Miles Traveled: 280
Target City: Iowa City, IA
Duration: 6 hours
Afterwork chase from Iowa City, IA to Galesburgh, IL. Got to the best storm just after dark. Witnessed some pea hail and some wind damage.
This was somewhat of a surprise chase for me. I had been keeping an eye on an impressive MCV tracking across southern MO into IL during the morning that prompted a MDT risk from the SPC along with numerous damage reports. As the day progressed I was becoming happier and happier that I had tossed the chase gear in the truck that morning. As of 1630z the parameters were looking decent nothing spectacular but enough to bring a slight risk over eastern Iowa. I left work in bettendorf, IA at 4:30 PM. This is where I made one of my many mistakes of my rookie season. I decided to run out to Iowa City to intercept ongoing yet unorganized convection ignoring the better environment to the south.
I figured this was going to be the only show of the day so I took my time and grabbed dinner and waited for storms to overtake me. Once the storms were on top of me I did a small loop around Iowa City and got into some nickle hail. After that I decided to head back home down I80. While heading east down 80 I noticed that more storms were firing down south near Ottumwa, IA. I played the go or don’t go game for several miles and ended up pulling the trigger to head south about two exits too late, causing me to have to back track several miles to cross the Mississippi in Muscatine, IA. I stopped at an overlook just before crossing the river and took a couple photos of being overtaken by a shelf cloud. These turned out to be the only photos of the chase as the rest of the chase turned out to be a race to get back ahead of the precipitation.
Things were pretty much a blur while trying to get east of the fast moving storms. I ended up heading south at Hwy 67 when I realized there was no way I was getting back ahead of the storm and my only option was to get south of it. Once I started south things really started to get interesting as the southern portion of the cell picked up a tornado warning. This meant that my only option to get to the updraft was to core punch the storm to get to the south side of it. I was pretty sure I would be coming in behind the likely area of circulation so I went ahead and went for it. Several miles of extremely heavy rain and gusty RFD resulted in some very tense driving. This was all capped off by nearly running into a downed telephone pole at about windshield height. This prompted my first ever damage report which can be seen on the days LSR’s. By this point I had long since lost daylight but decided that after all this effort I might as well follow the tornado warned cell east for awhile. I picked up Hwy 34 headed east in Monmouth. I was then treated to the most impressive nighttime structure I have ever seen. Looking to my north what I could make out as the updraft of the storm was illuminated by the lights of Galesburgh. What I thought at the time was an impressive looking wall cloud was probably more likely outflow as the storm was beginning to fall apart. Never the less it was some amazing looking structure. I followed the storm a little past Galesburgh to Wataga as it continued to carry a tornado warning. Around this time however it was really starting to fall apart and I decided to head home on I74.
This was a very early chase in my chasing experiences. I learned a couple lessons this time out, mostly don’t get pulled out of position by unorganized convection. And learn to identify areas with a better environments, don’t just chase radar returns.
Storm Reports for the day
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