September 22, 2006

Statistics:

Initial Target: Edwardsville, IL
Departure: Bolingbrook, IL 8:00 am CDT
Arrival: Springfield, IL 6:00 pm CDT
Intercepts: Petersburg, IL
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: None
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: None
Miles: 370.0

Summary:

Chased moderate risk setup in west central IL.  Met up with Scott Weberpal in Hamel, IL and opted out of chasing line of tornado warned cells through Missouri jungles/St. Louis metro area.  Caravanned toward northern line of cells, avoiding fast movers in bad terrain to the south.  Intercepted dieing cells that were previously tornado warned, witness little structure.  Called the chase a bust before sundown, and stopped in Springfield to visit Jenny.

Crew and Equipment:

Caravanned with Scott Weberpal. Equipment consisted of a TH-F6A Tribander, and GPS/Cell Phone equipped laptop.  Photography by Skip Talbot.

Details:

This chase had my hopes up.  I don't remember the setup very well as this log has been written a few months after the fact.  I do remember though that large amounts of instability were forecasted in Missouri, and thus I was worried I'd have to journey into the jungles.  The models showed the instability flowing into IL later on so I opted for an intercept east of the river.  I took I-55 south toward Edwardsville, meeting up with Scott Weberpal in Hamel.
Nice supercells were going up in eastern MO.  They were in a tricky spot though.  If we intercepted them, we wouldn't be able to keep up as they moved out of the jungles into the St. Louis metro area.  When the storms finally did cross the river, they were moving through southern IL, which is still bad terrain.  We both agreed that we wouldn't be able to catch the fast moving storms by taking any southern road option.  Instead we raced north toward some mediocre storms near Quincy/Hannibal.
Just as we passed the exit for I-72 I heard a tornado warning for Jacksonville.  I should always target Jacksonville.  I followed Scott north past Springfield, wondering when we were going to intercept.  Finally we turned off to the west.  I had to pee though so we broke our caravan.  I raced southwest trying to catch the cell that was tornado warned through Jacksonville.  Now only severe warned, I core punched through a bunch of slop encountering no hail.
After stopping for a few pictures I realized that these storms were crapping out and call it a chase.  I was mere miles from Jenny's apartment in Springfield, though.  At least I got to soothe the pain of busting with a nice dinner out with the girlfriend.
Conclusion:

It was nice to meet Scott for the first time in person.  However, a two car, two person caravan is a bad way to chase. Both people are trying to do every job.  We probably should have combined forces in one vehicle if possible, or just split up.  We went the wrong direction missing a tornado outbreak in MO and southern IL.  Dan Robinson of West Virginia pulled off the impossible, blasting south from St. Louis and catching an F4 wedge. Check out his chase log here.  A bust stings, but when you miss a great tornado... that just twists the knife.

 

Lessons Learned:

  • Don't wait for the perfect setup.
  • Two person caravans do not make good chase configurations.