April 10, 2001 – Hail fog chase

After a disappointing day/night of waiting on Monday, I decided to go to bed around 1am. The storms that were moving in from Missouri had loss their strength and we just ended up with a little lightning and some gusty winds. So while I’m dreaming of better chase days, I suddenly wake up to the sound of my weather radio blaring off. At first, I figured it was a flood watch/warning, not a severe thunderstorm warning. When the warning came on, it not only was a severe thunderstorm warning, but it was for Coles county! I quickly powered on the computer and loaded up radar and sure enough, there was this nice little cell heading up towards me.

I grabbed my gear and headed out about 8:35am. I headed south out of Charleston on Rt.130. Wasn’t too much activity other than some rain and occasional lightning. After passing through Greenup, I continued going south on Rt.130. At 9:01am, the weather radio went off again with a severe thunderstorm warning for Jasper county. Just a few minutes after the warning went off, I entered Jasper county. (not bad eh?) About a minute after entering Jasper county, the storm let loose with the rain. Visibility was reduced dramatically and I had to slow down in order to see where the heck I was going. As the rain let up, I heard and saw one little hailstone smack the front window. At first, I was like ‘oh no, here we go, trying to be like Keenan now!’. Luckily, that was the only hail I encountered, falling from the sky anyways.

I made my way into Newton around 9:20am and continued south on Rt.130. About 4 miles south of Newton, I started seeing some really low fog. (fog? I see fog all the time Stan, what’s so different about this fog?) Well, this fog occurred due to the melting of the hail accumulation. Not only did I notice the obvious fog, but I also noticed little clumps of hail on the side of the road and also scattered throughout the fields. (if you look on the left side of the road in the picture, you can see these hail clumps!) After my encounter with the hail-fog, I started seeing cloud features of a storm to my east. There was a lot of scud, but next to the rain shaft was a possible wall cloud. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to zoom in on this and study it closer so I’ll never know if it was a wall cloud or just scud. (look at the left-most lowering)

Around 9:50am I made my way into Olney, IL and continued going south until I heard the weather radio go off yet again. This time it was a severe thunderstorm warning for Lawrence county, which was just to my east. I headed back towards Olney and then went east on US 50. I started surfing around on the radio and found a spotter network somewhere over in Indiana, but they weren’t reporting too much. (good to hear the net activated though) After trying to catch up with the storm and not having any luck, I decided to abort this storm and head back home.

As I headed back through Newton, I decided to surf around and see if I could hit any repeaters. I kerchunked the 442.250 repeater in Decatur, IL and it came up pretty well. I gave a shout out to a friend of mine over there and he responded. At first, I was running full power (35 watts), but seeing the signal strength, I decided to drop it down to low power (5 watts). When I came back to him, he said that I sounded just fine and was booming into the repeater. After looking at the map, Newton is 70+ miles (as the crow flies) from Decatur. At the same time, Scott (KB9VVP) over in Pekin was also able to receive this repeater from 60 miles away! Pretty nifty band opening if you ask me! Anyways, I didn’t see much on the way back home other than some light rain. Got back to Charleston around 11:40am and finally got to see some radar. More storms were starting to move in from Missouri, triggering more warnings in the same areas I was just in earlier.

Final thoughts:
Well, I must say, after the countless disappointing chances we’ve had this year, this little chase finally broke the streak. It was really good to get back out there and see storms again! I also found out there’s still a few things I need to prepare for next time, but I’ll be ready to go. It was also really cool to know that there were spotters nets active in the area I was in. (I wish I could say that about southern IL)

BTW, SDS can kiss my … 🙂

Special Thanks:
Hmmmm. I’d like to thank my weather radio for waking my butt up this morning. Had it not been for the alert, I never would have chased this morning. (probably still be asleep too!)

Total Chase Time: 3 hours
Total Chase Miles: 165 miles

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