May 13th, 2014 Chase

The day started out like any other weekday … work.

After checking the latest NAM run before going to bed the night before, I decided it would be a good idea to set my alarm a few hours earlier than normal so that I could get my work done in the morning and chase in the afternoon. Couldn’t have worked out better.


The SPC Outlook and 13Z HRRR run was looking quite good. The HRRR showed a nice line of storms extending from Sarnia to north of Walkerton between 5 and 6PM, so I decided that I would head to the Milverton area, re-assess the situation and adjust accordingly. I loaded up the truck and hit the road at about 12:30, taking the 401 out to Highway 12 just outside Woodstock. I chose to take a more southerly route in case I needed to adjust further west.. I had plenty of time to spare anyway.

Just after getting off the 401, something in the back of my head told me to stop and take a look at the latest HRRR and radar data, so I pulled into the TA Truck Stop and had a look. A nice line of storms was forming over Eastern Michigan and tracking NE out into Lake Huron. I was a bit concerned about the cold lake weakening or killing them altogether, as that has been the norm lately, but they were holding together quite nicely. It was also clear that I needed to adjust my target further north.


It was now about 2:40PM and after having a quick bite to eat I headed north towards Listowel, where I would once again re-assess the situation and adjust. After getting stuck behind a bunch of slow traffic, I arrived in Listowel a little over an hour later. I stopped in a Canadian Tire parking lot and noticed that fellow chaser David Chapman was nearby. I didn’t have his number stored in my phone, so I tried sending a text to the number he had set in his SpotterNetwork profile to see what he was up to. In the meantime, I re-checked the radar and HRRR and it was immediately apparent that I needed to head NW along Highway 86. I figured I could get a nice shot of the shelf coming onshore somewhere between Wingham and Lucknow, so without waiting to hear back from David, I hit the road yet again. About a half hour later, I get a message from him saying that I sent the text to his house number (LOL, Sorry buddy!).

It was about 4:30PM as I began to roll through Wingham and the skies to the west were quickly becoming dark. A quick check of the radar showed the squall line was just about to come onshore from Lake Huron. I made a dash south onto a sideroad, turned on my live stream and sat and waited for the shelf to appear… what a beauty it was!

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Mesmerized by the sight of this ground-scraping shelf, It took me a little bit to come back to reality and realize that I really had to get moving if I was to have any chance of staying out of the core. I headed east along dirt concession roads in an attempt to stay ahead of the core. That only worked for so long, however. I managed to stay ahead for a while, but the deteriorating conditions on the dirt roads were slowing me down and ultimately hampered my progress. I did happen to find myself behind Dave Patrick a couple of times, but I don’t think he even noticed I was there, nor did he have his CB on.. haha.
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About 15 minutes later, once I was back on a paved road and able to make better progress, I managed to get out of the heavy precip. I received a call shortly thereafter from friend and fellow chaser, Tom Stefanac. He was “armchair chasing” and let me know about some rotation showing up on the leading edge of the line a few kilometers to my north. I believe that the rotation he was seeing is what turned into the confirmed EF-1 tornado that hit near Mildmay.

Video courtesy of The Weather Network

Based on some reccomendations from Tom, I decided that I would head towards Elmira, then north towards Orangeville to hopefully get some pictures of damage from straight line winds. Ultimately, nothing really materialized and once I headed north from Elmira towards Orangeville, I called it a day and began to head towards home.

All in all, a decent first chase for the season and another 500km on the odometer.

Also, kudos to Dave Patrick for catching the landspout near Listowel!

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