April 29, 2005


Initial Target: Jonesboro, AR
Departure: Bolingbrook, IL 7:30 pm CDT April 28/Edwardsville, IL 9:00 am CDT April 29
Arrival: Edwardsville, IL 11:30 pm CDT April 29/Bolingbrook, IL 5:30 pm CDT April 30
Intercepts: Osceola, AR
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: None
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: Beaver Tail, RFB
Miles: 1249.7


Left the night before, spending the night in Edwardsville.  Left with Nick Lockwood the next morning targeting Jonesboro, AR/Memphis, TN area.  Intercepted non severe storm in Osceola, AR.  Beaver tail and RFB present, but soon disorganized.  Headed west towards severe warned convection which weakened before an intercept.  Headed to Forrest City to play the tornado watch.  Called it a bust after stopping for dinner.

Crew and Equipment:

Chase team included Nick Lockwood.  Equipment consisted of a NOAA weather radio, TH-F6A Tribander, and GPS/Cell Phone equipped laptop.  Photography by Skip Talbot and Nick Lockwood.



The models looked great a few days out on this system.  CAPE up to 1500 in the chaseable Missouri bootheel.  The plan was to spend the night at Nick's in Edwardsville and chase the bootheel the next day.  Well the models pushed the system further and further south as it got closer. 

The moderate risk lured me down to Edwardsville.  The models looked terrible the morning of the chase.  However, having already driven half way and with the 15% tornado risk still present we decided to take a chance (with poor odds).

We left Edwardsville at about 9 am headed towards Memphis.  It was in the lower 50's with misting rain, and it turns out this is what we would be seeing much of the day. 

The models seriously decreased the forecasted instability yet SPC was sticking with its tornado forecast.  Our one hope was for a break in the clouds down south to heat up the lowers levels and give us some instability.

Pictured at left is the view from Shibster crossing the Mississippi for the first time this year, just south of St. Louis.

After a long drive we made it into Arkansas.  There were some breaks in the clouds allowing brief glimpses of the sun every now and then and numerous showers around us.  We were in a severe thunderstorm watch issued for hail dropping storms that had spawned earlier in the morning.  What is normally consider "morning junk" became our main intercept of the day.

We stopped for data in Osceola, AR, which is right on the river.  While we were pulling down radar and observations, a cell came up on us from the west with a beaver tail in view.  We drove north just a few miles to intercept.


The radar showed a small pendant shaped cell below severe limits.  It did exhibit some visual features though including a rain free base and the inflow tail mentioned above.  The tail disappeared as the cell moved overhead, however.
The base of the storm appeared to have some striations but I don't believe it was organized well enough to be labeled a supercell.  Here's a shot looking east northeast at the forward flank of the base.
Looking north at the precipitation core we noted some interesting bands.  We concluded it was sunlight filtering between showers.
We let the base of the storm pass overhead and shot a few pictures of the RFB, looking east.  We didn't see any lowerings, or intensification of the cell on radar so we decided against pursuing it into Tennessee. 


Nick's dramatic pose in front of the storm.  A good caption would be, "Skip, why the hell did you drag me all the way to Arkansas?"

We abandoned the cell in favor of a much stronger one to our west.  Our radar software indicated three inch hail with its nice pendant shaped echo.  Due to winding, slick roads, though, it took us awhile to get there and our cell had weakened and disappeared into the misting rain that was everywhere.

Well, after checking data we could see that all of Arkansas was still socked in with clouds.  A tornado watch went up to our south and we decided to drive to the northern edge of it, wait, and see what what happens. 

We grabbed some dinner at the Pizza Inn in Forrest City, and then made one last data check.  A weak squall had formed in a narrow dry slot to our far west and there was broad band of weak convection to our south filling the tornado watch.  Nick and I called it a chase and started our long trek back to St. Louis. 


The setup looked favorable the day before, and once I was half way there I couldn't bring myself to turn around.  The day was a bust overall, but Nick and I did have a good time driving around.  A few diehard chasers did pursue the convection that was to our south when we left.  Later that night, one of the cells intensified in Mississippi producing a wall cloud and possible tornadoes.  I don't regret missing this though for I wasn't about to drag Nick another two hours away from Edwardsville to chase mediocre storms in the dark.

Lessons Learned: 

  • Don't eat spicy buffalo wings from Dairy Queen at 11 in the morning.
  • If the clouds don't clear about by early afternoon any chance for instability or supercells is minimal.