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May 12, 2000: Squall Line Chase Through Illinois

Non-Tornadic Chase Through most of IL (Dave Lewison and Chris Kridler)

All of these images are from video captures...click any of them to enlarge to full size...

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Our path for the whole chase day is shown here in red. The approximate starting location of the squall line is shown in orange. This line tracked quickly SE through Illinois.
Click to enlarge.

Chasing the day before had left us in Waterloo, Iowa. There was a moderate risk for central Illinois. It looked like a big squall line setup for the day, but the discussion mentioned some hope of cells remaining isolated and possibly supercellular at least at the start, so we decided to give it a go anyway.

Left at about 10 am south on 380 and into Illinois. We stopped for data at around 2 pm in far NW Illinois. Saw that storms were already firing along the cold front....great. We were a good 60 or 70 miles north of the front with it moving away to the SE. There was a lot of deep layer shear in the area, so we decided to try it anyway.

The first tornado warning went up for central Illinois at about 5:30 pm as we were entering the Peoria area. The sky was a solid wall of grey, so we couldn't make out any individual storms. We decided to continue south anyway.

Soon, more tornado warnings were issued for storms both north and south of us on the line. We still couldn't see anything.


may12lightning2sm.JPG (8501 bytes) may12lightning1sm.JPG (8049 bytes) We were treated to a brilliant lightning show as we headed south keeping pace with the squall line. Frequent CG's and nearly continuous in-cloud lightning. Presence of heavy rain precluded any decent time-exposure lightning photos on film, though. Still no signs of rotation or any classic features with these storms.
may12hailsm.JPG (6533 bytes) Near Effingham, we decided it was getting late and called off the chase. We took shelter under a gas station to watch some gusty winds, heavy rain and marble-size hail. The tornado warnings continued to be extended for these storms even after we gave up chase. I guess the 88-D's indicated rotation, but we sure didn't see any.

Here's a rather laughable quote I made while taking this footage...Chris thought it was funny too...I guess I was pretty tired from the day!


may12stlouissm.JPG (12287 bytes) Later that night we drove through St. Louis and I finally got my footage of the St. Louis arch, so I was happy. :) We stopped at a hotel about 40 miles west of town in Warrenton, Missouri at about 2 am.

Well, I wish it could have been a better day. We thought this would turn into a squall line, but didn't expect it to do it so quickly. It was a marginal day, but we're out to chase, so that's what we did! Sure was better than staying home!

May 11 | May 12 | May 16 | May 17 | May 18 & 19 | May 22 | May 24 | May 25 | May 26 | May 27

Email me at: lewisd2@rpi.edu

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