October 26, 2010 – Late season chase in eastern Illinois

I haven’t chased in October in a long time, so I was very interested in today’s setup. All the forecast models were predicting a near record low pressure so it definitely was worth paying attention to. The SPC had issued a high risk east of here and we were right on the edge of the moderate risk. Unfortunately the timing of the system would bring the storms through in the early morning before there was any daylight. Nevertheless, I was anxious to chase one more time this year.

I woke up around 4:30 in the morning and a line of storms were moving across Illinois. I departed around 5:00am and headed west on Rt 10 just west of the Champaign/Piatt county line. I put my anemometer on the roof and was surprised that it still worked. 🙂 I was only getting winds in the 20-23mph range though so think it might have been on the low side. I waited and waited, but I didn’t get much to write home about. I decided before it completely passed me that I would head back to Champaign and wait it out. I went up to Parkland College and shot some video of trees and lights blowing in the wind. It was almost 7:00am and I was about to call the chase a bust.

However, I noticed some of the lights towards the buildings go out while simultaneously seeing a blue power flash in the rear view mirror. I saw a few more flashes, so I quickly turned the car around to get a better look. A few seconds later, I was slammed with a wall of water and measured a 56.8mph wind gust. It didn’t last very long at all, but was pretty exciting. On the way back to my apartment, I discovered our dumpster was sitting in the middle of the road. I was going to call it in, but I heard the police mention it on the scanner. The major damage in Champaign was located in the 3200 block of Edward Hoffman drive which was just a block to my southwest. (see the News Gazette article for more info on that damage)

Final Thoughts
It didn’t last very long here but it was pretty exciting for late October. I must have just been on the edge of the microburst that hit the neighborhood to the southwest of me. The storm system also set a new low pressure record for a non-tropical system in the U.S. The NWS says that a pressure of 955.2mb / 28.21″ was measured in Bigfork, Minnesota. That’s pretty amazing!

Total Mileage: 30 miles


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