June 12, 2013


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Rockford, IL
Springfield, IL 11:52 AM 6/12/2013
Springfield, IL 2:22 AM 6/13/2013
Rockford, IL
0 mph
Updraft Base, Shelf Cloud


High risk setup over northern IL. Targeted secondary surface low near Rockford for afternoon initiation of tornadic supercells. Intercepted tornado warned supercell on west side of town. Storm died but exhibited tight low level rotation as updraft base withered. Attempted to catch fast moving cells to southeast, but fell behind. Stopped for dinner in Kirkland before shooting lightning after dark near a windfarm.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Jennifer Brindley Ubl. Equipment: Canon 60D, Canon t2i, Canon EFS 10-22, Canon EF 50mm, Sony HDR-xr500v..




This was our first day back out on the chase since the infamous El Reno event. Brindley and I were anxious to get out there and chase, but a little apprehensive after dealing with the loss of friends and harrowing escapes. With very strong shear profiles, the Storm Prediction Center actually upgraded to a high risk on this event, although the high was for damaging winds, not tornadoes. The tornado probabilities were still quite impressive over northern Illinois, however. Brindley and I decided to target the Rockford, IL area where morning model runs had a secondary surface low developing. This surface low would enhance directional shear and lift, and hopefully create a secondary tornado target, away from the primary target located in bad terrain on the MS river near the main surface low.

We met up in Rockford by early afternoon and moved on some cells developing southwest of town. One of the storms went tornado warned and we took 20 around Rockford for the intercept. After a briefly stressful encounter with the core, we came out underneath a rain free base. After watching for a minute or two, it became apparent that the storm was dying. The updraft base was exhibiting tight rotation as it withered away, however. Contrast was so poor overhead that I couldn’t get much of a shot of it.

We let the dying storm go and made for new development to our south that was moving very fast in the strongly sheared environment. We made a vain attempt to catch storms moving away from us to the southeast, but we fell behind them without any chance of intercepting. Meanwhile other tornadic supercells were going up on the Mississippi River. Wanted to take it easy on this chase, and not over stress ourselves. Brindley and I decided to let those storms to the west go and grab some dinner instead in Kirkland. We met up with Rob Canon and Jodi Mair and had dinner at greasy local diner, before Brindley and I hung out at a local dive bar. More storms were moving in from the west and we decided to move in for some pictures.

Shelf Cloud
4 miles S of Steward, IL
8:45 PM
Storms were not tornadic, but they exhibited some dramatic shelf cloud structure.

2 miles SE of Compton, IL
9:29 PM
As night set in, we found a nearby windmill to use for a dramatic foreground as more storms approached from the west and north. The blades churned rapidly in the darkness with ominous whooshing noises. The structure and lightning was not that spectacular but it did make for some pretty stills and a brief time lapse. Brindley and I stayed until the rain hit, before calling it a chase and heading back up to Rockford to get Brindley back to her car.

2 miles SE of Compton, IL
9:35 PM

2 miles SE of Compton, IL
9:47 PM

2 miles SE of Compton, IL
9:57 PM

2 miles SE of Compton, IL
10:04 PM

2 miles SE of Compton, IL
10:13 PM

2 miles SE of Compton, IL
10:19 PM


This was a big bust for Brindley and I. Not only did our storm not produce a tornado, but we missed a decent rope tornado to the west on the Mississippi River. Still, it was nice to take things at a more relaxing pace since our first time back out in the field after our heart wrenching El Reno chase, and we’re half glad we didn’t attempt to race like mad and chase in the poor terrain of western IL. Taking it easy, hanging out with other chasers, and shooting lightning at the wind farm still made for a very enjoyable chase.

Lessons Learned

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