November 24, 2004 – Chase to Kentucky

I was somewhat drooling over the late November moderate risk setup over southern Indiana through Kentucky. Unfortunately, I was scheduled to work a half day which would ruin any chasing plans. What made matters worse was the expectation of 1-3 inches of snow here in the afternoon and evening. I grudgingly went into work at 8:00am and glanced at the weather setup just wishing I could chase. There was a nice dry punch of air coming in that was clearing things out very quickly to make way for sunshine in the target area.

Around 9:00am CST, one of my co-workers showed up who I thought would be taking the day off. I thought to myself (and eventually out loud), why do we need 3 techs here the day before Thanksgiving? I spoke with my boss who quickly agreed and told me to go home. (yay!) I left at 9:30am CST and boogied home to gather the chase gear. I knew winter weather was quickly moving in, but I figured why waste the opportunity to chase one more time this year.

I departed Champaign at 10:00am CST and headed east on I-74. I encountered moderate rain showers all the way into Indiana. At 11:30am CST, I received a text message alerting me of a tornado watch covering parts of southeastern IL, southwestern IN, western KY, and western TN. (woo hoo!) I reached Indianapolis around 12:00pm CST and decided to head south on I-65. As I made my way further south into southern Indiana, I received another alert of a new tornado watch covering southern IN, central KY, and southwestern OH. (double woo hoo!)

As I approached Louisville, I noticed that I was getting low on fuel. (thanks to the indicator light on the dash that said ‘low fuel’) Unfortunately, someone had blown a tire or something which caused traffic on the bridge crossing the Ohio River to come to a halt. We finally got moving again and I quickly made my way to the first exit to fill up. 9.5 gallons later, I was back on the highway in search of storms. I noticed it was much warmer at this point and the sun was peaking through.

I continued my way on I-65 and was getting quite hungry. I pulled off at a McD’s in Lebanon Junction, KY to grab a bite and check some data. Radar wasn’t looking very good as all I saw was a line of junk heading my way. I did notice a tornado warned cell up in south central Indiana, but there was nothing close to me at this point. I did get a nice downpour for a few minutes while I was sitting there, but didn’t see anything even close to severe. After the shower passed, I noticed a nice double rainbow out the window. I snapped a few still shots of it with the 35mm, but didn’t bother shooting any video.

From what I had gathered from the data, things were not looking very good at this point. I decided to call it a chase at this point and make my way home. Conditions at home had unfortunately deteriorated since I was last there. I was getting reports of very slick conditions due to rain changing over to snow which obviously had me quite concerned. I headed back up I-65 through Louisville and then on to Indianapolis. I ran through some patches of rain on the way north, but did not see any winter weather. However, I did notice it getting much colder outside as the windows were starting to fog up.

Once I started heading west out of Indy, things started to get interesting. I hit some patches of rain that quickly changed over to snow. I decreased my speed as to not take any chances with spinning out of control. At one point I saw the guy in front of me swerve just a tad. Just after I saw that, I realized that he had hit an icy spot in the road. Luckily I slowed down even further so when I hit the icy spot, I had no problems at all. I made a stop at Crawsfordsville in hope of filling up the gas tank, but as I approached the stations they were all without power. I continued my journey westward on I-74 back into Illinois. I stopped in Danville, IL and filled up the gas tank and about froze my tail off. (would someone remind me again why I took my gloves out of the car??)

I proceeded slowly towards Champaign and noticed numerous vehicles in the ditch and median. (most seemed deserted) I finally made it home around 9:00pm CST and quickly got inside to warm up. 🙂

Final Thoughts:
My first chase to Kentucky didn’t go so well, but it was fun to get one more chase in this year. November chases have not gone well for me, but had I not gone there would have been a major outbreak. While this chase didn’t turn out the way I wanted, I definitely have alot to be thankful for this year in the way of my chasing adventures. Hopefully I will get even more chances in 2005.

Total Mileage: 550 miles

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