Saturday, May 27, 2006

Our First Day

MAY 27 2006 DAY 1

So far our trip has started off with several “omens”. First it was a Chase Bank sign, then we saw a Chase Street sign, then we saw Chicago’s “Windy City” sign. Next, we realized we would be in good position to intercept a storm. Scott Keddie, Ron Gravelle and I have encountered a supercell near Paw Paw, Illinois at around 5 pm CST. A line of supercells were tracking into the Midwest, and the storm that we were after was the tail end Charlie. It had 50 thousand feet echo tops on it, and was producing 2 inch hail. It also had a meso. The NWS issued a tornado warning for La Salle county. We were in perfect position. We headed north to position ourselves at the back end of the storm. We saw what looked like a developing wall cloud just south of the precip core. Ron pointed to an area between some trees. A small rain wrapped tornado was there. I couldn’t really see it so I will have to watch my videos later to see if the camera picked it up. Scud was also rising off the ground. A classic wall cloud didn’t form, but the area under the meso had some rotation swirls in the base. Then the rear flank downdraft kicked up a dust foot.

Afterwards, we drove into the small town of Paw Paw and encountered 2 inch hail. This is the biggest I have seen so far, and let me tell you it was very loud. It actually did leave some shallow hail dents on the van! The precip core was intense zero visibility. We went through a large puddle. At this point I was afraid of flash flooding and hydroplaning. Unfortunately it seems that Ron had lost one of his stormchasing tours magnets from the deluge.

We stayed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa over night. This was a pretty good start to the trip and we haven’t even started trying to look for stuff yet.


  1. Hi Laura,
    A good start to your trip! We were tracking you all day. Around 6 pm our time we noticed that you had stopped and changed directions. We figured you were onto some active weather, so I checked with the National Weather Service and it listed severe thunderstorm activity in your area with tornado advisories in North Dakota.
    I viewed the satellite image of where the tracking showed that you stopped for the night at Cedar Creek and it showed just fields, no buildings. I thought they either recently built a motel or you are sleeping in the
    We will keep monitoring your whereabouts and check for your nightly updates.
    love, mom (everyone says "hellooo")

  2. I just updated this entry. Right now we are on our second chase in South Dakota, with a chance of tornadoes.