|After six months, and a long, snowy winter, I was finally
back on the road. The day before this setup looked like it could go
high risk with a sub 990 surface low, 100+ knot midlevel jet, and 80 knot
low level jet, the shear was extreme. The problem with this early
season setup, of course, was the instability. A meager 1000 J/Kg was
expected into MO behind the warm front.
|Just as our chase opportunities had been spoiled
two days earlier by morning junk convection, this morning was socked in with
a mess of rain and clouds that were not clearing. By noon the chase
prospects looked pretty bleak, however, Chad was on his way to meet me at
the Metra stop near my work so, after a quick data check, we left anyway.
I had to work a full eight hours and so we were delayed until 2:30 before
leaving, but at that time not much was going on yet.
|We headed south on 55 to 72 making for the western edge of
Illinois. Grey overcast and misting skies were all we saw until we got
to Jacksonville. Then, as if a symbol of winter's end and the start of
a new chase season, the cloud deck abruptly ended with blue skies behind it
and the sharp edges of building storms.
|As we made it to our target area, a line went up in eastern
MO, and was moving northeast at speeds greater than 50 mph. We hoped
to catch Tail End Charlie, but the storms slipped north of Quincy.
Looking northwest at the short, yet backsheared end of the storm towers.
|The northern end of the line went tornado warned, and
Brandon Sullivan, Illinois chaser from Macomb was in the right place at the
right time and bagged it as it passed quite close to his location.
Chad and I sat off of 72 just past Griggsville, waiting for some more
isolated to cells to cross the Mississippi and becmoe mature. The
raging low level jet, whipped some clouds past us as a scene sunset started.
|Something was missing from the magical mix of storm
ingredients, and our discrete cells never matured, but instead started to
evaporate right before our eyes. Despite its pendent shape and radar
echo showing an oddly curling back end that resembled a hook echo, the storm
passed us as little more than a shower. We were still able to note a
distinct precipitation core, rain free base, and upward moving scud. A
brief funnel look a like as the storm passed:
|Artsy shot looking west as the tiny storm passed over a
|The storm we were watching and the other around continued to
evaporate, as either they crossed into an area of lesser instability,
dropping moisture, a strengthening inversion, or perhaps a combination of
these. The line to our north, which still held some severe warnings,
was moving too fast to even consider catching up to it. We started
heading north towards Mount Sterling, to keep up with our dieing little
cell, but even had trouble doing that.
|We stopped from some grub and met up with Andrew Pritchard
at a little diner in Havana. He got out there a little earlier and
intercepted the tail end of the line that we could only watch scoot past to
the north. I finished the drive home with Chad, making it back to
Bolingbrook just after midnight. A fun first outing for the season,
despite the bust.
The first chase of the year
was a heavily hyped setup, where the highest tornado probabilities wound up
busting completely, and the lesser areas of Iowa wound up producing
quite a few tornadoes. We might have been able to get some better
storm structure had we been able to leave earlier and make it to the target
area before the line in eastern Missouri went up, however, with storms
speeds and lack of storm longevity, chasing this day required a good deal of
luck in order to bag something significant. Feeling seventy degree
temperatures with strong southeast winds, and snapping a few pretty pictures
definitely made the outing worth it, however.
Other Chaser Logs:
- Don't discount less anticipated areas of the tornado outlook.
- Busts with scenic pictures are still enjoyable.