Thursday, May 05, 2016

Raymond Illinois Tornado

Wednesday April 27th was unique for a set of conditions resulting in a stationary boundary being draped across the southern half of Illinois. South of this boundary in the warm sector, surface winds were backed out of the southeast as they drew into a parent low pressure system over Eastern Nebraska. This created a favorable environment for low level rotation and a heightened tornado risk. Model prediction suggested the vicinity of southwest Christian County as being ideal location for storm development. Upon errand completion, I headed to this area early with Ava expecting to do some leisurely time lapse on a day off which has been my focus lately.

It became apparent that this event might be concerning upon getting beyond Morrisonville on IL48 and noticing a significant wall cloud south of Raymond. It was here I would place a call to the weather service in Lincoln Illinois as a general heads up.

Re-positioning a little further east as to gain a better view, to the distant south a persistent landspout type feature having rapidly ascending scud appeared. It's debatable whether this is an actual 'tornado' but is a solid indicator of the potential for greater tornadic development.

As if on cue per the previous observation, further upstream a new rotating wall cloud tightened and began producing a funnel cloud that eventually set down as a legitimate tornado. As it moved unusually westward it produced several brief touchdowns that both myself and Ava witnessed. At no time was there a personal safety concern for it was approximately one mile away. I was shooting with the 300mm lens for the entirety of its duration. It was here I placed another call to the weather service in Lincoln only to later learn that doing so was in vain for this storm was over Montgomery County and in the St. Louis weather service office warning area.

As this tornado lifted, we quickly re-positioned even further east. While doing so we witnessed another tornado develop though I was unable to document it other than the remnant funnel cloud after it had dissipated. Yet another funnel cloud would form upstream but not quite touch down.

Allowing the mesocyclone to pass safely to our east, we would then give follow on the southwest flank where we saw additional funnel clouds and incredible motion. At one point I thought it might become a fairly significant tornado but was eventually undercut by its own outflow. This was a truly remarkable event for numerous reasons but most notably because Ava and I experienced it together.

Additional storms from later that night at home...

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