March 24, 2019   

After looking at weather data in the morning, talking with my son Ryan, then getting input from Brian Stertz, we determined the setup was just not worthy of a tornado chase.  So Ryan goes ahead with his plans to snake hunt and I go ahead with my plans to have dinner with my wife and the next door neighbors.

Fast forward to 4:30pm as I'm sitting having dinner with the neighbors and my wife at a restaurant in Kirkwood.  Ryan calls me debating whether the setup has now changed enough to chase.  Storms were displaying hooks and velocity signatures which caught his attention.  After conversations with Brian and I, he was convinced to leave snake hunting and now hunt storms.  I wasn't so quick since I had driven my wife and neighbors to the restaurant and we had already ordered food.  Not much I could do, right?  Well, the food came and we were finished with dinner just about the time Ryan was heading to the storm south bound on I-270 near where I was at.  Long story short, I rudely skipped out on the neighbors and my wife and found myself in Ryan's car heading for the storms.

Since I had not planned on chasing, I was working with only what I had in my car:  a scanner, a camcorder, and a cell phone instead of the usual arsenal of equipment.  Knew I would especially miss that window mounted camcorder (of which I did).  

With a late start, storms had already fired and the first tornado warning had been issued.  We set our sites on the intercept as it would cross I-55 at Bloomsdale, MO.  We were a half hour away from this spot, but the storm was 45 minutes giving us plenty time to get in position.  Found the open view to the west when we arrived at the Bloomsdale exit and could clearly see the storm coming.  A nice, rotating wall cloud, but with rain wrapping around it.

As we watched it approach, we noticed a bit of a southeast turn in the storm, so we got back on the highway and moved south.  Being very familiar with roads in this area, we knew the exit at "O" would have zero view, so we moved to the next exit, "32".  This was now too far south, but knew we'd have a good view out the windshield as we hooked back north.  Unfortunately, the business part of the storm was now completely wrapped in rain.  We exited at "O" as the hook area went by.  Big hail (1.50") was being pulled around the back side of the circulation, so we took cover under the I-55 bridge on "O". 

As the hail and winds let up, we took "O" up the hill to Highway 61.   Just to the south of "O", 61 turns due east, so we hung tight to the area of circulation without getting too close in hope of not being belted with hail again.  Eventually, we were able to break free of the hail and most of the rain to get a clean look at the area of interest.

We then worked our way toward St. Genevieve.  We continued east, then south on 61, then onto Route "H" that took us over to Highway 51 and the Chester, IL bridge.  Before crossing the bridge, we pulled over in the river valley to get a view of a new, developing wall cloud off in the distance to the Northeast.

As the storm continued to move east, we crossed the bridge and continued northeast on Route 150.  We crossed the storm's path and saw a lot of hail deposited on the ground, now only 1/2" to 3/4".  Daylight had now faded to night and we gave up the hunt west of Steeleville, IL.  Heading home, we were treated to the nighttime lightning display from the line coming in from the west.

5.5 Hours  -  196 Miles

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

Return to the Index