June 13, 2005 – Chase in Western Illinois

Nothing like waking up to a moderate risk in mid June. The tornado threat was forecast further north and west, but a widespread damaging wind event looked very probably for central IL. I monitored the setup throughout the day and had two target areas in mind. One would take me to west central IL and the other would take me southwest of Springfield. I would make that decision after work and base it on present satellite/radar conditions.

I left work at 3:00pm and I still wasn’t quite sure which way to head. I finally decided to head west and go after the cell that was all by itself. I departed Champaign around 3:30pm after topping off the gas tank at $2.34/gallon. I headed northwest on I-74 and then jogged west on RT 136. Several severe thunderstorm warnings were issued on the cell that I was going after, but on radar it appeared to be dying. I was almost there, so I decided to stick with it and see what happens.

June 8, 2005 – Chase in Champaign County

I wasn’t planning on chasing today, but a leftover squall line / bow echo made its way from Iowa into Illinois this afternoon. The NWS in Lincoln wasn’t too confident that it would stay severe given the shallow dewpoints at the 850mb level. Regardless, it was fun to watch it trigger numerous severe and even a few tornado warnings throughout the afternoon. I could see them weakening as they progressed eastward into Illinois, but still was willing to go out and watch them after work.

I went home at 4:00pm and gathered up the gear. I made a pit stop to fill up the gas tank at a whopping $2.39/gallon and then made my way south of town. I checked radar and saw a little cell firing up to my WSW, so figured I’d go wait for that one to come to me. I picked a spot at CR 400N / 550 E and waited for the little cell to come to me. I decided to get out the anemometer out of storage (aka my trunk) and see if it still worked. I stuck it on the roof and was instantly getting readings. As soon as I setup my tripod, it of course started raining. So I scrambled into the car and then realize I left the display of the anemometer laying on the trunk. So I go back out to get it and get soaked with the wind driven rain. Anywho, I got back in the car and shot a little video of the rain and wind. (wasn’t much else to shoot) The highest wind gust that I recorded was 37 mph, so nothing even close to severe in the area.

June 5, 2005 – Chase to Northwest Indiana

I’m not even sure what day it is, but I did manage to chase yet again today after Saturday’s 1,200 mile marathon. After going to bed around 11:00am (yes, that says AM), I woke up around 1:20pm to the sounds of wind and rain hitting the roof. I loaded up radar and saw a nice looking cell up to the north of me. The next radar scan showed 1.25″ hail possible, so I knew it was growing rapidly. The NWS in Chicago issued a severe thunderstorm warning on it, so I couldn’t ignore it. I quickly gathered all my gear and stumbled to my car. (only 2 hours of sleep!) I made a gas stop to fill up the tank ($2.34/gal) and then headed north on I-57.

I got off at the Gilman exit and headed east on US 24 to follow the storms. At 2:24pm, a tornado warning went up for Iroquois county in IL as well as Benton/Newton counties in IN. I was picking up some traffic on the scanner of a confirmed touchdown south of Watseka. Data was spotty until I got into Indiana and visually the storm was not really visible. (too much rain) I continued into Indiana and then went north at Goodland, IN on SR 55. No matter how hard I tried, I could not keep up with the storms which had now gone linear. Data was showing some rotation on the velocity scan, but it was 20-25 miles east of me. I finally gave up and turned around south of Rensselaer, IN.

June 4, 2005 – Chase to Northeast Kansas

Finally a weekend chase opportunity, only took until June to happen. My initial target was somewhere west of Des Moines, Iowa, preferably in southwest Iowa. Friday night’s model run was showing really good ingredients in that area as well as in Kansas. However I wanted to target Iowa to avoid the massive chaser convergence that would be in Kansas. The SPC had a moderate risk posted for the same area so I knew I was at least thinking somewhat on the right track.

I got up at 6:00am on Saturday morning and prepared for the chase. After a stop at the ATM and then the gas station ($2.34/gal), I hit the road at 7:00am. I took I-74 west towards the great state of Iowa, checking data every once in awhile. When I checked the latest Day 1 outlook, I noticed it had been upgraded to a high risk. (yippeeee!) Thoughts of May 29, 2004 came to mind as I proceeded westward. As I was driving, I kept text messaging Skip Talbot to find out his location. Despite him leaving his home in Bolingbrook, IL much later than me, he ended up getting to Iowa before me. When I got to the Des Moines, IA area, I called him to find out where he was going to target. He informed me that the latest model runs were keeping everything further south into KS/MO and that he was heading to the KC area. At first I wasn’t sure about going that far, but I’d already gone this far so might as well keep going.

May 13, 2005 – Chase in Champaign County

Behold Friday the 13th, the day everyone freaks out about each time it rolls around. Superstitions, bad luck, and severe weather all come with the territory. (huh? did he just say severe weather??) It looked like a possibility in the morning, however, crap clouds (official technical term) were covering most of the state. The eastern part started clearing out so I kept some hope of seeing some storms. The NWS out of Lincoln (ILX) said they expected storms to fire up sometime after 3:00pm. However, at 12:50pm the SPC issued a severe thunderstorm watch for eastern Illinois and Indiana with storms firing up to the east of me. (drats!)

I continued monitoring the weather throughout the afternoon, hoping that the early morning cloud cover wouldn’t bite us yet again. Around 4:00pm I noticed 2 small cells popping up around Macoupin county. I thought maybe this would be the start of the main show, and I was right. As I watched each radar scan, the cells were getting stronger. Doppler radar was indicating hail up to 1″, so I knew that I had to take a chance at this. Around 5:15pm, I gathered the gear and loaded up the car. My plan was to go south and intercept the northern storm as it entered the southern part of the county.