Just days after CanWarn training sessions ended, Chatham-Kent experienced the first CanWarn net of the year. A series of severe storms May 1st set the pagers off and opened the net on the newly upgraded VE3KCR repeater.
Using the links on this site, I watched the storms coming across Michigan with radar signatures that suggested hail, rotation and vortex formation. I decided to go mobile for a closer look, first calling the school to keep my grade 1 daughter in the office until it was safe to pick her up. (Parents normally have to wait in the open next to a steel building – not a good place to be during lightning.)
The first cell had a sloped front and strong inflow. The lack of a gust front or ground winds provided a false sense of security. Turning west to get behind the cell for a better look, we encountered heavy rain so loud that the radio couldn’t be heard, and the wipers didn’t keep up. Running on 3 out of 6 cylinders, we kept going and finally emerged from the torrent, making reports to the weather office as we went.
|This lowering at the rear of the rain free base appeared like a wall cloud. Rotation was present but partially obscured by turbulence. Bright spots further confused the identification. It was observed as it crossed Chatham in case a funnel formed.|
West of Chatham, I pulled around to the rear of the storm. I spotted a lowered nub of a cloud at the rain free base. It apeared to be rotating counter-clockwise, but was quite turbulent. These photos were sent to Environment Canada for further analysis.
Geoff Coulson of Environment Canada stated, “The consensus seemed to be that they couldn’t make out a wall cloud but your description of a rotating updraft jives with what those who were working on that day thought was happening (elevated storms with some rotation present).”
I watched the cell cross the city looking for a funnel cloud, then went to pick up my 6 year-old daughter while my 4 year-old daughter slept in the back seat.
Back home, a fresh line of storms was showing on radar, so we went back out for a better look. These storms featured lightning and heavy rain, but nothing needing a report to net control. South of Chatham, downpours were experienced that flooded many fields.
|The next storm featured the same sloping shape, but no hail or suspicious clouds were spotted. One day I’ll be quick enough to catch the lightning in a daylight photo.|
My daughters have always been afraid of thunderstorms, despite being taught more about them than most kids. They willingly rode along, and even said they enjoyed being storm spotters and helping to keep the public safe. Some photos were shown and stories told in grade one the next day.