I wasn’t planning on chasing today as there was just a slight risk and I was about out of gas. However, a severe thunderstorm warning around 4:00pm quickly changed my mind. I figured I’d just go sit south of town out in the country and watch the storm for a bit. I stopped at Old Church Road and Rising Road just south of Champaign at 4:05pm. It was pouring down rain and the lightning was fairly frequent. I heard a few slaps of hail on the roof, but nothing bigger than pea size. As the storm passed, I decided to try to follow it. As I put the car into gear and tried to pull back on to the road, the tires started spinning. Flashbacks of May 29, 2004 danced in my head. I remembered that one reason I bought the new vehicle was that it had four wheel drive. The problem was I didn’t know how to engage it. I pulled up on the lever and saw an indicator light saying I was in four wheel drive. I slowly tapped the gas pedal and away we went with no more spinning tires. Whew!
I continued east a bit and then south to keep up with the storms and find new ones further south. Around 5:00pm I entered Tuscola and once again had to detour around a train. (the last time that happened I saw a tornado!) 🙂 I headed east through Camargo and then south on Hwy 130. Just west of Hindsboro, I saw a funnel-like appendage in front of me. I’m fairly certain it was just scud as it wasn’t rotating but I definitely could see someone mistaking it as a funnel cloud. (to my knowledge no such reports were made)
I headed east on CR 1000N near Charleston and quickly discovered the reason 4×4 trucks were invented. I went over a narrow one lane bridge and then saw that the road had streams of water flowing down the edges. As I approached the top of a hill, there was a 20 ft section where the entire road was covered in this muddy water. I cautiously proceeded and made it past the insanity. I continued east and then south eventually ending up in Westfield. The storm I saw earlier on radar with the pink/purple color turned out to be nothing but incredibly heavy rain and no hail.
I was getting low on gas so I headed west to Mattoon. After filling up, I noticed some towers off to my south and wanted to get a better view. I headed south of town on Lerna road and stopped southwest of Lerna to take a few pictures. There was now a line of leftover storms heading in from the west, but nothing severe in my area. I went back to Mattoon and got on I-57 but quickly noticed a nice looking shelf cloud which I couldn’t pass up. I got off at the 192 mile marker and parked on the overpass to watch the storm roll in. (6:50pm) After a long rainy afternoon of chasing, this made the day feel worth it. As the rain started up again, I continued north on I-57 back home to Champaign.
Click here to view/purchase photos from this chase.
There wasn’t too much to write home about today other than lots of rain and the nifty shelf cloud. I quickly remembered that chasing storms in June usually brings about new obstacles like tall corn and flooded roads. At least I finally got a chance to test out the four wheel drive capability and keep from getting stuck in the ditch. 🙂
Total Mileage: 165 miles