Saturday, June 14, 2014

05/28/14 Illinois Landspout Chasing

Pulse thunderstorms traversing across the central Illinois farm fields outside Dunlap, IL

On May 28th, I ventured out of Peoria, IL during the early afternoon to photograph a few pulse thunderstorms along the Stark and Peoria County border outside Dunlap, IL. These storms were actually somewhat photogenic. Their wasn't really a threat for severe weather due to only 1,500J/kg of CAPE and 0-6km shear at less than 20kts. With that being said, conditions were adequate for some landspouts to form however as the non-supercell tornado parameter were showing conditions favorable for weak landspouts along the cold front. These are tough chase days as sometimes you can get really lucky and catch one as soon as a new updraft goes up or you see absolutely nothing. By midday, thunderstorms were already beginning to develop. I spent the early afternoon driving around country backroads trying to find some good locations to photograph the downdrafts and updrafts of these pulse thunderstorms. One cell caught my attention north of Dunlap, IL, but it didn't produce a landspout however about a hour east of my location a landspout was indeed reported and photographed near El Paso, IL. So close, yet so far away! It does go to show you that the ingredients were present for these short-lived landspouts however. These days can be quite frustrating though as basically you're driving around hoping you get lucky. Anyway, by evening I made it back to Peoria, IL photographing another pulse thunderstorm as it moved into town. Overall, a few decent shots but I came up short in catching a landspout tornado. I've added photos from my short chase below:

If you look close under that updraft you can kind of make out a small cone funnel, but it never organized into a landspout unfortunately...
Watching another updraft in the distance...
One of my favorite shots from the day!
Another attempt, but no "ground swirl" was visible!
Another view of a departing updraft to the northeast...
"Looking into the core of the storm"
"Rumbling thunder in the corn fields"
A fairly nice precip-core! (looking northeast)
The sun brightens up the landscape as this thunderstorm intensifies...
This is a fairly interesting shot as the updraft forms a nice cylinder shape (left). I was getting excited at this point thinking this may actually produce a landspout as it was well-defined...
Nope it was just a tease!
 A pulse thunderstorm develops over Peoria, IL
A big time rain shaft!
As always with a pulse thunderstorm the downdraft steals the show!

This was a productive day of photography that required very little effort and driving to get a few decent shots and observe some local thunderstorms. Landspout chasing is boring though, but as long as you can find a few decent locations to shoot the developing thunderstorms it isn't so bad I guess. I would later take about a week vacation to the Great Plains and I'll update with those posts at a later date. Stay tuned.