On Tuesday, April 19th, 2011, the SWAT Chasers departed from Muncie at approximately 1:00 PM with a target location of Effingham, Illinois. The Storm Prediction Center had placed nearly all of Illinois and Indiana under a moderate risk for severe weather with the potential for strong tornadoes. The entire SWAT team was present (Brad, Brandon, Jessie & Lucas) and we had another Skywarn member and a photographer from The Star Press with us for the chase.
It was a strange morning with temperatures hovering in the 40’s across Eastern Indiana when we departed. A few elevated storms had developed late Tuesday morning and a few severe thunderstorm warnings had been issued across Central Indiana due to the possibility of hail.
It was a unique meteorology experience for all of us as we drove towards Effingham as we drove across/through one of the most dynamic warm fronts any of us had ever seen. While in Indianapolis, the temperature was 49 and by the time we arrived in Terre Haute, the temperature had soared to 74. When we stopped in Illinois, we were literally amazed at how muggy it was and we all commented that it just felt like there could be severe weather.
After taking a look at new data, we decided to target Shelbyville, Illinois. We arrived in Shelbyville at the McDonalds and waited on the storms to move towards the East. A large supercell near Bowling Green, Missouri had been producing a tornado and we decided to head West towards that supercell and a developing supercell a little farther to the South. The Southern storm became tornado warned and began producing a tornado, so the SWAT Chaser’s set-up just Southwest of Shelbyville and waited on the storm to approach.
While we waited, weather spotters and law enforcement officials confirmed the storm we were waiting on was producing a tornado. Unfortunately, the storm ultimately became rain wrapped and obscured and we never managed to see the tornado. We did see amazing wall clouds, storm structure and even some funnel clouds, so the chase day was ultimately a success.
On the drive back to Indiana, we continued to try to intercept several storms, however the storm motion was Northeast at 75 mph which made the storms very difficult to keep up with. We did drive through a hail core where we very briefly had some very large hail stones. We then stopped in Terre Haute for a late supper and continued our drive back to Muncie.
The highlight of the day most likely came in Shelbyville, Illinois at the McDonalds where a SWAT fan who was watching our live stream saw the SWAT Chasers pull into McDonalds and called the McDonalds business line to chat with us. We always enjoy meeting fans and the public and are always willing to take time to talk weather!
Here are a few pictures from yesterday’s chase and the complete gallery is online.