As we were leading up to this chase day, it had been our intention to join Brian Stertz for a chase somewhere down around the Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri Borders. There were several obstacles to be worked out including Brian needing to work a half day before chasing and Ryan needing to be back to work the next morning. That would mean a late start to the target area with storms already on-going and then afterward, an all night drive back to drop Brian off and then home to get Ryan to work by 6:00am without much wiggle room.
Brian was dead set on a target area near Joplin in southwest Missouri, but Ryan and I were a bit skeptical that tornadoes would even happen that far north, plus whether the storms would hold off long enough for us to get there in time. We were also seeing that there was an increasing possibility for tornadoes in our 'backyard' in Illinois. After debating for a long time, we decided to stay at home and play the Illinois storms. (Seems like I was definitely wrong whether there would be tornadoes that far north in Southwest Missouri - as usual, Brian right again).
So with our decision not to go out for the western tornado opportunity, we had plenty of time to plan and prepare for our the Missouri/Illinois event. The entire morning, the HRRR consistently tracked a cell right through North St. Louis County and popped a few isolated storms out ahead of the line southeast of St. Louis, Missouri. My thoughts were to play those isolated cells in front of the approaching front whenever possible. Around 12:00, storms began appearing on radar to the southwest of St. Louis. Ryan made a line for my home to meet up and we were on the road by 12:45 or so.
We targeted this first cell coming at us from the southwest as it approached St. Louis. We worked our way down I-55 to take a look. As the cells approached, they were now more of a line with some embedded kinks that had some minimum rotation. Nothing seemed to be taking off on the Missouri side of the river, so we broke east on I-255 with the plan to loop around the city on the Illinois side of the river keeping an eye on the line to the west. We also were now watching some isolated cells that had bubbled up to our east, so we deviated from the plan of following the St. Louis storms and drove east on I-64 to investigate these isolated cells. We got to the east of those cells, but no sooner do we get in position to watch the back end, they begin weakening.
At the Damiansville, Illinois exit, we got off to catch up with the storm going through St. Louis that we had left. It had now crossed the Mississippi River and we eventually once again got within range.
We eventually gave up on that storm and we 'played' with several other storms that showed a bit of velocity as we worked southward on our way back home, but eventually, all of the storm warnings were gone and the chances of seeing another tornado were near zero. We were back home before nightfall.
7 Hours - 312 Miles
Click on the link below to see video of some of these storms.
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