July 16, 2001

High Winds, Tornado Warning


Tornadoes were not expected today, but severe weather was certainly anticipated.  I watched a group of storms coming out of Iowa and Northern Illinois during the afternoon on radar.  I had not figured on any chase today, but a storm in the late afternoon caught my attention because of a mesocyclone on the tail end charlie storm coming toward Jacksonville Illinois. Since it carried that sustained mesocyclone, I called Brian Stertz to get a second opinion.  He had not gotten home from work, so I left him a message to call me as I got on the move.  As I walked out of the door, Brian gets home and calls me with the same opinion as me.  I took off after the storm.  I headed over the Mississippi River into Illinois at the Alton Bridge and headed north on Highway 67.  When we got to Godfrey Illinois I made the decision to get on 267 which also goes north, but about 5 miles west of 67.

We met the storm south of Carrolton Illinois and it was very impressive.   A pronounced meso and a lot of cloud to ground lightning.  I followed along side of it back south.  When it reached Jerseyville Illinois, it was moving further away because of the slight easterly track of this south mover.  We went east on Highway 16 and several miles east pulled over and watched the storm wind up.  As we watched from our location, the clouds began wrapping up and scud was flying, the cloud base lowered and within minutes, a tornado warning was issue right for the location we were sitting.  It looked very impressive for a couple of minutes as it spun itself up into a wide and ragged looking funnel, but as it approached and slipped east of us, the whole thing gusted out and got hidden in the rain curtains.  We drove back west to get back on 267 south again and rejoined 67 in Godfrey.   In the city limits of Godfrey Illinois, several fire trucks streaked the opposite way and made us wonder what was up.  That was answered when I looked out the window as they passed and saw power flashes from broken wires that had snapped in the high winds.  At this point we were in the core of the storm.  We pulled over in a parking lot and had the most impressive light show I've seen since a tornadic supercell in McIntosh County Oklahoma in 1997.   The bolts were hitting the ground within only hundreds of feet every few seconds.  As we took off again, many small limbs and stripped leaves from trees littered the road from the winds in the storm.

The trip:  No tornadoes, but a close call.  125 miles. 31/2 hours.  2 hours video.



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