May 28, 2011 Illinois Chase

by John Farley

I caught the long-track and intense, but elevated, supercell that crossed Illinois this afternoon, leaving a swath of hail across the state that reached softball size in a couple places. This picture is a panorama made from two pictures I took looking west from between Shipman and Jerseyville:

The view looking west at the storm was most impressive from some distance, where you could see more of the storm structure. I tried to keep up with the storm well past Hillsboro, but between its 50 mph movement, my staying south to avoid the hail core, and poor road network, it became increasingly evident that keeping up was a lost cause. Probably should have given up once I was as far east as Hillsboro and gone north to look at the hail, but didn't.

Here is a radar image showing the storm at the peak of its intensity around 2:30 p.m.:

Note the white area, where the reflectivity was 78 dbz - probably as high as I've ever seen. This was about the time and place where the two reports of softball hail came in - one at 2:25 just west of the white area on this radar image, and one at 2:40 just east of it.

Total chase distance: 153 miles.

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