The Heartbreak of Outflow

July 27 looked like it might be a good day to chase with Steve. The set up wasn’t ideal, but it looked good enough to head out.  We decided to stage at Red Deer as there was quite a bit of uncertainty as to where things were going to get started. Plus Peter’s.

About 2, we headed south on the QEII and hit Red Deer about 3:30, in time for a shake (because duh…). We met up with Beth just north of Sylvan Lake. Beth had two first time chasers with her; a member of the Calgary Police Service and a photographer friend.

It was a hot & humid afternoon with a dew point of over 17c.

We headed west on HWY 12 and then north on HWY 761 then back east on HWY 53 where we stopped for our first look at the day’s storm. 

Not looking fantastic…but nice canola 🙂 However, there was definitely a wall cloud developing under there so we headed further north and back west (I think) to see if we could get in closer and in front of it.

Things started to look quite interesting for a bit. I really think the way the wall cloud here tucks into the upper clouds is quite lovely.

However, right after this shot, the base actually detached from the rest of the storm. And that’s not a good thing. We also started to feel a brisk outflow wind and that’s a worse thing.

We hopped back into the vehicles and headed further east with the hopes that things would reorganize. We managed to find a nice vantage point that had some classic Alberta. Canola, Oil & Storm.

We continued to drive east  A few minutes later and we spotted this crazy formation. Steve & I had to stop and shoot it. Really disorganized, which is not what we were looking for but it was still pretty.

As we were heading east on 611, running from the heavy rain and hail behind us, we noticed some vehicles turn north just ahead of us and then east in the direction we were heading. A lot of familiar vehicles. A lot of chaser vehicles. ShearWX, and Predator 2 and Dominator 3 (thanks for the jerky Sean 🙂 ) from Prairie Storm Chasers. We didn’t intend a chaser convoy but when you run from a storm on rural Alberta roads, sometimes it just results in a convergence. We pulled off at 795 to take a look…


and what we saw was sad. Strong outlfow winds and the promising structure we’d seen earlier was simply gone.

With hopes fading, we headed across the QEII and stopped at Maskwacis for a few minutes.

But it was to no avail. The outflow won the day.

We called it a night and headed home.  We drove through some pretty outstanding lightning but by the time we were entering Edmonton, the storm was pretty much done.

As Nevin said on our first chase back in June, outflow winds are like the final exhalation of a dying storm. And that was true all chase long. The storms kept trying, but they just didn’t have it in them. On the bright side, Steve did manage to get a pretty great shot for the project so the day was a success for the project, despite it not being a stellar day as chases go.







Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.