June 19, 2006 – Chase in East Central IL

After not chasing since April, I was beginning to wonder if there would be anything left to chase this year. The morning SPC Outlook had central and eastern IL in a slight risk with the main focus on large hail and damaging winds. The mid-morning forecast discussion from ILX had mentioned the lower freezing level which meant hail would have a better chance than the past few days. A few storms fired up in northern Vermilion county during the morning, but nothing further west. I didn’t really expect anything to fire up, but I kept the weather software rolling throughout the day.

Around 1:15pm, a mesoscale discussion was issued for Missouri through Illinois regarding the possibility of severe thunderstorms. Storms started firing up in western IL around 2:00pm, but they didn’t look very promising at the start. Eventually the one got its act together and prompted a severe thunderstorm warning for Tazwell and McLean counties. At 3:10pm, a severe thunderstorm watch was issued for central/southern IL to western IN. (yay!) This cell was moving to the east-southeast somewhat towards Champaign county, but it appeared it wouldn’t make the city. (I’m getting lazy!) I decided to give it a go and left work at 3:30pm to grab my gear. (where did I put those darn cameras??)

April 2, 2006 – Chase in Central IL

Another Sunday, another possible outbreak of storms in Illinois. Only 3 weeks after numerous tornadoes ripped through IL and here we go again. My car was ready to get back out there after getting all fixed up from the last chase. The morning Day 1 outlook had a moderate risk plotted from central Missouri to southern Illinois. Once again I had plans of targeting Jacksonville, IL and then go from there once storms started to fire. I flipped on the Weather Channel and there was Stephanie Abrams broadcasting live from Springfield, IL. (time to change my target area!!) 😉 Anywho, I loaded up the gear and departed Champaign around 11:00am.

After filling up the gas tank, I departed west on I-72. As I approached Springfield, you could still see storm damage from last month’s storms. Around 12:15pm I made my way by the 108 mile marker where I’d had my encounter with the grain bin last month. It was the first time I’d been back in the area since the accident, but at least this time the sun was out. 🙂 I did notice the remnants of a grain bin in the field to the south of the interstate, so I assumed that’s where ‘my’ grain bin came from. I continued on my way and reached Jacksonville around 12:53pm and put out a call on 146.550 to see if any other chasers were in the area. Mark (KB9PPR) came back and told me he and a few others were hanging out at the Econolodge hotel grabbing data.

March 12, 2006 – Close call near Springfield IL

After yesterday’s rain/lightning chase, I was wondering what today would bring. Of course there’s nothing like waking up to a high risk of severe weather! All the ingredients looked to be in place for a potential outbreak. Already at 8:00am there was a tornado in E. KS, so I figured it was going to be a long day. I packed up the gear and headed out at 11:30am. I took I-74 and then hopped on US 136 and headed west. During this time, a tornado watch was issued for central/western Illinois warning of possible 4″ hail and 90mph winds! I continued west until reaching Rushville, and then I headed north on US 67.

I made it to Macomb around 2:30pm and noticed some storms firing up to my northwest. I continued north on US 67 and then received a severe thunderstorm warning for the county to my north! I pulled off about 3 miles north of Roseville, IL to let it pass. I never encountered anything more than heavy rain though. This thing was moving at 55mph, so there was no way I was going to catch up with it. I headed back south on US 67 and stopped in Beardstown to take a look at the data. I talked to a few chasers that were in Jacksonville and they said they were giving up and going home. There were still storms in Missouri headed our way, so I wasn’t about to give up just yet.

March 11, 2006 – Chase in Western Illinois

Ah, finally a nice slight risk area on a Saturday in Illinois! I had planned on leaving early for this, but that plan was quickly shot down as I turned on my laptop. As my computer was booting up, I had several ants crawl across the screen and keyboard. As I looked down on the floor, I saw alot more of them. (must have been all the rain we had in the past week) So before even getting to look at a Day 1 outlook, I shut the computer off and began my assault on the ants. (when they attacked my computer, that was an automatic declaration of war in my eyes!) I began my offensive with the dirt devil (how appropriate!) vacuum sucking up as many ants as possible. Apparently ants like lots of wires as they were traveling along my power and computer cables.

Step 2 entailed containment of the ants. Armed with a mixture of vinegar and water spray bottle, I proceeded to spray all along the walls and floor where I was finding ants. This seemed to drive them away a little bit, but I was still finding them. Step 3 brought about some special ant food called Terro. It’s a liquid that you put on a small piece of cardboard and place in areas where ants like to roam. Within minutes of putting this on the floor, the ants were gathering in circles to eat this stuff. Apparently the ants eat this stuff and take it back to their nest where they then die with the rest of their friends and family. This seemed to be working and I was finally able to focus on other things like that slight risk area engulfing the entire state of Illinois!

February 16, 2006 – Another chase to Douglas County

Normally this time of year we’re planning for an ice storm or snowstorm, but today was different. High temps around 60 degrees, dew points in the mid 50’s, and a slight risk of severe weather? This is February right? Before leaving for work, I packed up the gear and had it ready to grab and go when I got back home.

At 12:45pm a mesoscale discussion was issued for MO/IL for an upcoming tornado watch! Thirty minutes later, the tornado watch was issue and I was in it! Unfortunately I couldn’t leave until 4pm, so that was going to cut it close for chasing. However, I had to run some errands for my boss around 3:30pm so that would save me some time. I stopped by the bank and the teller ladies were all talking about the tornado ‘warnings’ that were coming this way. The one jokingly said “You be careful out there, there’s tornadoes coming!” Of course I didn’t mention that I was in a hurry to go chase them!