John Farley

I chased in southern Illinois today - a hail chase, as it turns out. Got caught in 1.25 inch hail at 1:40 p.m. where I-64 crosses the Kaskaskia River punching through a storm that did not look all that impressive, but turned out to have a lot of hail - stopped traffic for 5-10 minutes. Playing catch-up, did not get the best view of the next storm but did catch a brief wall cloud looking southeast toward a storm southwest of Mt. Vernon. This storm was a VERY prolific hailer; for the last 10 miles into Mt. Vernon there was hail left on the ground - a lot in some places. Later, photographed a decent storm looking across Rend Lake from the rest stop north of Benton. Although they were prolific hailers, the storms seemed rather high-based, almost elevated, so nothing came close to producing any tornadoes - despite the fact that some of the storms were supercells, PAH issued not one TOR warning, at least through 8 p.m. this evening.

Will post link to full chase report when I get time to get it on my Web site.

Hail on ground just west of Mt. Vernon

Looking across Rend lake at the last in the series of storms I observed

EDIT 4-12-06: I have now posted my full chase report on my Web site at:


It includes additional pictures, as well as the text of warnings and LSRs related to the storms I observed.
Left Huntsville, AL at 2015UTC, westbound on US 72 to intercept the encroaching line of storms that was beginning to reach the rich atmosphere at the TN/AL/MS border. We encountered the richest mammatus I have ever seen in north Alabama.

Thanks to timely nowcasting by Bob Shafer, we were able to divert south on US 31 at Athens, AL, avoiding a core that had turned right and was advancing directly into our path at 45mph. Stopped at Tanner, AL to view conditions and receive call from Bob informing that the cell had split.

So we returned north to US 72 and proceeded west until turning north on 7 Mile Post Road, between Athens and Clement. Storm features visible above the tree line led us about 1.5 miles north, where a favorable landscape allowed the viewing of a wall cloud with a tail extending to the northeast at about two miles nw of our position, located behind a small clear slot in the cloudbase. The low contrast image in my vidcam viewfinder made it appear that rain was advancing underneath, and I commented on-cam about a 'wall of water'. Report on local radio moments later listed tree damage and road blockage in the Sugar Creek development.

Rain occluded the view, but the forward flank developed a new lowering that was quite dynamic without showing much organized rotation. It advanced easterly until it was only a half mile from our position, so we retreated back to the south. After returning to Tanner, AL, to view another oncoming cell, we gave up the chase in darkness and headed home to Meridianville, which was by now in the train of storms and we spent the next four hours watching tv, computer and listening to NOAA warnings and neigborhood sirens (it's a wonder they haven't burned out tonight) between power outages.

A few moments ago, I reviewed the footage from west of Athens. The rain-wrapping beneath the first wall cloud looked suspicious, so I back it up and realized I was seeing a cone tornado! Timing and location should verify that this was the storm that damaged the Sugar Creek community shortly before 2330UTC.

So---to Bob Shafer for his nowcasting, to all of you on ST who have for years answered direct questions and provided metric tons of first-hand accounts, and all of you who have supplied photos and videos that trained my eyes, from Dave Hoadley, Tim Marshall and Tim Vasquez to Mike Hollingshead and Tim Samaras: THANK YOU! AFTER NEARLY 30 YEARS OF CHASING, I HAVE FINALLY SEEN A TORNADO!

Yet in this joy I remember what happened earlier to the folks in Tennessee. And the event continues across Alabama and Mississippi at the time of this writing...


PS---It was my beloved's first chase. Perhaps I need to bring her along again...
I left out just south of JAN around 9 and headed up towards the Delta. We watched the storms firing in Tn and knew it would be a great day. We got to our target in Cleveland as skies cleared out and temps climbed into the 80's. It was certainly one of those days were you could feel the energy in the air and we knew it wouldn't be long. There were two boundaries that we were watching, one about 50 miles to our NW and another about 25 miles to our SW. I wanted to have the option to go after either one when the storms began firing.

The first storm fired in extreme N La and a went severe in about two radar frames. I decided to drop down HWY 61 to Greenville and catch the storm that was moving rapidly NE. As we moved south the sup started to make more of an Easterly track so we slid about 15 miles farther south and took a small road that ended right on the Ms river. I got caught behind a line of Tractors that apparently was a aware of the hail in the storm and was stuck going 30mph for about 5 miles as the storm approached us from the SW. Before I got to the intercept point I realized that we were not going to make it and turned around. On the way back out to Hwy 61 the leading edge of the storm pounded us with hail. I finally got back to 61 right in the bears cage and their was a wall cloud that looked very ready to produce. I mapped out some roads that we could take now that the storm was moving ENE. After a couple minutes the wall was gone but the storm was steadily moving into a more favorable environment so I decided to stay on it. I found a perfect county road with fields on each side with NO traffic. After staying on the storm for another ten minutes the storm really started looking nice and the road came to an end despite Delorme, Wx worx and Pioneer GPS units saying otherwise. The only way we could get back on the storm was to travel 12 miles E, 6 miles N, then take a W HWY and we knew there was no way we could catch the storm since it was moving ENE @ 55 MPH. I was dissapointed but since it was the first of many we just jumped on the next storm. No more than ten minutes after leaving reports that the Sheriff's office was tracking a large tornado on the ground came rolling in.

The next storm was flying up on us and didn't look like much more than a hailer but there was a storm that was really looking promising to our N so we took off back towards Greenville and when we got to HWY 83 there were 4 tor warned storms, one on each side of us. I decided to shoot East on 83 because there was a storm to our N that looked wonderful and the storm to our S that looked like a hailer grew a nice hook. We drove 30 miles East before we could get ahead of the storms and have nice road options and arrived just SW of Greenwood, Ms. The southern storm was looking as good as they get with a hook and very strong shear. We had about 15-20 minutes before the storm got to us and I decided to stop and get gas and go to the bathroom. I stop and try to start pumping and it was prepay only. Walked inside and waited for the slowest gas attendent ever and finally made my way to the front of the line. I handed him my debit card and told him I wanted $50 in gas. Well the guy couldn't figure out how to use the debit card and after about ten minutes all I had to do was pump my gas and be on my way. So I went back out and the guy never turned the pump on so I went back inside and waited for him to turn the pump on and proceeded to go pump the gas. When I walked back out I was informed that there was a huge wedge on the ground just to our SE and an awful feeling came across me when I looked at the threat net. The rotation was about 5 miles to our SW and the hail core was about to move over the top of us. The pump was moving slowly and the hail started. At this point I became worried we had a large tornado confirmed a couple miles from us and we were caught in the core. I slowly drove north through the quarter size hail which was being blown in every direction and made it back out to the Highway that runs E-W and tried to get back out in front. We were trying to make it through the town and sup was now moving ENE @65mph and it was over. We found out the tornado did in fact move 3 miles to the SW of the gas station and we would have easily been on it if it wasn't for the 30 minute gas stop.

I was highly pissed off at this point but there were more storms firing back into La so we took off back towards Greenville to intercept. As we get to Greenville the storm that was looking promising joined two other storms in the area to form a small line but there was a storm all by itself about 25 miles SW still in the La delta. We shot down 61 and waited for the storm to arrive. It had great mid level rotation and a nice hook on radar. As it approached us a shear marker popped up on the threat net and it had a perfect presentation on radar and the lightning had started going nuts. It was now completely dark but the terrain was perfect for an intercept. the storm was about 5-10 miles to our East and it just completely crapped out in one radar frame, the lightning went away and I called it a day.

It was an exciting chase but also a very frustrating one. The storm structure was not as good as I hoped because there were just too many storms close together and the storm speeds were insane. The first storm that fired on the boundary in East Arkansas moved E across extreme North Ms and the threat net was showing motion of ENE at 99mph. The motions down in the south delta were from 55-65mph and it was very hard to navigate since there were so many storms producing large hail so close together. I knew NE Ms into extreme NW Al was the place to be with the dynamics but I decided to chase in the better terrain were dynamics were still very nice. It was a long day but also a day that was spent chasing tornadic sups so I can't complain. We were on every storm that produced in the delta but never could get to the actual tornado. I can't wait for May in the plains and some slower storm motions.
WOW...great day! Was in Courtland, Cherokee, and Tuscumbia, which ALL had tornado touchdowns. Got REALLY hairy there for awhile, and didn't capture any good video, just a funnel off in the distance beween a tree line. Hard to see, but sure it was a funnel. Met up with Ken Huey, another storm tracker from Atlanta, and we communicated all day. Luckily for me, he called me up just as I went into Mississippi from Alabama, on Hwy 72, and told me he just got a report of a tornado getting ready to cross Hwy 72 at the MS/AL border within 10 minutes!. I did a U-ee, and flew back west, and stopped in Cherokee and tried to get some video. By this time all the sirens went off, and the announcement over the county siren system said that a tornado was heading directly to Cherokee, so....off I went again further west. I then set up and took the pics of the funnel, but hard to see. After about 20 minutes, I decided to go further west, and started to teun left onto Alternate 72, and saw Ken at the stoplight coming from where I was going to go, so i called him at the stoplight, and he said that it was to dangerous to go that way, and that's why he turned around. Good idea as it turned out, because the Cherokke twister had made it's way to where he WAS, and touched down again! So....further west, and towards home i went. I got to Courtland, AL, and stopped to take some pics of yet another great looking super, but saw a hail core moving my direction, and it was nearly dark as well. There appeared to be a wall cloud off in the distance, but with dimming visibility, and the hail core getting closer, I packed up and moved on. A tornado touched down on the outskirts of Courtland a short time later. All in all a very exciting afternoon. Unfortunately, the bulk of the excitement occured close to dark, as one storm after another seemed to rock that area in NW alabama. Can't wait for the next one!

(Above) Wall cloud in Bolivar, Tennessee.

Chased in Tennessee and Alabama on Friday with Lisa Wadlow and Tom Mullins. A full report with photos is at the following link:


Nashville area damage photos at:

After leaving Gainesville, FL at 11:00am EST, with an initial target of Birmingham, AL, we finally reached Hamilton, AL just before dark. We had hoped the storms would progress further into AL before we lost daylight, but the storms developing in MS just kept training across the same counties. We witnessed a compact tornado-warned storm near the AL/MS border with a pronounced wall cloud. The second storm we witnessed was just west of Hamilton, AL. We took a sideroad off of U.S. 17 to investigate this supercell, and discovered the broad, well-defined bowl-shaped mesocyclone and rotating wall cloud were practically on top of us. We could not confirm a tornado from our position, but the storm was reported to have dropped a brief tornado north of town while we were searching for data.











We called it quits only to find the storms tracking eastward and finally making southern progress along our route home through Birmingham and Montgomery. It was a little surprising to find this nearly-continuous line produce tornados late into the early morning hours as the storms chased us home.
I left from Atlanta Thur evening and spent the night in Huntsville, AL. Target at that time was somewhere between Winona, MS and Huntsville, AL. On Fri morning I noticed a lone supercell in the TN, but opted to wait for the afternoon storms that were forecast for N.MS and N. AL. The local offices (HSV and BHM) were advertising a 1-2pm initiation, especially where any boundaries existed. The only boundary I saw on radar was just south of BHM and HSV was mentioning a possible thermal boundary being created in the NW part of the state (between HSV and the MS border). At the point, I decided to target an area between Athens AL and Florence AL, and I settled on Courtland, AL.

I was also keeping in touch with a couple of other chasers (Steve Carter and Brett Adair). Brett had informed me of the PDS tornado watch being planned for release shortly. The conditions at Courtland varied between mostly cloudy to partly cloudy. I was utilizing a Cingular Aircard in my laptop, with GRLevel3, Digital Atmosphere and Streets and Trips w/GPS. For most of the afternoon, everything that was going up, was north into TN. Around 4:30 we had a little mini chaser convergence when Steve Carter met me in Courtland and we compared notes and strategy. By that time, cells were starting to go up in N. MS. Steve decided to head toward Corinth, MS and I decided to stay further East, hoping a small cell in front of the other cluster might get going....it didn't :-(

After that cell died, I made the decision to head west on 72, and shortly after that I saw another cell form in front of the larger cluster in N. MS. That cell soon went severe and a tornado warning was issued. I called Steve and he was in the direct path of that cell (to his SW). He repositioned and I moved further west towards the cell. I intercepted the wall cloud just East of Cherokee, AL and captured some HI-8 video and snapped a few digital shots.


I really need to get a better camera....next on my list :)

I followed that cell as far as I could, but since I was south of the TN. River, by the time I got to a N-S road to continue following, it had cut me off and I had to divert back and head East, south of the river.

At this point, it had become dark, but I did capture a wall cloud/possible funnel (backlit by lightning) in the southern part of Limestone County.

I decided to head back to Atlanta and try to beat the storms there. I was home for about 1 hour before the tornadic storms passed through the northern parts of Atlanta.

All in all it was a very exciting day....something about chasing in a High Risk that really gets the adreneline flowing! The Cingular connnection worked very well. The only problem I had was toggling the gps on/off between Streets and Trips and GRLevel3. I'm buying a second GPS so I can have my location updating with both apps and quickly toggle between them.

Thanks again to Brett and Steve for the help.
I finally made it home this evening in eastern NC after a 2 day chase in northern MS/AL on Friday and southeast GA on Saturday. Friday's chase was one for my personal records as far number of supercells intercepted and number of rotating wall clouds seen in one chase. I intercepted 4 supercells during daylight hours (and several more after dark farther east) in northern Mississippi during the late afternoon/early evening Friday, the first near New Albany, MS and the other 3 along the Hwy 45 corridor south of Tupelo, MS. Got pics of possible funnel cloud near New Albany - this feature was under a wall cloud on the far northern end of the updraft, near the supercell's vault region, and looked to be rotating to the naked eye, and looks like a funnel from the 4x zoom pics. However, due to its distance and not so great contrast I could not be 100 percent certain.
The fourth supercell I intercepted, just south of Okolona, MS at the edge of twilight, had the most incredible wall cloud I have ever seen, the best way I can describe it is it looked very similar to the one Mike Hollingshead photographed on June 13, 2004 near Alvo, Nebraska, minus the vault region to the north, as this wall cloud was centered more towards the center of the storm's base. In fact, when this first came into view as I drove south out of the rain, I thought for a good 3 or 4 minutes I was looking at the edge of an approaching large wedge tornado, as the entire visible left side of the wall looked to be on the ground, with the right 2/3 of it still hidden behind precip. During this time I was frantically booking south on 45 to get out of the way of its path. The fact that what I was seeing was racing ENE from 5 miles away, and the fact the section of Hwy 45 I was on was running SSW made for a heart pounding 3-4 minutes. Once the feature was due west of me, at about 2 miles or so, I stopped and snapped some photos. The right side of the wall cloud had several vertically stacked tail/inflow type clouds protruding to the east, the bottum of the wall was very low the ground, and the height of the wall base from storm base was much greater than its distance from the ground. This is what lead me to believe I was looking at a wedge before I found a large plowed field to get a better look at the near ground part of it. Unfortunately, the 10 or so pics I took of this wall cloud all came out black, thanks to my novice photography skills in low light. In retrospect, I wish I had tripoded the camcorder at the same time and filmed with it in night shot while snapping photos with the camera. At least then I could have gotten a lightning backlight for illumination. But I guess chasing alone and having a very small window for stopping and viewing can make you forget details like that during the most intense moments. I'll just chalk it up as another good learning experience.
A very fun and at times intense chase, many fast moving supercell updrafts intercepted, but no tornadoes spotted. My full chase report for Friday April 7 is at www.tornadohunter.net

P.S. I'd also like to thank chaser Brett Adair for his nowcasting and helping to keep me filled in on the lastest reports and developments as things started popping off in Mississippi Friday afternoon.
We "Conveinently" delayed trip to Columbus GA.not wanting to miss some of the potentially high risk weather. We wasnt dissappointed! We encountered first super cell near madisonville Ky. Structure was ok but not too impressive. We moved into Nashville area just after tornado went through first time watching loval tv feed on Interstate 24 I figured we could intercept in Nashville area. As I was speaking of traffic backing up.... It did & we was smack in middle of town. We manouvered till we dropped about 4 miles to south of mesocyclone & encountered nice structure to SE side of storm. Took the below pics. I think the Murfreesboro storm was gassing the Nashville storm on inflow, I dont believe it touched but called 911 {No NWS Nashville no.} & reported rapid rotation in wall cloud with possible funnel. We seen Murfreesboro storm on radar & booked there as quick as we could safely. Made WNW side of nice mesocyclone but quickly faded to the east of us, hail covering I-24. Very nice rotation was seen to our SW with second meso becoming visible. Still havent heard if anything touched with me having no data all weekend
Left East of Little Rock around 10:30 a.m. I arrived on the west side of Memphis just as the first TOR warning for the cell that tracked on the east side of Memphis was issued. I could not catch up to it, as I had to traverse the city, and chose a couple of bad roads.

I moved to Corinth, MS, where I waited until after 4 p.m. when storms fired near Corinth, and further to the SW near Greenwood. I left the smaller cells in Corinth and drove towards Tupelo. Caught this large wall cloud near Saltillo MS around 6p.m.:


I have some other shots, but they all came out poorly due to an incorrect camera setting (&*!@*#). Drove northeast in a meandering fashion until I decided to turn and head back in the general direction of Austin.

Ran into more severe storms in the cities of Russelville, Hackelburg, and Hamilton AL. Around 9p.m., I took this shot of a huge, bowl-shaped meso (I think it's probably the same one witnessed by Marc Austin, but I'm not positive- this was near Hackleburg, AL, which is just NE of Hamilton). It's barely visible, as it is only illuminated by a dying lightning strike.


Snapped this lucky lightning pic a few seconds later, within a mile of my location.

Shortly thereafter, a had a rapid wind shift line pass, with extreme inflow rocketing towards the meso. Drove through one more severe storm also near Hamilton, AL, about 45 minutes later. This could also have been the storm Marc Austin saw, but I got more core than structure out of that one.

Another intense chase day, with mixed results. Saw good storms, but barely missed one of the best storms of the day, and I took about 100 blurred pics to boot. I should have vid capability by the next chase, at least.


P.S. Congrats to my Huntsville chase buddy and fabulous blues guitarist Dave Gallagher for his first tornadoes.
Having started out late in the day around 10:00 AM. I finally left out of Mobile, AL and headed toward the MS Delta. I arrived at Winona around 3:15 PM. Doing a quick analysis, I decided to head due west on hwy 82, going after some initiating storms that formed in Northern LA. I arrived at Isola around 4:10 and intercepted a storm that wasn't tornado warned. Giving me a heads up, a fellow chaser by the name of Brandon informed me of a developing wall cloud. This indeed insured my stay with this supercell. Around 4:20 I captured a glimpse of the wall cloud that was headed straight for me. I viewed the storm as long as possible and then jetted south to find another road that would bring me on the backside of the storm. By this time the wall cloud was moving over Greenwood. I then recieved a call from another friend and was informed of an even better storm back to the SW. Having taken the advice I drove West to intercept another storm that had a reported wedge with it. Given the locationg of the tornado I knew I was in a bad spot. With the oncoming tornado to my SW I drove south as fast as possible but encountered wrap around from the tornado. Not being able to see the road ahead of me I made an even dummer call and decided to drive back NE thinking I might have a chance of outrunning the approaching twister. At this time it looked as though I made a good call untill the hail core caught up with me. I then decided to drive back south to escape major hail damage and about 1/4 mile of driving south numerous power flashes caught my attention so I immediately threw the truck in reverse and decided to tough it out in the hail rather than toughing it out with the tornado. Come to find out the tornado passed about 100 yards to my south. I'm just thankful to God that I had the powerflashes to go by or I would have ended up in a field somewhere. As for my truck it sustained light to moderate hail damage from golfball to tennis ball size hail. My location at the time of the tornado was 2 miles N of Morgan City at ~6:02PM.

Wall Cloud near Isola around 4:20 PM[attachmentid=122]
Minor tornado damage near Morgan City around 6:02PM[attachmentid=123]
Sorry about this late report, but I just have been hesitant to put it up, for some reason or another.

I headed to Knoxville, TN first of all at about 4:30 PM, with a nowcaster set up (Kurt Hulst)....the laptop was out with my mom on this day. We waited for a while, as a tornadic supercell, span in our direction, but it weakened a lot due to the complex terrain it encountered as it moved more and more east. That cell, gave off some pretty nice mammatus, and loud thunder, and a pretty nice small area of rotation and a shelf cloud. Next, the cell was dying and a tornadic cell was moving just above Nashville, TN and prodcuing a tornado, but we couldn't go any further, we had to go back to the abode, and let my Dog out to the bathroom, other wise, I would have bagged a tornado. Most of these pictures are taken from Oak Ridge, TN, just SW of Knoxville, TN.








So I get back home a SVR warned cell is heading right for me, with decent VIL, and it produced nice lightning and Penny Hail.







And here was the rotating area on the cell in Oak Ridge, TN. Lasted for maybe 5 minutes.

Well, this is very unusual....it looks as if several well known chasers made there way to Alabama finally! Anyway, I have a very intersting report and would also like to congradulate Brody Clifton, Ken Hughey, Steve Carter, and Dave Gallagher on the findings of this afternoon. It was a pleasure nowcasting for Ken and Brody as I knew they were in a nice area for tornado formation and knew I had no way of getting there in time.....BUT little did I know that I wouldn't need to go anywhere. The tornado seemed to find me. :) Onto my account...

I watched the radar all evening listening to reports of tornadoes touching down everywhere across north AL. As the evening progressed the storms seemed to form into more of a quasi-linear structure and seemed to be losing there surface based orientation. (Storms went into downdraft mode) The intense updrafts were being cut due to no well defined WAA. At around 10pm, I decided to call it a night after being a bit disappointed. Not a wise move. I remember hearing my NOAA weather radio go off at around 12:45 to see a tornado warning being issued for the Birmingham metro area. My fiance began to get a little concerned as we noted that a touchdown had been reported in Ensley. (South side of Birmingham) Given storm motion ESE, the storm was banking my way. I studied the radar for a few moments to notice a well defined outflow boundary had been laid from earlier storms and it sat just a mile or so north of my home. I figured that this would pose trouble as this embedded supercell moved in our direction. The storm lost rotational characteristics as it moved into Shelby County and neared our county line, but a hook began to form on base reflectivity. I walked outside to notice that the winds at my home had turned SSE and the inflow had significantly picked up so I picked up the 2 meter and activated the Talladega County emergency net. A few moments later NWS-BMX issued a severe thunderstorm warning.....I guess they didn't catch the outflow boundary. I decided to take off. Went north bound up US HWY-280 in the direction of the Coosa River and downtown Childersburg, AL. I came to the red light where you turn into downtown to realize that it was out. I detoured to the right and headed into downtown on HWY-76 east bound. As I passed a gas station on the left side of the highway, a large trash can was thrown into my car....the wind had switched to the WNW and FAST. I continued under a railroad trussell and then noticed debris/insullation falling on my car. Driving and looking to my left the power flashes began and lightning illuminated the horizon...."TORNADO DOWN, TORNADO ON THE GROUND!" That's all I could shout to the emergency net control. I stopped in my location as the entire city power grid went down and failed. I was within 1/8th of a mile from the tornado that was spinning and moving SE just to my north. I made a COMPLETE U-turn as I had to haul @$$ to keep from getting nailed by this twister. Shortly after my report and damage reports flooding in, a tornado warning was issued by BMX. The tornado lifted quickly after I spotted it doing damage on the ground. I would say it moved another 1/5th of a mile and lifted over an open field. From what I could tell, it appeared to be a few hundred yards wide and a small cone. I drove back home to my fiance to be welcomed by another tornadic storm 1 mile west of my house....I had no choice but to take cover with them given that this meso was rain wrapped. The power grid failed at our home a few minutes later. I was on WBRC-FOX 6 with Chief Meteorologist David Neal during the chase. They were right on top of things with me and provided me with excellent information allowing me to get out of harms way so quickly. Post tornadoes, I had to do a damage assessment for the EMA. I was also interviewed by CBS-42 at around 4:30 am while doing the assessment....quite a night.

Photos can be found here. http://alstormtrackers.blogspot.com/2006/0...orm-survey.html