July 5, 2004 – Chase to Western IL

I wasn’t expecting to chase today as the main area seemed to be further west into Missouri. (we’ve been there enough this year!) As the day went on though, the SPC sent out updates saying there was a small tornadic risk in western Illinois. (nifty 5% area!) I decided to take my normal lunch hour rather than work through it and leave early, really not expecting to get out and chase. I started to change my mind when a tornado watch was issued at 4:00pm for western Illinois. I left work at 4:30pm and went home to load up the gear. I departed Champaign at 5:00pm and headed west on I-72. Despite there being a tornado warning out for Kankakee county and seeing the storm from Champaign, I decided that the best stuff should be further west. (I would have never caught up to it anyway) As I got west of Springfield, I noticed ‘something’ to my southwest but I wasn’t seeing anything on radar/satellite. When I got to Jacksonville I almost decided to go south to attempt an intercept of whatever was down there, but decided against it.

I kept going west on I-72 until I started seeing stuff firing up to my northwest. I got off at exit 46 and headed north on SR 100. I took it north and then jogged onto US 67 which would take me more in a northwesterly direction. As I entered McDonough county around 8:00pm, I checked radar which showed a line of storms just to my northwest. (yay!) Once I got to Macomb, I headed west on US 136 mainly due to the slow people in front of me who must have thought it was still Sunday instead of Monday. Once I got into Tennessee (yes, I’m still in northwest IL..) I headed north on CR 11 towards the cell that was starting to come into view. I started seeing a very nifty shelf cloud with a possible wall cloud behind it. (about time!) As I got closer, there appeared to be some funnel looking thingies (yes that’s the official term for them) coming out of this possible wall cloud, but I don’t put any merit into them at all. (no rotation from what I could see)

Around 8:45pm I pulled off on N 2000 road just northeast of Bladinsville to watch what was left of this thing. I saw a few more funnel wannabees, but nothing more than scud. While I was sitting there, I heard this strange rushing sound coming from my north. I shut the car off and listened more carefully. It sounded like a hail storm, but I quickly discovered it nothing more than rain hitting the crops. (which eventually hit me) Around 9:00pm I finally gave up on this thing and decided to make my way back home. I headed east on RT 9 and then back to US 136 where I stopped in Havana for a much needed fuel stop. On the way back I was hearing numerous tornado warnings, but nothing confirmed on the ground. The lightning from these storms provided quite the post-4th of July fireworks on the journey home. I continued east on US 136 and then hopped on I-74 for the rest of the trip home.

Final thoughts:
It wasn’t too bad of a chase for early July, definitely some interesting stuff. The shelf cloud I saw ranks right up there with the one back in March up near Kankakee. I do remember now why I don’t like chasing in July, CORN! This is Illinois though, so that’s just something we have to live with.

Total Chase Miles: 380 miles

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