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2019-03-09 REPORTS: IL/MO/MS/AR/AL/TN

A well advertised severe weather event unfolded across the Midwest on Saturday. I chose to play a "sleeper" target across MO/IL. I initially was targeting Columbia, MO with my chase partner Cory Marshall....however once we got past Hannibal, I noticed storm motions were markedly faster than I anticipated. I also was surprised that convection even sustained itself being right on the entrance region of a 100 knot H5 jet and only 500 j/kg of CAPE (albeit a lot of it was in the 0-3km layer, I digress). Storms went from being supercellular looking to junky as they got close to St Louis, so I made the decision to cross the river near Louisiana, MO and get southeast into more chaseable terrain in IL.

I intercepted the storm first near Jerseyville and then stayed with it, keeping kind of on the backside of it. I do this with cold core type events because it tends to be more photogenic in my experience, mileage may vary. It wasn't long into chasing the storm that just west of Bunker Hill, IL I spotted an interesting looking protrusion from the sky.

I was hesitant to scream "tornado!!!", but as the rain thinned from the RFD, a funnel emerged and sure enough there was ground contact. The tornado on my watch only lasted a couple minutes (spanning 4:07 to 4:10PM according to my DSLR) before dissipating into the rain. I sent my reports off to LSX, but haven't heard anything back. I stayed with the storm all the way to Pana, IL before heading home at dark. I noted a couple other wall clouds and another attempt at producing outside of Litchfield, however it appeared the low levels were quite stable by that point....

Overall a very interesting day to say the least. Not to mention some of the other beautiful optics we got to see. We drove around 400 miles round trip to get there and home and was able to eat supper and be home by 10pm. Not a bad day to my chase partner and I. Some of the photos are taken by me and others by my chase partner, as some of mine didn't turn out the best. Have to have great team effort when it comes to chasing sometimes. Here are a few photos for my report:

Bunker Hill, IL Tornado 2 by Ethan Schisler, on Flickr
Initial view of Bunker Hill Tornado as it was rainwrapped from the RFD

Bunker Hill, IL Tornado by Ethan Schisler, on Flickr
Chase partner took this one out the window.

Bunker Hill, IL Tornado Close by Ethan Schisler, on Flickr

Bunker Hill, IL Tornado by Ethan Schisler, on Flickr
Narrowing down some....

Litchfield IL Supercell by Ethan Schisler, on Flickr
Storm structure at sunset....lot of turbulence going on here, several updrafts competing for dominance at this point....by Cory Marshall

_MG_5013 by Ethan Schisler, on Flickr
Rainbow from earlier in the day by Cory Marshall

Litchfield, IL Rainbow by Ethan Schisler, on Flickr
 
I was watching two areas in the morning: the cold-core play closer to the surface low in central Missouri, and the northern end of the deeper moisture from the bootheel region of MO through southern IL where models showed storms would become more discrete as low-level shear peaked. I chose the cold core, thanks to a nice dry slot working in west of STL and the southern area not receiving any sun behind the morning precip. I was never considering the far southern play in AR/MO, as my personal protocol is to never abandon local STL-area supercell potential even if better setups exist farther away.

I headed to Wentzville to await a small cluster of cells near Jefferson City that managed to stay somewhat isolated and appeared to have promise in the highly sheared environment. Models had shown the interval for intensification to be quite short, and furthermore the dry slot hadn't progressed very far east. So, I hedged farther west initially. The plan was to intercept as the cells crossed I-70 to the west, then divert over the the Illinois side to re-intercept in better terrain if they maintained strength.

Storm motion ended up being more easterly, so I chose to move south to the Missouri River, not noticing the road I was on had a poorly-indicated "no outlet" on the straightaway while the actual highway southbound made a 90-degree turn to the east.

https://www.google.com/maps/@38.822...4!1sxWZ037x-VGwMoYChH8iYXw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

The road was paved for most of the way south, and maps showed it continuing to the river. But it turned to gravel, then dirt only a mile from the river. It got worse the closer I got, with several creek fordings necessary. Finally I reached a deep river fording that was impassable, and I had to turn around and go all the way back to the interstate.

https://twitter.com/stormhighway/status/1104561165756186629

I made it back to I-70 just as the leading edge of precip arrived, and got out ahead again at Foristell. By this time, the storm had morphed into a QLCS type structure, with at least two circulations deep back in the rain behind the gust front. I approached one of these near New Melle.

march919a.jpg

Motion in the cloud tags was rapid, and a funnel descended just under a third of the way to the ground, persisting for about 30 seconds.

march919b.jpg

The storm got ahead of me here, so I focused on the original plan of getting to I-55 in Illinois to re-intercept. It wasn't difficult to accomplish, but I made it with little time to spare. I re-intercepted at Mount Olive and stayed ahead of the storm to east of Hillsboro. The cold front had caught up to the storm at this point, causing a loss of visual organization and a transition to linear mode. I ended the chase here.
 
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