August 4, 2010 – Wind, hail, and heavy rain in Champaign/Vermilion County IL

It was nice to wake up to a slight risk of severe weather here in central IL. Of course it’s August, so we were also under an extreme heat warning. Heat indices were hitting 110+ so conditions were definitely ripe for storms. I was anxious to go chasing so I could try out a new chase gadget. I recently picked up an iPad which I mainly bought to get me quickly on the road rather than wasting time hooking up a laptop. Since most of my chases this year have been without a laptop, I figured it would be a nice change to have a larger screen device for radar.

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued at 3:15pm for central IL. I finished up some things for work and then prepared to head out. There was a nice severe warned cell in western IL, but I didn’t really want to drive all the way over there and have it die out on me. I decided to focus on the storms in the northern part of Champaign county.

I left Champaign at 4:30pm and headed north on Mattis Avenue / CR 1000E. The biggest storm was straddling the Champaign / Ford county line. I headed east on Route 136 to catch up with it. Once I got east of Rantoul, my AT&T data was very spotty at best. When I did get a glimpse of radar, the storm appeared to be nothing but a flood machine. Once I reached Potomac, I headed south to I-74.

Heading west on I-74, I pulled off at the Fithian exit at Route 49 and waited for the storm. (5:50pm) I encountered very heavy rain, wind, and very small hail. (nothing severe though) While I was sitting there, I glanced behind me toward the off-ramp and noticed a group of 3 or 4 bikers waiting out the storm. (oops!) The rain was letting up a bit, so I proceeded west on I-74. I exited at the St. Joseph exit and went north of town a few miles. A very nice shelf cloud was stretched across the sky which made for some nice pictures. At 6:20pm, I started heading west on CR 1850N just west of CR 2100E and the skies opened up. The wind was pushing waves of water right at me reducing visibility to almost nothing. I pulled off for a few moments and let it pass.

That was the last storm in the area, so I called it a chase and headed home.

Final Thoughts
Despite not seeing too much excitement, it was a pretty fun chase. While summer storms usually don’t bring much but heavy rain and lightning, at least they move slow enough to keep up with them. The iPad faired pretty well minus the data hole on the Champaign/Vermilion county line area. It was nice to not have to spend 10-15 minutes setting up a laptop. 🙂 I definitely look forward to chasing more with the iPad.

Total Mileage: 105 miles

Click here to view/purchase photos from this chase.


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