Chase Date: May 2, 2008
Ron Jarrell, Brett Adair
Miles Logged: 1581
States Chased: AR, TN, MS, IL
Tornadoes Witnessed: 1
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
Chad Rust and I got an earlier than anticipated start, leaving Lansing around 5:30 am. We headed south on I-69 to Indianapolis, then took I-70 west to Effingham. Once we crossed into Illinois, it appeared that we might be wasting gas. I contemplated going to the north target near Davenport, IA as I didn’t think we’d be able to get south fast enough to meet the cells in Arkansas.
The decision was ultimately made to go south towards Arkansas on I-57. The storms in Northeast Arkansas were tornado warned as we cross the Mississippi River. We shot south on I-55 as fast as we could again, and managed to intercept one of the tornado warned storms near the town of Stanley, MO. There wasn’t much to be seen with that storm, so we headed further south into Arkansas.
We got off I-55 at US-61 in Blytheville, and headed south to Luxora. The tornado that had been previously reported near Lepanto, AR had apparently dissipated as we didn’t really see much of anything. We got back on I-55 and headed south towards the cell coming out of the Parkin and Earle area.
This storm was currently producing a tornado near Earle. We got in front of the storm as it was approaching I-55, and got off at the Turrell, AR exit. I had finally done it – I was observing my first tornado! It was a violent elephant trunk tornado which we watched go from due east of us to north of us before it started dissipating.
At that time we headed east towards Turrell and north. We observed another wall clouds, and some of the most intense lightning I have ever experienced. We eventually decided to head back south on I-55 and get across the Mississippi river while I edited video and got it online.
We dropped south of Memphis into Mississippi where we headed east on state route 72. We had to take a quick detour to find some wireless and finish uploading my video. We found some wifi in a small town in southern Tennessee.
We then went towards the town of Corinth, MS where we observed hail, and a big wall cloud.
We then dropped to the east to Iuka, MS where we dropped south on highway 25, then west on 30. We pulled off on a side road and encountered some more intense lightning, including some very close strikes. We felt 15 degree warmer air start blowing out of the storm and realized we were in a bad spot and needed to get back east in a hurry. We headed back to Tishomingo, MS where we met up with Brett Adair and Ron Jarrell. We ended up driving in convoy with them up to Iuka, then into Alabama where we got on Natchez Trace Parkway. We were watching a very defined wall cloud the whole time, and thought we may have witnessed a possible touchdown near the AL/MS Border on US-72.
We ended up eventually calling off the chase, and Brett Adair dropped back south to Alabama to head home while we headed up to Nashville. A couple hours or so later we ended up in Bellevue, TN where we hit up the waffle house. After 12+ hours of not eating, it tasted like heaven.
We said goodbye to Ron Jarrell and his crew and then headed up to Goodlettsville, TN where we found a room for the night, completely exhausted. All in all, we traveled about 1000 miles on Friday from 5:30 am EDT until about midnight EDT.
We returned back to Michigan on Saturday.