April 05, 2010     

First chase of the season, and around 11:00am, My son Ryan and I made the decision to take a 1/2 day off of work. Before moving out, we took one last look at data and checked in with Brian Stertz by email for his latest thoughts. Storms were beginning to fire right around the St. Louis area including one right over our house. We targeted the Illinois side, initially following the cell that went right over our house. Several others were firing around the area and it was a waiting game to see which cell would become the dominant one. We stopped once again right across the river in Illinois to check on the radar at a favorite wi-fi spot and watched from there as we continued monitoring the radar and watching the other cells that were firing to the southwest. The cell to our northeast (I believe the cell that originally went right over my house) began showing up as the best cell around. We grabbed I-55 northbound and began playing a bit of catch-up with the cell. A quick phone call from Brian confirmed that cell was the strongest cell as we approached the Stauton, IL exit. We exited at the Stauton exit and drove a half mile or so west and got the first look at the wall cloud (#1).  As it moved by, we backtracked (#2) to the highway again and chose to take the outer road of the highway up to the next exit at Mount Olive. We went through town on County Road 200 East following the wall cloud. The wall cloud at this point began rotating very hard, changing shapes quickly, and putting down multiple fingers (#3,#4). At one point, one of the funnels appeared to throw up a debris cloud for 15 seconds, although there were no confirmed tornado reports here.

We continued and were forced to take the jog in the road to the north for 4 miles before heading east again. The road options in this area are less than optimal. This option put us too far north of the back end of the storm and now the storm features were all hidden and shrouded in haze. Visual contrast had become poor. I put in a call to my friend Nick Pavlovits as I approached Hillsboro, IL and asked him for a look at the radar as I could no longer determine where I was in relation to the circulation. I stopped on top of the hill to not only have the good line of sight, but also for the solid phone connection. As I made the cell connection on the phone and asked Nick for the data I needed, we're looking out the front window of the car and Ryan states "Is that smoke?" A quick look confirmed it was not smoke, but a tornado skirting along the ground a mile or so in front of us.

This tornado lasted less than a minute and the contrast was very poor. Ryan did immediately get the camcorder on the tornado and filmed the event until its demise. The tornado was officially on the ground at 4:12pm in Montgomery County, Illinois. There was no warning on this storm until it was spotted on the ground. The warning came out at 4:14pm stating they were tracking a confirmed tornado on the ground. By the time the warning was issued, this tornado potential was already decreasing. As we followed the storm through Hillsboro and eastward, the storm was picking up speed and losing its supercell characteristics.  After 30 more miles to the east, the storm was gaining distance from us and shrinking rapidly. We broke off the chase as a strong cap had come in behind the storm and sealed off any hope of any other storms developing. We headed home in cloudless skies.

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

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