I haven’t chased since 2006 so I was anxious to get back out there sometime this year. If anything it was a good time to test out the new gear that I have acquired since the last time I chased. The SPC had a moderate risk over central IL by noon mentioning supercells and bow echos. I became really busy at work and didn’t have time to look at much data during the afternoon. At 2pm, a Tornado Watch was issued for eastern MO, central IL, and western IN. I managed to finish up work a little earlier that normal and headed home to grab the gear. I had a little trouble with the GPS software, but finally got it working. I hit the road around 3:30pm and headed west on Route 10.
For some reason, I decided to get off RT 10 just east of Seymour and went south. I didn’t really have a target area at this point, so I was just trying to head west and south a bit. Radar was showing a developing cell with a possible hook over Cass / Mason counties. I wasn’t seeing any rotation on radar at the time, but I was very interested in this cell since it was the closest one to me. I zigzagged my way west and stopped at the I-72 on-ramp just west of Cisco to decide what to do next. My choices were either to go after the cell to my northwest or hit I-72 and intercept a tornado warned cell in western IL. My decision was then made for me as a tornado warning was issued for the closer cell in Cass / Menard / Scott counties.
I headed north on Route 48 and made my way back to RT 10. (why I deviated from RT 10 in the first place is beyond me) As I made my way west on RT 10, I saw a sign that said ‘road closed’ just east of Clinton. (just my luck) I made a detour into the country for several miles before finally making my way back to RT 10. As I headed through Clinton, it really started to pour. At this point I don’t like the direction the storm is heading, so I bust south on CR 7 and make my way to RT 54. Heading SW on RT 54 I pass about 5 or 6 cars of chasers going in the opposite direction. I try to keep up with the storm and head south and east but gave up that fairly quickly. Radar wasn’t showing much and if there was a tornado it would surely be rain-wrapped.
I now focused my attention on the tornado-warned cell near Jacksonville. I headed south and found my way to I-72 where I headed west towards Springfield. As I approached Springfield, this cell was definitely looking better than my previous one. I got off at the Veteran’ s Parkway exit (93) and noticed several spotters/chasers sitting on the off-ramp. (probably what I should have done, but I continued on) I found a spot with a decent viewpoint on Spaulding Orchard road just west of CR 5 W. I saw a possible wall cloud, but didn’t see any rotation with it. I happened to hear Andrew Pritchard on the ham radio (146.550) and quickly chatted with him about the storm. He decided to head east and follow this storm while I had my sights set on the next cell to the west.
I headed south to Auburn and then west on RT 104. I entered Waverly and then headed south of town as I didn’t want to be directly in the path of the possible tornado. I then encountered tons of trees that made me feel more like Missouri than Illinois. At 7:15pm, I stopped at Rouland Road / Summers Road about 4.5 miles WSW of Waverly. I heard Brad Emel calling me on the ham radio as he saw me on spotter network. He was just up the road a few miles from me and was getting ready to bail east I believe. I noticed a bluish tint to the sky to my NW so I figured I was about to get slammed real soon. The flood gates opened up as did the winds. The winds rocked the car pretty good, probably 50mph or so. (didn’t have time to put the wind gauge up on the roof) I decided to bail south just in case I was too close to the darn thing. It was raining so hard I could barely see in front of me. As I was driving away, I heard someone (I think it was Brad) yell ‘Tornado’ on the radio. (of course I couldn’t see jack at this point)
I finally got away from the insane rain and decided that it was time to call this chase due to darkness. I headed east back to SR 4 and then north into Springfield. I encountered some pretty close lightning outside of Springfield, all while the sky was an orangish color. I made it back into Champaign just after 10pm.
Well it was an exciting yet very frustrating chase. I intercepted 3 tornado-warned cells and didn’t see any of the tornadoes that were produced. It was fun to be back out there and hopefully I can fix the technical issues and have better success on the next chase.
Total miles: 297
Gas prices: $3.98/gal