|I was still in shock from my awesome March 28 chase, so I
wasn't overly anxious about this setup. There was a strong surface low
moving through, part of the same system that sparked the March 28 event, and
it was going to lift a warm front up through Iowa and Illinois with backed
surface winds and decent upper level shear. Good helicity values
and marginal instability were forecast up along the I-80 corridor in IL so I
was hoping for more of a local chase. SPC initially only had a 5%
hail, wind, and tornado on the first Day1 outlook, but they later upgraded.
|I wasn't too quick to leave, hanging around until 11:30
before I saw things starting to come together out in Iowa with an MD going
up mentioning a tornado watch. I headed west on 80 for Iowa, seeing
that Illinois was probably not going to initiate and that all the activity
would be in Iowa. The watch went up for portion of western Iowa where
a cold core type event was underway. A new red box finally went up for
eastern IA, and I made for a cluster of small cells that were near Iowa
City. I finally caught up with them west of Cedar Rapids as they had
merged into a short line.
|I tried to keep up with the southernmost cell. There
wasn't a good north/south highway west of Cedar Rapids, and I didn't want to
get too close to that city. The group of cells was also moving north
at about 50 mph. The bases I observed were weak, shower types.
There was a little bit of scud activity under them that resembled a
lowering, but it was nothing to get excited about.
|Meanwhile a mature, severe warned squall line was underway
south of me, extending into Missouri. When a northern cell in the
line, a comma head, went tornado warned, I finally abandoned my storms and
dropped to the squall. I put myself right in the middle of the warning
polygon, not seeing much of a couplet on radar and figuring I could ride the
storm out relatively safely.
|I found an excellent lookout spot near Blairstown, IA. It
was atop a hill overlooking some fields. There was some twisted sheet
metal nearby that made for an interesting foreground. I watched the
gust front, looking for any tornadic activity or rotation, but saw nothing.
Whatever was triggering the warning was probably well embedded into the
|I set the video camera up and watched the squall roll in.
When the rain picked up I relocated to inside the van. Just before the
gust front hit I decided that I probably shouldn't be sitting near a bunch
of loose sheet metal with a tornado warned storm so I moved down the road a
ways. The gust front hit with very strong winds and some marginally
severe hail that I reported via Spotter Network. Most of the stones
were pea sized and came with the barrage of wind and rain, but a few stones
got up to penny size as the rain tapered off.
|I worked myself east on country roads to 380
before I got back onto 80 near Iowa City. I had to weave through the
slow Iowa drivers, but I finally broke out ahead of the squall again.
The line was dieing down and the activity out of ahead of it was weak and
unorganized so I decided to make for home.
I was watching Mark, Darin, and Jarrod's car on Spotter Network and
noticed I was fairly close to them now so I made a call out on the ham
radio. Instead, Jerry Funfsinn replied. While Mark and co.
stayed in southern IA, Jerry wound up on the same tornado warned cell as I
did. From his location he saw some interesting motion under the gust
front, but no tornadoes. Mark, Darin, and Jarrod saw a brief wall
cloud on one of the cells in the line but it dissipated quickly.
|I followed Jerry back to his place, which was on the way
home, and he gave me a copy of his superb March 28 footage on DVD. I
made it back to the house at around 8pm, encountering some driving rain in
town. The squall line later made it all the way back to Bolingbrook,
severe warned, and hit with some strong winds and heavy rain.
This was a fun little chase
that bordered on the edge of a bust. However, I wasn't expecting much,
and since I got right on a tornado warned portion of the line with some
severe hail, I won't count this one as a bust. The only tornado
activity was associated with the squall line as it dropped a couple
tornadoes in Wisconsin near Dubuque and in Saint Louis. Some chasers
did catch funnels and rotation on the cold core activity further west by the
Nebraska border and Des Moines, however.
- Try not to get stuck on the interstate, behind a squall line, with