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.

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.

April 22, 2005 – Chase in Eastern Illinois

I wasn’t really planning on chasing today, but the SPC teased me with the first morning Day 1 and the moderate risk that it plotted. The next 2 outlooks ended up moving the threat further east and south, but I wasn’t giving up hope yet. They issued a mesoscale discussion for eastern IL and western/central Indiana stating a possible watch was in the works. Satellite showed a nice clear slot pushing into IL and the upper level low was heading this way. Luckily things at work were going real slow, so I was able to sneak out early and prepare for a possible chase. The first severe cells were down in Perry/Washington county and were hauling it to the northeast. My plan was to head south and then jog east/south to intercept them.

I departed a little after 2:00pm and stopped to top off the gas tank. ($2.29/gal) I headed south on I-57 until I reached Mattoon. I decided to head east on Rt 16 till I got to Charleston. (go EIU!) After struggling through traffic, I made my way out of town a few miles. I heard a broken transmission on the scanner reporting a tornado on the ground in Macon county. I quickly pulled off the road and called my pal Mike Cox for an update. He said it looked like junk on radar, but said the warning stated there was a confirmed tornado on the ground. I decided to get back online and check this for myself. The stuff I was originally going for south of me seemed to be moving at a pretty good clip. I said the heck with it and decided to head back west and then north.

April 20, 2005 – Chase in Champaign County

Ah, April 20th, a very popular chase day for many. Last year, I intercepted a tornado south of Kankakee on April 20th. While the setup today wasn’t the same, I still wasn’t taking any chances. The winds were lacking in both shear and speed, but we had decent instability which I was hoping would pop something severe. I watched storms fire up in the afternoon in western IL with several going severe mainly due to hail. My plan was to stay close to home and chase whatever came to me. After leaving work around 4:00pm, I saw a couple of cells firing up west and southwest of town. On the way home, I filled up the gas tank at a lovely $2.32/gal.

I departed Champaign at 5:00pm and headed north of town to attempt an intercept of the cell coming in from the west. I made my way north of town and stopped at CR 2550N / 800E (6 miles west of Thomasboro, IL) as the rains began to pound me. While I was sitting there, I encountered some pea sized hail. I glanced at the radar and I was clearly in the core of this little cell. I sat there for about 10 minutes and then proceeded to head back south towards Champaign. As I went south through town on Mattis Avenue, it was raining like a June storm. The road was almost like a lake and all the cars were more like boats than cars.