After a long day of chasing and a short night of sleep, we were up early the next day looking at all of the data regarding the potential storms out to the west. The result of looking showed a gloomier picture then it did the night before. Questionable tornadic cells and close to or after dark. The decision was made. No trip west. Was going to be a down day until the suggestion was made to look at the Illinois cluster of storms. Those storms were not even on our radar screen. The drawback were these storms would be 6 hours away and were forecasted to fire around 2:00pm. It was now 7:30am. Not a big time window for error. OK, let's do it. 15 minutes later, we were on the road.
We made the decision how we would travel there once we started driving. Would we go up to Highway 36 and go east through Missouri going through the Hannibal, Missouri Bridge and making the play on the central Illinois storms or travel further north and take I-80 and play the northern Illinois storms. We finally landed on the decision to take the northern route through Iowa.
We made good time traveling through Iowa. Storms were already starting to fire in Eastern Iowa and thoughts went through my mind that we may have started too late this morning. Then out of the blue, Brian shows us a Tornado Picture that was posted from one of his friends. Wait! From today! But there is no warning. And it's in front of us by only 10 miles or so in a small line of storms. This was the beginning of a game changer for us and we began looking at the storms right in front of us.
The gas tank was getting empty so we decided to quickly pull into a gas station in Iowa City, Iowa. Got gas and did the required business and were quickly back in the car as a small cell crossed the Interstate just in front of us. Kind of interesting, but looking at radar, not much of a velocity signature, so we passed the cell and headed further east for a line forming further in front of us.
No sooner do we get through the cell, "Tornado Warning" rings out in the car and lo and behold, it is for the cell we just went through. Got to turn around! Next exit we flipped the car around heading back west to the cell. Got off the next exit back west, Highway 1 and followed the cell north. Had a clear view into the now prominent wall cloud and had the look of imminent tornado. Did not take long as we pulled the car over in a clear spot as the storm was just about to produce. Just that quick, tornado on the ground. Then a few minutes into the full funnel, a secondary brief funnel and touchdown of another tornado off to the right of the original.
As the tornado moved behind trees and hills, we drove up the road to reposition. The first tornado began to lift, but another updraft out in front of this original tornado put down a wedge in a very low wall cloud.
We continued north again and then turned east on Highway 30 to position for another intercept of the storm. We stopped in Mechanicsville, Iowa and within minutes, the eastern cell made its appearance with a low hanging funnel.
The funnel crossed the Highway in front of us and quickly transitioned to a Tornado striking a house before continuing into the nearby farm fields. The dirt debris left no doubt the Tornado was firmly on the ground even when the cone wasn't condensed all the way down to the ground. Eventually, the narrow funnel fully condensed making for a picturesque rope tornado.
Watching this drill bit spin in a field was nothing less than spectacular. It was an erratic mover, changing directions a few times. It wasn't long after this tornado roped out, the storm to the west produced another tornado. This Tornado was white due to being sun lit. It would occasionally brush the ground kicking up debris.
The eastern storm then produced another large cone tornado. We now have two tornadoes on the ground. One toward the left half of the picture and another toward the right half of the picture. If two wasn't enough, a third updraft briefly spun up another Tornado giving us three on the ground at the same time!
As the Tornadoes spun down, we proceeded east trying to catch up with the line of storms to the east. Saw a few more storms with an occasional wall cloud, but as the day went on, the chance of Tornadoes seemed to diminish. We crossed over into Illinois, but the good Tornado parameters were now non-existent. We drove back to Davenport, Iowa and got the hotel for the evening. Definitely, the best chase day of the 2020 year.
3 Day Total Miles - 2358 Miles
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