April 13, 1998 Edwardsville, IL Tornado Page
by John Farley

On Monday, April 13, 1998 shortly after 6:00 p.m., a tornado hit near the south edge of Edwardsville, IL, moving generally east along Center Grove and Goshen Roads. A damage survey by the National Weather Service indicated that the tornado produced F1 damage.

My chase report for this storm
Report of my informal damage survey done 7:45 - 9:00 a.m. April 14
Official entry on this tornado from preliminary edition of Storm Data
Damage photos
Preliminary local storm reports of this and other St. Louis area storms, from NWS
News Reports on Tornado, from Edwardsville Intelligencer

Comments to John Farley, jfarley@siue.edu

Chase Report

When I started out this afternoon, I knew I could end up in a messy HP but went anyway, hoping I could see something along the front flank. Basically, I ended up in a messy HP.

Here's the story. Arriving home around 3:30, I checked the radar on TWC. My earlier analyses had told me that, depending on which model you believed, there could be a a significant severe weather event with tornadoes either in our area around St. Louis (NGM model) or in southeast Missouri (ETA model). But due to various commitments I couldn't get away until 3:30 at the earliest, so I had to just wait and see what developed.

By 3:30, I knew there would be action right here in the general St. Louis area. There was a nasty supercell to the NW of St. Louis that was already showing HP characteristics, and two smaller cells to the SW of St. Louis. All had tornado warnings. TWC began to show the velocity scan of the one to the northwest and had a clear meso that moved from near Warrenton, MO into St. Charles, CO in the far NW part of the St. Louis area. This meso was moving ENE, but the overall direction of the storm seemed to be turning right, carrying it eastward along I-70, right in my direction. Reported speed was 30 mph. Since the storms were moving gradually in my general direction and since going much west of Edwardsville to chase is not a live option as it takes you right into the St. Louis metro area, I basically decided to stay home and watch the radar through 4:30. At that time, I decided to position myself for the storm to the NW. At first, I started east so I had the option of going south for the other cells, but for several reasons I changed my mind. First, at the speed the storms were moving there was no certainty they would hold together until they reached my location east of Edwardsville up to 2 hours later. Second, the storms to the south were showing signs of merging into a squall line and I figured if that happened I'd be stuck on the wrong side to get home and would be unable to do so without going through some nasty stuff.

Hence, I decided to position myself for the NW storm despite its HP characteristics, hoping I might be able to keep ahead of it and see something on its front flank. I pulled into a church parking lot with an open view just west of the intersection of I-255 and route 162 between Glen Carbon and Granite City. In this spot, I could quickly get on I-255 and go south to I-70 or I-64 and east, or north to I-270 and east toward my home. Having an escape route is important, as I was reminded later. I thought I would be able to see the storms as they moved along I-70 and then along I-270 as it continued eastward from NW St. Louis County to a couple miles north of my location.

As more tornado warnings were coming in, though, it seemed the meso was continuing its ENE movement. The meso was reported over the Mississippi river between St. Charles Co., MO and Calhoun Co., IL, then moving across S. Jersey Co. into Macoupin Co, about 25 miles N. of where I was. At this time I could see nothing except gray anvil with some mammatus - the anvil had overspread the entire sky. I decided I was too far south and cut through the west end of the SIUE campus to the N. edge of Edwardsville, and N. on route 159 to where it intersects with route 140 N. of Edwardsville. Having an escape route to the east available here, I parked and waited here. Low stratus and cumulus were racing northward under the anvil as the inflow continued strong from the SSE, but I still couldn't see much. The predicted path of the meso was about 5-7 miles north of me, but in poor visibility with no good escape routes if I went farther north I did not want to risk it. In addition, some of the warnings had indicated multiple mesos along the leading edge of this monster HP, with others farther to the SW. I knew more could be on the way from farther west, and did not want to get too far north.

About 5:40 this concern verified as I got word of a tornado warning based on a TVS near Maryland Heights in St. Louis Co - with Edwardsville right in its ultimate path about 45 minutes later if it held together. All of Madison Co. W. of Edwardsville was now under a tornado warning. I decided to hustle back to my earlier position, thinking the path of this storm should take it about where I had originally figured. Besides, I was in anvil rain and deteriorating visibility, and had no desire to get in HP hell between the two mesos. As I raced back I got word of tornado damage in west St. Louis County near Maryland Heights, and watched an inflow band from the east form over my head. To the west it was darkening with lightning, but no definable cloud structure.

A little before 6:00 I was back in my previous position near I-255 and Illinois route 162. After a few minutes I could see a cloud base of some kind to the west, and a couple minutes later realized this was the leading edge of the storm when I saw the yellow-green precipitation shafts coming from the base. On both ends of this was general darkness that extended to the ground. Since one of these areas was to my WSW, I knew I had to get out of there - could easily be a rain-wrapped tornado in there. As I raced onto the I-255 ramp to try to beat the storm home, a new tornado warning was issued based on a meso just NE of Granite City - approximately where I was. Figuring it was in the dark area to my WSW, I hightailed it out of there as fast as I could. But before I could go the 2 miles north to I-270 to go east, the leading edge of the storm overtook me and I was pummeled by heavy rain and strong, but not severe, SSE wind. As I raced eastward to outrun any possible tornado, intense blasts of rain and a little dime-size hail pounded my car, reducing visibility sharply. I heard reports of a possible funnel sighting by the Granite City police. To get home, I had to cut north on I-55 then back a couple miles west on IL route 143 to the east edge of Edwardsville. As I turned north at I-55, I had gotten just ahead of the leading edge of the storm - it seemed to be moving a lot faster than the reported 30 mph. As I entered Edwardsville from the east and re-entered the precpitation area of the storm, the dark area at the north end of the leading edge of the storm passed what appeared to be just a mile or two to my north. As this happened, the wind shifted to NW and intensified - probably indicating some circulation just to my north, with the west wind probably a wet RFD. I didn't know it because I had now turned down the weather radio, but there was a tornado warning issued about that time based on a spotter report of a possible tornado in Edwardsville. (This was later verified by an NWS damage survey.) In retrospect, looking at the warnings and considering my informal damage survey the next day, I think that the meso that had been observed on radar NE of Granite City was imbedded in area where I had seen the precipitation shafts, not the south end, and probably not in (though maybe near) the dark area at the north end, either. I did see a slight lowering on the leading edge of the precip and thought little of it at the time, but I now realize it could have been just ahead of the rain-wrapped meso.

As many of you know, this meso produced a tornado in the west suburbs of St. Louis with considerable damage. Up to 40 office buildings and warehouses and around 30 homes have been reported damaged, with the damage rated strong F1. It also produced another tornado in Edwardsvile, also with F1 damage. There apparently were also brief touchdowns in Granite City and in Pontoon Beach near I-270. There no serious injuries in any of these areas.

Some thoughts: While I managed to escape this storm fine, in part because I planned good escape routes, the suddenness with which it finally made its appearance was frightening. And luck did play a role, since even with good escape routes part of the storm did overtake me. In addition, not only were most of the mesos and tornadoes it produced rain-wrapped as is common with HP storms, but the generalized visibility was so poor and the cloud base so low that by the time I could see it coming, it was less than 2 or 3 minutes away - and at a reported speed of 30 mph. I can only imagine what it would have been if it were moving at 45 or 50 mph as many Illinois storms do. I knew this could be a tough chase due to the HP character of this storm and went anyway; next time I know its an HP I may just let it go.

If I get additional reports on these storms from the local media, I'll pass them along.

John Farley

Informal Damage Survey

Added 4/14:

I did an informal damage survey of the Edwardsville storm this morning (Tuesday, April 14). The damage path is between 2.5 and 3 miles long and generally about 100 yards wide, though perhaps 300 yards at the widest point. It starts about a half mile west of IL route 159 along Center Grove Rd., where the worst damage occurred. A business lost its entire west wall and the western 20 feet or so of the south wall and roof. The path goes toward the ESE until it crosses 159 at its intersection with Center Grove Road, then east along the south side of Goshen Rd. (the continuation of Center Grove) for about a mile and a half. Two busnesses on Goshen Road, a Moose lodge, and a day care lost part or all of their roofs near 159. Insulation was carried along the path for a mile. A farm building 1.5 mi. east of 159 was unroofed.

The path then curves back to the ENE and as far as I could see ends with a partially unroofed house on the north side of Goshen about a half mile west of I-55. Although I heard an Edwardsville police officer saying it was a downburst, I think a tornado is more likely due to the narrow path and due to the fact that debris was carried different directions - mainly along the path, but clearly to the north or northeast in places where the path is mainly to the east or ESE. Also a sign on the south edge of the damage path at route 159 was blown over toward the north, and another sign on the north edge of the damage path along Goshen Rd. was blown to the south.. Some of the roof of the farm outbuilding was blown into a tree almost directly north while other debris was carried 1/4 mile to the ENE. I would say the damage was mostly F1 with possible F2 at one business - or comparable wind speed if it was indeed a microburst. The official NWS damage survey is being done today, so we'll see. Preliminary LSRs indicate up to 17 tornadoes in the St. Louis County Warning area, including Edwardsville and Glen Carbon.

Update - according the the NWS damage survey, the damage done by this tornado, now confirmed, was rated F1. The official report from Storm Data, shown below, indicates that the tornado first touched down in Granite City and continued on an intermittent path into the area where I examined the damage.

Entry from Preliminary Edition of Storm Data

Tornado (F1) $Damage - 800K Injuries - 0 Width in yd. - 75 Length in mi. - 9.5
Granite City to Edwardsville
13 1705CST - 1715CST
Madison County
The same thunderstorm that produced a tornado in St. Louis County produced another in Madison County from Granite City to Edwardsville. The tornado first caused damage on the northwest side of Granite City at the Nameoki Trailer Park where 5 mobile homes were damaged by downed trees. The tornado moved northeast to Pontoon Beach where about 6 homes suffered roof damage. The tornado weakened, but gained strength again and caused damage on the south side of Edwardsville, primarily at the intersection of Center Grove, Goshen, and Troy roads. Several businesses suffered roof damage in this area, among them a floor covering store, an autobody shop, and the Moose Lodge. A nearby daycare also suffered minor roof damage.

Preliminary Local Storm Report

Here are the preliminary local storm reports from the St. Louis NWS office:

WWUS30 KSTL 140623   
122 AM CDT TUE APR 14 1998   
           ....COUNTY LOCATION....   
1145 AM    POTOSI                    MO   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   WASHINGTON                     REPORTED BY SPOTTER   
1215 PM    PARK HILL                 MO   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   ST FRANCOIS                    REPORTED IN PARK HILL BY   
0158 PM    7N OF HOLIDAY             MO  .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   MONROE                         REPORTED BY SPOTTER   
0235 PM    QUINCY ARPT               IL   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   ADAMS                          REPORTED BY LOCAL TV   
                                          POLICE AND COUNTY SHERIFF   
0315 PM    BURTON                    IL   1 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   ADAMS   
0315 PM    QUINCY                    IL   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   ADAMS   
0315 PM    CUBA                      MO   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   CRAWFORD   
0330 PM                              MO   1.5 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   MONTGOMERY                     REPORTED IN BIG SPRINGS   
0315 PM    FULTON                    MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   CALLAWAY                       10 MOBILE HOMES DAMAGED IN   
                                          MAX MOBILE MANOR TRAILER   
0400 PM    JONESBURG                 MO   1.25 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   MONTGOMERY   
0405 PM    WARRENTON                 MO   1.75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   WARREN                         REPORTED BY SPOTTER   
0407 PM                              MO   1 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   WARREN                         REPORTED IN NORTHERN   
                                          WARREN COUNTY 5 MILES   
                                          SOUTH OF TRUXTON   
0409 PM    WARRENTON                 MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   WARREN                         REPORTED BY SHERIFF JUST   
                                          EAST OF WARRENTON   
0415 PM    BARRYMAN                  MO   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   WASHINGTON                     REPORTED BY RADIO STATION   
                                          IN BARRYMAN   
0420 PM    PERRY                     IL   1 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   PIKE   
0423 PM    FORISTELL                 MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   ST CHARLES                     POSSIBLE TORNADO REPORTED   
                                          WITH DAMAGE TO WEIGHT   
                                          SCALES ALONG I70   
0428 PM                              MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   WASHINGTON                     COUNTY SHERIFF REPORTED   
                                          TORNADO 15 MILES WEST OF   
0435 PM                              MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   ST CHARLES                     POSSIBLE TORNADO IN   
                                          WESTERN ST CHARLES COUNTY   
                                          NEAR HIGHWAY N AND POST RD   
0435 PM    WENTZVILLE                MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   ST CHARLES                     REPORTED BY SPOTTER   
0438 PM    WENTZVILLE                MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   ST CHARLES                     TRUCKER REPORTED TORNADO   
                                          NEAR HIGHWAY A AND I70   
                                          JUST EAST OF WENTZVILLE   
0440 PM    WARRENTON                 MO   1.75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   WARREN   
0444 PM    LAKE ST LOUIS             MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   ST CHARLES                     BRIEF TORNADO TOUCHDOWN   
                                          WITH NO APPARENT DAMAGE   
0450 PM    ST PAUL                   MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   ST CHARLES                     REPORTED BY SPOTTER TREE   
                                          LIMBS AND SOME TREES DOWN   
0450 PM    O FALLON                  MO   WIND DAMAGE   
04/13/98   ST CHARLES                     TREES DOWN ON HIGHWAY P   
                                          JUST NORTH OF O'FALLON   
0513 PM    CENTERVILLE               MO   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   REYNOLDS                       REPORTED BY SPOTTER   
0525 PM    SULLIVAN                  MO   1.5 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   FRANKLIN                       REPORTED BY SPOTTER   
0527 PM    ST CHARLES ARPT           MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   ST CHARLES                     PILOT REPORTS POSSIBLE   
0534 PM    CENTERVILLE               MO   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   REYNOLDS   
0540 PM                              MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   ST LOUIS                       FROM MARYLAND HEIGHTS   
                                          THROUGH OVERLAND   
                                          STRUCTURAL DAMAGE AND   
                                          ROOFS OFF BOTH HOMES AND   
                                          BUSINESSES, DAMAGE TO    
                                          CAROL HOUSE FURNITURE STORE   
                                          AND SEVERAL APARTMENT      
                                          BUILDINGS, TREES AND POWER   
                                          LINES DOWN    
04/13/98   ST LOUIS                       ASOS WIND GUST OF 59 MPH   
0600 PM                              MO   1.75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   ST LOUIS                       NEAR BAUMGARTNER AND   
                                          TELEGRAPH ROADS IN SOUTH   
0605 PM    MITCHELL                  IL   TORNADO   
04/13/98   MADISON                        ROOFS OFF SEVERAL   
0610 PM    GLEN CARBON               IL   TORNADO   
04/13/98   MADISON                        ROOF AND STRUCTURAL DAMAGE   
                                          TO A NUMBER OF BUILDINGS   
0605 PM    ARNOLD                    MO   1.75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   JEFFERSON                      REPORTED BY EMERGENCY   
0610 PM    OAKVILLE                  MO   1.75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   ST LOUIS                       REPORTED BY EMERGENCY   
0615 PM    EDWARDSVILLE              IL   TORNADO   
04/13/98   MADISON                        NUMEROUS BUILDINGS DAMAGED   
                                          AND ROOFS OFF POWER LINES   
0621 PM    DE SOTO                   MO   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   JEFFERSON                      REPORTED BY SPOTTER JUST   
                                          NORTH OF DE SOTO   
0625 PM                              MO   1.75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   IRON                           BROKE WINDSHIELDS IN A CAR   
                                          AT TAUM SAUK STATE PARK   
0625 PM    MILLSTADT                 IL   1 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   ST CLAIR   
0631 PM    EDWARDSVILLE              IL   WIND DAMAGE   
04/13/98   MADISON                        NUMEROUS TREES AND POWER   
                                          LINES DOWN   
0632 PM                              MO   TORNADO   
04/13/98   JEFFERSON                      BRIEF TOUCHDOWN NEAR   
                                          OLYMPIAN VILLAGE AT RTE   
                                          CC/HIGHWAY 67   
0635 PM    BELLEVILLE                IL   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   ST CLAIR   
0635 PM    FREEBURG                  IL   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   ST CLAIR   
0640 PM    MARQUAND                  MO   WIND DAMAGE   
04/13/98   MADISON                        SHERIFF REPORTED BARN   
0648 PM    GREENVILLE                IL   TORNADO   
04/13/98   BOND                           POSSIBLE TORNADO   
0710 PM                              IL   1 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   RANDOLPH                       REPORTED AT PRAIRIE DU   
0715 PM                              IL   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   RANDOLPH                       EMS REPORTS HAIL FROM   
                                          PRAIRIE DU ROCHER TO NEAR   
0735 PM    OKAWVILLE                 IL   .88 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   WASHINGTON                     REPORTED BY LOCAL STORM   
0735 PM    HOYLETON                  IL   TORNADO   
04/13/98   WASHINGTON                     REPORTED BY COUNTY SHERIFF   
0740 PM    GIRARD                    IL   WIND DAMAGE   
04/13/98   MACOUPIN                       SEVERAL HOMES DAMAGED AND   
                                          TREES DOWN   
0746 PM    STEELEVILLE               IL   .75 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   RANDOLPH                       REPORTED BY STATE TROPPER   
                                          SOUTHWEST OF STEELEVILLE   
0751 PM    NASHVILLE                 IL   WIND DAMAGE   
04/13/98   WASHINGTON                     TREES DOWN ACROSS HIGHWAY   
0753 PM    STEELEVILLE               IL   1 INCH HAIL   
04/13/98   RANDOLPH                       REPORTED BY EM COVERING   
                                          THE GROUND   
0754 PM    NASHVILLE                 IL   TORNADO   
04/13/98   WASHINGTON                     REPORTED BY ILLINOIS STATE