Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Winter Blues

Despite heavy media attention on the snow element of the latest winter system to grace the Central US with yet another reminder that an early Spring is but a pipe dream, I was focused on thunderstorm chances during the evening of Tuesday the 11th. Hoping to be far enough south as to take advantage of lightning on a night off, I ended up just outside of Pana where the sparse activity was confined to being predominantly in-cloud.

c/o RadarScope

A distant tower strike before the heavy rain set in and chased me inside the vehicle.

Finally some action hence the post title but wait, why is this scene blue unlike the others? The answer can be found HERE.

While shielding from the mist, oops!

Ironically, on March 11th in 2006 I was shooting lightning at night from inside a vehicle but with much more dramatic results which brings me to my next thought...

With March you never know what you'll get due to the volatile clash of seasonal air masses. For this reason it is one of my favorite months although unlike January and February of this year it has been quiet by comparison. On the 12th in 2006, March volatility manifest in one of the most intense examples I have personally witnessed as a six state traversing supercell thunderstorm that wreaked havoc across the heart of Central Illinois. Originating in Oklahoma and cycling over an impressive near 800 miles before final dissipation in Michigan (Source), it stands as being the longest tracked supercell on record having even beaten The Great Tri-State Tornado of 1925. Armed with a weather radio and point and shoot camera from out in western Macon county north of Niantic, I was privileged to watch this beast pass through our area. Unsure of what I would go home with other than haunting visuals indelibly burned into my consciousness with the split second flicker of each lightning strike, I was very dismayed by what came off the camera initially. Fortunately there was just enough detail picked up due to the unimpeded full moon soaring high overhead that careful work in Photoshop enabled me to reveal not only structure but also a few tornadoes from what were otherwise scenes of black. If there ever was an event I wish I could revisit with my current knowledge of shooting in low light situations, this would be it. I'm confident that the terrified residents to find themselves in the unfortunate path of this historic storm would however, unanimously object.

Video captures

The storm is pulling away to the northeast, who knows what could be happening under there.

The next two are previously unpublished.

School Road facing west towards Lincoln Memorial Road, the tree top originated from the property in the distance.

SE corner of Kenney and School roads, still in the ground!

NW corner but was lifted and lofted up over to past the NE corner, a survey map of the path can be found HERE.

Later, the cold front and associated squall line would come raging through complete with vivid lightning and additional tornado warnings after midnight.


After drafting the above entries but not before posting, I stepped out to run a few errands. It would only be fitting on an historic meteorological anniversary that a short wave with mildly photogenic diurnally enhanced heavy snow squalls would be passing through the region. As efficient as they were at covering the ground, the precipitation type bore an appearance of air soft pellets and did not adhere to surfaces such as glass.

Near Mt. Zion

Further south near Moweaqua

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