Road Washout & Shelf Cloud Pics

Highway 1 WashoutHello and welcome from stormy Iowa!  We had several rounds of severe weather again, reminiscent of the 1993 era when there were days and days of strong storms “training” (one after another raining over the same area).   For those of us who are fascinated by severe weather, this spring/ early summer has been an interesting opportunity to observe and learn.

We had large amounts of rain last night, as much as 6 inches in this area.  The picture you see above is Highway 1 north of Mount Vernon, Iowa – a dozen miles east of Cedar Rapids.  This is a road I often travel…as do thousands of others every day.  The creek below swelled so far so fast after last night’s rains that it undermined the earth around a culvert, causing the highway to collapse.  A car passing over the creek fell into the crevice.

We had another round of severe weather just after 3 PM.  The cats and I were in van in the shed as 80+ mile per hour winds blew past.  At the same time, golf ball sized hail and strong winds damaged a motorcycle dealer a mile north of the burger joint where I work.  Just a day earlier, there were thousands of bikers in town for a weekend motorcycle rally celebrating their 34th anniversary.  (Yeah, we were BUSY cooking for those hungry Harley riders the last few days!)  Had these storms rolled through today or Saturday, it could have been much worse!

Shelf CloudAn hour or so later after today’s afternoon storm, I was out taking pictures of the washed out road on Highway 1.  This large shelf cloud was approaching in front of a very intense secondary storm.

The gentleman in the picture above was concerned about the ominous cloud but I let him know this next storm was not going to be a tornadic event – just a lot of wind and rain.

The shelf cloud shown above was formed by cold rain falling and cold air rushing out in front of the storm.  At the same time warm air was rising into the front of the storm.  The very strong winds then “tumble” along the horizontal access… like a clothes dryer.

Wall CloudOn the other hand, a “wall cloud” is the formation that makes me nervous.  Wall clouds are sort of in the shape of a wedding cake and rotate along a vertical plane.  These are usually where a tornado will develop and may not always be visible depending on daylight and rain.

The second line of storms hit and since the ground is saturated, there is water everywhere.  We picked up at least another two inches of raining which means June has been a record month for rainfall… likely 14 inches (about 6 is normal)  Last year was a drought!  Like we say around here, “If you don’t like the weather in Iowa, wait 15 minutes and it will change.”

Iowa is a fun place if you are a weather geek.  Watching the sky is a lifelong interest.  Years ago I used to be a storm spotter for the Cedar Valley Amateur Radio Club… but when a person gets a little older, he/she learns to be just a bit less daring.  But there is still the instinct to look up with the tornado siren blows!

As always, thanks for stopping by!  I’m hoping to have some good news to share in a few weeks as the plans to move north begin to materialize.  Take care!

Brad and Serena, Vandwelling in Iowa