Monday, August 13, 2012

Champaign County Wind Storm

This past Thursday August 9th, a few storms dropped in from the NW as was expected to be the case and quickly went severe. The first warned cell caught everyone's attention but the one to its S would go on to be the story of the day.

Images c/o Radarscope

I'm the bottom dot on Spotter Network moving up from the SW along I-72 between Forsyth and Argenta. The first photo is from close to this time as I was by then, just past Cisco.

Exiting at Monticello so that I could stay S of Champaign and avoid traffic, once I got E of town, I pulled over close to where I photographed the May 1 tornado and watched the SW flank. It was at this time that the storm shed its outflow along with associated cloud and appeared to be reorganizing. The area was starting to bear somewhat LP structure so naturally I was hoping for some magic which presented itself in the formation of a skinny funnel within an area of loosely organized vorticity. The storm was predominately cold and outflowish so this activity was both anomalous and brief. Hindsight being what it is, I wish I would have shot video but the last thing I expected to see today was anything remotely tornadic although this was the least threatening aspect.

The storm would go on to produce a massive downburst rain foot from S of Champaign that I tried to spend time with but was difficult due to being on the move. It was much more pronounced towards the right and out of frame.

Continuing E, as I got further along and now S of Sidney is when it started to get real. Small debris littering the roadway in a uni-directional manner suggested that strong straight line winds came through with the observed downburst. Cresting the hill I was stunned to find a large tree down as well as numerous medium sized branches. It was here I also had to clear the roadway of limbs (not shown) which posed a significant traffic hazard.

After the previous shot I would call in what I observed thus far only to simultaneously encounter much more including a tree that completely blocked the road as well as flattened crops. Pausing to grab material upon completion of the call for a panorama featuring the departing culprit, I doubled back to document the area of the fallen tree.

Surveying the location, I was stunned to see more large trees back within a grotto on a private residence having been downed. It did not appear anyone was home at first nor that structural damage occurred so I stayed back. A vehicle pulled up from opposite the side of blocked roadway at which point I asked the driver if this was his house to which he said "no". I then preceded to mention that a chaser by the name of Andy Wycislo said that Broadlands had damage as well to which he said "I'm Andy". This was a pleasant surprise as we had been friends on Facebook though had not met so we both took time to check out the area and talk. In the meantime a kitten emerged from the tangle of branches to greet us. It was soaked and seeming a little shaken from the experience but very friendly.

My images do no justice for expressing just how extensive the damage was to the local corn and bean crops that were flattened as far as you could see; literally hundreds of acres if not more. I have seen straight line wind damage but nothing of this magnitude. Since I followed the storm from a safe distance and only experienced marginally severe gusts while driving, I was unaware that just a few miles ahead, all hell was breaking loose.

Andy and I eventually parted ways with me going N and he respectively S as there was no circumnavigating the tree. Every residence I passed had some sort of tree damage and for some, unfortunate structural damage including a smashed van with blown out windows at one location. I try to be respectful when it comes to significant loss so no shots of personally identifiable property but a plum tree stripped of its fruit as well as overturned cart effectively illustrate the intensity of this storm. Andy would go on to document perhaps the most sobering aftermath of this high wind event being a train derailment. Check out more of what he does via his website

Note the beans.


Tara said...

Geez, the rain is needed but the damage is not...

Suz said...

oh my goodness!
We didn't hear a thing about that up here.....
We had a good storm about a week ago...nasty winds and hard rain...and it has rained on and off ...but nothing like that
and may I say...I so enjoy seeing parts of Illinois that I had no idea existed...a true treat