Chase Logs

June 19, 2009 – Chase in Eastern Illinois

A moderate risk and 10% chance of tornadoes across Central Illinois is a nice way to start off a Friday. A severe thunderstorm watch was pasted across northern and central IL at 2:30pm. Around 3:00pm, several storms were firing up along intersecting outflow boundaries in DeWitt and Logan counties. The cell that I had my eye on was in DeWitt county which was severe warned at 3:41pm. Thanks to my lovely AT&T piece of crap data connection not working yet again, I was limited to the radar on my phone.

I departed Champaign at 4:00pm and headed west on RT 10. I pulled off just north of Seymour (CR 1675N / 0.25 miles west of CR 200E) to observe a nice looking wall cloud. It had lots of vertical motion, but it couldn’t get its act together and quickly died out. A severe thunderstorm was issued for this cell at 4:21pm. I decided to head south a few miles and then follow the storm east across Champaign county. At 5:07pm, I pulled off at the Unity East Elementary School parking lot in Philo and observed another wall cloud. I would estimate the winds were around 40mph as the storm moved past me.

May 30, 2009 – Chase in Eastern Illinois

After my travel to Colorado earlier in the week without a storm, I was anxious to get a chase in before my vacation was over. There was a slight risk out for southern Illinois and Indiana, but I wasn’t really wanting to go way down there due to crappy terrain. Around 4pm, a severe thunderstorm watch was issued for southern Illinois all the way into West Virginia. I noticed a decent looking storm moving into Piatt county, so I decided to head out and see if I could intercept it. Like previous chases, I had a hell of a time trying to get my AT&T data card to find a signal. After messing with it unsuccessfully for 15 minutes, I gave up and decided to just use my phone’s radar software to chase.

I departed Champaign at 5:00pm and headed south on I-57. My storm was now in southern Piatt county, so my goal was to intercept it in Douglas county. I noticed that my data card finally decided to start working again, so that was a relief. Visually the storm looked pretty good and a wall cloud was visible at times. I made it to Tuscola at 5:25pm and headed west of town to attempt a better view. Radar was showing that the storm was starting to split into two different cells and the one I was on was turning to the right. (see WCIA’s Kalee Dionne’s explanation) At this point I needed to get south to stay ahead of the storm, so I headed back to town and then south on RT 45.

May 15, 2009 – Chase in Champaign County

After Wednesday’s adventure, I was really not wanting nor planning on chasing today. I had a lot of things to catch up on at work, but I wasn’t completely ignoring the weather. At 2:35pm, a tornado watch was issued for a big chunk of central Illinois and part of eastern Missouri. A tornado warning was issued shortly after for a cell in western Illinois. I watched it progress across central IL, but I was not seeing any reports of tornadoes. It continued to generate tornado warnings as it moved east, so I continued to keep an eye on it. Around 6pm I finally finished up my work and needed to head to the post office to mail some things. I decided since I was heading outside, I might as well take the gear with me and do a local chase. After setting up the gear and filling up the gas tank, I departed Champaign at 7:00pm. I stopped out in the country on CR 1500N just west of Rising road to watch the storm roll in. I wasn’t seeing much of a concern from my vantage point, though I was probably too far north to see the potential area of circulation. I decided to head south and then east to keep ahead of the storm. Around 7:30pm I encountered about a minute of small hail which I thought was going to last longer than it actually did. (luckily not the golf ball sized that was reported in Monticello!)

May 13, 2009 – Wall cloud in Western Illinois

When the SPC Day 3 outlook pegs an area with a moderate risk, it’s usually a decent indicator that there’s going to be some nasty storms. The Day 1 outlook for May 13th had most of Illinois in the moderate risk, though it was later trimmed back to include just the western and southern parts of the state. I somehow managed to get the afternoon off from work, so I was anxious to get out there and see some action. I spent most of the morning trying to get my new AT&T data card to work correctly. I finally had to do a complete uninstall of all software / drivers related to the card and then it reinstalled correctly. I also discovered that the county was changing their public safety frequencies and my scanner needed some updating to track the changes. (probably not the wisest move to change such a crucial system on a severe weather day)

Anywho, I loaded up all the gear and headed west on I-72 from Champaign around 1:30pm. Not much was going on in the weather during the trip west, so I decided to stop in Jacksonville for a pitstop / snacks. I reassessed the situation while sitting at Lake Jacksonville watching the wind blow. (real exciting!) Looking at Spotter Network, most of the chasers were crossing over into Missouri which was not on my agenda. There are too many hills and trees for my taste, so I figured I’d stick to Illinois. I debated whether the storms that were firing up in Missouri would make it to Illinois before it was too dark. I almost called it a bust and headed back home, but figured I’d gone through the hassle of taking half a day off work so I should probably stick it out for a few more hours.

April 5, 2009 – Chase to Southern Illinois

Normally I try to avoid chasing in southern Illinois due to the less than ideal terrain. However, my SDS was getting the best of me and I was anxious to chase something. I also wanted to try out my live video stream via ChaserTV. The Day 1 outlook had southeast Illinois in a slight risk and a 5% risk of tornadoes.

I departed Champaign at 10:15am and headed south on I-57 to Effingham. Once I got there, I continued south on RT 45. That was probably my first mistake as I quickly found out they were doing lots of road construction which slowed me down a bit. As I continued south, a tornado watch was issued for southeast IL, southern IN and western KY. (yay!) I stopped in Flora, IL to check data and watch the approaching non-severe storm heading towards me. I decided to keep heading south and see what I could find. I stopped again around 1:45pm in Norris City to grab a snack and check data again. It appeared like there were some storms firing up in southwest IL so I decided to head west and check them out.