May 12, 2000 – Chase in Piatt County, IL

Right before I went to bed on the 11th, I decided to check the models to see if they showed any promise for severe weather on Friday. As soon as I loaded up the ETA model and looked at the CAPES, I started drooling! 🙂 The center of the highest CAPES were right over Central IL and were peaking in the 4000’s! I thought to myself: “I’m no forecaster, but I bet the SPC puts us in a moderate risk tomorrow.” Needless to say, when I woke up Friday morning, the SPC had done precisely as I had predicted by putting us in a moderate risk!! Everything was looking good and all the ingredients were in place for some good storms to develop.

I managed to get off work a little early and went home around 2:30 to check up on all the data. I noticed a line of storms forming right in the middle of the state that stretched across the entire state and into Missouri. I was hoping that some supercells would form either in front or behind the line of storms, which they eventually did. My buddy Rob popped online and informed me that he was also monitoring the weather situation and wanted to go out chasing. So, I packed up my gear and headed over to his house around 4:30pm and met up with Rob and his brother Tom. When I got there, we checked radar again and noticed the supercells starting to form behind the main line of storms.

We wanted to go through the line of storms and intercept the supercells that were forming behind it, but that would prove to be very tricky, especially considering we didn’t want to punch any cores and endanger our lives. Rob, Tom, and I packed up our gear and went out a little after 5pm. We took the Monticello road all the way into Monticello to begin our chase. At this time, we noticed that it was extremely hazy, probably due to the extremely high dew points (70+). My weather radio kept going off for tornado warnings, but most of them were doppler indicated. We drove all around Piatt county, didn’t really see too much as everything was rain wrapped. We saw a few wall clouds, but it was hard to tell if they were rotating or not, once again because of the haze and rain.

Final Thoughts
After talking with some other chasers who were in the area, they agreed that it was really too hazy to successfully chase and see any type of rotation/debris. It was good to get back out and chase, despite the lack of tornadoes. 🙂 The severe weather is finally becoming more active here in the midwest. Next week (May 14-20) looks good later in the week for more severe weather in IL.

Also, this was the first chase that my new Sony Digital-8 camcorder has experienced, and it worked pretty well given the poor conditions. Hopefully it wlil see some more action later next week! 🙂

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