June 4, 1999 – Short chase in Champaign county IL

The day 1 outlook for today suggested that the area could experience a bow echo which could contain severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes. After watching the line of storms form and turn into a bow echo on radar, I headed out to see what I could find. I took Rt. 45 south to the Monticello Road. I went west on the Monticello Road for about 5 miles and then took a N/S country road. Until I turned on that road, I couldn’t tell from the sky that anything was going on, everything was just kinda overcast. As I progressed northward on this road, I noticed a dark line of clouds to my NW. That’s when I noticed the lightning and the ominous clouds forming. A few minutes later, I saw what appeared to be a debris cloud from a tornado, which really got my adrenaline pumping!!

I pulled off the road and began to dig out my other camcorder. By the time I got the camcorder out, the outflow from the storm was slamming me from the west. I decided to backtrack and get out of the way of the storm. When I turned around, I accidentally hit the power button on my camcorder that was mounted in the car and missed the part of the storm that was blowing me off the road, hehe. When I finally realized the camcorder was off and turned it back on, I started filming some lightning which was one of the most fierce I’d ever encountered. At one point, a bolt probably hit a block from me and knock out the power in that area, which can be noted by my increased vocabulary on the video tape! 🙂

Final Thoughts
Overall, it was exciting, yet disappointing. The video that I did capture was very short and the quality is really crappy, but it is video at least. I’m still not sure exactly if the debris cloud was merely a downdraft or if it was possibly from a tornado. It was still a fun and exhilarating chase for me, especially going by myself rather than with other chasers. It was a good lesson and hopefully I’ll have the video issues worked out for the next chase. 🙂


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