Chase Accounts

March 31, 2001
Pictures from this day.

Since this was a very minimal day, I didn't expect to see much. Upper-air dynamics were weak, but a cold front moving through the state and extremely cold air aloft provided enough lift and instability for a few high-based hail producers to form.

After shooting a few fog photos over Lake Conway that morning, I headed home and kept an eye on the satellite and radar. A few cells began to pop up by noon, and I decided to intercept one that I saw developing to my northwest along the border of Van Buren and Conway counties. The storm was moving east-southeast at about 25 m.p.h.

I took Hwy. 65 north into Van Buren County and then took Hwy. 124 east for a few miles and stopped near Quitman at about 1:45 p.m. to observe. I had a fantastic view (the land was suprisingly open through much of the area I chased this day) as it developed a shelf cloud and an intense hail core, which included 1.75" hail reported about 3 miles southwest of Heber Springs at the time I was viewing it and later in Judsonia at 4 p.m. A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for the storm at about 1:50 p.m.

I continued watching for a few minutes as the storm continued on its way, and I then continued on Hwy. 124 to keep up with it while watching the shelf continue becoming better defined. Scott Blair called me from the atmospheric science laboratory at ULM at around 2:30 p.m. and offered to nowcast for me. I accepted his offer, and since a tornado threat was non-existant, I decided to chase hail cores. Scott did a great job in helping me get to the right place at the right time to get some decent hail video and photos.

I got pelted a few times with dime-size hail while on Hwy. 124 to Searcy. I then took Hwy. 67/167 northeast to Hwy 64. east towards Augusta, and just before entering Woodruff County at around 3:20 p.m., I was treated to a spectacular sight as hail up to .88" was covering the ground and road in places. It made for fantastic pictures, but I had to be very catious since driving on the hail was like driving over marbles. A few mammatus with the storm and another storm to my west were also visible at this point.

By this time, the storms were too my south and developing into a squall line so I took Hwy. 17 south from Augusta in order to get in front of them and see the shelf. The shelf became visible as I arrived in Brinkley around 4 p.m., and even though outflow was minimal at the surface, the shelf had become quite organized compared to its earlier appearance. Also, cloud fragments could be seen blowing out from under the shelf only to be pulled up and over the shelf by the inflow.

After that, I chased another couple of storms but only encountered some non-severe hail, but I had an interesting encounter with a developing storm just after getting on I-40 to head back home. To prove how cold aloft it was, I drove under some convection that had yet to anvil out or begin producing rain. However, as I drove under it, I was pelted by pea-size hail, which I thought was quite interesting. For being such a minimaly day, I had a great time since it's been quite a while since I've gotten into any hail.

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