Another pair of wintertime severe storm/lightning events to add to the 2012 logs, which now has been my most active winter season ever in terms of thunderstorms. First, an unexpectedly early round of storms fired across Missouri and Illinois on Tuesday evening, with one CG lightning-active cell passing right over me at New Baden - which I shot from about 1/4 mile from my place. Later, the second round of storms passed before daybreak on Wednesday morning, providing some 'leap year lightning' over the prairies around Marissa, IL, where I traveled to try for upward lightning striking the Prairie State power plant smokestack (no success this time). This was my first post-surgery chase, which thankfully didn't require me to travel very far to get something to photograph.
UPDATE: Sad news has come in from the town Harrisburg in southern Illinois, located east of I-57 roughly 90 minutes from here. A tornado associated with the second round of storms early Wednesday morning has killed at least 6 in the town. That is a very high tornado death toll for a modern day event, but unfortunately not unexpected with a nighttime tornado during the winter, a time of year when people are generally paying less attention to the potential for severe storms. Preliminary reports indicate the tornado could be rated as high as EF4.