4/13/06 REPORTS: IA / WI / IL

Will keep this short. Left Cedar Rapids, IA at 7 PM to intercept a tornado warned cell in Tama County. Ended up 25 mi W of CR on US-218. It was getting dark by then, but I witnessed a wall cloud and lowering east of Van Horne. The RFD precipitation Caught up and I lost visibility. Got hail, perhaps to golf-ball size. Retreated east on US-30. Had view of funnel or tornado to my north (very poor visibility) between Newhall and Atkins (approaching Cedar Rapids). Decided to call it a day as it was dark. Drove back towards my home in Iowa City. As I approached my house, another tornado passed, missing my place ½ mile to the south (it destroyed an auto dealership – the Honda - ½ mi. from me). Watched this tornado pass through Iowa City. It was illuminated by numerous power flashes and the city lights. Drove around a bit, saw a stretch of highway-1 on the south side of Iowa City were at least a dozen vehicles were blown off the road. Power out and lots of damage near Benton St./Riverside drive/Highway 1. There was also a strong natural gas odor there. No more “sight seeingâ€￾ until tomorrow – let the crews work.

- bill
 
Bill, glad to hear your place survived, it sounded pretty nasty down there. I live in marion. Left my residence intime to intercept a wall cloud floating East along and south of county home road, which produced a funnel and some wind damage along it's entire path. decided to follow this cell a little bit and immediately stumbled upon a very large barn roof blocking half of the road. I flipped my lights on and went to make sure the residents were ok, which they were. PD arrived then so I made my way along again. Couldnt catch up to that cell so I made my way towards SW cedar rapids/ fairfax/ walford area and got hit with golf ball sized hail. Pretty interesting chase close to home, I loved it.

Bill, I dont know if you know, but Iowa State Patrol is requesting ALL officers to Iowa City to help restore order. As I listen, they are wanting them all at Gilbert st and University Avenue. ISP officer just pulled up and said "send more troopers, order has not been maintained yet." Everytime one of them keys up, you can hear people just yelling all over. Apparently the chaos is widespread enough that they can't get very many firetrucks out. Again, very glad to hear that you are ok and had an ok chase. Keep us updated with the situation down there, I'm actually on stand-by to go down to assist the Sheriff's Office or ICPD with comms. Good luck. :eek:
 
Iowa City Tornado.

Thanks to Dan Robinson, Andy Revering and Eric Whithill for the updates and of course the xm helped out tons.

Got on the very large tornado in Iowa City IA and it was kicking up power flashes like a hurricane as I was trying to intercept it. Chasing at night is always extreme and this was the worst case that I have chased at night. VERY LARGE tornado!!! Here is a vid cap. Now just driving home in the fog.

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Between the city of Madison, the 60mph forward movement, and the reports of baseball sized hail, I couldnt, and really didnt want to get too close to this storm, so I photographed it from a distance. these were taken while it was over Madison, WI. Taken between 9:35 and 9:45 PM. Looking southeast from the Black Earth area.



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Doug Raflik
http://www.dougraflikphotography.com
 
Although the quality is poor, here are a few vid captures from the Iowa City tornado event last night. The large tornado on the right is seen at 836pm CDT from about a mile away looking southeast just after it crossed Hwy 218 near the airport . The other capture is from a few minutes later when the tornado is closer to the downtown area.

Fellow Ames chaser Ben McMillan and I anticipated all day that this event might be more than what had been advertised, especially after seeing the 60's Td's creep into southern IA during the afternoon. My original target area was the Ottumwa-Oskaloosa area but when things fired up less than 20 miles from home in Hamilton County the chase was on. After getting into some 1-inch diameter hail near Stanhope we fell behind the initial big storm heading for Cedar Rapids and never quite caught up to it on Hwy 30.

At Cedar Rapids I was ready to call it a day but Ben had been monitoring XM and was very interested in dropping south on I-380 to see what the southern storm nearing Iowa City had to offer as it had rather impressive signatures. Phone calls from our nowcaster Kevin Sarazin back in Ames confirmed that it was worth the drive south.

We first observed the tornado from about 4 miles southeast of I-80 and later realized that it crossed Hwy 218 only about a mile in front of us. The lightning was nearly constant and that combined with numerous power flashes made this event remarkably easy to see as it unfolded over the city.

After the initial storm moved off to the SE we were briefly concerned that the next storm dropping in from the NW might drop another TOR right over the same area but fortunately we saw nothing more than various lowerings.

This was the first time either one of us have seen a tornado hit a decent-sized city, and our thoughts go out to the citizens of eastern IA who were affected by this generally unexpected event.

Although it has only been about a month since our first chase of the year on March 12, it already feels like a full-season's worth of chasing and there's not a lot of down time until the next potential event tommorrow.
 
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