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

About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"
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5 Responses to Road Washout & Shelf Cloud Pics

  1. Jo says:

    Now that is a lot of rain. Great pictures. Those clouds look really scary
    yet beautiful. I’m a cloud person myself.
    We would love to have at least 3 drops of rain here. Maybe next week.
    You be careful out there.

  2. Jerry says:

    Hi Brad

    Great pictures, glad you didn’t fall into the hole 🙂

    I tripped across a guy Dan who has the following web site below, he’s an old geezer like us who putts around living in his truck camper installing small solar panels on people’s RV etc. check out his simple site, he must make good money I would guess $1,000 profit per system. right now he’s sick & not talking on jobs

    Solar Power My RV.com

    I also decided besides trying to sell batteries , I would try to do some classes on how to install solar on RV’s using my trailer as a perfect example of doing the impossible with quality parts. I would do some cheap classes maybe for other RVers who wanna earn a little on the road or just learn their own system $300 to $500 one day class. Then a 4-5 day very detailed class for professionals covering mega solar like mine, mini split AC units, how to build lithium batteries etc $1,495 – there is really no competition or schools for RV solar as its so small. Also I would do a service to design people’s RV systems and charge maybe 5% of what labor and parts would come to – also a Plan for DIY guys. maybe like $1 per watt to spec their system. I locked up about a dozen . Com’s this might be something you would also be interested to get involved in ? Will let you know as it develops 🙂

    Cheers Jerry

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jerry,

      That’s a great idea about the solar and such. It sounds like fun, too. Keep me posted! 🙂

      Here’s how I’m making money: working my shift and filling in for all the kids who won’t. (job security!)

  3. Pleinguy says:

    Hope you stay out of danger’s path. Great info you provide about reading clouds. I wish that I could do that. Haven’t seen anything like that kind of rain since being out west. Take care.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi! I would gladly trade the clouds for being out west… (in February!)

      Thanks for the note and the sound advice. I tend to get a little too close at times… 🙂 Take care!