April 3rd, 2018: Indiana/Ohio Warm Front Disappointment


A warm front set up across Indiana and Ohio looked promising for severe storms and possible tornadoes throughout the afternoon and evening hours. My initial target near Indianapolis would be shifted much further south and east into western Ohio where I was able to intercept a tornado warned storm. Due to terrain and lack of good road options, I had to leave to the storm as it quickly passed to my northeast. Not much formed worth chasing after this and the chase was done. It ended up being a disappointing chase and a long ride home with little to show for.


Date: April 3, 2018 
Miles Driven: 775
Chase Partners: None
Tornadoes: 0
Photogenic Tornadoes: 0
Largest Hail: Quarter
Top Wind: ~60 MPH
States Chased In: Indiana, Ohio



When I saw this setup several days out, I didn’t have high expectations of chasing. The original plan for this day was to head to Elkhart, IN to look for a new trailer for my mowing business but with the threat of possible severe weather lurking in the state, I kept my options open. After waking up and taking a quick glance at some of the high resolution CAMS and seeing the New Day 1 Outlook,  I changed my mind and departed western Illinois around 8:30AM.

8:00 AM SPC Day 1 Outlook

8:00 AM SPC Day 1 Tornado Outlook

I hopped on 74 and quickly headed east for Indianapolis where I would stop to get some lunch at a local Culver’s.  Looking over data at lunch time, I could see the warm front was not going to progress as far north as I had originally thought and was going to have to get further south and east for any real tornado threat. I had concerns about contamination in the warm sector due to left over cloud debris and new storms firing with very little capping in place. By early afternoon, the Storm Prediction Center would issue a MD (Mesoscale Discussion)  and soon to be Tornado Watch for the parts of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. As I progressed southeast out of Indianapolis, I could see new convection quickly beginning to intensify to my southwest and had planned to intercept it as it made its way into Ohio.

Crossing the border, I found a nice vantage point near the town of West Elkton. As the storm entered an area of increased low level SRH (Storm Relative Helicity) near the front, it quickly started to rotate and became tornado warned just to my west. I was able to get on top of a hill and get a shot of the approaching storm. It had really good inflow and decent structure but was somewhat disorganized in the lower levels. It wanted to produce but simply needed more time. As it began to pass to my northeast, I tried to reposition to stay ahead of it but lack of road options and quick storms motions to the northeast left me behind the storm after 20 minutes. It would later go on to produce 30 minutes later to my northeast and caused minimal damage. Unfortunately for me, this was the end of my chase. Every other storm in the area looked messy and nothing was staying discrete. I kept a little bit of hope for something to fire back off to my west on the drive home along the cold front and perhaps give me one more chance to salvage this underperforming chase day. Traveling west on 74, I was able to intercept one last severe warned storm northwest of Indianapolis in the late evening hours before the cold front overtook everything.

Overall, the day did not meet my expectations. I felt pretty confident when I left Illinois that there would be a couple tornado producing supercells across the warm front in Indiana later that afternoon but 2018 continued to prove me wrong. I was happy that I was able to get on the only tornado warned storm in southwest Ohio at the time but it left many of us chasers disappointed. That is storm chasing and it’s a gamble you take. You win some and you lose some and that’s the chance you take.

Other Photos:

Tornado Warned storm near West Elkton, Ohio.


SPC Storm Reports:



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