June 15, 2019   

Today I awoke to a possibility of severe storms to chase within a couple of hours from home.  Many of the other local storms chasers were opting to attend the big St. Louis Blues Hockey Parade and Celebration downtown, but my son Ryan and I put our sights on searching out a tornado.

We left my house around 12:00 noon and picked out an initial target of Southeastern Illinois.  As we neared Mount Vernon, Illinois, Ryan announces "Tornado Warning" back near home in Macoupin County, Illinois.  How does that happen?  We drive for hours and the tornado is in our 'back yard'.  

Then we see this on the road.  This is the kind of tornado we have tended to get in 2019.

When we arrived at Mount Vernon, Illinois, we stopped for a late lunch and reviewed the weather data to solidify our plan.  Unfortunately, the models didn't seem to want to lock a target down.  We had the storm group that produced the tornado earlier tracking across Illinois to our north and the model projections indicating new convection erupting a bit later just to the south of where we were.  Parameters seemed to indicate the best tornadic potential was still in Southeast Illinois into Indiana.  As we left lunch, we made the decision to head north on I-57 toward the now weakened storms heading toward Effingham, Illinois.  Regardless of the weakening trend, we knew the environment was better the further east the storms got.

We intercepted the storms as they approached.  There was a velocity couplet, but no warnings and nothing seemed real imminent on these storms, so we decided to just stay out in front of the storm.  We worked our way east on some Illinois State Roads keeping a 10-20 mile cushion between us and business part of the storm coming at us.  We figured that would give the storm time to mature when the environment got better.  We also were taking note of storms out in front of us by about 30 miles.

As we neared the Indiana Border, Tornado Warnings began coming out of the Indiana Storms in front of us, several with confirmed tornadoes.  Being 30 miles behind the closest cell, our attempt to gain the ground to catch those storms were impossible due to the storm speed and the road network.  We still had the cell to our west though.  Our thinking was if those cells are able to tornado in Indiana, when that storm to our west gets there, it will tornado too.  We kept good position on the storm coming at us.  The storm seemed to pulse a few times with a better velocity marker, but never could produce.  We eventually let the storm go by us to look at the back side of the storm.

We drove and stopped a few times and got a few more pictures of the cloud motions.

A road closure eventually forced us south out of the path of the storm and virtually ended the chance although the storm never did produce a tornado.  As it was now nearing nightfall, as a last ditch effort, we hit I-69 northeast toward the storm again and it passed over us with only a Flash Flood Warning per the massive amount of rain this storm was now producing.

Time for the trek home and I was asking myself, 'how did I get 4+ hours away from home?'  Another road closure on the shortest route back to the Interstate extended the return time even longer.  As we approached St. Louis, we were greeted with an approaching Squall Line with a massive amount of lightning bolts to end our chase.

Our trip today was filled with disappointments.  We were in perfect position on a storm that just would not produce, yet it seemed every storm that was out of reach in front of us to the east was tornado warned and went on to put down a tornado.

13 Hours  -  600 Miles

Click on the link below to see video of some of these storms.

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