May 17th, 2017

Lewiston, MN

This chase day was a local chase, I worked till 1:30-2:00pm that day and there was a risk for severe storms locally.  The one issue I was worried about this day was the speed of the system.  The steering jet wind speed with this system was very fast in the 70+ knots range.  With that I knew that I was going to run into issues when these storms approached the Mississippi River. And sure enough…they were flying.  The storm speed that day was in the 55-60mph range which when combined with potential tornadoes, can be very dangerous.  Now add the terrain and not very good road system in the area, could be very bad.  We started in Lewiston, MN with my son tagging along for a quick storm chase.  In Lewiston, we had a good cell trying to get going, bur we ran out of room as the storm took over the road we wanted to chase on and there was rotation with that cell, so I decided to shoot east and stage in Holmen, my home town.  From there,  we were watching another cell come bearing down to us and this featured a bears cage.  At that moment I knew we had to get out of the way of this storm so I shot north and then east…as I was going east the storm took a right turn essentially following us.  We ended up just east of North Bend, WI and took a couple pictures, at the time I was taking pictures there was a small tornado on the ground even though we could not see it as it must have been a high precipitation supercell and we were slightly out of position, maybe 4 miles or so from it.  I believe this one put down an EF1 tornado just west of North Bend, WI.  The thing I learned this day as a chaser is on high speed storm days, be really careful as we were only 4 minutes from where a tornado touched down on the same road as we just went over.  If I was in an unfamiliar area, this could have been bad.

Bill Kranski

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