Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Saturday, July 9, 2011
An update to explain why I won't be explaining anything for a very long time. This title is ridiculously long. Seriously, who does this?
Monday, June 27, 2011
March 22nd: Creston, IA tornado
March 26th: AL/MS bust, but a bust with an amazingly wrapped meso.And Risley yelling a lot. If you haven't chased with Ris, you haven't lived. 100% serious.
April 3rd: Couple of supercells/rotating wall clouds in IA...also my only speeding ticket of the season.
April 9th: 10 tornadoes in Iowa, including at least two separate times with 2 tornadoes on the ground at once.
April 10th: Crappy chase in WI...terrain cost us views of several tornadoes. Basehunters got them, though.
April 15th: Cold-core setup in IL yields a couple of funnels and cool structure.
April 19th: Never happened.
April 22nd: Chased the STL supercell/tornado from Jefferson City through STL, got a brief glimpse of the tornado over New Melle, and documented damage at the airport afterwards.
May 7th: 4 non-condensated tornadoes in eastern IL...quick spin-ups, but we were really stinking close.
May 11th: Got stuck in Kansas for either a week or a year and one week. Still not sure which.
May 22nd: Iowa crapshoot while Basehunters stole the show again.
May 24th: Canton, OK tornado. Which will probably be the best tornado of my life.
May 25th: Ellsinore, MO tornado.
June 20th: 3 tornadoes in NE, with one only 100 yards away.
And...there was a Nebraska bust in there somewhere. Forgot the date, though.
So, 21 tornadoes, 7 tornado days, a catastrophic car failure, almost got shot at in MS because of homogenized cream, and...just mostly epic. Lots of lessons learned, lots of friends made, and already counting down to next year!
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Within 30 seconds or so, 200 yards in front of us, a needle funnel started coming down, and a few surface vortices became apparent.
Through the next couple minutes, it was touch and go as to whether the tornado would stick around...the funnel kept retreating into the burgeoning wall cloud, as the surface vortices danced under the meso...
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Storm motions are currently holding at 30 kts. CAPE is forecast to be over 3000 j/kg. EHI at the surface is over 4, with over 7 aloft. Shear may be veered from the SE, and is running at 60 kts. Hodographs are showing large, clockwise curvatures. Capping doesn't look to be an issue...it could be a huge day.
I'll be out in the field with Mike Brady...stay tuned for what could be a historic day!
Monday, April 4, 2011
Because of my proximity to the chase zones of interest, I was able to stay at home in Peoria til a little after 3 PM. My main point of indecision was whether to target the triple point in NE IA/SE WI, or further south, along the cold front. I decided to go with the 4 KM WRF model, which showed decent initiation around 23-00Z (6-7 PM local time).
A bit before I hit Burlington, IA, the SPC issued an MD saying that a watch would be issued soon...based on this, I decided to head a bit further north than I had initially intended. I hit Mt Pleasant and blasted north as storms erupted, going from blips to massive supercells in under 20 minutes. I initially targeted the northernmost storm because of its proximity to the low pressure head.
About 10 miles out from the northernmost cell, near Iowa City, a large lowering became evident. As I got closer, medium rotation became evident, and the wall cycle several times. At one point, it tried to drop a funnel, but it wasn't meant to be.
I pulled off north of Iowa City, and let it go right over me. Absolutely fantastic motion, and it's always great to feel the winds changing at the surface under an area of rotation...ended up getting blasted by 35-40 MPH rear-flank downdraft, and, as the wall cloud became rain-wrapped and started to crumble, I decided to bail and head back south towards another supercell that was starting to show the makings of a hook.
I was able to get onto the southern storm, get onto the wall cloud (which was another beauty), and let that go right over me, as well. Got behind Mike Brady as the RFD blasted us, and ended up tailing him home...not before we core-punched a few hail cores, though. Best we got was a fairly heavy bout of quarters.
Navigation was pretty tricky without a co-pilot, but I managed to pull it off without too much of a problem. Also, I'll need to get a camera of some sort...taking pics with my phone while blasting down the interstate is a supreme pain.
Some good shots of the southern storm/second wall cloud from my friend Brandon can be seen here. Here's one of the shots of the wall cloud he took, not too long before I let it go overhead...
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Nice tor threat in my backyard...can't pass that up. Updates to follow!
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Still working on forecasts and targets, but there is a distinct possibility that I'll be out in the field this weekend.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
And, for good measure, here's a shot from some local showing how easy it was to assume that there was a tornado on the ground...between the terrain, the rotation, and how large the lowering was...it was insane.
(Photo credit to Fox 6 - WBRC Birmingham)
Looked like an early show - tornado watch was issued for portions of Alabama and Georgia, and we started booking east to catch up with the cells that were popping. Got on a tornado warned cell in Fayette County, AL, but it moved north of the warm front and petered out fairly quickly. Ended up getting stuck in traffic around Birmingham while trying to drop down to a set of southern storms that looked extremely impressive, and decided to head back west. Saw a nice wall cloud while getting out of Birmingham, but at that point, we were thinking that we might have busted.
We got back into northern Mississippi, and sat in Columbus for a bit. After about half an hour, we noticed a nice updraft tower going up in the warm sector south of the warm front, and decided to go after it.
Best. Decision. Ever.
As soon as we got close to the storm, a huge wall cloud was evident. Over the next three hours, we raced east, staying just ahead or just behind the rotation. The storm was a classic supercell, that just kept recycling the rotation...the wall cloud would disappear every once in a while, but come back quickly, even bigger than before.
As darkness fell, we decided to stay on the wall cloud...it was still exhibiting strong rotation, and, at one point, the RFD (rear-flank downdraft) slot was directly above us. The lightening was absolutely incredible - we're pretty sure it hit a transformer at one point.
At about 9:30 local time, we decided to head for home...got a few miles down the road and changed our minds. Flipped a quick uie, and raced SE to get back in position...it was about this time that we started receiving reports of a large wedge tornado near Jasper, AL.
As we caught up to the wall cloud, it was obvious that the wall cloud had recycled again - it was huge, and had a beautiful lowering. At one point, it looked like there was a nice tornado on the ground, but with the trees and darkness, it was difficult to tell for sure. If there was a tornado on the ground, it definitely wasn't as big as the reports were - we were right next to the wall cloud, and had a pretty good view at times.
Ended up core-punching a nice severe storm on the way home - got half-dollar sized hail out of that, and stopped in Memphis for the night.
The adrenaline and tension from chasing a huge wall cloud/funnel/reported wedge tornado at night in the terrain around Birmingham was incredible. The structure on the mesocyclone was fantastic, and, all in all, we ended up with a great chase.
Here's the first video we have...of the wall cloud/updraft/mesocyclone fairly early on in its life cycle. You can see the strong rotation and great upward motion, as well as a funnel about a third of the way through...hope to have video from the more impressive stage of the storm soon!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Chasing isn't really what people think. Chasing is 95% forecasting, driving to target, revising forecasts, and staying just ahead of storms until the opportune moment. Often, failure is as thin as being 5 minutes too late.
Yesterday, there was about a 20 square mile patch of Iowa, that, for 3 minutes, was the site of a photogenic tornado - the only photogenic tornado of the day. 20 square miles. 3 minutes. That's the difference between success and failure.
Forecasts had been looking great for some time before yesterday morning, and I decided to go into work a bit before 5 AM to get some time in before leaving at 9. I met up with Mike Brady (www.chasercentral.com), and we headed west.
Main concern was a strong capping inversion at 800 mb that could've limited convective development until too late in the day, as well as limited moisture returns. However, with the wind fields looking fantastic, strong shear, large curved hodographs, sufficient CAPE (above 1500 J/kg), and a dryline/warmfront convergence zone to play with, we decided that it was worth a shot. Mike's original target was Red Oak, IA, while mine was Osceola, IA.
We met up with several chasers at a truck stop just east of the Nebraska border, east of Nebraska City. Cells were already popping, and moving across the river at 60 mph. We started retreating northeast, trying to stay ahead of the storms.
As the line of storms started blowing up, we noticed that as soon as they hit the warm front, they would become tornadic for a while, then weaken. The first storm we got on definitely did so...we spent about 20 minutes less than a mile in front of what turned out to be a nearly mile wide EF2 tornado - that we couldn't see. Classic HP supercell, and the rain/hail wrapping left the tornado completely invisible. If you've never driven through a town with the tornado sirens screaming, and a monster area of rotation behind you...you haven't lived.
We gave up on that cell when we noticed the next cell to the south becoming tornadic...as soon as we got to the town of Creston, a nice area of circulation became apparent. We watched this area for a few minutes, then decided to head east to stay ahead of the cell. About 300 feet down the road, we heard Brandon Sullivan (www.wickedwindmedia.com) screaming into the radio..."Funnel over Creston! Cone funnel over Creston!" I looked in my rear-view mirror, and, sure enough, a beautiful funnel was sitting right behind us. I flipped a uie, got to the side of the road, and Mike filmed the tor from the shoulder.
That was the last gasp for the storm...it became outflow dominant and linear soon after that. We got on another cell, saw a nice wall cloud and funnels, and then went and got our celebratory steak dinner at the casino north of Osceola.
All in all, it was a huge success. Both Mike and I forecast the location of a tornado within 20 miles or so, got in great position, and got great footage. We also were able to sell the footage to Good Morning America, the Today Show, and CBS...also would've sold our live stream to the Weather Channel, but we lost data connection.
And, it's only March...just wait til May!
Saturday, March 19, 2011
And, a few shots from up around Princeton, IL, on November 22nd...this was the day of the EF-2 tornado in the Rockford area...woulda liked to be up there for that, but I couldn't make it in time. Still, got a nice roll cloud on the front, and a couple decent wall cloud shots afterwards...tough catch, as the storms were moving over 55 MPH, but pretty good for November.
Looking forward to the next week...I may be out in the field Sunday and/or Tuesday. Blaze of glory, baby...
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I did get a new chase vehicle - a 2001 Subaru Forester, 5-speed AWD. Still working on getting it set up and ready for chasing - I'm not terribly good at the wiring part of things, but it's coming along. Got the laptop mount, ham radio, and GPS units installed, and working on getting my stereo system integrated with Bluetooth for calls.
Most of my chases this year will probably be with my friend Mike Brady (www.chasercentral.com), as David got a new job, and his hours aren't as flexible as they were last year. Mike's a great chaser - he's the guy that took me on my first chase back in 2008, and we've been good friends ever since.
Anyway, I feel pretty good about the upcoming season - I felt like I gained a lot of experience with my chases late last year, and with my forecasting study over the winter, I should be able to play things better this year. That combined with actually having dependable transportation and internet...yeah. Anyway, time to nut up or shut up.