October 2 2006 Chicago Derecho Storm Chase

Mar 05, 2012

Well the day started
with a round of storms coming through around 230-3pm, as I sat there in
my office miserable and reading all the warnings of hail and
wind right by my house. Nature would save the worst round
for when I got home, thankfully.

 

Started my chase in
a bit of a pessimistic mood but figured eh why not, so I shot down past Oak Forest, over 1-57 on Cicero, got some dinky hail but some good
lightning.

 

I stopped home briefly to get some visual
radar updates to what was going on, and shot back out. My NOAA radio was
screaming warning after warning by this point. I decided my best bet was
to head to the North Riverside area, there my van got pounded by nickle
size hail [.88 inches, or .13 inches ABOVE severe level.]

 

After that I was satisfied, ready to return
home, however a new warning flashed on the NOAA radio, storm headed
for New Lenox with golf ball size hail, I’m far but I can make
it. With the help of a friend’s map skills he got me there from North Riverside in about 20 minutes which is excellent time. Although the storm
had weakened and the hail was dinky, I saw more incredible lightning,
including a strike that was probably only 50 yards from me [wish I had
that on camera!]

 

So back home I’m going now when the radio flashed a new warning. A derecho type event heading for Willow Springs, Hickory Hills, Burbak and Midway Airpoirt with 70+ mph winds reported, Since that is
my home area anyway it was perfect timing, I caught up with the insane
winds on Archer road near Resurreciton Cemetary. Now this is really only my 2nd
year of serious chasing, and it was the most intense wind I have experienced. It was amazing and almost scary at
a point. I loved it.

 

At that point I reported some
of the downed trees I saw as a result to the NWS, and about 15 minutes
later I heard the report broadcast over my NOAA radio. I was quite proud of myself, I remember the
exact words “6-8 inch trees were reported down by a trained weather
spotter.” It was nice to know they take the reports seriously.

 

I came
home finally, small trees were down, our flag was
ripped off our house, chairs were in the street and garbage cans everywhere
and the alley was flooded about 6 inches deep into our garage. It
was a very intense night of storms! Those who think severe weather
doesn’t happen in the city…you’re wrong!!

 

The
radar images at the time of the storms crossing, first the basic one from
weather.com, followed by the more advanced one from GRLevel3 which is
the tracking software I use.

The
red box is the warning area, the hollow green triangle represents hail,
the red cross is where my house is located, the white
line is the storm track.

VIDEOS:
unfortunately my video camera is out of commission briefly, so these
were shot on my digital camera so I’m ashamed of the quality. It does a
bad job of capturing the real experience but hey, I do what I can with
what I got, if you want better stuff then give me money for better
equipment =P

 

Nickle size hail: Where I caught up
with the hail, just over I-290 and 1st ave.

Get this video and more at MySpace.com

Lightning
strike: Cool lightning strike just past 167th and Cicero. About a minute into the clip, I cant edit digital camera footage just yet so I must post the whole video.

Get this video and more at MySpace.com

WIND!!!! This is about 30 seconds after the insane winds kicked in, I wasn’t
recording at the time they started and for the first few moments I was
too focused on trying to keep my van on the road, so by the time I start
recording the strongest gusts are over, but its still
pretty intense. I love the howling sound. I need a partner to record
this stuff while I drive!

Get this video and more at MySpace.com

The footage is kind of weak and doesn’t do the wind justice, but the day
after revealed its true power, this is a damage swath that starts about
2 blocks north of my house and continues through Oak Lawn, which was the
hardest hit.

It
takes a fairly high wind to topple a whole tree.

I was quite surprised I didn’t see more of this:

Pine trees down at a friend’s apartment complex.

They’re
lucky that tree wasn’t bigger.

Like
say…this one.

All
in all a crazy weather day for the Chicago-land area. The kind I love. Yet another good example of how this kind of damage can happen anywhere at anytime. The best thing to do is be prepared and always take watches and warnings seriously!

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