Epic Chase

July 23, 2017 is not a day I’ll soon forget. The set up looked pretty good and I checked with Nevin to see if he was going to chase but he was heading off on vacation that evening so decided to stick around Edmonton. I messaged Chris and Beth on Twitter and they both said they were heading out. Initially things looked to be happening south near Cremona but as the day progressed it was looking more and more like the fun would be centered south of Red Deer.

Kim and I set out around 11:30 and headed south. As we got closer to Red Deer, we were seeing the cells build and Kim was watching radarscope. We decided to head west at Innisfail. We parked at Hwy 54 and RR11 to see what was happening. We got quite a jump on Chris and Beth so we were able to watch the developing storms.  It was fun to be able to report on things to these two great chasers as they made their way north.


Since Chris and Beth were about 40 minutes away, Kim & I and chaser pup Kiri hung out,


While we were waiting, we watched a couple of gliders take off from the nearby Innisfail Airport to go play in the convection.

Kim noticed some pileus at the storm north of us at Rimbey which I caught on camera.


Chris showed up around 4pm and Beth shortly thereafter.


Things were really starting to get going around 4:45pm. Rotation!


And right about then Chris and Beth said “let’s GO!” so we jumped in the car only to find out I’d managed to kill the battery in our Tucson…dead. It was somewhat funny…except for the fact that this was a tornado watched storm and the likelihood of large hail was pretty high.  Fortunately, I never go anywhere without booster cables so we hooked up MiniTOR and tried to get us going. And then nothing but clicking of the starter… Cue a small amount a panic and a rather large amount of embarrassment. We thought MiniTOR might not have enough juice to get us going so Beth pulled up and we tried again. ClickClickClickClickClickClick. Uh oh, Talk of a bad starter began. However, I was still pretty sure that it was a completely dead battery as I’d heard exactly the same noises before. Just then, we noticed the headlights and A/C fan were still on. We turned them off, cranked it again and whew….it started.

On my chase with Nevin I learned, always back in to wherever you pull off so you can make a quick getaway. This chase…leave the car running.

We got things going just in time and quickly headed a bit south and west to get in good position.  And oh my, did we have good position.

Just outside of Bowden, I caught this pano with my phone around 5pm.

and Chris caught this stunning timelapse

This storm started moving quite fast so we headed across the QEII to try to keep ahead of it. We were seeing some pretty amazing structure all the way.


Near Wimbourne, Kim saw this and said, “after chasing on these gravel roads, I kind of feel like these guys.” 🙂


Despite that, I took one of my favourite shots of the whole chase

We kept heading east and stopped again near Endiang where we met up with Braydon and the Prairie Storm Chasers Predator 2


While we were there we caught a quick glimpse of a mid level funnel (by the power lines) and this lovely inflow spike.


However, it’s also at this time that we were hit with the OFB. I measured winds at over 60kmh and it tossed some pretty chunky “dust” at us.


Since the OFB hit meaning the cell was likely done, it was getting pretty late and we still had a good 2 hours to get back home, we decided to call it a day and said goodbye to Beth & Braydon (Chris had ended up somewhere else by then)

We headed north and about 15 minutes later, I had to pull over for one last shot of the day. An old house, some wind turbines, a hail core and a rainbow. Not a bad end to the day. 🙂

Except it wasn’t. We decided we would call ahead and get some pizza to go at BP’s in Stettler. We rolled in to the parking lot around 9pm and Kim went inside to pick up the pizza. I looked up and saw this.

What the….??!?!?!

I said to myself, “If Kim isn’t out in 3 minutes, I’m leaving her here to go shoot this and I’ll pick her up later.” Fortunately, the pizza was ready and I didn’t have to deal with that. 🙂

We wheeled out onto the highway and stopped about 1/2 a kilometer out of town. We got out of the car and I took this pano.

The shelf was moving at an incredible speed and it passed over us in a few minutes. The temperature dropped by probably 10c and the winds were tremendous.

As we drove north we continued to be “immersed” in the storm. High winds, heavy rain, crazy cloud formations. Nothing as pretty as what we’d already seen but pretty amazing nonetheless.

By the time we got back to Edmonton, the storm was pretty much done and we’d been gone 11 hours. It was hard to believe. We called it chaser time dilation.

Time flies when you’re having fun.



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