20190510 – T-3: 103 Up then Out

103 Stories Up

Friday 10 May 2019 was a very busy day!

First, drove from the motel in Bolingbrook into the Loop of Chicago. After an unplanned orbit of Lower Wacker Drive, we got into our parking garage and walked to breakfest.  I had a tasty apple-walnut oatmeal and my first-ever (and probably last-ever) keto coffee.

Then, we walked across the street and went up to the 103rd story attractions of the [former] Sears Tower (a/k/a the Willis Tower).

The views were spectacular, but when I stepped out onto The Ledge, I got dizzy and withdrew immediately. My #FearOfHeights kicked in hard.  After a moment of calming down, I backed into my slot in the transparent box so high above the street and we were able to get a few pictures.

Looking out in each of the four compass point directions, we took in the amazing views.  The multiple shades of view on Lake Michigan, looking to the north, was astonishingly beautiful!

 

Along the Way: Fill-Up Philip

After of hour of “103” time was up, we returned to the car, headed west on Madison Street, and took I-94 and I-55 southwest, departing Chicago.

A few hours later, we stopped at Dwight, Illinois for lunch.  We had a classic American cuisine lunch (burgers, BLT sandwiches, hot soup), then visited the 1950s-vintage gas station across the street.

 

One Tall Tomb

Next stop was the Lincoln Tomb (the actual final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of his four sons. The route to the monument took us through some pretty unassuming side streets (and I was beginning to the the GPS had misguided us). The tomb is topped off with an imposing obelisk and has many beautiful statues of Lincoln, depicting the various stages of is life from young adult to the final year of his presidency.

Quarter of the Way ‘Round the World

Continuing southwestward, I pulled the van to the shoulder for our ‘mystery stop’.  I must have given half a dozen hints where we were going, what it was about, etc.  We got WAY past twenty questions, but my guests finally figured it out without me telling them outright. Here we are after arriving.

Bee’s Knees

After many more hours of driving, we arrived at our dinner destination in Versailles — pronounced ‘ver-Sails’ — in Missouri.  Thanks to a cable between the van’s CarPlay port and my iPhone acting up, I had to rely on my guests’ phones for navigation. (Excellent job adapting to the situation, gang! I am in your debt.) Fortunately, we never got off the desired route, arriving at around 9pm. We met Kathy’s stepdaughter, Allison, at a local microbrewery and restaurant call The Bee’s Knees.  Other than a brief whiff of the beer, I abstained (as I was driving). On the other hand, I enjoyed a generous portion of the delicious varieties of thin crust pizza. It was a good thing we were driving; I could barely walk after the meal.

One Last Push

In a final push to our goal of Springfield, Missouri, I drove us on MO 5 toward Lebanon, Missouri and I-44.  The winding road, hilly terrain, and stretches of re-paving activy along the way made for a challenging drive, but we arrived safe and sound at Springfield around midnight. Four sleepy travelers went to sleep about 30 minutes later for some very solid and well-earned rest.

22 June 2016 – Wind/Hail/Tornado event

Insomnia woke me around 4 AM, but I drifted back to sleep. A nearby lightning strike woke me around 5 AM. I’m trying to get back to sleep. It is a couple of hours before breakfast in the first (and mesoscale discussion) of the day have already been issued.

The NAM and GFS models are still calling for a big event today:

The current tornado probability [for the day as a whole] looks like this:

Severe wind probabilities for the day are as follows (per the 4 AM models):

And severe hail looks like this, per the same forecast for the day:

Current weather looks like this:

And the tornado parameters at the moment are well below any kind of threat threshold:

I will be watching these carefully as the day unfolds.

The sky was intensely red a moment before I took this picture, but it recalls the old expression “red in the morning, sailors take warning.”
8am – updates to the maps above show little change:


Up to this point, nothings severe reported:

15:10 – Arrived at the Naperville emergency operation center (DOC). Started up the weather computers and radios, in preparation for arrivals about their staff later in the afternoon. Traded in my XL size polo shirt for a new uniform shirt in a medium. (Doing a happy dance on the inside!)

15:35CDT – An axis of steep lapse rates is oozing east from Iowa.

1730 CDT – Looks like a tornado watch is imminent, per mesoscale discussion MD1020.

1810 CDT – tornado watch number 286 is issued. The EOC goes into operational mode.

While the situation could change from the forecast above, I heave a sigh of relief that the primary area of a risk is to the south of the Chicago metro area. Had this been forecast to occur 25 miles further north, the situation could have been very dangerous for the western suburbsand Chicago proper. Once again, we dodge the bullet, it seems.

1834 CDT – A severe thunderstorm warning goes up near Amboy, Illinois. Even at this point, Al Fisher and I spot a strong couple of forming on the base philosophy velocity plot.”Why aren’t they issuing a tornado warning on this,” we ask one another.

A few minutes later, that warning is issued. NWS policy states that once a storm is tornado-warned, it retains that warning until the storm falls apart. This is how the NWS errs on the side of caution.

The good news is that they are able to issue this with a high degree of confidence, as a number of spotters and chasers (the little red dots in the picture below) are already on the storm, As this radar scope pro composite reflectivity/base velocity product shows:

(Photo courtesy of Ethan Mulnix)

This tornado was the first one in a series strewn across northern Illinois. The storm reports (from later in the evening) show the path of the storm pretty clearly:

Chasers like Adam Lucio captured photos and video of other storms (at Marseilles, Illinois and further east). I will add links to those photos as I get a bit more time or the weekend.

(NWS has a preliminary page for this event up already.)

CHASE2004 SEASON SUMMARY

CHASE2004 SEASON SUMMARY

CHASE 2004 DAILY JOURNAL

SEASONAL TRAINING: To better appreciate the processes going on in storms and to stay safe, I take classroom training each year
DATE
DAY
START

STOP

MILES
REMARKS
06 Mar 2004
Saturday
Bolingbrook
IL
– Wheaton
IL

Advanced Spotter Training (DuPage EMA)
17 Mar 2004
Wednesday
Bolingbrook
IL
– Plainfield
IL

Basic Spotter Training (BARS,PRL)
03 Apr 2004
Saturday
Bolingbrook
IL
– Batavia
IL

FermiLab Weather Seminar (w/Tom Skilling)

GREAT/SOUTHERN PLAINS CHASES
To keep the look and feel of supercell storms fresh in my mind
CHASE #1
TEMPEST TOURS (commercial tour)
10 days – 4797 chase miles, 8 people
[Flag-USA]
UK flag
Japan  flag
  1. Lead vehicle (8): LEAD: Bill Reid (Westlake Village, CA;KG6FWX),
    DRIVER: Scott Weberpal (Janesville,WI);
    PASSENGERS: Lisa Beal (Bolingbrook, IL;KC9BST), Heather Taluba (NJ),
    Jack Bolo (Burlington, NC)
    , Joel Emilio (S.CA), Dustin Aldridge (S.CA), Samantha McGrath (Bristol, UK)
  2. Part-time lead vehicle (Day 2) (2): Martin Lisius [days ??-??] (Arlington,TX;KC5TQI), Erin Brown (TX)
  3. Media guests (Days3-4) (2): Fuji TV (Mashu, Ken)
  4. Nearby chasers: Blake Naftel, Keith Brown, Kinney Adams, Chris Kridler
DATE
DAY
START

STOP

MILES
REMARKS
27 April 2004
Tuesday Bolingbrook IL -Dallas TX

PROLOGUE
28 April 2004
Wednesday Bolingbrook IL -Abilene TX
183 TRAVEL: Check-in; meet the team; chase/position
29 April 2004
Thursday Abilene
TX
-Wichita Falls
TX

415

DAY #01: Making the most of a so-so day
30 April 2004
Friday Wichita Falls
TX
-Temple TX

 

425
DAY #02: Mo Wind, Mo Better
01 May 2004
Saturday Temple
TX -Fort Worth TX

 

242
DAY #03: An Outside Chance for a Storm
02 May 2004
Sunday Fort Worth
TX -Springfield
MO

 

565
DAY #04: Missouri Misery!
03 May 2004
Monday Springfield
MO
-Nevada
MO

 

95
DAY #05: Stockton Revisited
04 May 2004
Tuesday Nevada
MO -Altoona
IA

 

426
DAY #06: Re-positioning Day
05 May 2004
Wednesday Altoona
IA -Fairmont
MN 558
DAY #07: Capped in Dakota
06 May 2004
Thursday
Fairmont
MN -Clinton
IA

 

368
DAY #08: Curses, capped again!
07 May 2004
Friday Clinton
IA – ?
??
???
DAY #09:
08 May 2004
Saturday ?
?? – ?
??
???
DAY #10:
09 May 2004 Sunday ? ?? -Arlington TX ??? RETURN FROM FIELD

CHASE #2:
PRIVATE TOUR
3 days – 2664 miles, 4 people

[Flag-USA]
UK flag

    1. LEAD:  Scott Weberpal (Janesville,WI); PASSENGERS: Lisa Beal (Bolingbrook, IL;KC9BST), Heather (NJ),
      Samantha (Bristol, UK)
    2. Nearby chasers: Tempest Tours (tour #2; Bill Reid, Chris Gullickson), Jim Leonard, many others

 

 

DATE
DAY
START

STOP

MILES
REMARKS
09 May 2004 Sunday Arlington
TX
-Wichita
KS
374
TRAVEL TO FIELD: (TBD)
10 May 2004 Monday Wichita
KS
-Limon
CO
481
DAY #01: Limon Mini-Outbreak (coming soon!).
See Scott Weberpal’s photos from Limon for now.
11 May 2004 Tuesday Limon
CO
-Norfolk
NE
499
DAY #02: Bustola!
12 May 2004 Wednesday Norfolk
NE
Kansas City
MO
798
DAY #03: Attica Attacker
13 May 2004 Thursday Kansas City
MO
-Bolingbrook
IL
512 TRAVEL: Long Road Home
14 May 2004 Friday Bolingbrook IL EPILOGUE

IL/IN CHASES/SPOTTING:
Storms in the ‘hood!
DATE
DAY
START

STOP

MILES
REMARKS
01 March 2004
Monday Bolingbrook
IL



A very early start to the season, with 68mph winds in Huntley, severe hail in DeKalb, and an unconfirmed tornado in south central Wisconsin.
20 April 2004 Tuesday Bolingbrook
IL
Crown Point
IN
Follow-up trip to surgeon! As I was driving away from home, tornado warnings went up. As this happened during our normal ARES net drill, it took me a moment to use NOAA WX radio to confirm this was real. Utica, IL knew it was no drill! See a Utica photo gallery, NWS/LOT’s summary and a related ARRL article for more.


COLOR CODE

Plan was to not chase GRAY
Planned Chase Day (future) YELLOW
Available to chase; no weather (“blue-skied”) BLUE
Chase Day (have partner and stormy weather) GREEN
No-Partner Day (Weather stormy, no partner) RED
Weather Stormy, but not available for chasing PURPLE
BUST DAY – no severe storms where we looked!
ORANGE
Training Day
WHITE

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