April 30, 2010     

Tornadic Storm from the East

My son, Ryan and I had been watching this day for several liking the potential. The choices were to play the storms out on the front to the west, or head down to Southeast Missouri where the storms if they formed, would be more discrete and be moving a bit slower. The choice was made about 10:00am, so I took a half day off of work and headed out around 1:30pm. After a chat with Brian Stertz, we set our target as Poplar Bluff. Missouri which would put us right at the edge of the mountainous Ozarks and give us the Mississippi Valley flatland to play with any storm that would come out of the mountains through the area.

We got down there in plenty of time and the waiting game started.  We pulled up in Sikeston, Missouri and held.  We found the local hotel and parked in the lot so we could mooch the wi-fi.  We decided to wait and see if anything could break the cap that was holding strong.  After about an hour, Ryan and decided to drive across the street to get a couple of burgers before any initiation began.  We pulled through the drive through, got the burgers, and then pulled to the back of their parking lot where we'd hopefully be able to get the wi-fi from the hotel next door and eat our snack. As we are eating the burgers, we noticed a pickup truck came to park very oddly behind us with a guy and gal. Seemed odd, but not totally unusual. A few minutes later, we looked up again when a voice caught our attention right outside of the car window. Looking up, we were surrounded by 3 police cars as well.  We were asked to show ID, then get out of the car and both Ryan and I were searched and then told to stand at the front of the car. Initially when we asked what was going on, they would not tell us. After we were frisked and they began feeling a bit more comfortable with us, they told us the car we were driving matched the description of a car that was involved with distributing drugs in the area. These cops  and Federal agents (pickup truck) were on a drug sting and were watching us the entire time at the hotel and followed us to the Burger King. They were still not convinced at this point we were not those drug dealers. We were asked a bunch of questions about what we were doing in the area and why I was parked at the hotel. We were truthful with them being chasers and grabbing the interenet connection. I allowed them to search the car telling them I had nothing to hide. After 30 minutes or so, they had finished searching and finding nothing, allowed us to go on our way.  They looked pretty disappointed as they stood around after the ordeal.  I guess they thought for sure they had their dealers. Pretty scary for us for a few minutes. Looking at the bright side, there were no storms brewing.

At this point, it was becoming obvious that nothing was going to break the cap in front of the cold front before dark.  We continued to look back north where the line was approaching I-55 from the west.  We made the decision to begin heading back north toward home and meet the storms that had fired on the front.  As we were heading back north on I-55 in St. Genevieve County, a tornado warning was issued for Jefferson County just to our northwest.  Then there was a report of a confirmed tornado doing damage.  The hunt was on.  We were in the twilight at this point, so we knew there would be no great photo opportunities, but thought we'd make the best of what be had.  We stopped at Highway A and I-55 where we watched the tornadic storm go by. It had a fairly nice looking wall cloud that was illuminated by lightning occasionally.  It passed and we followed the line as they were putting out new tornado warnings into Illinois as we crossed over the river and continued to drive north behind the storms and toward home.  We saw no more wall clouds.  The storms had turned high precipitation and rain had become quite the obstacle just in driving.

This was the second trip in a row that we drove several hundred miles only to end up chasing within 30 miles of the house.  A pretty frustrating day until the very end.  


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

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