December 27, 2008 – Chase in Piatt County IL

There’s nothing like waking up in December to a tornado watch, flash flood watch, and wind advisory all at the same time. I had my eye on this day for awhile so I was anxious to get back out there one more time this year. The SPC had issued a moderate risk for SW Illinois mainly for high winds but tornadoes were also possible given the amount of wind shear. Things were starting to fire up around 10:00am in western Illinois. I started going through all my gear and realized I needed to reactivate my AT&T data card. Unfortunately, they apparently decided to do away with their unlimited data option for prepaid service so that seriously limited my options. I don’t like to chase without data, so I decided to wait for the storms to get closer before venturing out. I grabbed the camera gear, GPS, and cell phone and left the laptop at home. (old school chasing, sort of!) 🙂

I hit the road at 12:45pm and headed west on RT 10 from Champaign. Due to the rapid movement of the line of storms, there wasn’t really a target area. The goal was to try to get in front of a bowing section of the line and see what happened. At 1:24pm, I stopped at 2150N / 400E in Piatt County just SW of Deland. That part of the line was just approaching my location, but I did not encounter the 60-70mph winds that the western counties were receiving. I continued on south and then east through Monticello as I tried to keep up with the storms. I stopped again at 1:50pm east of Monticello to shoot some more video of the approaching storms. I put the anemometer on the roof of the car and anxiously watched the displayed. Unfortunately, I only managed to squeak out a boring 36 mph wind gust. I decided to call it a chase at this point and head back home to Champaign.

May 30, 2008 – Central IL chase

I haven’t chased since 2006 so I was anxious to get back out there sometime this year. If anything it was a good time to test out the new gear that I have acquired since the last time I chased. The SPC had a moderate risk over central IL by noon mentioning supercells and bow echos. I became really busy at work and didn’t have time to look at much data during the afternoon. At 2pm, a Tornado Watch was issued for eastern MO, central IL, and western IN. I managed to finish up work a little earlier that normal and headed home to grab the gear. I had a little trouble with the GPS software, but finally got it working. I hit the road around 3:30pm and headed west on Route 10.

For some reason, I decided to get off RT 10 just east of Seymour and went south. I didn’t really have a target area at this point, so I was just trying to head west and south a bit. Radar was showing a developing cell with a possible hook over Cass / Mason counties. I wasn’t seeing any rotation on radar at the time, but I was very interested in this cell since it was the closest one to me. I zigzagged my way west and stopped at the I-72 on-ramp just west of Cisco to decide what to do next. My choices were either to go after the cell to my northwest or hit I-72 and intercept a tornado warned cell in western IL. My decision was then made for me as a tornado warning was issued for the closer cell in Cass / Menard / Scott counties.