June 19, 2001 – IL/IN border chase

After being teased by numerous systems over the past few weeks, it finally appeared that central IL would get some severe weather today. The Day 1 outlook was showing a slight risk for central and southern IL, which was a good sign. We started out with mostly sunny skies for much of the morning, with a few wispy cirrus clouds to the west. I started noticing some small cumulus showing up on the satellite map all across IL so I knew something was in the works. At 1:04pm, the SPC issued an MCD regarding possible initiation of storms in the next few hours. This really got me going and I decided to go get the vehicle ready just in case.

After a few hours of waiting, not much was going on. There was little dinky cell over by Danville, but it wasn’t anywhere close to severe. Around 4:30pm, storms slowly started firing across central IL. Once again, they weren’t severe, but they did show some promise. Finally, at 5:13pm, my nifty weather radio went off announcing a severe thunderstorm warning for Vermilion and Edgar county in IL. (these are the counties that are directly to my east and southeast respectively.) Radar was showing some decent cells over there, but at the time, I wasn’t wanting to intercept the storms from the west and north. Well, at 6:17, the trusty weather radio went off again informing me of another severe thunderstorm warning, this time for Douglas and Champaign county (where I am located). That was enough for me as I wasn’t going to wait for it to get any closer to me.

I loaded up the gear and departed at 6:30pm. As I was leaving, I got a call on the cell phone from my good ol’ chase buddy Darin. (I had just turned my cell phone on too!!) He told me that he was also en route to these storms and hopefully we would meet up somewhere. (though that never happened) I headed south on RT. 45 and passed through the town of Pesotum. Just south of town, I noticed this nifty little rainbow in front of me. After taking a few pictures, I proceeded south to Tuscola where I then intersected Rt. 36 and went east. This rainbow was still very visible and getting even brighter as I continued to approach it. I decided to hop off 36 just east of Camargo so I could find a decent non-traffic area to snap some more pics of this rainbow. (1150N/1875E) After taking both video and stills of this rainbow and other cloud structures, I headed back south to Rt. 36 to continue my eastward journey.

As I entered the town of Chrisman, IL, I could tell I was getting much closer to these storms. I wasn’t sure if I should continue east or go south a bit and then jog back east. That decision was made for me when about a mile east of Chrisman. I saw some lightning that I was a lot closer to than I should have been. 🙂 Anyways, I turned around and headed south on Rt. 150. I continued south on 150 till I decided I needed to go east again. I found the Horace Brocton Rd (what happened to short little county road numbers??!) and went east. After going a couple miles on this road, I decided I still needed to go south a bit, so I hopped on some unmarked county road and took a 5 mile jog south. I eventually made my way to Hwy 163 which led me into Indiana. (yes, this is my first chase into Indiana) I took 163 until it split into Rt. 41 N/S.

I decided to take the north option and attempt to catch up with the storms. I could occasionally see some CC lightning which brought back memories of the lightning from the plains chase. (not nearly as spectacular though) As I proceeded on Rt. 41, it appeared as if I was heading into a giant forest. I’ve never seen so many darned trees in my life! Along with the tree issue, the road was constantly winding one way or another, so it felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere! As I was taking this little ‘walk in the woods’, I started tuning around on the ham rig looking for spotter networks. I started receiving the statewide weather net out of Indianapolis on 146.970. (it was coming in pretty well for where I was too) Despite being able to listen in to the net, I wasn’t hearing many severe weather reports at the time. I finally made it out of the woods and intersected I-74 and headed back to Champaign. After stopping for a quick snack at McD’s, I arrived home around 10:30pm.

Final thoughts:
Well, despite the late start at chasing, I didn’t do too shabby. I would have liked to have gotten some lightning shots, but the rainbow and sunset will do me just fine. The video capture, despite it being nifty, doesn’t do the rainbow justice. I hope the still shots bring out more of the vibrant colors of this long-lived rainbow! (yes, I chased a rainbow from Illinois to Indiana!!)

Special Thanks:
I’d once again like to thank my chasemobile for surviving another chase this year. Maybe we’ll get him some oil and a little more air to make him feel appreciated! 😛

Total Chase Time: 4 hours
Total Chase Miles: 185 miles

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