January 22, 2018


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Springfield, IL
Springfield, IL 1:00 PM 1/22/2018
Springfield, IL 4:30 PM 1/22/2018
Springfield, IL
0 mph
Wall Cloud, RFD Clear Slot


Cold front/cold air play in central IL. Intercepted line of low topped, severe warned cells just west of Springfield noting RFD clear slots and wall clouds. Tracked cells north of Lincoln until they became rain wrapped and gusted out.

Crew and Equipment

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




A powerful trough and deepening surface low were forecast to move through the Midwest on January 22 bringing unseasonably warm temps and moisture to the Midwest. Temps and dews were still quite palty for a real severe weather setup, however, with temps forecast to be only in the low 50s and dews barely hitting 50 to upper 40s. What this setup had going for it was some super cold air aloft, making for steep lapse rates, ample low level instability, and vorticity stretching dynamics. It's the kind of setup where you get discrete, low topped storms, with robust updrafts. Despite the marginal conditions, brief weak tornadoes are even possible. Despite the downgrade from 2% to less than 2% by SPC I was gung ho about chasing this event. It was in my backyard and cold air setups are often quite photogenic.
I was watching the GOES 16 loops until I had a clear target, favoring a corridor from Jacksonville, IL toward Lincoln, IL. I didn't have to go far either. The first cells erupted just southwest of my home and I blasted down 72 for the intercept. The storm rapidly took on a nice pendant shape with what even looked like the start of a hook echo. Arriving the rain free base I could see it was sporting a rear flank downdraft clear slot, which I let pass overhead. The storm even put down a lowering right in front of me. The lighting and background would have been perfect for a tornado, and would have made my whole season right off the bat, but 2018 wasn't going to give it up that easy.

Wall Cloud with Lightning
Springfield, IL
1:30 PM
Other cells were erupting from the south so I let this one go and waited for Tail End Charlie to arrive. I stopped a mile east of my house and watched a nice wall cloud develop right in front of me (and over the house). The structure and chase reminded me of the first chase you usually get in late March, not late January.
The wall cloud was looking even more robust as it rocketed it off to the northeast, so I hopped on 55 north to pursue it.

It started to fill in with rain and gust out near Lincoln, but I kept it for awhile longer, taking 155 north and punching the north end of the forward flank.
I got back into the notch north of Lincoln on highway 136 west of Mclean. Some rising scud right at the top of the HP horseshoe made for a nice wannabe funnel. There was no real rotation with the feature, however.
The storm became rain wrapped and was dissipating so I decided to call the chase and head for home.


For a January day that started as a 2% and was later downgraded to a less than 2%, this chase greatly exceeded my expectations. With some classic minisupercell structure, including wall clouds with RFD clear slots, a smattering of half inch hail, and a little lightning, all in practically my backyard, this chase was made.

Lessons Learned

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