It’s rare for me to have a day off during the week, so I jumped at the opportunity to chase today. A moderate risk of severe weather in Indiana and Ohio sounded pretty enticing to me. I’ve never chased in that area before, but according to other chasers the terrain didn’t sound too bad.
After topping off the gas tank and washing the car, I left Champaign at 10:00am (CDT) and went east on I-74. I made my way north of Indianapolis and stopped in Wabash, IN around 2:15pm (EDT). I grabbed some lunch and attempted to download some weather data. Apparently that area is a dead zone as I was just barely getting a signal on my Verizon data card even with an external antenna. I was getting better results on my AT&T iPhone, but still no 3G speeds. I also realized I didn’t seem to have the power cable to my data card, so I packed the computer back up and just used the phone for data.
I sat there for a couple of hours waiting for storms to fire up. A tornado watch was issued at 3:30pm (EDT). At 4:30pm (EDT) I noticed a storm firing up to my west, so I decided to go take a look at it. I headed NW on Highway 15 towards Roann. As soon as I got close to town, it turned into tree city and gravel roads. I zigzagged back and forth and finally made my way back to a paved road. I headed east on Highway 114 in an attempt to keep up with the storm, but that was pointless as the storms were moving 65mph.
I saw a another storm pop up on radar just to my south, so I hopped on US 24 south to intercept it. As I was entering the town of Roanoke, I got slammed by heavy rain and gusty winds. I pulled off at Commercial St. and 4th to wait it out. The wind-driven rain was taking numerous leaves off the trees. It lasted about five minutes and then it moved away.
It was a little past 6:00pm (EDT) and all of the severe stuff was well off to my north and east. I was ready to call it a chase so I took I-69 south for what I thought would be a quick trip back home. However, some sort of road construction had brought traffic to a stop for miles. I was getting low on gas so I took the first exit I could find. As I exited the interstate and went over the overpass, I noticed that traffic was crawling for as far as I could see. After filling up the gas tank, I decided I wasn’t going to proceed any further on I-69. I plotted a new course which took me west on US 24 then on to I-74 west back to Champaign.
Chalk up another frustrating chase in 2010. Other than the brief storm at the end, the rest of the chase was pretty dull. The storms were just moving too fast to keep up with. The poor data coverage combined with the trees did not help matters. Oddly enough I discovered the power cable for my data card was with me the whole time but hidden in a bag. (oops!) It was nice to shoot a little video of the storm I encountered near Roanoke. Next week looks to be really active in the weather department, so we’ll see what happens!
Total Mileage: 460 miles.