Chase Date: February 5, 2008
Miles Logged: 1468
States Chased: IL, MO, AR
First high risk chase
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
The SPC was predicting a moderate risk of tornadoes and Severe Weather in general on February 5, 2008 up to 4 days in advance. I made the call on Monday evening to head out early on Tuesday to Southern Indiana as the Storm Prediction Center had a hashed area of 45% chance of severe weather, with a strong emphasis on Strong, Long-tracked Tornadoes.
The chase on Tuesday started at 7 am Eastern when Chad Rust (KD8AYM) and I loaded up my truck and headed out from Lansing, MI south on I-69 towards Indianapolis. The original idea was to get south to Indy by noon EST and make a decision on where to head. As it turns out, we were in Indy with a full tank of gas by 11am.
We hit Indianapolis, and decided to go West/SouthWest on I-70 as the SPC had issued a HIGH risk down to our Southwest. An hour or so later, Southern IL/MO/West KY was added to the HIGH risk in an MCD. I raced to I-57 at Effingham and then south on I-57. We stopped again for food and gas in Mount Vernon, IL and then proceeded across the border to Charleston, MO. We stopped there for awhile and filled up our tank and enjoyed the 75 degree and sunny weather.
After hanging out in Charleston for approximately 45-60 minutes, a cell started popping in Arkansas, heading towards Poplar Bluff, MO which was about an hour west of us. We took off after the cell, but didn’t end up catching it as it went into the Mark Twain National Forest. It was then decided that the only way we’d see a tornado before dark was to head south and west into Arkansas and head after the cell which was just then dropping a tornado in Atkins, AR. It turns out this gamble worked out, as we headed south into Arkansas. We stopped in Pocahontas, AR and topped off the gas tank, and headed west on US-62, then US-63 and US-412 up to about a mile east of Hardy, AR. We were looking at the Little Rock radar, and the rotation had died off considerably. Unfortunately we didn’t realize we were in a big radar hole.
Kory called from South Dakota and told us to MOVE NOW! and head east. We headed back east about 3-4 miles, then turned around and came back. KAIT TV from Jonesboro called and had me do a phoner.
After that, we went to the town of Highland, Arkansas and found total destruction. Chad and I hung out in Highland, AR for awhile. Chad went and got pictures and walked through town. After a couple hours, we headed out 140 miles north to Rolla, MO, where we stayed for the night.
The next morning we were on our way back to Michigan. On the way back, Rob Dale from WLNS called to do a phone-interview with me for the 5pm news.
We stopped by Bainbridge, IN to survey the Tornado damage there. It wasn’t much more than EF-0 damage, but interesting nonetheless. We also headed north to take a drive through Nappanee, IN which was affected by tornadoes back in October. The town still has a 50 yard wide path cut through it. It was very interesting to see 4 months later.