Central Illinois Bust - March 8, 2000

I went on my first chase of the season today, which ended up a complete bust - didn't even see a thunderstorm!

I'd had absolutely no chance, due to various commitments, to look at any weather between yesterday morning and about 1:30 p.m. today - even though I knew today might be a chase day. Finally I broke loose and managed to check weather info around 1:30 today and saw that SPC, in rapid fire, issued a MCD then a tornado watch for central and northern IL and southern WI. A quick check of the 20Z surface plot confirmed a dryline with about a 20-25 degree dewpoint gradient crossing the Mississippi into western IL. Most of IL had dewpoints in the mid 50s, while 30s prevailed in central MO and much of IA. Shear ahead of the dryline was strong, and a radar check showed a strong storm had already gone up near Galesburg.

I figured more storms would build southward along the dryline, and quickly grabbed my stuff and headed out around 2:20. I headed up I-55 to Lincoln, where I checked data. The Galesburg storm had raced north toward WI, and nothing else had fired. The dryline was still west of Springfield and Peoria, though, so there was still hope. One last check revealed a few showers forming southward from the original storm to near Peoria, so I thought there might be a chance. But nothing happened.

I went north to 136, cut west to 155, and then returned home. Saw a nice sunset, and when I got a block from home 2 raindrops hit my windshield from a TCU that formed over Edwardsville as the dryline moved through. That was as impressive a cloud as I saw - mostly just moderate cumulus. I am guessing there wasn't enough instability to break through whatever capping there was south of about the Galesburg area. I think with the shear there was that if any storms had gotten going, they could well have rotated. But none got going in central IL. All the severe was way north, in extreme north IL and in WI. This included a tornado near the Milwaukee airport. More information on that tornado and the day's weather setup can be found here.

Total chase distance: about 255 miles.

Return to Weather Observations page