April 11, 2001 – High risk bust in western Illinois

Before I went to bed on Tuesday night, the SPC Day 2 was showing a moderate risk for NW IL and then a slight risk for the rest of the state. After being in a slight risk for the past several days, I didn’t think much of it at first. When I woke up, the 13z Day 1 outlook was still showing a moderate risk for NW IL.

When I got back from class at 11am, I was reading through my emails and noticed an MCD for parts of E.IA/NE.MO/NW.IL stating that the SPC was going up grade this area to a high risk. My jaw dropped when I saw this and I immediately began looking at all the weather data I could find. The updated Day 1 outlook did indeed reveal the upgrade to high risk. Scott Kampas (KB9VVP) popped online and he was telling me that he would probably target the Galesburg/Quad Cities area. Not wanting to drive that far, I decided my target area would be Macomb, IL which is SW of Galesburg.

After making sure I had all my gear, I loaded it into the car and headed out around 1pm. I took Rt. 121 to Decatur where I stopped to eat lunch with George (N9IPO), a storm spotter/chaser in Macon county. (nothing like a steakburger to get ya going for a chase) On the way up there, I received a call from good ol’ Chad Gard from INCHASE. He gave me a quick weather update and I told him I would be heading to the Macomb area.

After lunch, I headed west towards Springfield on I-72. On the way over, I made contact with my dad on the 146.985 repeater in Clinton. He gave me a quick radar update on the way over, but it still wasn’t producing anything severe. When I got to Springfield, I decided to call Blake Naftel and see where he was. I believe he said he was near Leroy, IL and was targeting Table Grove, IL. (SE of Macomb) I told him that I would meet him up there and go from there.

I departed Springfield at 4:30pm and headed west on Hwy. 97. I started running into some heavy rain and wind, but it definitely wasn’t anything to write home about. (why’d you mention it then?) 🙂 I finally intercepted Rt. 136 near U.S. 24 at 5:45pm. The clouds were starting to disappear and make way for a sunny afternoon. I continued west on Rt. 136 and made it into Table Grove at 6:00pm. After a quick pit stop, I headed a few miles north of town and stopped out in the country to take a look at the sky. I decided to call Blake again to see where he was. Unfortunately, he was west of Dietrich, IL and wasn’t going to continue towards my location due to the ‘major bust’. His cell phone battery was dying on him, so I let him go and pondered what to do next. I rolled down the window and noticed it was much cooler and dryer, indicating to me that the cold front had already passed through. I was a bit disappointed at this point and decided to make the trek back home.

On my way home, I started seeing some cells off to my east. I couldn’t tell if they were new cells or dying cells, but they did look somewhat impressive. [multiple cells picture] (North of Kilbourne, IL looking East) Using the camcorder remote control, I carefully zoomed in on one of them while driving down the road. (don’t try this at home!) [zoomed-in cell picture] I tried to go after them for a little bit, but they were just too far away so I gave up that idea. I went back through Springfield and was going to fill up the gas tank, but they wanted $1.93 / gallon for the premium. I decided that I had enough to get me to Decatur, where I thought it would be cheaper. WRONG! [gas prices picture] I ended up spending $30 to fill up my tank, something that I hadn’t had to do since last year. ARGH! Anyways, as I was getting back in my car, I heard the sound of screeching of tires behind me. I spin around and the 2 cop cars that were there go chasing after this guy. Of course, my camcorder wasn’t rolling, otherwise it would of been quite nifty. (needless to say, I got the heck out of there.) 🙂

On my way back down Rt. 121 towards Mattoon/Charleston, I started seeing lightning to my SE. It was way off in the distance, so there was no photographic possibilities. I finally arrived back in Charleston at 10:45pm. Powered on my computer and had over 200 emails, most of them weather related!

Final thoughts:
Well, I was really hoping this high risk would pan out today. Sometimes you have better luck with a slight risk than you do with a high risk. High risks seem to be make or break. If they make, you end up with a severe outbreak. If they break, well, you get sunny skies and a lot of frustrated chasers. I was really hoping to finally meet Blake Naftel, but the weather just didn’t cooperate with us. Maybe we’ll get another chance later in the season.

As for warnings, I never did hear of any for IL. It looks like Iowa got the outbreak and unfortunately there was at least one confirmed death and lots of damage. Once again, you have to remember to keep stuff in perspective and respect the non-chasers. Chasers never want to see people hurt/killed or see houses and other buildings destroyed. No one can control the weather, we just have to live with it. My thoughts and prayers go out to those people in Iowa who lost loved ones or incurred property damage.

Special Thanks:
I’d like to thank Blake Naftel and Chad Gard for the information updates and the short chats. Also like to thank my dad for the QSOs/weather updates throughout the chase.

Total Chase Time: 9.5 hours
Total Chase Miles: 363 miles
Gas price per gallon: $1.93 (Premium @ Amoco in Decatur)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 × 4 =