Chase Logs

March 8, 2009 – Central IL chase bust

Nothing like a moderate risk of severe weather to greet you on a Sunday morning in early March. Despite the moderate risk, storms that did fire up would be hauling. The only real chance of an intercept was to pick the right cell at the right time, otherwise you would be out of luck. I loaded up the gear around 10:30am and took the time to install my new wipers. A tornado watch was issued shortly after so it was time to get ready to depart. Being the first chase of the year, I struggled to get the data connection working at the beginning. That delay kept me from heading south to southern Illinois and made me focus more on storms moving through central Illinois.

I finally hit the road at 11:15am and decided to head west on I-72. A tornado warning was issued for Sangamon and Logan county at 11:40, but of course I was nowhere close at that point. I got off I-72 and went north near Illiopolis to try to intercept what was left of the cell. At this point it was dying out and still booking at 60-70mph to the northeast. As much as I tried, I could not catch up with it. I zigzagged north and east and eventually found Route 121 and headed back home to Champaign.

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.

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.