Landspouts and the Eye of Sauron

I apologize for taking forever to get some of these up.  This is from July 15th, 2011.

The day was primed for explosive updrafts.  Temperatures soared to near 90 and dew points were approaching the upper 70′s as the evapotranspiration from the crops were in full force.   I headed down to near Gwinner, ND and waited for things to go boom.  They eventually did go boom east of Gwinner but the updrafts could never get sustained long enough for things to happen.

I decided to hang out west of town and just enjoy the rest of the summer day.  It was hot and humid but I was down in the portion of the state I hadn’t been to so I did some looking around.  Some more thermals started developing and I started noticing things that looked like tiny funnels underneath some cloud bases.  Upon further investigation I found they were short-lived landspouts forming over open fields.  Perhaps one came close to touching down but I didn’t get a camera on that one in time.  I could see as many as three separate ones at one point off in the distance as it seemed every updraft was spinning one up.  Here are a couple photos of the ones I did catch.


Extending down from the center cloud base.


A second from a different updraft


And then on the drive home, I noticed the Eye of Sauron was following me.  I snapped a picture of him as I heard “Bennnagooorn” in my head.

The Tree of Mordor

The drive home was interesting.  As the sun went down, fog started forming immediately in low-lying areas with dew points near 80.  Guess I’ve never been around such a “warm fog” before but it’s perfectly normal given the extreme circumstances that day.

While I didn’t see any tornadoes that day, I got exactly what I wanted–the chance to be out in the country watching the atmosphere do her thing.  Tornadoes aren’t always needed to have a successful chase.  That day I saw my first landspout.  While funnl-like in appearance, they form differently than tornadoes and I am glad I got to witness this process.  It’s almost like collecting baseball cards to me only in this case, I collect experiences involving different atmospheric processes.


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