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05/13/09 Chase Recap


Ben Holcomb, and Andrew Glenn met up with my Dad and I in Battle Creek, and left Tuesday night around 9:45PM. We made it to Bloomington, IL and stayed the night. In the morning we headed towards Springfield, were we joined up with some other fellow chasers, including Danny Neal, and Adam Lucio, and then headed west towards Pittsfield, IL. Storms fired in Missouri, so our "caravan of chasers" headed west towards Hannibal, MO, where we met Scott Bennett, and continued NW towards Edina, MO, where we intercepted a tornado warned cell, and saw a huge wall cloud, with amazing inflow. After the storms went linear, we headed towards Kirksville to check out the damage, but the roads were blocked off, and it was getting dark. So we started the long journey home, going north into Iowa, where we stopped and ate at Subway with Jason Loving. We then continued our way home through Illinois, and arrived back home at about 7:00AM.

Full Recap:

Ben Holcomb, and Andrew Glenn met me and my Dad in Battle Creek, MI, loaded up the van, and headed towards Illinois around 9:45PM. We drove late into the night, and stopped at a Super 8 in Bloomington for the night. We woke up in the morning to crapvection all around Bloomington and surrounding area. We went to breakfast at Bob Evan's across the street, and headed south from there, hoping the rain would clear for afternoon heating.

We then headed towards Springfield, IL, and stopped at a Road Ranger gas station. After topping off the tank, we got some snacks for the road. We then sat and looked at models and forecasts, until Danny Neal, Adam Lucio and his friend Matt arrived. None of us had ever met each other in person, so it was nice to see other chasers. Soon after, the Road Ranger became a mass chaser convergence, when Benjamin Rock and his gang showed up, along with David Draun.

After chatting and waiting for convection to clear, we made our way towards Pittsfield, IL, as it seemed to be the prime place to be, and clearing was already in place there for afternoon heating. As we were heading west towards Pittsfield, we noticed on the radar that storms had started firing in Missouri. We skipped out on Pittsfield, and kept heading west towards Hannibal, MO. We then stopped just shy of Hannibal, MO, and met up with Scott Bennett, who joined in on our armada.

We continued west through Hannibal, until we noticed a tornado warned cell moving just north of Milan, MO in Sullivan County. Ben found us the best route to make it to Memphis, MO, which is where the storm appeared to be going based on the last few radar scans. As we were driving NW, the cell took a huge right turn, which was a big plus for us, cause we could now intercept the storm in less time, and a bit farther south. By this time, the storm had already gone through the northern edge of Kirksville, MO, and was headed for Edina.

Reports started flowing in rapidly through Spotter Network, including: a large cone shaped tornado, rain wrapped tornado, some houses leveled, and other extensive damage. We managed to get to Edina, and went north on Highway 15 about 1 mile north of town. We pulled off to the side of the road, and got the vehicle facing south so we could get out of there if need be. We got our tripods, and cameras out, and started documenting a massive lowering from the cloud base. Cops were now patrolling the roads, and tornado sirens were now blaring.

We continued watching, and noticed the wall cloud had some massive inflow, and upward motion, meaning the updraft was fairly strong. A few funnels formed here and there, but the tornado that was actually there, we could not see, as it was rain wrapped. Danny Neal and Adam Lucio were 2 miles north on the same road, and from that vantage point, the tornado was visible for a while until it got rain wrapped. After most of the structure got wrapped in rain, we started getting hit by some RFD, so we decided to head south, and bail east to stay ahead of the storm.

We drove about 8 miles east, and pulled in along a dirt road parallel to Highway 6. We watched this HP beast for a while, and its rather amazing wall cloud until it started to rain. Again, we bailed east, this time going about 7 miles east. With no road to pull into, we pulled off to the side of the road. This time we noticed the whole storm had went linear on the radar, and visually, the storm was all rain wrapped. To make matters worse, we stepped out of the car only to feel cold air (a sign of a storm dying out a.k.a. "outflowing"). So we sat around, and talked to Scott Bennett and the others in our chase caravan a little bit. Randy Cooper then pulled up, and started chatting with us; while Ben noticed that Tony Laubach had driven by.

Seeing that the good stuff was over, we went to check for damage in Kirksville. It was getting late, and the daylight would be gone soon, so we had to hurry. Nonetheless, we made our way back to Edina, and went north on Highway 15 again. Right before Highway 15 curves west, we encountered twisted and bent telephone poles, scattered sheet metal, and twisted fences. Emergency personnel were already on the scene, so we had to go somewhat slow, but we did get a decent view of the damage.

Finally we made it into the southern end of Kirksville, after winding through the back country roads. We headed north on Highway 63 through Kirksville, but could only get so far, as they already had the roads blocked off. It was now dark out, and pretty much impossible to see any damage, so we topped off that tank at a nearby gas station, and decided to head home. We wandered northward, and made our way onto State Highway B, where we noticed emergency personnel up ahead. When we arrived at where the road splits, they had the northern route blocked off, and there was debris everywhere, including power poles, and pieces of houses. We turned west, then continued north, and decided to get something to eat, as us and Scott Bennett were the only ones left, as the others had already headed for home.

Bloomfield, IA had a Subway, so we decided to stop there after a failed attempt at finding a Pizza Hut that was open. Jason Loving and his dad stopped by also and ate with us. Scott had a little fun ordering his sandwich, which was rather funny, but the girl that worked there was pretty nice. After all was said an done, we left Subway, and headed home. We all parted our ways, and we journeyed home on Interstate 80 only to get back to Battle Creek at 7:00 AM.

Tornado Watch #293 (Image courtesy of the Storm Prediction Center)

Above is the SRV from from the storm as it passed just north of Milan, MO

Below is the Base Reflectivity and SRV of the same cell as it went north of Edina, MO, and the same place where we intercepted the storm.

This is an image of the storm damage we encountered about 3 miles north of Edina, MO. (Image courtesy of St. Louis NWS)

Here is a graphical representation of the path of the tornado, and our position. It also dropped a second tornado, but must have been rain wrapped, as it was not visible to us. (Image courtesy of St. Louis NWS)