Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chase Log - 4-22-2011

Incredible day, chasing a beastly tornadic supercell in the St. Louis metro area. Challenging, and also the closest I've come to dying on a chase to date.

Headed to Colchester, IL, to meet up with Jesse. Also had Dr Tom Williams from WIU, and Eric Apel along for the ride. Targeted Kingdom City, MO, initially. Got there, sat for about an hour, and our storm popped up west of Jefferson City, MO - just where we had forecasted. Let it become more organized, and intercepted just north of Jeff City. Large recycling rotating wall cloud became apparent, with the biggest beaver's tail/inflow jet I've ever seen. Chased this through central MO, staying right in the hook echo for most of the time...met up with fellow chaser Nick Nolte as well. Passed Reed and the Dominator before we got back on I-70. Noted strong rotation, and strengthening inflow, but no tornadoes - yet. Once on I-70, encountered 2-2.5 inch hail, and easily 60+ MPH winds. Started getting reports that a tornado was on the ground as we got out of the rain core, and realized that this was probably true once we got out, and got slammed with a 70 MPH inflow jet.

Pulled over as the tornado was crossing I-64 after affecting Dardeene Prairie, and nearly got hit by a semi while stopping traffic. Streamed the circulation crossing the interstate live on the Weather Channel, while Jesse conducted a live phone interview. Kept on the storm through St. Louis metro, noted power flashes as the tornado hit Lambert airport, and, after the tornado had lifted, went back to the airport to help out/document damage. Conducted another live stream/interview with TWC while streaming the image of the bus up on the concrete ledge, and then went back to Colchester for the night.

All in all, definitely the most intense chase of my career to date...chasing a rain-wrapped EF-4 tornado in a major metro area with power flashes and a debris ball is about as crazy as it gets. Ended up with about 800 miles, and got to bed at 4 AM.

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