A moderate risk in July here in Illinois?? That’s what I awoke to on Tuesday morning. The models were showing some decent wind shear across parts of Illinois today, not to mention the insane amount of instability and moisture in the air. I was thinking it would be a good day for severe weather mainly because my weather server at home took a crap on me and decided it didn’t want to operate today, so that meant no weather updates to my cell phone. When I got to work, I loaded up all my weather applications and monitored the situation closely. I noticed one lone supercell firing up in northwest Illinois late Tuesday morning that made me wonder if things were going up too soon. Several tornado warnings were going out shortly after 12:30pm, this thing was churning! At this rate I would never have a chance to chase. I normally get off at 4:30, but I pulled a few strings and managed to get off at 1:30. I went home and loaded up the gear, then headed out to chase this thing.
I headed west on I-74 just after 2:00pm, hoping to get to Bloomington and then go north from there. As I got closer to Bloomington, I was hearing reports on the scanner of tornadoes in Woodford county. I got off at the Carlock exit and as I made it to the top of the off ramp, I saw something to my north that caught my eye. There appeared to be a tornado about 10 miles to my north, but the contrast was so low that at the time I could not confirm that it was indeed a tornado. (video analysis confirmed a tornado) I headed west and then north of Carlock, trying to get closer without driving into anything I would later regret. 😉 As I headed north, I had to check the map several times to make sure I wasn’t in Missouri. Most of central Illinois is fairly decent for chasing, but I managed to find one of the most tree covered, hilly parts of the area. (not to mention the freaking corn fields!) Anywho, I made way to US 24 and headed east to El Paso (IL, not TX) and then headed south on SR 251.
I continued south till I reached Kappa, IL and then headed west on CR 600N. At 3:40pm, I started receiving some small hail about 2.5 miles west of Kappa. As in previous hail encounters, I thought it’d be wise to get off the road and wait out the storm. I found a farmer’s driveway and parked next to a tree. (which provided no hail protection since I was on the wrong side of the tree) As I sat there, the hail continued getting bigger which had me worried a bit. Once it was over, I jumped out and grabbed a few of the bigger chunks. The pieces I measure were 1.75″, but they had melted a bit by the time I got to them. (back in Kappa, there was 2.75″ baseball hail reported!) The guy whose driveway I was in came out after the storm and talked with me for a few minutes. He said that the hail took out one of his north windows of his house. He also mentioned that he saw the tornado earlier from his house, which made me very jealous. 😉
After talking with him for a little while longer, I decided to follow the storm back home. I never could quite catch up with it as I made my way back to the southeast. I did see some nice mammatus on the way back as well as two semis that had been blown over on I-74 near Mansfield. I got home around 5:00pm and enjoyed the mammatus directly over Champaign.
Never thought I’d be seeing a decent chase here in Illinois during July, but today was definitely one of those days. It was very frustrating to have the stuff firing up so early in the day, but at least I was able to get off work early and go chase. NWS damage surveys revealed F4 damage near Roanoke, IL, which was just north of where I was. Luckily no one was killed from this event, so kudos to all the spotters/chasers out there for keeping an eye on the sky.
Total Chase Miles: 170 miles