I headed down I-55 and I-255 from Edwardsville, leaving around 4:00. I had been watching the above-mentioned supercell move eastward from Osage Co., MO toward Franklin Co., MO on TWC radar before I left. This would take it to somewhere near the boundaries of St. Clair and Randolph Counties in Illinois, if it continued this motion. Thanks to a couple radar updates from Chris Novy, I knew that this motion was continuing so I took IL route 3 from I-255 to Red Bud, spending what seemed like an eternity stuck in traffic in Waterloo. Finally I reached Red Bud, and as I approached the outskirts a tornado warning was issued for that area based on a radar indication of a tornado near Hillsboro, MO just across the Mississippi River. I headed a little south of Red Bud on route 3 to find a place to watch and wait for the storm.
I was in position about 3 miles south of Red Bud, which appeared as best I could see to be east of the storm with a good escape route south, by around 5:30 or so. Around this time another tornado warning was issued based on a radar TVS near Maeystown. As the storm moved toward me, I saw a beavertail on the northeast of what turned out to be the updraft base, extending northeast toward the precipitation area. As the RFB approached me a huge wall cloud became evident. Here is a video snap of this feature, and here is a photo. Some of this lowering was due west of me, so I backed maybe 1/3 of a mile farther south. At that stop - about ten to 6:00 - I saw and videotaped a huge rotating wall cloud that extended almost all the way to the ground (appeared to go all the way at times) and at one point appeared to throw up a cloud of dust or debris - I saw it at the time and can see it on the video. This may in fact be dust or debris, indicating a tornado, or it may be very low scud or hail fog being drawn into the vortex. Jay Antle was viewing this lowering from the north and reports seeing hail fog drawn into it. Whether that was at the same time as I was seeing this or slightly later is not clear. He felt that when he saw the lowering, the wind strength was not strong enough to classify as tornadic. There is also a flash of light - looks like a power flash but could be lightning - in my video at one point in the location where the lowering is closest to the ground. At about this same time there was a spotter report of a tornado near Red Bud, which prompted a warning from STL NWS. (Actually, there were reports of brief touchdowns both west and east of Red Bud.) On the NWS STL local storm report a tornado is reported as briefly touching down 10 miles SE of Waterloo, which would place it about 3 miles W or NW of Red Bud. I was about 3 miles S. of Red Bud looking NW. Based on the possible debris, possible power flash, spotter report, and minor damage I later saw (discussed below) I am classifying this as a "possible tornado," but I would like to emphasize that I am not completely sure about this.
UPDATE, JULY 29 - For what it's worth, the official word in the preliminary edition of Storm Data is that this was a tornado. This is based on spotter reports. Here are entries from Storm Data on it and on the large hail in Red Bud:
Tornado (F0) Injuries - 0 Width (yd.) - 50 Path length (mi) - 0.1 $Damage - 0
10 SSE Waterloo
15 1647CST - 1648CST
Severe storm spotters reported a brief tornado in open country south of Waterloo.
Spotters reported golfball size hail.
The location reported above - 10 miles SSE of Waterloo - would place the tornado reported by spotters almost exactly in the place I was looking at - about 4 miles WSW of Red Bud. Additional notes: The second touchdown in the preliminary LSR, reported at the east edge of Red Bud, does not appear in Storm Data. This second touchdown may have been discounted. Also, the largest reported hail associated with this storm in Storm Data is 2.75 in. - somewhat smaller than reports of 4.5 in. in some locations that appeared in the LSR.
Here are several video snaps of this possible tornado:
After the storm passed Red Bud it appeared to temporarily weaken or go outflow dominant. I went back to Red Bud to see if there was damage. All I saw was a cemetary at the west edge of town where 4 large trees were down and a lot of branches thrown around. I drove through a subdivision to the south and past a trailer court to the west and saw no visible damage, though people were out pointing to the sky. A KMOX reporter who heard of damage at a trailer court checked it out and found only a few awnings blown down. However, I later found that the trailer court I looked at was not the one where the damage occurred, and at that one, newspapers reported one or two trailers unroofed. Both the KMOX reporter and a St. Louis helicopter crew reported ground deeply covered by hail north or northeast of Red Bud - I saw the copter video at 10:00; pretty dramatic. The Post-Dispatch also had a photo of hail along route 159 north of Red Bud. This hail, which I did not see, was up to golfball size; other areas got up to 4.5 inch diameter hail.
Somewhere between 6:30 and 7:00 - not sure of exact time - I headed ESE toward Sparta on route 154. A TV radar loop I saw later confirmed my visual observations at this time that the storm turned NE somewhere east of Red Bud then morphed into a squall line. I watched this happen as I caught up to a flanking line extending southwest of it between Red Bud and Sparta. I had decided to go over to Sparta 1) to see if anything developed on the flanking line and 2) to avoid driving through a reported hailer moving into Monroe County. As the flanking line looked fairly innocent I crossed under it and went north on route 4 at Sparta. I did notice a somewhat wimpy lowering north of Sparta as I approached Sparta from the West. This feature had moved east by the time I reached Sparta, however. There was also another larger lowering off farther to the east but I lost sight of it in the darkness and poor contrast. Then in the next 15 minutes, as I headed north, everything intensified, a tornado warning went up on the cell NE of Sparta, and the whole flanking line evolved quickly into a squall line, that pounded me with torrential rain and a little hail. There was water on the road in places from flash flooding in nearby fields near Marissa. This would have been around 7:20. I saw a number of low ragged clouds that seemed to form along areas of intersection of inflow and outflow, with lots of CG zapping down all around me. Another tornado warning went up for a storm to my west, but I knew that since I was well due east of the eastward moving meso and headed north that I would be out of the area before it arrived. I picked up route 15 east of Fayetteville and followed it to Belleville to pick up I-255 and return home. Rain continued quite heavy all the way to Belleville, with decreasing lightning after Fayetteville.
I was back in Edwardsville around 8:30. Total chase distance: about 150 miles.
Here is a map showing where I photographed the possible tornado and where the spotter report of a tornado was.
Here is a series of radar images of the storm, including one from the approximate time I witnessed the possible tornado.
Comments to John Farley, email@example.com
An unusually large number (for Illinois) of storm chasers were on this storm. Here are reports from others who were on this storm at some point during its life, or on other storms in the immediate area:
Don Lloyd's chase report
Jeff Piotrowski's chase report
Gilbert Sebenste's chase report
Stephen Jascourt's chase report
Jay Antle and John Moser's chase report
405 WFUS1 KSTL 152204 WFUS1 KSTL 152204 TORSTL ILC133-157-152305- BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED TORNADO WARNING NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ST LOUIS MO 502 PM CDT WED APR 15 1998 THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ST LOUIS HAS ISSUED A * TORNADO WARNING FOR... MONROE COUNTY ILLINOIS IN SOUTHWESTERN ILLINOIS NORTHERN RANDOLPH COUNTY IN SOUTHWESTERN ILLINOIS * UNTIL 605 PM CDT * AT 500 PM CDT... NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A TORNADO NEAR HILLSBORO MISSOURI... MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH. * LOCATIONS IN THE PATH... MAEYS MAEYSTOWN VALMEYER RED BUD RUMA THIS IS A DANGEROUS SITUATION! IF IN THE PATH...TAKE COVER NOW! MOVE TO A BASEMENT IF AVAILABLE. IF NOT...STAY ON THE LOWEST LEVEL AND GO TO A SMALL INTERIOR ROOM. MOBILE HOMES AND AUTOMOBILESHOULD BE ABANDONED IN FAVOR OF A STRONG STRUCTURE. AS A LAST RESORT... MOVE TO A DITCH OR CULVERT AND COVER YOUR HEAD. PEDIGO & WFUS1 KSTL 152226 WFUS1 KSTL 152226 TORSTL ILC163-152330- BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED TORNADO WARNING NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ST LOUIS MO 524 PM CDT WED APR 15 1998 THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ST LOUIS HAS ISSUED A * TORNADO WARNING FOR... ST CLAIR COUNTY IN SOUTHWESTERN ILLINOIS * UNTIL 630 PM CDT * AT AT 524 PM CDT... NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A TORNADO NEAR MAEYSTOWN IL... MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH. * LOCATIONS IN THE PATH... MARISSA LENZBURG NEW ATHENS THE TORNADO AND VERY LARGE HAIL WERE REPORTED WEST OF CRYSTAL CITY A TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND! IN YOU ARE IN THE PATH...MOVE IMMEDIATELY TO A SUBSTANTIAL STRUCTURE NOW FOR PROTECTION. A BASEMENT OFFERS THE BEST SHELTER. YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF THOSE AROUND YOU MAY DEPEND ON YOUR ACTIONS. PEDIGO & 666 WFUS1 KSTL 152249 WFUS1 KSTL 152249 TORSTL ILC157-152350- BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED TORNADO WARNING NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ST LOUIS MO 548 PM CDT WED APR 15 1998 THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ST LOUIS HAS ISSUED A * TORNADO WARNING FOR... NORTHERN RANDOLPH COUNTY IN SOUTHWESTERN ILLINOIS * UNTIL 650 PM CDT * AT 548 PM CDT... NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A TORNADO JUST WEST OF RED BUD IL... MOVING EAST AT 25 MPH. THE TORNADO WARNING HAS BEEN EXTENDED FOR SEVERAL MORE MINUTES * LOCATIONS IN THE PATH... RED BUD PRAIRIE BALDWIN HOUSTON SEVERAL REPORTS OF LARGE HAIL HAVE ALSO BEEN RECEIVED THIS IS A DANGEROUS SITUATION! IF IN THE PATH...TAKE COVER NOW! MOVE TO A BASEMENT IF AVAILABLE. IF NOT...STAY ON THE LOWEST LEVEL AND GO TO A SMALL INTERIOR ROOM. MOBILE HOMES AND AUTOMOBILESHOULD BE ABANDONED IN FAVOR OF A STRONG STRUCTURE. AS A LAST RESORT... MOVE TO A DITCH OR CULVERT AND COVER YOUR HEAD. PEDIGO 737 WFUS1 KSTL 152300 WFUS1 KSTL 152300 TORSTL ILC189-160005- BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED TORNADO WARNING NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ST LOUIS MO 601 PM CDT WED APR 15 1998 THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ST LOUIS HAS ISSUED A * TORNADO WARNING FOR... SOUTHERN WASHINGTON COUNTY ILLINOIS IN SOUTHWESTERN ILLINOIS * UNTIL 705 PM CDT * AT AT 552 PM CDT... SEVERE STORM SPOTTERS INDICATED A TORNADO NEAR REDBUD... MOVING EAST 25 MPH. * LOCATIONS IN THE PATH... CASPARS OAKDALE POSEN A TORNADO IS ON THE GROUND! IN YOU ARE IN THE PATH...MOVE IMMEDIATELY TO A SUBSTANTIAL STRUCTURE NOW FOR PROTECTION. A BASEMENT OFFERS THE BEST SHELTER. YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF THOSE AROUND YOU MAY DEPEND ON YOUR ACTIONS. RP/DM 495 WWUS30 KSTL 161924 WWUS30 KSTL 161924 LSRSTL PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE ST LOUIS MISSOURI 220 PM CDT THU APR 16 1998 TIME(CDT) .....CITY LOCATION..... STATE ...EVENT/REMARKS... ....COUNTY LOCATION.... 0300 PM META MO 1 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 OSAGE 0306 PM ARGYLE MO 1 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 OSAGE COVERING THE GROUND 0312 PM FREEBURG MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 OSAGE 0339 PM BLAND MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 GASCONADE 0350 PM OWENSVILLE MO TORNADO 04/15/98 GASCONADE BRIEF TOUCHDOWN SE OF OWENSVILLE 0350 PM CANAAN MO 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 GASCONADE 0355 PM FREEBURG MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 OSAGE 0355 PM OWENSVILLE MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 GASCONADE 0356 PM OWENSVILLE MO 1 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 GASCONADE 0405 PM FREEBURG MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 OSAGE 0414 PM ST CLAIR MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN 0420 PM ST CLAIR MO 1 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN 0425 PM GERALD MO 1 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN 0430 PM ST CLAIR MO 4.5 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN SW OF ST CLAIR 0438 PM STANTON MO 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN 0439 PM ST CLAIR MO 4.5 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN JUST SE OF ST CLAIR 0442 PM CATAWISSA MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN 0444 PM LONEDELL MO 2.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN 0444 PM ST CLAIR MO 2.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN 6 E ST CLAIR 0447 PM ROBERTSVILLE MO 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN 0452 PM ROBERTSVILLE MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 FRANKLIN 0500 PM CEDAR HILL MO TORNADO 04/15/98 JEFFERSON PUBLIC REPORT OF BRIEF TOUCHDOWN 0508 PM HERCULANEUM MO 1 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 JEFFERSON 0509 PM ANTONIA MO 1 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 JEFFERSON 0511 PM CRYSTAL CITY MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 JEFFERSON 0513 PM HERCULANEUM MO 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 JEFFERSON 0530 PM MAEYSTOWN IL 1.50 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 MONROE 0530 PM RENAULT IL 1.50 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 MONROE 0535 PM BURKSVILLE IL .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 MONROE 0540 PM CENTRALIA MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 BOONE 0547 PM NEW DESIGN IL TORNADO 04/15/98 MONROE BRIEF TOUCHDOWN 5SSE OF NEW DESIGN OR 10 MILES SOUTHEAST OF WATERLOO 0548 PM RED BUD IL 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 RANDOLPH 0550 PM RED BUD IL WIND DAMAGE 04/15/98 RANDOLPH TRAILER ROOF RIPPED OFF 0550 PM HECKER IL 1 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 MONROE COVERING THE GROUND 0552 PM RED BUD IL TORNADO 04/15/98 RANDOLPH BRIEF TOUCHDOWN JUST EAST OF RED BUD 0603 PM MARISSA IL 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 ST CLAIR 0607 PM BALDWIN IL 2.5 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 RANDOLPH 0612 PM MARRISA IL 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 ST CLAIR 0612 PM MARRISA IL TORNADO 04/15/98 ST CLAIR BRIEF TOUCHDOWN JUST SOUTH OF MARRISA 0618 PM MARRISA IL WIND DAMAGE 04/15/98 ST CLAIR POWER LINES DOWN 0632 PM IL TORNADO 04/15/98 WASHINGTON SEVERAL BRIEF TOUCHDOWNS 3-5 MILES NORTH OF COULTERVILLE OR AROUND 15SW OF NASHVILLE 0635 PM ARNOLD MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 JEFFERSON 0637 PM OAKVILLE MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 ST LOUIS 0646 PM COULTERVILLE IL 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 RANDOLPH 0705 PM WATERLOO IL TORNADO 04/15/98 MONROE BRIEF TOUCHDOWN JUST SOUTHEAST OF WATERLOO 0709 PM NASHVILLE IL .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 WASHINGTON 15 SW NASHVILLE 0716 PM HIGHLAND IL .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 MADISON 0720 PM WATERLOO IL WIND DAMAGE 04/15/98 MONROE EMS AMBULANCE TIPPED OVER AT ROUTE 159/156 0720 PM FREEBURG IL 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 ST CLAIR 0724 PM RICHVIEW IL .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 WASHINGTON 0725 PM FREEBURG IL 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 ST CLAIR 0725 PM FAYETTEVILLE IL TORNADO 04/15/98 ST CLAIR BRIEF TOUCHDOWN NEAR FAYETTEVILLE 0735 PM QUINCY IL 1 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 ADAMS 0740 PM QUINCY IL .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 ADAMS 10 NE QUINCY 0740 PM QUINCY IL 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 ADAMS 0740 PM IRVINGTON IL TORNADO 04/15/98 WASHINGTON HOUSE DESTROYED 1 E OF HIGHWAY 51 ON IRVINGTON-DIX ROAD 0805 PM CENTRALIA IL TORNADO 04/15/98 MARION MOBILE HOME MAJOR DAMAGE AT HIGHWAY 161-57 0805 PM CENTRALIA IL TORNADO 04/15/98 MARION SEVERAL HOMES DAMAGE ALONG HIGHWAY 161 NEAR I-57/SEVERAL INJURIES 0807 PM CENTRALIA IL TORNADO 04/15/98 MARION 40 FOOT TREES BLOWN OVER/MOBILE HOME DAMAGE AT I-57 & HIGHWAY 161 0810 PM CARTTER IL TORNADO 04/15/98 MARION 2 SEMIS TURNED OVER NORTH OF I-57 & HIGHWAY 161 TREE LIMBS DOWN 0810 PM ASHLEY IL WIND DAMAGE 04/15/98 WASHINGTON TREE LIMBS AND POWER LINES DOWN 0857 PM IRONTON MO 1.75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 IRON 5 E IRONTON 0850 PM SACO MO TORNADO 04/15/98 MADISON BRIEF TOUCHDOWN SE OF SACO 0852 PM SACO MO POSSIBLE TORNADO 04/15/98 MADISON BETWEEN SACO AND MARQUAND NUMEROUS TREES DOWN 0855 PM MARQUAND MO POSSIBLE TORNADO 04/15/98 MADISON NUMEROUS TREES DOWN BARN DAMAGED NEAR CR310/HI M 0910 PM ROSELLE MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 MADISON REPORTED 5E OF ROSELLE 0925 PM JUNCTION CITY MO TORNADO 04/15/98 MADISON BRIEF TOUCHDOWN 1155 PM ST PETERS MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/15/98 ST CHARLES 1200 AM HARVESTER MO .75 INCH HAIL 04/16/98 ST CHARLES THIS IS AN UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS STORM REPORT ISSUED AT 115 AM. IT CONTAINS ADDITIONAL REPORTS AND SOME CORRECTIONS TO PREVIOUS REPORTS. A DAMAGE SURVEY IS CURRENTLY BEING CONDUCTED ACROSS MARION COUNTY ILLINOIS. GLASS