May 03, 2021  

There was a lot of talk about severe weather, but not much talk about tornadic storms, so I wasn't anticipating going on a storm chase today.  That said, our chase partner Brian gave us a heads up that he thought Central Illinois could produce some tornadoes in the evening.  I took a look at the HRRR and adding that to Brian's reasoning behind his thoughts, decided that a chase was in order.

I gave a call to Max Slover to see if he wanted to join us. He accepted and my son Ryan did some rescheduling to leave work a few hours early.  The three of us were on the road by 3:30pm.

Our target area was just to the north of the I-72 corridor.  As we left, there was already a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in the Quincy, Illinois area.  We weren't expecting the storms would become severe so early in the day, but figured the storms would gain strength as they got into Central Illinois into the better parameters in the zone we were targeting.

With the storms on-going, we chose to head up I-55 and approach these storms from the east.  When we hit Springfield, we worked our way around to the west side of town and hit Highway 97.  That highway went in a west-northwest direction with the tail end, severe warned storm coming right at us.

We worked our way up to the storm.  Lucky for us, the wall cloud and rotation were very separated from the rain at this point giving us a clear view of the business part of the storm. We reached the wall cloud near Ashland, Illinois and followed along with it back east stopping occasionally to watch it.  Just to the west of Pleasant Plains, Illinois, a new tornado warning is issued on the storm with a confirmed tornado.  Ryan shot video out of the back window as the dust in the open field behind us was being kicked up from the circulation. 

We found a spot to pull off and continued to record.  It had weakened considerably by this time, but you could still see the shadow as it continued to spin.

We continued following the storm north of Springfield, Illinois and once we got east of the city, we adjusted eastward and southward as the storm dictated.   The storm continued rotating hard creating the corkscrew look with a load of cloud to ground lightning bolts.

Around Mechanicsville, Illinois, the circulation made contact with the ground creating a big dust swirl again prompting another confirmed tornado warning.  We got a glimpse of it while were driving, but by the time we broke free of the hills blocking the view, we no longer could find it as the rotation was now getting wrapped up in rain.

We broke off of this storm as rain now made it impossible to see.  We worked our way south taking a look at several other cells in the broken line.  Unfortunately, none of these cells were intensifying and once we reached I-70, the last cell went by us as we headed home.

National Weather Service Survey

6.5 Hours - 324 Miles

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

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