|I'm still a sucker for SPC's forecasts, and I was suckered
into this one. The setup was primed for a tornado outbreak, but in the
southern states. Further north in Illinois, there was also a chance
for severe weather and tornadoes, but instability was forecast to be much
lower. The forecasted 979 mb low over the Quad Cities was amazing
though. Initially only a Slight Risk on the Day 3 forecast, I wasn't
planning on chasing this. When the Day 2 upgraded IL to a 45% hatched
Moderate Risk, I decided to call in sick to work.
Tornadic supercells were forecast to fire
overnight in Kansas and Missouri, and continue their trek through the night,
crossing the Mississippi before noon the next day. It appeared that the
left over morning junk was going to be the action for this chase, so I made
plans to target Edwardsville, and be there bright and early. Instead
of leaving at 4 or 5 in the morning, I met my storm loathing friend, Kristen
Miller, at her apartment in Peoria, and spent the night there. I
stayed up for the Day 1 and was dismayed to see that SPC had indeed upgraded
to a high risk, but not for Illinois, and the tornado probabilities only
made it up to 5% in southern IL. Perhaps I shouldn't have called in
sick. Mark Sefried wanted to form a caravan before 6 the next morning,
but my alarm failed to sound and he was on the road before I got up. I
sluggishly got on the road by 6:30, briefly getting caught in a line of
storms with heavy rain and lightning. I was able to escape
the northeast moving line, running south on 155.
|Several supercells were tornado warned in Missouri when I
left, but they were downgraded to severe or not warned by the time I was on
the scene. I intercepted a severe warned cell
near Gillespie, IL. The radar still showed a meso on the cell, but it
looked grotesquely stretched. The base of the storm was elevated and
disorganized. I watched it fall apart for a few minutes, before I
decided to get back out ahead of the line in case something else flared up
to the south.
|Stopping in Vandalia for some grub, I met up with Scott
Weberpal. A line of cu was developing to the west, and we were in
prime position to intercept when it went up. A rather solid, and
linear looking line flared up before noon, and we held our ground, not
wanting to prematurely intercept a line moving 50 mph.
Scott left to
intercept the southern most cell, Tail-End-Charlie, but I wasn't sold and
hung around Vandalia. When the line started closing in on me I got on
70 and headed east to keep ahead of it. I was hoping that development
to the south would turn supercellular or that there would be a break in the
line, from which I could intercept a base.
I met up with Mark Sefried and Andrew Pritchard in Alton. We
caravanned southeast from there. We stopped to shoot what appeared to
be a base but was just the gust front: pictured right, looking southwest.
|The line caught us just north of Clay City and we got
blasted by the core for a few minutes with pea sized hail. We outran
it, amazingly, and got on the southern end to see if we could spot a base.
A wall cloud wannabe under the gust front, looking northwest:
|Huge flocks of birds were trying to outrun the storm and we
were getting swarmed from all directions. The birds were flying quite
low and straight at us. It was a remake of an Alfred Hitchcock movie.
|The gust front looking north:
|Looking south as the gust front passed overhead, with
minimal precipitation, and a bit of a whale's mouth type feature.
|It was obvious that we were chasing a weakening, linear
squall line. SPC had a discussion out saying that CAPE would build to the
east and that there was still a tornado probability. However, this area was
socked in with precip so it was clear there wouldn't be any destabilization.
We called the chase a bust at 2:30. Looking southeast on the back end
of the squall line as we headed back:
|Mark, Andrew and I caravanned up to Effingham where we were
going to stop for some pizza, but we couldn't find any good pizzerias so we
all split up and headed home.
This was a rather
disappointing chase seeing how the setup was hyped so much. The entire
day was a loss it turned out, with the Illinois storms being linear junk
(with the exception of a briefly tornado warned cell near Peoria),
and the supercells to the south being unchaseable and deadly.
- Don't be suckered into taking off work to chase a squall line.