4/15/98 Chase Summary by Stephen Jascourt


From: Stephen Jascourt (jascourt@mailbag.com):

I too ended up east/southeast of STL during the evening. Due to a number of
major blunders (missing exits and such), we arrived late and were getting
pounded by heavy rain and lightning and not seeing any structure. It was
growing toward dark and we were on 4 south about to head on 64 east to jump
out east a bit and go south again, and it was getting very late near dusk.
Idea was to get to Nashville or south of there, but running out of time.
All of the sudden we see nice backside tower on cell to the southeast and
decide to go for that, from the back, stay on 4 south. This was probably
the cell you saw the tornado from, if you actually were at Rice -- however
the cells we were watching were moving east, not northeast, and Centralia
is north-north-east of Rice (a bit east but more north than east). And
the spotter network reports at Centralia were quite a bit later too, well
after dark. 
We instead ended up stopping on 4 slightly south of I-64 noticing the
fire-breathing storm coming in from the west, got wind of a spotter tornado
report at Waterloo (approx 15 miles just south of due west of our location)
and then saw a ferocious looking gust front surging toward us. In the updraft
leading edge of this surge was a descending funnel-shaped cloud- did not
see rotation but it was too ominous, it was *clearly* not scud, and we 
dashed east on 4/15 and then south on 4 a little ways. We never were able
to later see what happened to this funnel-like cloud, it got lost in
lack of contrast from a distance. We then watched inflow tails feed in from
the east, at a gas station or convenience store or something at where 4
turns south out of 4/15. There was a line of updraft bases and the storm
was riding
east along it, with the inflow tails just to the north of there. We were 
sitting under the line of updraft bases and ducked south a bit more on 4.
We saw a well-defined wall cloud, looked like the storm updraft, aligned
southeast-northwest and heading right for us. The north end of the wall cloud
was hanging very low and had an ill-defined, horizontal, cone-like loose
appendage hanging just about on the ground, but no rotation noted and it
was not clearly connected to the wall cloud, just hanging there underneath
very ominous-looking. Extending south from the wall cloud was a chaotic
looking updraft base, very bumpy and ragged, along an arc toward the
southwest.
It looked like the whole thing could have been a wet RFD which had already
surged. The area behind all of this was very heavy rain (maybe hail, we didn't
see any though). We ended up going south all the way to Marissa. By this
time it was dark. 
There were at least 3 batches of intense cells that came into StClair,
Monroe county area from Jefferson county, we missed out on the first one
that produced the Red Bud tornado report (I think that's the cell we
were hoping to intercept south of Nashville but couldn't get there in
time, might be the same one or one on a flank of that which you saw).
I think the second batch is what I saw. The third batch came in shortly
after nocturnal darkness had fully settled in. 
I have not yet seen the radar and satellite pics from when the stuff near
STL blew up (I saw the stuff out in central MO). 
Stephen


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