March 24, 2019


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Prairie Du Rocher, IL
Springfield, IL 2:44 PM 3/24/2019
Springfield, IL 10:13 PM 3/24/2019
Chester, IL
0 mph
RFD Gust Front, Wall Cloud, Hail Fog


Warm front cold front triple point play south of St. Louis. Targeted the IL side of the MS river for evening supercells. Intercepted tornado warned supercell between Ellis Grove and Chester, IL noting RFD Gust front and Wall Cloud. Pursued east noting copious hail and hail fog before calling chase after dark in Steeleville, IL.

Crew and Equipment

Solo chase. Equipment: Sony AX100, Canon 60D, Samsung S9.




Sunday, March 24 looked like a pretty marginal day with modest instability forecast over the Mississippi Rivery Valley and a shallow trough with decently strong flow aloft. I saw some potential for supercells and maybe a tornado near the cold front warm front triple point where directional shear was enhanced, however. My initial target was just south of St. Louis near Prairie Du Rocher in the hopes of catching storms on the Illinois side of the Mississippi.

Tornado Warning
1 miles WNW of Columbia, IL
4:46 PM
Storms matured into supercells well to my west over the gnarly Missouri terrain, the southern most picking up a tornado warning along with a couple of reports.
There are not many river crossings or ways to position around a large supercell right on the river, so I decided to just wait for the storm on the Illinois side, even though it would take literally hours for it to cross. I followed Highway 3 south with the Mississippi floodplain on my right providing great visibility to the west, and steep sandstone cliffs off to my left. It was a pretty part of Illinois that I had never visited before with dramatic terrain and interesting spots. I stopped near an old weathered shack and waited for the storm. Part of a gust front and tail cloud was visible way off in the distance, but the storm looked like it had already transitioned into an HP.

Tornado Warned Supercell
5 miles NW of Chester, IL
6:44 PM
The storm maintained its tornado warning and even looked like it was gaining in strength as it approached the river. It was also turning right so I started threading my way further south down the river highway to head it off and get right in the inflow notch. The velocity couplet peaked while the storm was still in Missouri, but the view was dramatic nevertheless as the storm crossed into Illinois tornado warned. I pulled up next to a firetruck that was out spotting, and we watched the approach. The storm had long since transitioned into a high precipitiation mode, with a scuddy RFD gust front and ragged inflow band/tail cloud extending off to the north. It looked dramatic, but my chances of spotting a tornado weren't looking good.
I moved east to stay ahead of the storm. The RFD gust front bowed out with a large amount of precipitation. It looked like it was trying to kick up a new wall cloud on the northern end, however.
There was some rising and churning motion on the inflow band/RFD gust front intersection, but nothing that looked tornadic. The tornado warning was soon dropped.
My east road turned northeast and I wound up in the forward flank for a bit, pinged by some one inch hail. I turned south torward Bremen and came out under the wall cloud. Low fingers of scud dangled beneath the base like monster fingers. It looked incredibly ominous, but there was no tight rotation that I could make out.
I turned northeast at Gremen and followed in behind the wall cloud. Despite modest instability, there was a lot of cold air aloft for hail. Not huge stones, but hardened and A LOT of it. The ground went white and then it started to drift. It reminded me of Colorado hail. But then I hit the fog, the thickest hail fog I've ever encountered on a chase. I lost visual contact with the ground entirely and had to just simply stop in the road... and wait. I couldn't even pull off to the side, I could not see the shoulder at all. The fog billowed and flowed in tendrils in the outflow winds between. The rain let up and then it was just hailing, with moving fog. Dark, leafless trees with the fog in twilight made for an eerie scene that looked like it was straight out of a horror movie.

Once I was able to start moving again, the air coming into the car just became totally saturated with smell of Christmas tree. I've only ever smelled that when a big tornado hit a pine forest. In this case, the hardened hail stones shredding through the vegetation were the cause of the nearly overwhelming aroma.
My road dumped me out into Steeleville, which was littered with hail and minor flooding.
Little hailbergs floated past me as water streamed through the intersections. I decided to call the chase at this point and make for home.


No tornado, even though my storm had a couple of reports in Missouri, but the structure and later encounters with the hail and hail fog made the chase interesting and dramatic with an eerie ominous feeling that made the event quite memorable.

Lessons Learned

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