1990-08-28 Plainfield, IL

Discussion in '1990s' started by Mike Smith, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. Mike Smith

    Mike Smith Guest

    I am starting this thread because I am curious to know if anyone was chasing the storm. It is the only F-5 ever to occur in the month of August and killed 29 while injuring 353.

    The Chicago Tribune has an article about the tornado, www.chicagotribune.com/news/weather/ct-met-plainfield-tornado-0826-20100826,0,6307501.story

    as well as an article about why there would be a warning today if the same tornado situation were to present itself: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/...d-tornado-science-08220100827,0,2597205.story

    Since there was no warning, I'm sure it would be interesting to learn what motivated people to chase the storm.
     
  2. rdale

    rdale EF5

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    Somewhere in my files I've got a post on sci.geo.meteorology from that day... Purdue had just started back up, and we had a few ready to chase NW Indiana. Severe weather was likely that day, but the low became so intense that all the convergence occurred near the low itself and nothing along any of the fronts. As I recall, that was the only storm of the day, so too far away.

    The only people "chasing" were public safety officials, and everyone either 1) didn't recognize it as a tornado or 2) assumed notifications were occurring upstream so 3) never reported it.
     
  3. Adam Lucio

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    NWS Chicago has a great pdf article about this event. Its fascinating to think the only August F5 happened here in my backyard. It is also the only F5 in this part of IL as well.

    At the end of the article there is some video taken by Paul Sirvatka as he chased the storm that up until now I have never seen. Video shows a mean green HP storm with a wicked wall cloud. I was only 7 years old but I do recall that evil green sky that day and was the only memory I ever had of that storm so to see it on video and add some vividness to that memory was really something.

    http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/lot/newsletter/summer2010.pdf
     
  4. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Resident meteorological expert
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    Thanks for sharing that link, Adam. It's a good report/account of the day. I did notice an error on the skew-T shown on page 3. Someone marked one of the moist adiabats as the parcel path when it clearly is not.
     
  5. GPhillips

    GPhillips EF3

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    More than likely that's the surface parcel path using the virtual temperature "correction".
     
  6. It really is amazing at what the storm did given the enviroment it occured in. The shear was there for storms but not supercells. A friend of mine printed out UA maps offline from 12z that morning and hand analyzed them the other day. Looking at them, you wouldn't think tornadoes. I will see if I can get the maps and post them on here. Paul's video/pictures are the only ones I have seen from the storm. I believe he started chasing up near rockford and ending up around the aurora/sugar grove airport where he then had to take shelter.

    The chicago news stations have been showing stories about the tornado interviewing Paul and Gino Izzi from LOT about the storm and what it would be like if a storm like that came across our area. We are way overdue for a big tornado in this area and its only a matter of time.
     
  7. Adam Lucio

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  8. John Farley

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    I'm not sure if Gilbert Sebenste is on here, but I believe that he did chase that storm.
     
  9. Bob Hartig

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    Adam, thanks for sharing the photos and the link to Paul Sirvatka's video. It's the first I was aware that there was any kind of video record at all of the Plainfield storm. Sure was a nasty-looking beast. Re the photos, it's a sad, sobering, and touching thing to see such memorials. My friend Debbie Waters has one for the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes down in Dunlap, Indiana. Reading the names is a reminder of the tragic impact these storms can have: real people, real lives, snuffed out in a blast of wind and debris.
     
  10. Ed Boik

    Ed Boik EF1

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    Gilbert has a couple dark photos of that storm. He posts from time to time. Perhaps he'll post them.
     
  11. Richard Nelson

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    THIS was the event that prompted Paul Sirvatka, and Tom Mefferd from the DuPage County Office of Emergency Management to begin concieving what would later become the Multi-County Skywarn System for northeast Illinois. This also was the catalyst for the Advance Severe Weather Spotter Training now held annually each March, at Wheaton College. It was after this storm, that the National Weather Service fast tracked their installation of Doppler radar, and upgrading of the WFOs....
     
  12. Joel Wright

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    Don't know if any of you guys have seen this yet, but here's a little segment Dr. John Scala did on TWC many years ago. In this video he shows a short composite radar loop which shows the beginnings of the Plainfield supercell. Up till now this is the only radar imagery that I've seen of this supercell.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWdKeD1KsI0
     
  13. Tim Balassie

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    This was one of those days for me, along with the Belvidere outbreak back in the '60s. I had just gotten a new VP, and I was sitting in a conference room, facing west, trying to explain to her what I did. Even from my view - which was many miles east of the core in Arlington Hgts off of Rt53 - this was one of the blackest, nastiest things I had ever seen.

    Looking at this you knew something very bad was afoot. It was almost impossible for me to concentrate, and my boss was getting pissed that I was so distracted, and probably feeling that I was making her look bad. However, it astonished me that no one else had a comment. Here was this amazing scene going on before their eyes and they acted like it didn't exist. I simply did not understand. I commented that I was distracted and mentioned they should look out the window (I mean, it was black!). Nope, nothing.

    Jeepers ...

    Tim Balassie
    Kane Co., IL
     
  14. Michael Gavan

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    My dad took me and my siblings to Plainfield to see the damage from this storm just about a week after it occurred, while on our way to visit his brother in Rockford. (I'd have to ask him exactly how soon after since I was just 9 years old at the time) I had no idea I was witnessing historic destruction at the time. I remember seeing trees completely stripped and debarked to just 30 ft stumps and homes flattened to basements and slabs. The smell of chainsaws and freshly cut trees sticks vividly. I do however combine this experience and the July 7-8, 1991 southern great lakes derecho as being the events that hooked me on storm chasing for life.
     
  15. Simon Andersen

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    Plainfield SMRP Paper Online

    I got hold of some documents from TTU, including Fujita's paper on the Plainfield storm. I've never seen this online before so here ya go:

    http://www.mediafire.com/?z0kpfuzxqfjconq(25 MB PDF)

    I left it just as it was scanned by TTU. Fujita rated the storm F5 based only on corn damage. On one of the pages you can see an F-rating diagram for corn. Also notice the interesting tidbits about the F-scale, he did devise it as a wind-scale.
     
  16. Ryan Witek

    Ryan Witek Lurker

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    Unfortunately, the Plainfield Tornado was an example of when we were collectively caught off guard... Between the lack of a warning from NWS until the storm had passed and the fact that it was a warm, sunny August afternoon, it's safe to assume that most people weren't exactly looking to the skies that day.

    Adding onto your note about the "chasing" that happened that day - this is something that we need to constantly be wary of. Despite the tornado likely being rain-wrapped, it is likely someone (civilian or other) saw the storm, perhaps in its early stages. We all know the storm was big - and I think we can all relate to the thought "Oh goodness that thing is massive..! No way that nobody else has reported it yet..." and thus failing to report the storm. Long story short, its the bystander effect. And unfortunately, on that day, it may have cost lives.

    Hopefully, with communities like the one here at StormTrack will help educate people to know better - sometimes it is better to get too many reports on a storm than not enough. If this sort of storm were ever to occur again, I'm one person who would really appreciate a heads up!
     
  17. rdale

    rdale EF5

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    Thanks... To clarify - it was spotted by many in public safety and some public. They reported to their dispatch centers, but none of those sources contacted the NWS until long afterwards.
     
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