January 22nd, 2018: 1st Chase of the Season!

Summary:

After waiting what seemed like months since my last chase, I was finally preparing for my first chase of 2018. Not only was I was excited to get back on the road but the setup was in my back yard. My original target of central Illinois would pan out for a few severe warned storms accompanied with small hail and gusty winds. It wasn’t a tornado but it was enough to get my blood flowing.

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Date: January 22nd, 2018.
Miles Driven: 246
Chase Partners: None
Tornadoes: 0
Photogenic Tornadoes: 0
Largest Hail: 1/2″ (Pea Size)
Top Wind: ~ 40 mph
States Chased In: Illinois
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Details:

I targeted central Illinois for low-topped convection forecast to form in the early afternoon along an instability axis. Models showed this setup days prior but uncertainty existed in cloud cover and lack of instability. The dry slot that was forecast to move into central Illinois was going to be the deciding factor for the chase or not. Waking up that morning, I could see clearing was going to take place across parts Iowa, Missouri, and into Illinois through the afternoon hours. This would allow just enough instability to help fuel these low-topped storms.  I departed Galesburg around 11:30 AM and began to head north towards eastern Iowa. Here I was keeping an eye on the possibility for Cold Core Tornadoes along a stationary boundary. With no agitated cumulus in the area and lack of better moisture, I decided to head back towards my original target of central Illinois. As I made my way south of Peoria, I saw the first signs of storms beginning to fire southwest of Springfield. Within 30 minutes, I was in my first severe warning of the season.  I tracked this strong storm near Athens where a nice RFD cut and wall cloud would appear. Broad rotation would be noted but it quickly disorganized minutes later due to messy storm mode. I chased the warned line for another hour before calling it quits. Overall it was a fun and local chase for my 1st time out. It was also a 1st for my new chase vehicle, a 2014 Ford Explorer Sport.

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