There’s nothing like waking up to the entire state of Illinois draped under a moderate risk! At first I thought it was an early April Fools joke by the fine folks at the SPC, but after further review I noticed there was indeed a chance of some severe weather. Unfortunately I was stuck at work till 4pm, so going after the prime target of north central Illinois or anything in Iowa was definitely out of the question.
During the afternoon, storms started firing up in western Illinois. Several of them went severe and then finally one went tornadic near the Peoria area. I sat there at work drooling at the radar screen and was hoping that someone was chasing it. Right before I left work, I tried to come up with a target area. I had planned on heading up towards Bloomington, but with the storms moving at 65mph I had to readjust my plans.
I departed work at 4:00pm and headed home to load up the gear. I started powering up all the gear and of course I blow the fuse to my power inverter. (I hadn’t tested it since wiring it direct to the battery) When swearing at the fuse box didn’t fix it, I swapped out the fuse and we were back in business. By this time I had decided to head a bit south rather than attempt catching the insanely fast moving storms to the north.
After topping off the gas tank at a lovely $2.35/gallon, I headed south through town and then west out into the country. I ended up in Piatt county just southeast of Monticello, IL. (around 5:30pm CST) I found a great flat area at 1100N/1400E and pulled off the road to begin watching this cell to my SSW. After just a minute or two of sitting there, a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for it. (yippeee!) I grabbed the cameras and hopped out of the car. The winds were howling and unfortunately I didn’t have time to throw the anemometer on the roof. I setup the tripod for the camcorder and held on to it while I shot some stills with the other camera. I heard some thunder and it started to rain, so I quickly grabbed the gear and retreated to the car.
It started pouring pretty good and then I heard some hail slap the car. Radar wasn’t indicating much in the way of hail, so I didn’t worry about it pelting the car. (it was only pea sized hail anyways!) The storm quickly passed and I jumped out of the car to take a few more pictures before it scooted out of the county. I wasn’t seeing much of anything forming back to my southwest, so I decided to make my way back home and call it a chase. More storms fired up a few hours later, but nothing worth going out again.
Well this wasn’t too shabby for the first chase of the year. I wish I could have gone to Iowa or northern Illinois, but given the circumstances this was pretty nifty too. It was a good test run for all the gear and it will give me a few more ideas for future chases. I’m definitely happy that spring is here and can’t wait to go on the next chase!
Total Mileage: 50 miles