Another Sunday, another possible outbreak of storms in Illinois. Only 3 weeks after numerous tornadoes ripped through IL and here we go again. My car was ready to get back out there after getting all fixed up from the last chase. The morning Day 1 outlook had a moderate risk plotted from central Missouri to southern Illinois. Once again I had plans of targeting Jacksonville, IL and then go from there once storms started to fire. I flipped on the Weather Channel and there was Stephanie Abrams broadcasting live from Springfield, IL. (time to change my target area!!) 😉 Anywho, I loaded up the gear and departed Champaign around 11:00am.
After filling up the gas tank, I departed west on I-72. As I approached Springfield, you could still see storm damage from last month’s storms. Around 12:15pm I made my way by the 108 mile marker where I’d had my encounter with the grain bin last month. It was the first time I’d been back in the area since the accident, but at least this time the sun was out. 🙂 I did notice the remnants of a grain bin in the field to the south of the interstate, so I assumed that’s where ‘my’ grain bin came from. I continued on my way and reached Jacksonville around 12:53pm and put out a call on 146.550 to see if any other chasers were in the area. Mark (KB9PPR) came back and told me he and a few others were hanging out at the Econolodge hotel grabbing data.
I joined up with Mark Sefried, Darin Kaiser, Scott Kampas, and Jarrod Cook in the hotel parking lot to await convective initiation. (human convection by Scott and Mark failed to help the situation) 🙂 We sat around looking at data for awhile and decided to depart west on I-72. We pulled off at SR 107 (exit 35) and parked just past the overpass to await further convective development. (2:15pm) Numerous towers kept trying to go up locally, but they didn’t seem to stick together very long. While we were sitting there, we noticed 2 guys get out of a van just down the road walking towards us. The one had a camera, so we just assumed they were chasers. Apparently they had just ran out of gas and were looking for a ride into town. Being the nice people that we are, we told them we could not help them. (the situation just seemed very odd and no one wanted to end up dead)
A small cell started to fire up to our northwest, so we decided to go after it. We headed north on SR 107 at 3:00pm and then headed east on SR 104 and stopped just outside of Meredosia, IL. (3:30pm) While we were watching our cell die out, we saw another chaser go south on SR 100. We flagged him down and he came back to chat for a few minutes. It turned out to be Dan Robinson from WVLightning.com!! He had his WxWorx system running which was pretty nifty. We noticed a new cell firing to our southwest, so we decided to head after it.
We headed southeast on SR 100/US 67 and stopped briefly east of Chapin, IL on Concord Arenzville Road at 3:55pm. The cells are really starting to go linear at this point, so we continued east on US 67. We passed through Jacksonville and stopped on the Loami Road/SR 104 to await the storms. We took a few pictures of the approaching shelf cloud and then headed east to keep ahead of the storm. (4:30pm) We then went north on Waverly Road and stopped at Fuchs Corner Lane (I’m not even going to attempt to pronounce that one) just south of New Berlin. (4:45pm) We observed what appeared to be a wall cloud before we had to bail out because of rain/winds. We headed north to I-72 and then east towards Springfield. I was a mile or two behind the others, so I didn’t see what they were seeing. Apparently they observed several spin-ups and wall clouds, but I was too focused on driving to see them.
As I passed through Springfield on I-72, I heard the tornado sirens going off. Thoughts of March 12 danced in my head, but I pressed on. It became very windy as the line of storms intercepted me and small items were hitting my car. One of the chasers ahead of me reported a small tree branch smacking their windsheild, but luckily they didn’t receive any damage from it. Somewhere during all of this, I missed my turn and ended up on I-55 north towards Lincoln. (whoops!) I ended up in Lincoln around 6:30pm as the line of storms was right on top of me. As if the weather wasn’t enough to worry about, my low fuel light came on! I drove around Lincoln and finally found a gas station to fill up. As I pulled in, I noticed numerous cars but everyone was taking refuge inside the gas station. So as I get out and start pumping gas, the tornado sirens go off. Hey, I figured I’d rather have a full tank of gas than be stuck with no power for hours. (I found out later there was a brief tornado 2 miles SE of Lincoln!!)
After filling up, I headed southeast on SR 121 towards Mt. Pulaski continuing on towards Decatur. As I passed through Warrensburg, I saw part of a restaraunt that had its roof torn off from a tornado. Once making it to Decatur, I hopped on I-72 and carefully made my way back home keeping an eye out for any and all debris on the roadway. 🙂 I arrived back home safely around 8:15pm.
Well despite the numerous tornado reports, I failed to see any of them. It was an exciting chase and I managed to survive this one without incident, so I guess that’s something to build on for next time. 🙂
Total Mileage: 350 miles