It’s been a very quiet year here in Illinois in the storm department. Today wasn’t really forecasted to be a severe weather day here in Illinois. Too many clouds from leftover showers along with low dew points didn’t make for a good setup. Everyone and their mother was focused on the potential severe setups early next week, but I wasn’t giving up on today. After watching the showers move through the state, I wasn’t really expecting much to fire up behind it. However, around 11:00am, I noticed a few cells popping up west of Decatur. I watched a couple radar scans and they were growing pretty quickly. I decided to do a minimal chase by leaving the laptop at home and just using the radar on my phone.
I hit the road at noon and headed west on I-72. I watched several cells on radar continue to develop and head towards me. I pulled off at the Cisco exit and took a few pictures. This cell was already dying out but more were firing to the southwest of me. I zigzagged south and west for awhile following the storms and eventually ended up on the west side of the bigger storm. Someone at the Lincoln NWS office decided to switch the radar over to clear air mode which made figuring out how strong the storm was on radar pretty much impossible. Despite this minor annoyance, I punched east on Rt 36 and started seeing some lightning. (sweet!) As I passed through Hammond, IL, the sky opened up with very heavy rain. I commented that all I needed was some hail and mother nature did not disappoint me. (unlike my new camcorder which I will mention later) I began getting pelted with pea-sized hail which combined with the heavy rain forced me to pull over until it let up a bit. It was starting to pile up on my car, but unfortunately melted before I could get any pictures.
I kept following the storm into eastern Champaign county but it was losing strength as were the others in the line. I’d had enough water-filled pothole country roads for one day, so I made my way back to Champaign.
For the first chase of the year, this was pretty exciting. No warnings and nothing really severe, but the structure and brief hail storm really provided a much needed boost to my psyche. Unfortunately my new camcorder was not as excited about the storms as I was. It got scared during the hail storm and stopped recording until it was over with. 🙁 I’ll definitely be looking at other solutions to keep this from happening on future chases. I guess it’s better to miss out on a small hail storm now vs a once in a lifetime tornado shot down the road. Technology is fun isn’t it? 🙂
Total Mileage: 125
Gas per gallon: $2.849