3/14 Reports: IL

Mar 21, 2004
Urbana, IL
Don't really feel like writing a huge log right now, but I chased the sup in central Illinois earlier this evening near Bloomington, IL. When I intercepted it, it had a large wall cloud/tail cloud (closer reports said inflow was so strong it was pulling dust off the saturated fields) striations, and inflow bands feeding into it. I pulled into a farmers access road to a barn and wound up deep in mud. Spent 10 minutes trying to get out before I figured I was done for as the supercell approached me and figured I may as well get my camera out, but I don't have any shots from the best part of the storm though Dan Dimitroff apparently does (not sure if he's even a member here). I about gave up and ran to the farmer's house before I got slammed before stopping, getting in my car and trying aggresively one more time and finally wiggled my car free. Wasn't too long after that though that the cold front undercut the storm and eventually killed it off.

First storm near Ludlow, IL:



Finally getting a shot of the main supercell (though its losing its organization somewhat)


And my car...


More photos here:

Put up a quick video as well that includes my feelings on the situation...


Blah... at least now I have my "stuck in the mud" experience out of the way. I really don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to leave pavement since we just melted 20 inches of snow, and had several multiple inch rain events in the last 3 weeks or so.

As lighting chases go, today was a kind of a classic game of convective 'whac-a-mole' (obscure reference). It was the first real convection of the year - but not surprisingly, uncooperative.

Around 2:30PM, I elected to go after a strong cell in the southern coalfields 30 miles south of town, which quickly dissipated as I came within a few miles of it on a curvy two-lane road in the mountains. At that time, WxWorx showed two new storms firing and preparing to pass directly over Charleston, where I had just left. Sigh. Knowing I would likely not come close to making it, I turned back toward home anyway. A few miles after getting back to the four-lane Route 119, 25 miles from Charleston, the highway was promptly shut down for 45 minutes due to a single-vehicle crash - dashing any slim hope I had of beating the new storms home (which, according to SPC storm reports, dropped hail topping over 1" around town.) Ouch.

Instead of giving up in the face of a day of defeats, I chose to keep going even if it meant more of the same. I had to get something for the day's efforts. I drove 30 miles north of town to meet a small storm moving across the state line from Ohio. It managed to hold together and give me one CG in the town of Ripley. In July I'd probably not even bother posting about a day like this, but it's my first of the season and I'm glad to come home with something, even if it's just one video grab. I got back home after 10PM, ending a 7.5-hour trip.

That's chasing.
Brandon Sullivan and I also chased the storm to near Sibley, IL. Brandon has some good video footage, but neither of us had a working digital camera yesterday. The most impressive part of the storm really tracked from near Towanda to near Sibley, but the storm did indeed begin to die in NE McLean County.

Give the marginal environment, the storm produced some nice rotation for about 10 minutes or so, although it never was able to produce any "violent" rotation for a sustained period of time. ILX was contemplating a tornado warning when we called, but decided to pass it off to LOT instead since the storm was exiting their warned area. We saw what may have been brief funnel clouds, and spotters near Lexington were reporting marginally severe hail and damaging winds. At least this cell made the chase day somewhat "bust free," but me hopes for a more active pattern soon.