The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma showed an “enhanced” threat of convective activity for the northern half of Illinois today. It seemed like the perfect day to take the afternoon off from work to do some storm chasing.
We were out the door by 12:30 PM.
Now, I’m not a professional storm chaser by any means. As a private pilot I have a good idea of what weather is trying to do, so usually I can find something interesting that Mother Nature is up to while out and about on one of these missions. It took us a few hours to get to the northwest corner of the state. My husband asked where all these storms were, as the sky was clear, the sun was bright, and the temperature was hot. To the northwest I could see a smattering of clouds building on the horizon. I remarked, “we’ll see something soon”.
Within the hour, in Wisconsin, about 20 miles north of Galena, Illinois, the sky started getting very dark.
I decided we needed to keep heading northwest, so I started following back roads as displayed by the Jeep Cherokee’s GPS. It took us over some beautiful southern Wisconsin farmland. We were right where Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa come together.
As we reached the top of a hill, I could see the clouds rolling in. We parked the car with a wonderful view of a shelf cloud forming.
The storm felt so close it was like we could almost reach out and touch it.
The wind started picking up and pretty soon small hail briefly made an appearance before being replaced by crazy amounts of rain and much higher winds. I decided it was time to follow the storm from behind, and we back tracked along our route. If I had continued further in our original direction, where it was still raining very hard, I’d be going in and out of valleys along the Mississippi River. The weather radio was warning about flash flooding. I didn’t want to be part of that.
Unfortunately (in case terms), no tornado activity was to be part of this storm. Earl took some video of the rain and wind while I drove us along the back roads.
Overall, it was a great storm chasing experience and we had a fun time together. We meandered across the prairie to get back home. All in all, our little adventure was 10 1/2 hours in the car.