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 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.
Today was the day that everyone had been talking about for awhile. The SPC had a high risk of severe weather out for parts of Oklahoma and Kansas. Luckily this was the week I chose awhile ago to take off work. (sweet!) In an attempt to conserve money, I decided not to leave until early Monday morning. It was a gamble to wait that long, but I figured if I left early enough I could still make it out there in time for the storms. Originally I was targeting the Wichita, KS area but the models on Sunday evening were indicating more of a southerly/easterly threat. I chose to go for Tulsa, OK and then adjust my target from there.
I departed Champaign at 5:30am (CDT) on Monday morning and headed south on I-57. I was treated to a really nice sunrise which eventually was filled in by thick cloud cover. I went west on I-70 towards St. Louis and then southwest on I-44 across Missouri. It seemed like forever to drive across Missouri, but I eventually entered into Oklahoma. At 1:25pm (CDT), a PDS tornado watch was issued for southern Kansas and western/central Oklahoma. I was already getting alerts on my phone of tornado warnings in western Kansas, so I knew this system was about to go crazy.