April 20, 2005 – Chase in Champaign County

Ah, April 20th, a very popular chase day for many. Last year, I intercepted a tornado south of Kankakee on April 20th. While the setup today wasn’t the same, I still wasn’t taking any chances. The winds were lacking in both shear and speed, but we had decent instability which I was hoping would pop something severe. I watched storms fire up in the afternoon in western IL with several going severe mainly due to hail. My plan was to stay close to home and chase whatever came to me. After leaving work around 4:00pm, I saw a couple of cells firing up west and southwest of town. On the way home, I filled up the gas tank at a lovely $2.32/gal.

I departed Champaign at 5:00pm and headed north of town to attempt an intercept of the cell coming in from the west. I made my way north of town and stopped at CR 2550N / 800E (6 miles west of Thomasboro, IL) as the rains began to pound me. While I was sitting there, I encountered some pea sized hail. I glanced at the radar and I was clearly in the core of this little cell. I sat there for about 10 minutes and then proceeded to head back south towards Champaign. As I went south through town on Mattis Avenue, it was raining like a June storm. The road was almost like a lake and all the cars were more like boats than cars.

I finally made my way out of town and continued south on Rt 45. When I reached Pesotum, I decided to head east a ways to follow some scud junk and to get out of the heavy precip. I made a stop around 6:30pm at CR 1800E/200N to take a few pictures of this scud junk. I checked radar again and everything seemed to be moving out of the area, so I decided to head back home. On the way back, I headed west of town and took some shots of the sunset and some mammatus clouds. I also spotted a pickup truck who had run into a power pole and split the thing in half. (I had heard the call on the scanner) A sheriff had just pulled up, so I didn’t bother trying to take any pics. I headed back home and arrived around 7:40pm.

Final Thoughts:
For not having any severe warnings, this wasn’t too shabby. I’m not sure I have ever seen it rain this heavy in April as it felt more like a June storm. Hopefully we’ll get some better storms later in the month.

Total Mileage: 90 miles

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