April 22, 2005 – Chase in Eastern Illinois

I wasn’t really planning on chasing today, but the SPC teased me with the first morning Day 1 and the moderate risk that it plotted. The next 2 outlooks ended up moving the threat further east and south, but I wasn’t giving up hope yet. They issued a mesoscale discussion for eastern IL and western/central Indiana stating a possible watch was in the works. Satellite showed a nice clear slot pushing into IL and the upper level low was heading this way. Luckily things at work were going real slow, so I was able to sneak out early and prepare for a possible chase. The first severe cells were down in Perry/Washington county and were hauling it to the northeast. My plan was to head south and then jog east/south to intercept them.

I departed a little after 2:00pm and stopped to top off the gas tank. ($2.29/gal) I headed south on I-57 until I reached Mattoon. I decided to head east on Rt 16 till I got to Charleston. (go EIU!) After struggling through traffic, I made my way out of town a few miles. I heard a broken transmission on the scanner reporting a tornado on the ground in Macon county. I quickly pulled off the road and called my pal Mike Cox for an update. He said it looked like junk on radar, but said the warning stated there was a confirmed tornado on the ground. I decided to get back online and check this for myself. The stuff I was originally going for south of me seemed to be moving at a pretty good clip. I said the heck with it and decided to head back west and then north.

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.

March 30, 2005 – Chase to Piatt County

There’s nothing like waking up to the entire state of Illinois draped under a moderate risk! At first I thought it was an early April Fools joke by the fine folks at the SPC, but after further review I noticed there was indeed a chance of some severe weather. Unfortunately I was stuck at work till 4pm, so going after the prime target of north central Illinois or anything in Iowa was definitely out of the question.

During the afternoon, storms started firing up in western Illinois. Several of them went severe and then finally one went tornadic near the Peoria area. I sat there at work drooling at the radar screen and was hoping that someone was chasing it. Right before I left work, I tried to come up with a target area. I had planned on heading up towards Bloomington, but with the storms moving at 65mph I had to readjust my plans.