April 24, 2022


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Champaign, IL
4 miles SSE of Faribault, MN 6:42 AM 4/24/2022
Springfield, IL 9:05 PM 4/24/2022
Champaign, IL; Atwood, IL; Behement, IL; Bethany, IL
0 mph
Rotating Wall Cloud, Horseshoe Updraft, RFD Gust Front


Cold front play in central IL. Targeted Champaign for modest severe, intercepting several minisupercells southeast of Decatur with rotation and structure.

Crew and Equipment

Solo chase. Equipment: Sony AX100, Canon 60D with EF-S 10-22, Samsung S9.




I was hoping for a modest backyard chase on the way back from a Plains run. A cold front with a narrow and modest instability was forecast to setup across Illinois, firing early due to a lack of capping. I car camped north of Albert Lea in southern Minnesota after the previous day’s chase and was rolling shortly after dawn, making good time across Iowa.

Whale's Mouth
2 miles WNW of Mansfield, IL
1:30 PM
I arrived to see a rather lackluster line sporting a whale’s mouth just outside of Champaign Urbana and I suspected the day would be a dud.

2 miles WNW of Mansfield, IL
2:24 PM
An interesting lowering appeared in the rain, what was probably just some sort of gust front.

New Cell with Jagged Wall Cloud
3 miles NNE of Atwood, IL
3:39 PM
Small, unwarned cells southeast of Decatur got my attention after other local chasers like Paul Hadfield were reporting they had promising structure. I scrambled to get down there, arriving to see a nice rain free base and jagged wall cloud.

Wall Cloud and Tail Cloud
13 miles ENE of Lake City, IL
3:55 PM
Approaching wall cloud and tail cloud:

3 miles E of Atwood, IL
4:09 PM
I chased eastward after the cell, which was later sporting a horseshoe shaped updraft base as the rear flank downdraft bowed outward. The cell soon outran the narrow instability axis, however, and fell apart. The cold front was still initiating new cells so I double backed, probably having chased the dying cell for too long.

Third Cell with Wall Cloud
5 miles S of Bement, IL
5:19 PM
The third storm intercept was the best yet, with a beefy wall cloud. I stopped a few miles downstream and let it come to me.

5 miles S of Bement, IL
5:22 PM
I don’t believe this even had a warning on it, so small it likely wasn’t actually producing severe weather, yet it was clearly a supercell with nice striations in the mid-levels.

Rotating Wall Cloud
5 miles S of Bement, IL
5:24 PM
The forward nub of the wall cloud was rotating moderately. I was directly in line with it and let it go basically overhead. The cell was so compact I felt comfortable with a super close intercept.

Rotation and Rising Motion Overhead
5 miles S of Bement, IL
5:28 PM
Dramatic rising motion in tendrils of scud and some slight rotation continued as the feature moved overhead and slightly to my north. The storm had peeked just before it got to me, however, and the structure soon weakened. I again pursued the cell east, but like the others, it died when it overran the instability axis. A few chunks of rising scud sure got my attention but none of them appeared to be tornadic after reviewing video.

Tornado Warned HP
4 miles SE of Lake City, IL
6:28 PM
I again double backed to the cold front, this time intercepting the end of a short line segment as the cold front appeared to now be forcing a more robust and solid line. A partially embedded high precipitation supercell came into view, the precipitation core bowing east rapidly as a thick inflow band fed in from the north. The cell was swamped with rain and I had no visual. It picked up a tornado warning with a report from somewhere in the mess. I stair stepped south on a mix of paved and gravel roads to get out of the way, briefly caught in the southern side of the core and then emerging back into clear air near Bethany. The line was congealing now so I decided to call the chase and make for home.
A gorgeous sunset while coming back into Springfield was a nice end to the chase. I thought I spotted a monochromatic rainbow as the last of the red sunlight caught the rain, but I couldn’t get a shot of it in time.


What I thought was going to be just a backyard bonus on this trip turned out to have some of the best structure and most pronounced rotation that I had seen the whole trip. I didn’t get any tornadoes on this run, but definitely had some photogenic and exhilarating moments so the trip was a success overall.

Lessons Learned

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