Chase Date: May 2, 2008
Chad Rust (rip)
Ron Jarrell, Brett Adair
Miles Logged: 1581
States Chased: AR, TN, MS, IL
Tornadoes Witnessed: 1
Severe Risks: SPC Outlooks
Departing Lansing 5:30am
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 know if we could get south fast enough.
All in on Arkansas
The decision was ultimately made to go south towards Arkansas on I-57. The storms in Northeast Arkansas were tornado warned as we crossed over the Mississippi River. We shot south on I-55 and managed to intercept one of the warned storms near the town of Stanley, MO. There wasn’t much to be seen with that storm, so we jumped back on I-55 and 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.
Earle, Arkansas Tornado
Our target storm was currently producing a tornado near Earle. We used radar to guide us through a watery ride down I-55. Passing in front of the storm, we took 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 roped and dissipated.
One trick pony
We didn’t know it at the time, but this storm would be a one trick pony. We followed east to Turrell and north. I observed another wall cloud, and some of the most intense lightning I have ever experienced. I was running out of roads and real estate before the river, so we headed back to I-55 and go south towards Memphis to cross the river. At Memphis, we dropped south into Mississippi and then east on state route 72. We had to take a quick detour to find some wifi to finish uploading my video. I managed to find some wifi in a small town in southern Tennessee.
Corinth, MS Storm
As we neared Corinth, MS we observed a new wall cloud as well as some hail. I dropped to Iuka, MS and then down to Paden. The sun had gone down by this point, and we were in some thick trees on highway 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 probably in a bad spot and needed to get back east in a hurry.
Eventually we’d give up on that and take the Natches Trace Parkway up to Nashville. We ate at Waffle House with Ron Jarrell and then got a hotel. We returned back to Michigan on Saturday.