6/05/2005 Reports: Great Lakes

Mar 21, 2004
Urbana, IL
With my home being on the far western edge of the moderate risk today, I figured I would just sit at home and wait and see how close things were going to fire to me.

Around 1 PM, a vort impulse tracked across central Illinois and began approaching my area. I noticed one cell starting to reach 40-45 dbz and grabbed the camera just incase this was finally the start. On the next scan it had become a very well defined storm, and was up to 60 dbz. I ran out the door and hit Interstate 57 north to intercept. Shortly after getting onto the interstate a SVR warning was issued for the cell. Approaching Paxton, IL I began seeing some very favorable features. The storm was developing a nice rounded base, and had a large hail core on the SE side. You could also visually see the rotation going up the updraft.

I got off on Highway 9 out of Paxton to keep up with the storm. However, it soon became totally wrapped up in precipitation and became visually unappealing...sooo I did the unthinkable and left my storm.

A new cell had just popped to my east, near Hoopeston, IL and already had a nice RFB with several ragged lowerings so I decided to head for that. It was 15 minutes later that I heard over the scanner that spotters were tracking a tornado south of Watseka, IL...about 12 miles directly to my north. Handily, I soon came across Highway 1 North, and attempted to catch it. However, the storm was still horribly hidden in the rain. I crossed the damage path on the east side of Watseka. It's not apparent whether this damage was from a tornado, or very high winds. Either way, something was cooking in there, because it totally destroyed a cluster of metal silo's and threw them across the road into a field. There was also quite a few large mature trees snapped off at the base. Damage from the hail was also very evident from the trees that were stripped of their leaves.

Very quickly, the storms merged into one big squall line and took off to where several are likely experiencing there might winds in northern Indiana. I toyed with the idea of messing with more storms back towards western Indiana near Attica, IN...but due to work commitments I decided I should head back towards home and save my money for next week.

I wouldnt call todays chase a bust...but I'm sure ready for that elusive 2005 tornado to show its face. Hopefully now that I'll finally have a couple days to finally leave Illinois, this can become a reality.

Will post pictures tomorrow...
About 200 miles, all within 50 miles of Lansing, netted me some 1" hail near Mason (haven't seen that in a long time) and a weak rotation northwest of Lansing.

Could have been worse, but unfortunately anything that was "really" good was too far from LAN for me to hit.
What a mess! Trying to keep from getting run over by hail cores was impossible in the thumb today. The first storm of the day we where on just outside of bad axe and got hit with 57 measured winds and 1.00 inch hail. Quickly turned around out of that mess and headed home a mile away to wait for something more promising to show itself.

Ran around with two more rounds of storms, all of which were junk with rain, lightining and heavy rain, but nothing more. there could have been hail, but we did stay out of the cores with these. On the way back to town, seen wind damage from storm number one, which consisted of large limbs down, trees uprooted, power poles bent over and signs destoryed.

So, after this we had a brief break. seeing the next storm was still off a ways, we decided to head SW toward owendale to find damage reported out of the first storms. We got there and the cell in tuscola county went nuts. Seen one wallcloud that tried its best to put down a tornado, but failed. The RFD put on its own show, with blowing dust screaming south behind the storm. Boatloads of hail again pounded us, as a small cell from the south made a north jog and caught us from behind. Closed out the day with 50mphs from a squall line with an amazing shelf cloud.


I went north on I-75 and got off at M46. Followed that all the way over to M53, as there was no way I could catch the stuff further north, but I could see it: http://www.waveformpc.com/photos/cb.jpg. I finally ended up in Dryden around 8:00PM, where they sounded the tornado sirens (for wind, I am guessing). I decided to just wait there for the squall line to roar through. I decided to pull off onto a dirt road, where the visibility was pretty good, and I could see the gust front coming at me quite rapidly. Along the leading edge, I could see debris and dust being kicked up quite high for about 1-2 minutes, then it disappeared. I snapped a photo of it while the dust cloud was dying, but given the fact that it was pretty dark out, and the contrast wasn't so great, the photo doesn't do any justice at all (the gust front is to the right) - http://www.waveformpc.com/photos/wind.JPG. I then checked the radar on my tiny cell phone (my laptop is messed up), and seen a cell moving across Oakland county, which appeared to be converging with the cell right on top of me. Winds yet again kicked up, to about 70-75MPH with very intense rainfall. There was quite a bit of debris laying in the road on my way home. Overall, it was a pretty good event - Just too bad I didn't make if further north!


1. Beautiful storm with shelf cloud, heavy rain and gusty winds-along hwy 218, Bremer County, Iowa

2. Beautiful storm with "rain free" base, flanking line, brief wall clouds and an anviled top 15 miles to the northeast of Nashua Iowa.
Fun day in MI

Left Ohio for Michigan around 7:30 AM. Was surprised to get to the target area with plenty of time to spare.

Intended to head to Owosso but by the time we got to the Flint area and got some data the storms were firing up and heading NorthEast at 30-45 mph. This was way too fast ! Picked a well defined cell that seemed to be growing that was southeast of Lansing. Placed ourselves in it's path and got behind it. We almost chased the cell that was North of 1-69 between Owosso and Flint. I believe that one went on to damage Bay City.

We followed our cell back NorthEast to Flint and found some more data. SPC showed that the storms were getting tor warned when they interacted with the Lake Breeze. At least this is what I supposed thanks to a post from another stormtrack member regarding that possibility and for the fact that all the tor warned counties were on Saginaw Bay. Bay, Saginaw and Tuscola county were warned.

Saginaw Bay
Spead North on I-75 to try and catch the action on the bay. Unfortunatley we were a little too late as they were moving so fast. Headed E on M81 out of Saginaw and got under the last promising cell. Nice wall cloud, decent inflow but way too much rain and in the end nothing of real interest. Ended up in Unionville and since the sky was clear to our south we headed to Bay City for food/data.

Bay City
I was thinking that convection might occur for a second time due to all the heating and the advection due to surface flow so I wanted to check data. I was not really all that hopeful since the area had just been pounded once. Vainly struggled to get wireless internet in Bay city soon just looked up and saw the next line of towers rolling in. NOAA weather radio warned the storm so we just headed S on 13 to get under it. This storm was intense. Bay City had trees down all over town and half the city had no electricity and a huge monster storm with extremely low cloud base was slowly spinning into town.

Got the report of the tor on radio and tried to intercept but we were on the wrong side. Safety considerations forced us to the East and by the time we got behind this storm it was a big mess. Compared to the Plains our Midwestern/great lakes storms seem to quickly become rainy huge messes.

The low hanging bright green look of this storm was impressive, no pictures though, too busy trying to get to the inflow to stop.

Munger Frankenmuth
As we headed South hoping for more discrete cells instead of the huge line that developed we got radio notice of the Frankenmuth rotation. Once again we were infront of this cell so we jockeyed for position with poor visibility and lots of rain. We seemed to get under the inflow with some rotaion but it was broad and weak.

By this point we were tired and Hungry and the storms had unified into one big Great Lakes mess. Leaving the Cracker Barrel in Saginaw the sunset and we got a huge horizon to horizon rainbow. This day more than any other I found myself longing for an extreme wide angle lense so I could capture some of this stuff in one photo.

Fun day, thanks to all the MI/IL stormtrack folks who posted useful info on terrain, lake effect on storms and the like. Nice to know that the thumb of Michigan is flat and totally chaseable.

tom hanlon[/b]
Was actually not out on a chase, but rather at a relative's graduation party in Darboy, Wisconsin which is about 7 miles southeast of Appleton or 20 miles southwest of Green Bay. Wasn't accessing any data or anything, but I did manage to have my NOAA Weather Radio along as well as a digital camera. NWR went off several times...once for a Tornado Watch and once for a warning as I left the party around 545-6 PM.

If we had left about 30 minutes later, we would have caught some storms on the way out that were headed right for the area. If we had left 30 minutes earlier, we could have caught the severe storm in Fond du Lac county. Alas, that is how life goes.

Heading down Hwy 41...caught a few decent cumulus shots. As we headed south, everything worth shooting moved out over the lake.

Not terribly productive, but they were magnificent to watch from a distance. :) We had severe weather the day before so I'm not complaining. I may post some of the photos here after awhile.

...Alex Lamers...