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
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
WWUS30 KSTL 140623 LSRSTL PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ST LOUIS MISSOURI 122 AM CDT TUE APR 14 1998 TIME(CDT) .....CITY LOCATION..... STATE ...EVENT/REMARKS... ....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 SHERIFF 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 STATION 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 COURT 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 POTOSI 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 TORNADO 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 0544 PM ST LOUIS-LAMBERT INTL ARP MO WIND DAMAGE 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 COUNTY 0605 PM MITCHELL IL TORNADO 04/13/98 MADISON ROOFS OFF SEVERAL BUILDINGS 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 MANAGEMENT 0610 PM OAKVILLE MO 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/13/98 ST LOUIS REPORTED BY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT 0615 PM EDWARDSVILLE IL TORNADO 04/13/98 MADISON NUMEROUS BUILDINGS DAMAGED AND ROOFS OFF POWER LINES DOWN 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 DESTROYED 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 ROCHER 0715 PM IL .75 INCH HAIL 04/13/98 RANDOLPH EMS REPORTS HAIL FROM PRAIRIE DU ROCHER TO NEAR RUMA 0735 PM OKAWVILLE IL .88 INCH HAIL 04/13/98 WASHINGTON REPORTED BY LOCAL STORM CHASER 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 127 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 .END GLASS