April 24, 2004 – Chase to Southeast Missouri

After having a very successful chase on 4/20, I was ready to get back out there and see what else I could intercept. The setup for Saturday looked fairly decent: nice moisture, instability, CAPE was up there, and some decent wind shear. I wasn’t sure if I was going to chase or not, but figured if I did that I would target the very popular oasis of Sikeston, MO. A friend of mine from the St. Louis area called me up and asked if I could take a look at their computer. (darn viruses!) I decided that I could go down there Friday after work, fix the computer, crash at their place, and then chase Saturday if something materialized. Not too shabby if you ask me!

As I awoke Saturday morning, we were socked in with cloudy skies. I flipped on the weather channel and it confirmed my visual observations. (this wasn’t looking good) After saying our goodbyes, I departed Alton, IL around 11:00am in search of weather data and food. I drove around these small little towns north of the area, but couldn’t seem to find any food joints that I was interested in. I had the craving for some Hardee’s bacon-egg-cheese biscuits, so that was my new goal of the morning. I finally stumbled into Staunton, IL and found a Hardee’s. Unfortunately they had stopped serving breakfast, so my choices were limited to the Angus burgers or a safer/healthier choice of the ham and swiss sandwich. As I was eating my ham and swiss sandwich, I hopped online to get the latest weather information. Everything in IL was socked in with thick cloud cover, but further south the sun was popping through.

March 20, 2004 – Chase to Southeast Missouri

It seems like this year we’ve had trouble getting our atmospheric ingredients all together. On the Jan 3rd chase, we had decent winds, moisture, but no freaking CAPE or much instability. Today’s setup was the opposite. We had some decent CAPE (1000-1500), instability (LI’s -2 to -6), and moisture (tD’s in the 60s), but very crappy winds aloft. Despite this lack of combined ingredients, I still liked the chances of chasing. My original thought for a target area was Jonesboro, AR., but I would adjust that slightly with data updates throughout the chase. SDS is still kinda bugging me, so I figured what else was there to do other than chase? (well there’s the whole NCAA tourney, but my beloved Illini didn’t play till Sunday)

I got up around 6:00am and got ready to roll. My plan was to leave around 7:00am and head south to my target area of Jonesboro. However, hooking up all the new gear (aka the Chase Live stuff) took a tad longer than I thought, so I didn’t depart until 7:30am. (blasted technology!) I did check some data as I was setting stuff up in the car and noticed ongoing thunderstorms in southern Illinois. (several warnings were issued too) After filling up the gas tank, I headed south on I-57. It seems every time I get around Effingham, I encounter some sort of accident/traffic stopage on the interstate. There was a semi on the shoulder that I didn’t see anything wrong with, yet traffic was completely stopped in both lanes on the highway! Several Illinois State Police units were on scene and I heard them talking on the radio. After a few minutes, traffic started picking back up and I was on my way.

January 3, 2004 – Chase to Southeast Missouri

No this isn’t a typo, I really did chase in January! After looking at the models for days regarding this day, I really wanted to chase. Some ingredients were in place, but like the last chase of 2003 we were missing the beloved CAPE. (must be those darn budget cuts!) Anyway, dew points looked to push into the 60s and temps were pushing mid-upper 60s. (mmm, moisture return!) Luckily this is the weekend I wasn’t scheduled to work, so I was free to chase. The SPC was also watching this area, but wouldn’t go as far as issuing a slight risk. However, they did put a small area of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas in a 2% tornado threat. It doesn’t sound like much, but when SDS is in full bloom you’ll take any positive news you can get! After mulling over the weather data, I decided to initially target the little town of Sikeston in southeast Missouri. I was anxious to see what exactly Missouri would ‘show-me’. 😉

Normally I would never consider a chase like this mainly due to my vehicle issues. However, thanks to the off-season acquisition of a brand new vehicle (courtesy of my chase pal/car salesman Darin Kaiser!), I was able to easily consider chasing today. I got up around 6:00 AM to check data and things still looked promising. (however the SPC still didn’t give me my slight risk!) I loaded up the chase gear and headed out around 7:30 AM. I headed south on I-57 for quite awhile until I hit the rest area south of Salem, IL. After a quick break, I decided to try out my cell phone data connection. I checked radar and satellite and I was still seeing clearing skies in southern Missouri, so that was very good news. I left the rest area and continued my journey on I-57, noting the constant overcast skies with a hint of clearing to my south. I arrived in Sikeston, MO a little after 12:00 PM and decided to stay there for a bit. I grabbed a bite to eat at McD’s (not to be confused with the non-existent mesoscale discussion!) and then utilized my unlimited weekend minutes via my data connection to assess the situation.