In the days leading up to this chase, some of the models were beginning to point toward the potential for a strong tornado setup. It became clear the night before, and especially the morning of, however, that this would not happen. The surface low was almost disappearing by late afternoon, which meant no backed surface winds, even along the warm front. I didn’t really like what the AM model runs were showing, but it was clear there would at least be some storms, and these days I just chase every chance I get! My target was only 3.5 hours away, so off I went.
When I arrived in Mt. Vernon, IL there were some weak storms south of St. Louis heading my way. I decided to just sit there and watch them, as nothing was strong enough to warrant a severe warning at that point. The shape of the dominant cell suggested right away this would turn into a bow echo. I kept hoping its shape would change and become a classic supercell, but it didn’t happen. I ended up dropping south and then heading east to stay ahead of it. When I finally found a clearing and let it catch up to me a little bit, it became severe warned.
The base was pretty elevated, though at one point it appeared to form a little bit of a wall cloud. Nonetheless, the threat for a tornado was almost zero at this point. I stayed east of it for a little while until I decided to let it overtake me to see what kind of hail we were dealing with. There was quite a bit of hail, but none of it was very big. It was wind-driven, though, so it sounded much bigger as it hit my car. In fact, the wind-driven hail and heavy rain were so bad that at certain points I couldn’t even see 10 feet in front of me. I wanted to get back out in front of the storm, but I could only move so fast. The poor road network wasn’t helping, as I went through curvy roads in the hills as I got into western Kentucky.
I finally got back out in front of it, but couldn’t get far enough in front of it for a good picture. At that point there was a tornado warning to the north which said a tornado was confirmed, but I haven’t seen any official reports of anything. Predicting and locating tornadoes on these squall lines is just about impossible.
As I looked at the roads up ahead, I decided it wasn’t going to be worth it to try to stay in front of this storm anymore, so I turned north and headed home. All I can say after that chase is take me back to the plains!!!