I wasn’t too confident of severe weather this far east in IL today. I also wasn’t too confident of the SPC including most of IL in a slight risk in their Day 1 outlook. ILX wasn’t even mentioning severe weather for Central IL in their Severe Weather Outlook until they revised it at noon. Also, the models from Thursday night were showing good CAPE values for us, but very little wind shear for tornadic development. So, all-in-all, I was very skeptical about our chances of severe weather.
Around 10:00am I was working outside and looked up at this cloud. First off, there were no other clouds in the sky, just this pretty fluffy cloud. What made this cloud unique though was the rapid growth that it was showing. I was just sitting there watching this grow, and it was moving too! That showed me that there was definitely some instability in our area, which slightly improved my thought of severe weather.
I got off work a few hours early and came home to check the weather situation. First, I found out that there was a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for W. Central IL. A quick check of radar showed me why they were under a watch. A large storm system was moving into IL from Iowa and it was strengthening as it moved closer. Around 3:15, a Severe Thunderstorm Watch was issued for Central / Southern IL. There were some cells starting to pop up ahead of the line of storms, but most of them weren’t really reaching severe levels. Around 6:15, I decided to gear up and head out. One problem that I had was that I was out of video tape. (Tuesday’s chase wiped me out, hehe) I made a dash for Super K-Mart and what I thought would be an in-out 5 minute ordeal turned out to take 20 minutes. I had ONE stinking item and the lines were backed up in the express lines, what’s the deal with that?? I finally get out of there around 6:40ish and see a lot of lightning to the west of me. I run home real quick to unplug my computer and get the rest of my gear.
I decided to take Rt. 45 a few miles north of Champaign. As I was doing so, I quickly saw a ‘little’ cell that wasn’t part of the huge line of storms. It was packing a punch though, as the winds were affecting my driving. I decided that I better move away from the storm, so I found an east route and took it. I went east a few miles and then turned south on 1700E. I went a mile south of Duncan Road and stopped to shoot a few minutes of video. I zoomed in on a ‘possible’ funnel cloud, probably just scud though. It was too hazy and was getting rain wrapped to make any conclusions on whether or not it was rotating.
I went a bit further down 1700 E and then I decided to head home as the spotters were stating that most of the severe weather was moving out of the county. Well, when I turned around, I ran right into the end of it and experienced heavy rain, gusty winds, and frequent lightning. I headed back north on 1700E and took Windsor Road west to Rt. 130. (this just happened to be the same section of road that I took during my June 4, 1999 chase!) I glanced over at my camcorder and it had about a minute of video left on it. All of a sudden, this lightning bolt hits right in front of me, all while I’m still shooting video. Talk about a happy chaser, what are the odds?!
Overall, not too bad of a chase. The lightning was pretty decent and the scud clouds made for a scary experience! No tornadoes this time, but the wind shear just wasn’t there so I didn’t really expect them. Maybe we’ll get another chance to chase this weekend, who knows! 🙂
Total Chase Time: 1 hour
Total Chase Miles: 45 miles