August 4, 2010 – Wind, hail, and heavy rain in Champaign/Vermilion County IL

It was nice to wake up to a slight risk of severe weather here in central IL. Of course it’s August, so we were also under an extreme heat warning. Heat indices were hitting 110+ so conditions were definitely ripe for storms. I was anxious to go chasing so I could try out a new chase gadget. I recently picked up an iPad which I mainly bought to get me quickly on the road rather than wasting time hooking up a laptop. Since most of my chases this year have been without a laptop, I figured it would be a nice change to have a larger screen device for radar.

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued at 3:15pm for central IL. I finished up some things for work and then prepared to head out. There was a nice severe warned cell in western IL, but I didn’t really want to drive all the way over there and have it die out on me. I decided to focus on the storms in the northern part of Champaign county.

April 3, 2010 – First chase of the year

It’s been a very quiet year here in Illinois in the storm department. Today wasn’t really forecasted to be a severe weather day here in Illinois. Too many clouds from leftover showers along with low dew points didn’t make for a good setup. Everyone and their mother was focused on the potential severe setups early next week, but I wasn’t giving up on today. After watching the showers move through the state, I wasn’t really expecting much to fire up behind it. However, around 11:00am, I noticed a few cells popping up west of Decatur. I watched a couple radar scans and they were growing pretty quickly. I decided to do a minimal chase by leaving the laptop at home and just using the radar on my phone.

July 13, 2004 – Tornado intercept near Carlock IL

A moderate risk in July here in Illinois?? That’s what I awoke to on Tuesday morning. The models were showing some decent wind shear across parts of Illinois today, not to mention the insane amount of instability and moisture in the air. I was thinking it would be a good day for severe weather mainly because my weather server at home took a crap on me and decided it didn’t want to operate today, so that meant no weather updates to my cell phone. When I got to work, I loaded up all my weather applications and monitored the situation closely. I noticed one lone supercell firing up in northwest Illinois late Tuesday morning that made me wonder if things were going up too soon. Several tornado warnings were going out shortly after 12:30pm, this thing was churning! At this rate I would never have a chance to chase. I normally get off at 4:30, but I pulled a few strings and managed to get off at 1:30. I went home and loaded up the gear, then headed out to chase this thing.

I headed west on I-74 just after 2:00pm, hoping to get to Bloomington and then go north from there. As I got closer to Bloomington, I was hearing reports on the scanner of tornadoes in Woodford county. I got off at the Carlock exit and as I made it to the top of the off ramp, I saw something to my north that caught my eye. There appeared to be a tornado about 10 miles to my north, but the contrast was so low that at the time I could not confirm that it was indeed a tornado. (video analysis confirmed a tornado) I headed west and then north of Carlock, trying to get closer without driving into anything I would later regret. 😉 As I headed north, I had to check the map several times to make sure I wasn’t in Missouri. Most of central Illinois is fairly decent for chasing, but I managed to find one of the most tree covered, hilly parts of the area. (not to mention the freaking corn fields!) Anywho, I made way to US 24 and headed east to El Paso (IL, not TX) and then headed south on SR 251.

May 23, 2004 – Chase in Central IL

After Saturday’s bustola in northern Illinois, I wasn’t sure if I was going to chase or not. I had considered finding a hotel in northern Illinois for a possible Sunday chase, but decided I’d just save the money and head home. Looking at the morning SPC Day 1 outlook revealed yet another moderate risk plastered over northern Illinois, Indiana, and southern Michigan. I was being rather lazy on Sunday morning, just glancing at the weather data when my buddy Darin called wanting to know if I was going to chase. Since he moved to southern Illinois, we haven’t had a chance to chase so I figured today would be a fine day to break that streak. He was at a friend’s in Decatur, so I decided to meet him in Bloomington and we’d go from there.

I departed Champaign around 10:30am and received word of a tornado watch for southern Illinois. (what in the world is going on here!) I didn’t think much of it and continued on my way. There was also a tornado watch out for northern Indiana and parts east of there, which also didn’t look the greatest. I met up with Darin at a McD’s in Bloomington and we gathered data on my slow cell phone connection. At the time, everything was still pointing to somewhere in northern Illinois. We were originally going to target somewhere south of I-80 between the Quad Cities and Peru. Around 12:30pm, I received word of a mesoscale discussion for NE MO/E.IA/W.IL regarding a potential tornado watch. They mentioned significant tornadoes and very large hail, so that quickly got our attention. Decision time… Do we keep to the north, or do we head towards western Illinois? We both agreed on the western Illinois area and picked our favorite hotspot of Macomb to target.