April 29, 2017


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Litchfield, IL
Springfield, IL 2:10 PM 4/29/2017
Springfield, IL 8:00 PM 4/29/2017
Dorchester, IL; Bement, IL
0 mph
Shelf Cloud


Warm front setup in Illinois. Targeted cells coming out of St. Louis, intercepting line with shelf cloud west of Litchfield before targeting tornado warned cell near Decatur. Failed to get ahead of cell noting only fog and rain on cool side of the boundary north of storm.

Crew and Equipment

Solo chase. Equipment: Sony FDR-AX100.




A low probability warm front setup in Illinois gave me the chance for a local chase and to do some equipment testing.

12:02 AM
After I missed tornadoes on the last chase due to not being properly prepared, I was determined to get my equipment setup for the chase season. One of the top priorities was mounting my oversized touchscreen, which allows me to get all of my weather and navigation information at a glance. The 22" monitor is mounted in portrait orientation and connects to a docked laptop between the seats. I stayed up late the night before a local chase getting something workable in place.

12:02 AM
I was tinkering with heat bending PVC for the mount. I'd use a simple unfinished pipe with one bend for now and make something more permanent and aesthetic later.

12:09 AM
The monitor mount uses an adjustable pipe clamp.

12:13 AM
Next came the rooftop camera mount. Instead of a dome, I mounted a turntable to some third party crossbars. I'd stick some GoPros up there for this chase until I built something more substantial for the 4k camcorder.

Distant Shelf
12 miles SE of Enos, IL
4:22 PM
A cluster of cells was coming out of St. Louis. I hoped to catch a more discrete one as it crossed the 55 corridor, but a line had already formed. A shelf cloud was the first thing I spotted once I had a visual on the storm, not a good sign for a tornado chaser.

Approaching Shelf
6 miles N of Dorchester, IL
4:24 PM
I let the line approach to get some shelf cloud shots before heading back up 55 north to get something more discrete heading for the warm front near Decatur.

Tornado Warned
3 miles SSW of Bement, IL
6:23 PM
A cell passing south of Decatur went tornado warned. I was approaching on 72 but Decatur was in the way and routing around the city is difficult. I wound up going south through the east end of town, which slowed me down quite a bit, before I could head east to catch up to the storm. I was behind it by then and still north of the warm front. Visibility was terrible on the cool side of the boundary, and I never obtained a view of any structure, just a wall of rain and fog. The storm rocketed away to the east and I realized I'd never get ahead of it so I called the chase.


With just a mediocre shelf cloud and then tornado warned fog, this was a solid bust in terms of storm structure. However, it was a success for the equipment test. The PVC stand still needed to be rebuilt, but a large touchscreen monitor is workable in a Subaru Forester.

Lessons Learned

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