My son Ryan and I were eyeing this several days in advance. After a conversation with our friend and chase partner Brian Stertz in the morning, we decided to make the storm trip. Unfortunately, Brian's work schedule prevented him from chasing with us although he volunteered to nowcast if we needed it.
So, around 11:00am, Ryan and I hit the road. Our initial target was Burlington, Iowa. The Storm Prediction Center had an Enhanced Risk of Storms from Southeast Iowa through Central Illinois including a 5% tornado risk. Although we knew the storms would initiate late in the day, we left early so we had time to make a side trip or two looking for wildlife along the way. We made a stop in the B.K.Leach Conservation Area. Although this area was badly affected by the flood waters of the spring, the area was starting to come back to life. Saw the usual deer, multiple bird types, couple snakes, turtles, but the highlight of the day was the hundreds of crayfish that were out and moving around as we drove through the area.
We arrived around Burlington, Iowa in the late afternoon and then it was a waiting game to see where the storms would fire. We struggled at this point with the thought of moving east and waiting for initiation in Galesburg, Illinois. Our decision was made easy when the first blip on the radar return came from a developing storm just south of Galesburg. We headed east out of Burlington on Highway 34 in the direction of the developing storm. We watched the radar closely as we moved toward it, but the storm seemed to plateau and never seemed to intensify any further. We continue east anyway and intercepted the storm as it crossed in front of us just west of Peoria, Illinois. It appeared during one of the storm's cycles we might have some hope of it producing a tornado as we watched the wall cloud rotate, but it quickly weakened before any decent funnel or tornado attempt.
As we traveled Highway 97 south out of Havanna toward our connection with I-55, there was a new, broken east/west line of storms developing to our south just west of Springfield, Illinois. As we drove nearer to the storms, we took note that the storms were intensifying quickly. Although darkness had set in, we could see a lowered area on the storm directly in our path and before long noticed it had some decent rotation. This was confusing as it had no warning. Finally, when we get to the storm and near the lowered circulating area, a tornado warning comes out on the storm and we're inside the red warning box. Had the circulating area in sight for a while before rain blocked the view, but never saw a funnel or touchdown.
We end up following the storm for a while until it weakened. Then we notice a stronger couplet just to our east near Springfield. We're about 20 miles away with the storm only moving 20mph, so we knew we could catch that storm as well as keep an eye on the cell we were leaving. We hit Interstate 55 and drove south to get out of the precipitation and then cut east on Highway 104 toward Taylorville, Illinois. Over the next half hour, we gain the ground on the storm in front of us as we hear that it had produced a confirmed tornado near Edinburg, Illinois, just a few miles ahead of us. The storm behind us pulsed a few times also, but never became a big threat. We finally caught up with the interesting part of the storm as it was ready to cross the road in front of us on the east side of Taylorville. Lot of interesting cloud movements, but never was able to find the main circulation in the darkness as it appeared to gust out.
As we got east of Shelbyville, Illinois, we finally give up the chase as the storm showed no more signs of rotation. We hit Highway 32 south to Effingham, Illinois, then west on Interstate 70 for the trip home.
Total Trip - 642 Miles
Click on the link below to see video of some of these storms.
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