April 24, 2010 – Chase to Southwestern Illinois

There’s nothing quite like waking up on a Saturday morning to a moderate risk of severe weather in Illinois. While the best conditions for severe weather were in MS / AL, there was still a decent chance right here in Illinois. I’ve been very jealous of all the chasers who bagged tornadoes in Texas during the week, so I definitely wanted to get out today and see what I could find. I was initially targeting Salem, IL and then would readjust from there.

I left Champaign at 9:00am and headed south on I-57. On the way down, I saw two buses going the opposite way with a giant tornado logo on them. (that had to be a good omen right?) 🙂 As I passed by Mattoon, I heard chaser Brad Emel calling me on the radio. He was also heading down that way to see what he could find. I stopped at the rest area just south of Salem to hook up all my gear and check out some data. Most of the region was socked in with clouds, but I was hopeful that they would clear out in the afternoon. I determined I need to get further south, so I picked the Pinckeyville area as I’ve chased there in the past.

As I got closer to Pinckeyville, I stopped to take some pictures of some mammatus clouds. I decided to keep going a little further west and ended up in Sparta, IL. It was absolutely pouring at this point, so I figured it’d be a good time to stop and grab a bite to eat and check out more data. After the rain ended, the sun came out which provided some promising heating. I sat there for several hours just waiting for things to develop. At 3:20pm, a tornado watch was issued for central and southern IL. There was a line of storms in Missouri that were starting to get their act together heading towards St. Louis. I was getting tired of sitting there, so I decided to head west and north to attempt an intercept.

I was hoping to get into an area without so many trees so I could actually see what was coming, but I wasn’t having much luck with that. I finally had enough of the Missouri-like terrain, so I just bailed up to I-70. I almost called it a chase at that point, but the line was still throwing off tornado warnings and I wasn’t too far from it. I took the Greenville exit on I-70 and headed north on Highway 127. I wasn’t see too much worthy of taking pictures of at this point, but I went ahead and turned on my video stream just to make sure it still worked. Between the heavy rain and darkness setting in, I figured I’d better start making my way back home. Near Raymond, I found I-55 and headed north to Springfield. The worst of the storm was to my northeast, but I was hitting all the heavy rain on the backside of it. Once I got to Springfield and went east on I-72, it got a little more dicey. For awhile I was doing about 45mph as anything faster probably would of caused me to hydroplane. The crosswinds and heavy rain were really not a good combination for driving. I finally got ahead of the main line and was able to make it back to Champaign around 8:45pm.

Final Thoughts:
Well it was a long frustrating day of chasing, but that goes with the territory. I knew I’d have problems with trees/hills in going to southern Illinois, but a moderate risk just seems to make you forget about things like that. Equipment wise I was pretty happy with the way everything performed. I didn’t have any problems with the camera shutting off this time due to vibrations. I fixed that issue by switching to an SD card instead of using the built-in hard drive. The only data problems I had were a few areas with no signal and when the router battery died. (ran out of power outlets, oops!) It wasn’t a bust per say, but it was pretty darn close.

Click here to view/purchase photos from this chase.

Total Mileage: 455 miles

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