April 24, 2010 – Chase to Southwestern Illinois

There’s nothing quite like waking up on a Saturday morning to a moderate risk of severe weather in Illinois. While the best conditions for severe weather were in MS / AL, there was still a decent chance right here in Illinois. I’ve been very jealous of all the chasers who bagged tornadoes in Texas during the week, so I definitely wanted to get out today and see what I could find. I was initially targeting Salem, IL and then would readjust from there.

I left Champaign at 9:00am and headed south on I-57. On the way down, I saw two buses going the opposite way with a giant tornado logo on them. (that had to be a good omen right?) 🙂 As I passed by Mattoon, I heard chaser Brad Emel calling me on the radio. He was also heading down that way to see what he could find. I stopped at the rest area just south of Salem to hook up all my gear and check out some data. Most of the region was socked in with clouds, but I was hopeful that they would clear out in the afternoon. I determined I need to get further south, so I picked the Pinckeyville area as I’ve chased there in the past.

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.