June 4, 2002 – Champaign county chase

I didn’t really have much time to look at data in the morning as I had to be at work at 9:00am CDT. Taking a quick glance at the Day 1 showed that central Illinois was in a slight risk of severe weather, as it had been the past few days. I figured that anything that fired up locally would be in the late afternoon or early evening hours. Temperatures were forecasted to be in the low 90s with dew points in the mid-upper 60s, definitely an unstable atmosphere.

Around 3:30pm while I was slaving away at work, the radio station I was listening to announced that a severe thunderstorm watch had been issued for Champaign County until 9:00pm CDT. (woo hoo!) I quickly got stuff settled at work and headed home to check the weather data. Radar showed a nice line of storms across west central Illinois that seemed to be bowing out. I also noticed a very distinct outflow boundary heading SSE towards my location. There were already storms firing up behind this boundary, so I figured it’d only be a matter of time before it fired up more.

At 6:00pm CDT, I noticed some storms firing up behind the outflow boundary in Piatt/DeWitt counties. I decided to head out and see what I could dig up. I proceeded west of town on Rt.150 towards the Mahomet area. Unlike the previous chase, there were a lot of clouds hanging around, so individual cells were much harder to see. After roaming around for a little while, I noticed a shelf cloud around 6:35pm CDT. (200E/1900N) I drove a mile down the road and noticed some nifty rain shafts to my south. The winds at this point were coming out of the north. I drove west about a quarter mile on 1800N off 200E and noticed a lot of dust blowing across the road. I pulled over and started shooting some video. The winds shifted from a northerly direction to a more west-northwest direction. (weeds along the side of the road were now blowing into my car!) 🙂 I glanced back to my southwest and noticed a big area of dust lurking around. It obviously wasn’t a tornado, but it could have been a gustnado. (still analyzing the video)

I decided to head south a few miles on 200E to see what else I could find. After passing over the I-72 overpass, the rains finally made an appearance. I turned around and headed back north to 1900N. I went east from there to 700E where I decided to head back south. I noticed some wanna-be wall cloud to my southeast, but it didn’t do anything. I shut the camcorder off for a few minutes and during that time, I saw lightning hit something that resulted in a green glow. (it would have been neat to get that on video!) Anywho, I continued south on 700E observing more dust blowing around to my southeast.

Around 7:30pm CDT, I decided to head back towards Champaign. As I was heading north on Rt.45 near Tolono, my weather radio went off. (the only time it went off while I was out chasing) It was a tornado warning for Vermilion county, too far east to even think about going after. I arrived home just after 8:00pm CDT, weeds and all. 😉 After looking at the radar data, the big line of storms rapidly lost their intensity as they moved into east central Illinois. I still had a lot of fun though despite the lack of severe weather.

Final thoughts:
Despite the big line of storms dying out, it was still a good chase. I will have to figure out how to keep those darn weeds from blowing in on the next chase though. 😉

Total Chase Time: 2 hours
Total Chase Miles: 40 miles

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