July 9, 2021


Initial Target
Storm Intercepts
Osceola, IA
Springfield, IL 9:31 AM 7/9/2021
Springfield, IL 12:45 AM 7/10/2021
Burlington, IA
0 mph
Gust Front, Mammatus


Northwest flow warm front play in southern IA. Targeted Osceola for early evening supercells. Warm sector failed to initialize so fell back to elevated hailer target on cool side of boundary in southeastern IA/western IL. Failed to get ahead of cells due to storm motion and roads and called chase noting mammatus on back end of line at dusk.

Crew and Equipment

Chase partners: Chuck Haskin, Carrie Svihlik. Equipment: Sony AX100, Samsung S9.




Chuck Haskin and Carrie Svihlik sponsored me for the 2019 Chicago Marathon and I still owed them a chase. July 9 looked like a modest chance to get a tornado, and they were available, so we teamed up to give it a shot. Enroute to our meetup location outside of the Quad Cities, my Subaru started to flake out on me. Just outside of Springfield, it initially lurched and warning lights came on. I stopped for fuel and reset the error codes. Then just before the river, all the lights on the dash came on and some of the gauges like the RPM stopped working. Most concerning was an oil temperature light. I pulled off the highway and got out the manual to assess the situation. The manual suggested simply waiting until the temp warning turned off as it wasn’t the engine itself that was overheating but a secondary system. At this point I was debating just calling the chase. I didn’t want to bring Chuck and Carrie along and then get us all stranded. I pressed on to the rendezvous, a friend’s house in the country miles outside of the Quad Cities. We agreed to chance it in my vehicle and set off for our target of Osceola, IA.
A morning severe warned storm tracked southeast out of Des Moines with chasers reporting a photogenic shelf cloud on it. Its path neatly intersected our route to the target area. It would have been nice to get some structure shots before the real part of the chase began, but the storm totally evaporated before we could get to it.

Looking for lunch spots in Osceola, we spotted a food truck serving up Mexican. I had them whip up a vegetarian custom order with beans and vegetables on a flour tortilla. It was delicious, and probably the highlight of the chase.

Our warm sector target was going to cap bust. To make a play on a storm we back tracked toward Burlington to catch elevated storms on the cool side of the warm front. We came in behind an elevated hailer, but there was no good road to get ahead of the fast, southeast moving storm. We had this view of the turbulent backside with tendrils of white scud before I realized our chase was over.
We called it and started to head back to Chuck and Carrie’s car with some pretty sunset colors to the west.
A nice mammatus display emerged in the twilight and we stopped briefly to shoot it, easily the most photogenic part of the day for us. The long gravel drive to where Chuck and Carrie’s car was parked was nearly washed out by the line of training warm front cells, but we made it back, and without the Subaru giving us anymore grief either.


Another demoralizing bust for the 2021 season, but at least we didn’t miss any real tornadoes that I’m aware of. I wish I could have gotten Chuck and Carrie a better storm. We’ll all return for a proper Plains chase in a future season.

Lessons Learned

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