May 21, 2014

Newbury, ON

My first Ontario storm chase of 2014 took place on May 21, exactly one day prior to that of the previous year. The day looked marginal for severe weather in Southwest Ontario… but still just a little too interesting to pass up. While good upper level support and shear were projected to be in place, relatively low CAPE was forecast and surface winds would not be strong. Nevertheless, most of the models did break out intense storms along and south of the 401 by mid to late afternoon.

That morning I liked the Brantford as an initial target, however by noon I was liking further west, toward Woodstock, and by the time I left the house at 1:00pm, I was heading even further west: toward London. This westward trend continued as I started to see cells beginning to fire in the Petrolia area, so I raced westward in that direction. Near West Elgin, I took Hwy 76 north, to intercept a rapidly developing supercell near Newbury.

As the storm came into view, I saw that it had a low and compact base with a large, bowled wall cloud. Closer positioning revealed that the wall cloud was rotating. As I followed the storm to the southeast, there were a few times where he wall cloud seemed to tighten and spin faster, but never could quite get it together to produce. Nevertheless, it was a very well-structured and pretty storm to watch.