Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Sunday, June 5, 2011 - 2:52PM CDT

Central Illinois outflow dust storm - June 4

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VIDEO: June 4 storm at Decatur, IL

I had originally not planned to chase on Saturday, June 4, after a check of morning data suggested storms would be too far north of St. Louis with a low risk for any significant severe weather (not worth the gas money). However, after I got out of church at 6PM, a check of radar showed a strong storm just northwest of Springfield, drifting east-southeast - farther south than I'd expected to see storms this day. With a free Saturday evening and a potent storm only 100 miles away, I decided to give it a go northbound on I-55. I crossed into the anvil shadow around 7PM north of Litchfield:

June 4 IL storms

The storm - actually a small cluster of two or three close-knit cores - had already produced a strong gust front, which I encountered first at Springfield at a distance of more than 15 miles from the storm cores. The gust front was very potent, with winds in excess of 50mph. Lots of dust, dirt and small lightweight objects (leaves/paper) filled the air in Springfield. I turned east on I-72 to attempt to get ahead of the gust front for photography, but its direction of travel relative to me made this a lost cause.

The combination of freshly plowed fields and sustained 50mph+ outflow winds created an impressive dust storm from Springfield to Decatur. Visibility dropped to less than 1/4 mile in places on I-72. I did not stop to get photos, which cost me any decent shots of this - my autofocus could not find any crisp object edge to lock onto as I snapped shots while in motion. I was reluctant to stop, as I felt I might still be able to get out ahead for front-side shots of the dust cloud.

June 4 IL storms

June 4 IL storms

June 4 IL storms

I made it to Decatur, but realized I would likely not ever get ahead of the gust front before darkness set in. I decided to stop on the west side of the city and grab some lightning and wind action video (clip here).

June 4 IL storms June 4 IL storms

I ended the day with shots of the last CG lightning strike the storm produced on the east side of Decatur:

June 4 IL storms

Followed by a Plains-like sunset to the west:

June 4 IL storms

Omg, I saw that last CG before the cell went *poof* and was gone, well done as usual!
- Posted by Paul Hadfield from Decatur IL

Thanks! I wish I'd stopped earlier to shoot the lightning, there were some nice bolts about 10 minutes prior.
- Posted by Dan R. from New Baden, IL

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