It’s been a crazy year for storms except here in central Illinois. The amount of large cities virtually wiped off the map has been unbearable. The death toll is also really hard to grasp right now. Just this week alone…
I haven’t chased in October in a long time, so I was very interested in today’s setup. All the forecast models were predicting a near record low pressure so it definitely was worth paying attention to. The SPC had issued a high risk east of here and we were right on the edge of the moderate risk. Unfortunately the timing of the system would bring the storms through in the early morning before there was any daylight. Nevertheless, I was anxious to chase one more time this year.
I woke up around 4:30 in the morning and a line of storms were moving across Illinois. I departed around 5:00am and headed west on Rt 10 just west of the Champaign/Piatt county line. I put my anemometer on the roof and was surprised that it still worked. 🙂 I was only getting winds in the 20-23mph range though so think it might have been on the low side. I waited and waited, but I didn’t get much to write home about. I decided before it completely passed me that I would head back to Champaign and wait it out. I went up to Parkland College and shot some video of trees and lights blowing in the wind. It was almost 7:00am and I was about to call the chase a bust.
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.
I wasn’t planning on chasing today as there was just a slight risk and I was about out of gas. However, a severe thunderstorm warning around 4:00pm quickly changed my mind. I figured I’d just go sit south of town out in the country and watch the storm for a bit. I stopped at Old Church Road and Rising Road just south of Champaign at 4:05pm. It was pouring down rain and the lightning was fairly frequent. I heard a few slaps of hail on the roof, but nothing bigger than pea size. As the storm passed, I decided to try to follow it. As I put the car into gear and tried to pull back on to the road, the tires started spinning. Flashbacks of May 29, 2004 danced in my head. I remembered that one reason I bought the new vehicle was that it had four wheel drive. The problem was I didn’t know how to engage it. I pulled up on the lever and saw an indicator light saying I was in four wheel drive. I slowly tapped the gas pedal and away we went with no more spinning tires. Whew!
I was awoken this morning at 6:52am (CDT) by my weather radio indicating we were under a severe thunderstorm watch. Radar showed a bowing line of storms in west central IL heading to the northeast at a pretty good pace. My initial plan was to head west on I-74 and intercept the line at Bloomington. However, I quickly noticed that there was no way I would arrive in time since the storms were moving around 60mph. At Farmer City, I exited the interstate and went NE on Highway 54. Once I got to Gibson City, I went north on Highway 47. A smaller bow in the line was heading right towards me, so I tried to get in front of it as best as I could. I pulled off west of Strawn, IL at E 260 RD N and N 2500 RD E at 8:20am (CDT). The lightning was increasing a bit, but there really wasn’t much else to report. There were a few brief downpours but no wind or hail to report. There were no other storms behind this cell, so I called it a chase and headed home.