March 14, 2019


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Kankakee, IL
Springfield, IL 10:23 AM 3/14/2019
Springfield, IL 5:48 PM 3/14/2019
Rensselaer, IN
0 mph
Updraft Base and Tower


High shear/low instability chase across northeast IL and northwest IN. Chased late morning/early afternoon cells near Springfield, IL that exhibited some supercell like cycling before targeting more robust development east of Kankakee on the IL/IN border. Intercepted photogenic low topped severe warned cell near Rensselaer while tornado warned cells to the north and northwest were ongoing.

Crew and Equipment

Solo chase. Equipment: Sony AX100, Canon 60D, Samsung S7 Edge.




A potent trough with low ejecting into the upper Midwest was forecast on March 14. Initially, the main severe threat looked like it would be confined to a line of ongoing storms tracking across the Ohio River Valley. Instability was forecast to be quite low while speed shear and storm relative helicity were extreme. This prompted some high tornado probabilities from the Storm Prediction Center, but I wasn't too keen on chasing fast moving, low topped storms across the questionable terrain of southwestern Indiana. Instead i opted to play a trailing band of convection up near Kankakee, IL, where I hoped something more discrete would form under the colder air aloft. By late morning, as storms tracked through northeast Illinois into northwest Indiana, rapdily taking on supercellular characteristics, it was apparent there was a tornado threat at this target. SPC upgraded to an enhanced risk with a 10 hatched tornado probability on the 1630 outlook, and also issued a tornado watch for the area.
I started the day chasing the main part of the line as it tracked through the Springfield area in the morning. A few of the cells looked like they were attempting supercell cycles, but cool surface temperatures probably kept them partially elevated with a minimal tornado threat.
I stair stepped northeast before finding myself at I-55 and decided to pursue a second target: redevelopment behind the main line under cold air aloft in northeast IL/northwest IN.

Low Topped Storm
2 miles W of Rensselaer, IN
2:21 PM
I turned east out of Kankakee and intercepted a gorgeous low topped storm with rock hard convection. It picked up a severe thunderstorm warning, but was rocketing away to the northeast in the strong winds aloft. Meanwhile, the next cell further north went tornado warned as it hit the warm front and/or reenforcing lake breeze near Lake Michigan. Another cell tracking into the south Chicago suburbs had a reported tornado on it. I couldn't keep up with the activity, especially as it was moving into populated areas, so I called the chase by early afternoon and started back for home.


I missed out on any tornadic activity this tough to chase event had to offer. The tornado watch and sudden upgrade in probabilities over the Chicago area added some excitment to discussions at the DuPage Severe Weather Seminar that was held a few days later at which Hank Schyma and I were speakers. The low topped storms in clear air that tried to cycle were fun to watch and made for a nice early season warm-up even though I counted this chase as a bust.

Lessons Learned

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