Chase Logs

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!

January 2, 2006 – Douglas County chase

What should I do on my day off here in the beginning of January? My plan was to sleep in and watch TV. Those plans were quickly dismissed when I was awoken by my weather radio going off informing me of a tornado watch. (was I dreaming?) I flipped on the computer and sure enough it was real. Several severe warnings were already issued west of here so I figured I’d better get my tail out of bed and get into chase mode.

I gathered all the gear and headed out around 8:15am. Since the storms were still a ways out, I decided to head south into Douglas County and let the storms come to me. I found a decent spot around 800N/400E around 9:00am and setup all the gear: anemometer, video camera, etc. I spent about 45 minutes just standing around and waiting for the storms to reach me. (yawning several times as well!) But soon the skies darkened and it began to rain. Then it happened… At 9:52am central standard time, I encountered a brief period of pea-sized hail! (Holy Hail I proclaimed!) I then recorded a peak wind gust of 26mph. (ok, so it’s not severe criteria or anything, but I remind you this is January!)

June 13, 2005 – Chase in Western Illinois

Nothing like waking up to a moderate risk in mid June. The tornado threat was forecast further north and west, but a widespread damaging wind event looked very probably for central IL. I monitored the setup throughout the day and had two target areas in mind. One would take me to west central IL and the other would take me southwest of Springfield. I would make that decision after work and base it on present satellite/radar conditions.

I left work at 3:00pm and I still wasn’t quite sure which way to head. I finally decided to head west and go after the cell that was all by itself. I departed Champaign around 3:30pm after topping off the gas tank at $2.34/gallon. I headed northwest on I-74 and then jogged west on RT 136. Several severe thunderstorm warnings were issued on the cell that I was going after, but on radar it appeared to be dying. I was almost there, so I decided to stick with it and see what happens.