minutes just west of Gettysburg, SD. I applied some rain-x, and put on my new lexan hail guard that covers my sunroof. Now we would play the waiting game, and wait for the cap to erode. It wasn't long before ewe started seeing some TCu (Towering Cumulus).

We headed north on Highway 83, and were going to go east on Highway 12 towards Bowdle when the cell exploded. The storm was nearly stationary for a few scans, and we headed south just before Bowdle to get a look into the storm as it started to wrap up. After we pulled off, we looked SW and saw a quick spin-up on the ground, and watched a nice condensation cone drop from the clouds. It quickly went back up, and we headed NE keeping pace with the storm. Heading back north on Highway 47, we looked west, and noticed a large cone tornado forming in the field. It crossed the road several hundred yards in front of us. Continuing north, we came upon a downed power line, and were forced to retreat south, and stair-step our way back to Highway 12.

While making our way back north, we observed a large wedge tornado on the ground near Bowdle. This wedge tornado produced EF-4 damage, and ground scouring. Finally on Highway 12, we continued east until I spotted a funnel behind us. We pulled off just before Roscoe, and videotaped an amazing tornado. It changed from a "carrot" shape to an almost translucent stovepipe. After the tornado lifted, we continued east towards Roscoe, and then north where we observed the entire rotating base as it cycled back up. What happened next is where the story gets crazy.

We headed back south on County Road 9, stopped for a few minutes, and recorded 50mph inflow into the storm. The storm was still in the process of cycling back up after ingesting another cell from the south which had momentarily cut off its inflow. I chose a road on Microsoft Streets & Trips, which was an east route, and would help us stair-step our way back down onto Highway 12 so we could head east at a faster clip. We turned onto a dirt road-Ben, Scott, Adam, Danny and some other chasers had decided the same route too. It was a dirt road, but was not in bad shape until we got about a mile inward. There were some huge ruts in the road, and it was filled with water. The bigger SUV's, and such got past it fairly easily, and I wasn't too sure about how my Impala would do as it is fairly low to the ground. We ended up going for it, which was probably not the smartest choice, but we made it through with enough momentum. We continued on, but then Scott radio-ed back that the road dead ends. We immediately turned around, and saw 3 tornadoes on the ground basically surrounding us. We continued back west, and I took video of a beautiful drill-bit tornado in the field about 100 yards away as it tore up dirt. We again arrived at the mud-hole, and most likely would have made it back through if it were not for another vehicle coming the opposite direction that made us stop (as the ruts throw you all over the road), and we then became stuck. We were not stuck very deep, but deep enough that the car would not move, and we didn't want to make matters worse trying to get out, and spinning the tires.

So we sat there helpless as tornadoes danced around us in the field. At one point there was even a wall cloud that went over top of the car, and tried to produce a tornado. Luckily it didn't, and a few minutes later Bart Comstock came down the road, saw that we were stuck, and we got into his vehicle. His jeep could handle the now extremely muddy and sloppy road. We continued with Bart for the rest of the hour or so of daylight. We tried to track a large and potentially dangerous tornado heading towards Wetonka, SD. It quickly died out though as the whole storm complex went linear. We did end up seeing a quick spin-up on the way back to our car. We got back to our car, and a farmer was there with a big tractor that helped pull us out. As for the other chasers on that road, they got stuck as well, and the whole situation was a mess, so I'll let you read their blogs for the whole story. After we got pulled out, we headed east towards Aberdeen, and ended up staying the night in Milbank, SD. We finished the long trip home in the morning.

**Special thanks to Bart Comstock who helped us and many other chasers that day. Your help was greatly appreciated!**