Thursday, May 26, 2011

Central Illinois High Risk Event

Although conditions on Wednesday were favorable for the development of thunderstorms capable of producing violent tornadoes, fortunately those that did form were on the low end of the scale. Seven tornadoes have been confirmed around the region at the time of this post.

Learn more about the individual tornadoes HERE.

Of all the events listed in the report, none are more frustrating than the morning incident as I happened to see it in its infancy and dismissed it as junk. Shortly before getting Ava ready for school, I stepped outside and saw to my W what appeared to be a funnel hanging beneath a shelf. On radar it looked like nothing more than a non severe squall line which is why I simply popped my head out to have a quick look. Upon seeing her off I went inside but then quickly learned that the lowering I witnessed was in fact under an embedded mesocyclone that became warned and ultimately produced just NE of Decatur. I can handle blowing an afternoon event but morning tornadoes are rare and this opportunity slipped right through my fingers.

Prior to this there was an initial wave of storms to lift through around 4AM. Awoken by the thunder and lightning, I decided to stick a video camera on the porch and record, not for the visuals but for the audio. Extracting this sound into an MP3 file that turned out remarkably well, you can rip it HERE ( I took off upon passage in the hope of getting predawn lightning shots but didn't have much luck. Image below is facing N as the storm is passing over Clinton IL.

As for the afternoon situation, I left out once storms entered the state. In spite of blanket warnings, many cells were already congealed into somewhat of a squall line. My goal was to look for something discreet out ahead of the main cluster. At Taylorville one cell did just that so at Stonington I merely headed W for an easy intercept. Though tornado warned for doppler indicated rotation, it never came close to producing but had a nice base.

After the above storm moved on, I continued a short drive NW towards Mt. Auburn for another intercept only this one despite the menacing appearance was in the process of dying. When I decided it was time to move on from this storm, I had the choice of an ongoing tornado warned cell to the SE at nearby Assumption or new development on the line further SW. I rolled the dice on new development which ended up being ingested by the line. Rather than try to outrun the rain, I simply called it a day and headed home. Very relieved that Central Illinois was largely spared unlike folks in other areas of the Midwest who sustained significant loss from the same slow moving system to plague us for several days. Video from both of these storms can be seen HERE.

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