In case you didn’t know, it’s Spring. Winter finally packed up and shipped out almost two months behind schedule. Anyone else experience snow in April? How about May? Moving on to warmer topics….
We chased, and chased, and chased the past few months. Clearly I would have posted an update had we found more than sunshine and occasionally thunder, right?
I might be wrong.
For those of you who follow my Flickr or Twitter pages, I’ve been alive and well on there. We caught some gorgeous storm structure on most of our chases, and in fact I don’t think we’ve been sunned-out once yet. One particular storm in Montague county, TX dropped so much hail it sounded like a tornado. A beautiful, rain-free base appeared in front of us…and disintegrated just as the storm had built up enough energy. So continued the sad, severe weather conditions in 2013. Until yesterday.
We expected Spring to kick off with a bang when it finally warmed up. We didn’t realize the bang would be an outbreak of tornadoes in Texas. People were killed, and homes were destroyed. We narrowly missed the wedge that tore through Granbury, TX by about fifteen minutes. Originally heading south, the wedge did a complete 180 and headed into town. We were already on the way home when it happened. There is nothing beautiful about a killer tornado. But there are many things wonderful about the chasers that were able to stop in town and help with search and rescue.
On a lighter note, we did catch one of the tornadoes, and my first decent film of one is finally on YouTube! This tornado was relatively small, and didn’t do much damage. You can see debris in the video; reports were of some roof damage and one barn destroyed.
The pattern for severe weather continues this weekend, and the plan is to chase wherever we can. There’s the possibility of anywhere from Kansas to South Dakota, and then back to Oklahoma. I should mention that all this chasing will be done with a head cold. So, don’t judge my nasaly, low voice in the video above.
On to forecasting for the long weekend!
Make Storm Rush a film! Only 17 days left to help me chase storms and storm chasers. Even a donation of $10 will help. Remember, each donation comes with a reward from a book to your name in the film. There’s even a juggling lesson from a storm chaser! You have nothing to lose: if my project is funded you get an amazing prize, and if my project isn’t funded the money stays in your pocket.
17 days left to make this happen. I need your help!
After seeing the success of several of my friends in launching and successfully funding Kickstarter Campaigns, I decided it was my turn to take a stab at it. With my upcoming move to Norman, OK I’ll have more time for chasing, video editing, and freelancing. So, it’s time to make my first film and I already have the perfect title: Storm Rush.
How did I come up with the name Storm Rush in the first place? Before this site’s launch I noticed the rapid growth of the storm chaser community. It didn’t have to include only meteorologists; teachers, artists, and even kids still in high school were flocking to the chase. That’s where the idea for Storm Rush came from: it’s a storm chasing Gold Rush.
At any rate, that’s what this film will be about. And if you decide to help me fund it you can choose from tons of different prizes. That’s what I love about Kickstarter: you’re not just asking for money, you’re asking for help and collaboration. You’re rewarding contributors for their efforts. The idea is amazing, and I hope I get to share the rewards with you.
For more information on my Kickstarter project, check it out (and donate!) here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/684287083/storm-rush-the-chase-for-meteorological-gold
Having recently outed myself on Facebook and Twitter as a soon to be Okie, I figure it’s probably time to out myself on my own website. On St. Paddy’s Day, I’ll be packing up two cats and a lot of belongings and trekking across Kansas (read: flyover state, tornadoes) to Oklahoma to start a new chapter in my life in Norman, OK. Chris and I decided it made more sense for me to move there rather than him here for many important reasons; a big one being the extraordinarily close proximity to Tornado Alley. As my apartment lease ends on March 17th, I’ll be driving away from Denver that morning.
It’s a bittersweet move. For one, it came out of the blue to everyone and in some ways myself. For another, I do love Denver but it has its cons along with its pros. Dry air, I don’t like driving in the mountains, I can’t chase as easily as I can in the center of it all…the list goes on. Leaving my job is also a sad and rather busy affair. I didn’t give them much notice as I didn’t have much notice to give, and I’m not leaving the job for work-related reasons. I do enjoy my job, but it’s not enough to keep me in Denver.
So the big Storm Rush announcement? Relocating to Norman. Wow. I never thought I’d say that. In fact, I was the one laughing at my sister years ago when she contemplated the idea of moving there. Who’s laughing now?
Me, kind of. Laughing because I’m excited. And possibly slightly insane. But what would life be like without a little crazy? Certainly nowhere near as adventurous.
As I watch the snow fall outside, I have no idea how it can be only a few weeks until chase season takes off. But Chasercon just happened this past weekend, and that means it’s really almost time for some tornadoes, a few hail dents, and a lot of photography.
Chris and I skipped the Thursday night…um…festivities in favor of Valentine’s Day, and instead got to the Doubletree hotel Friday afternoon. It was great to run into everyone again, even though I had run across some of them while chasing on the plains. I’m hoping for even more run-ins this coming season. There’s one thing I neglected to mention about this Chasercon…
For the 15th Annual Storm Chaser Convention, they had a t-shirt design contest. Guess who won? My first tornado wound up being on the backs of most of the attendees throughout the convention! This was great for two reasons: 1) it was my tornado!!! and 2) it got me into the convention for free. Boom. Moving on….
There were so many great speakers this weekend. Tim Samaras and Dr. Walt Lyons spoke about lightning photography, and the many amazing occurrences ultimately missed by the naked eye (aka “sprites”). Then Tim showed us Big Kahuna, a camera so large it doesn’t just get its own vehicle, it is the vehicle. And how much did Tim pay for this camera initially? $600 at an auction. Everyone else bidding on it was bidding for the aluminum it was made of. Tim paid just above the cost of the scrap. I’d say that’s an investment well made.
Jeff Piotrowski talked about what it was like being possibly the first person on the scene for the Joplin, MO EF5 tornado. The recount was mesmerizing. The footage he shot while in shock brought tears to my eyes. I think his talk finally made all storm chasers in attendance realize that nature isn’t just fun, it’s furious at times. Tim Samaras and Roger Hill handed out a survey asking attendees what they could do to make Chasercon even better, and under suggested topics the majority of submissions asked about first responder speakers. That made me smile.
Other notable speakers included Dr. Greg Forbes of The Weather Channel, Dr. Josh Wurman (known by most for his appearance in Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers), Jon Davies, and Don Burgess, keynote speaker. Brandon Sullivan from Tornado Titans and Steve Hamilton both won speaker spots and educated (and entertained) us on Sounding Analysis and Chaser Safety, respectively.
It wouldn’t be Chasercon without an appearance by Tim Marshall, who this year donned his Logic Cap and took the stage as Spark the Vulcan, a relative of Spock’s. Tim’s talk, “Storm Trek” was both enlightening about the weather this past year and downright entertaining, with appearances (in photos) from all of our favorite Star Trek characters with some of the funniest comments ever, regarding 2012.
After the day of education came the banquet and video night. We laughed at some of the films (and the food, not gonna lie), were blown away by others, and most of all were extremely happy that this year Tim and Roger pre-approved all the video. We won’t say what last year wound up like, but we will say this year the room didn’t clear out before 11pm.
Sunday was met with a breakfast filled with bacon (you had to pay the hotel extra for the epic breakfast but it was WORTH IT), another session with Dr. Forbes, and Brandon and Steve’s sessions. After that the convention was over, unless you stuck around for the Weather Spotter Training. This was the first year I didn’t, but I’ll probably make it a point to get spotter training somewhere along the way before or during storm season, just to make sure I’m refreshed.
We decided to grab food at TGI Fridays east of the hotel, and while we were waiting for our food we were greeted with our first storm of the year: a dust devil! Hey, a rotating column of air is still a rotating column of air, no matter the size. And this one was pretty mean. It picked up some stuff lying around the street and tore off across a field. Nerds that we are, we all freaked out and waited for another to happen. At least we saw the one to occur that day.
Now onto storm season! Once Chasercon ends you can sense it in the air (and on Facebook) that we’re all just dying to chase the first cloud we see. Once the snow clears, y’all better be ready.
I realize I’m almost a month behind in posting about the Minnesota Storm Chasing Convention but to be fair, I was getting ready for Chasercon. Yep, getting ready every single day for the past month. Now, moving beyond my completely transparent excuse:
Chris McBee (@centralokstorms on Twitter) and I headed north for the weekend on January 25th. We spent the first night quietly in the hotel, unlike some of the other attendees (who, I found out later, had a blast). Saturday we headed up to the convention in beautiful, seemingly uninhabited Big Lake, MN.
Ken Cole (see: Tornado Glory) was the first speaker and ultimately my favorite. It’s always inspiring to see others in the field of media and design making their mark in the field of meteorology. Granted, Ken went to school for meteorology, but I digress.
Other speakers showed us what it was like being an on-air meteorologist, where some of last year and the rest of history’s surprise storms materialized from…and most importantly, the outlook for 2013. A lot of the predictions focused on Minnesota with good reason, but overall, 2013 looks to be a make it or break it year for storm chasers. The country-wide drought continues to persist, however, two things stand out for a more active season. There is a much more significant snowpack in the Rockies compared to last year (If anything, that at least lowers the fire risk). The other chance for a better chase season lies in the colder air mass over Canada, which hints at more instability across the plains.
But in the event of a repeat of 2012, let’s just say I’m glad I grabbed my passport.
The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out with everyone from Convective Addiction, ChaserTV, Storm Assist, and everyone else that was able to make it to the unfortunately short weekend. It was a great time, and it geared me up for Chasercon (post coming soon) and the 2013 chase season.
Bring it. I’ll even chase Minnesota!
It was sunny today. Then it began snowing in less than an hour. Ahh the joys of Colorado! As all of this lovely weather mess was occurring, I might have gone stir-crazy and decided to fix my broken iPhone.
How did it break, you ask? Well, that’s a story for a time that isn’t right now. But the good news is it was only the back. See?
I decided to purchase a new back for the iPhone off of Amazon, since the only issue with it was the tiny glass splinters I could get in the side of my face if I actually decided to use the darn thing. I purchased a kit for about $10 after s&h, got it this evening and went to work.
Did you know that Apple uses screws that only their special screwdrivers can remove?
WRONG! Although they are five-point screws, a simple pocketknife with a teeny-tiny toothpick/sewing implement will get the job done. I removed the two screws and popped off the back while wearing latex gloves.
In case you’re wondering, the above is what iPhone guts look like. And no, I wasn’t in a clean room. I was wearing latex gloves and operating over a Bounty paper towel placed delicately on my IKEA coffee table. Moving on, I snapped the new back on, learned that screws are more difficult getting back in than taking out, and after maybe half an hour of struggling with everything and making the screws fit accurately and flush, I had a brand new iPhone…back.
This post is really about the importance of an Otterbox. They’re relatively cheap when you think about the fact that all they do is protect your costly smartphone. Everyone should have one, especially in the field. Because really, you never know what’s going to run it over and when. But as I learned recently, it was only a matter of time.
I promise next time I’ll post about something weather related.
As I spent my weekend watching chase videos from 2012, I realized…2012 wasn’t that bad. I managed to see 7 tornadoes; technically 8, but I couldn’t confirm the Norman, OK one as it ripped up the earth just beyond an unfortunately tall patch of trees. I saw 5 of my 2012 tornadoes the very next day, the day after Chris McBee and I started dating (and we’re still together! woo!). But, I digress.
Although the final storm counts were significantly lower than the previous few years, some astoundingly picturesque severe weather formed across the country last year. From the April 14th outbreak across Kansas and Oklahoma to Superstorm Sandy, it seems footage was captured for almost every severe weather event in the lower 48. We’ll get to the Canadian tornadoes another time.
Have you ever storm chased? Have you ever been like me and just sat around wishing there was more footage to watch? I have your wintertime blues answer: Storm Assist. I purchased the DVD last week and finally got the chance to sit down and really watch it. So many storm chasers contributed to this DVD, and all of the footage is utterly spectacular. You really experience the motion of each tornado as some chasers get…well…closer than I ever get (except on April 14th). You’ll see wedges rip up the earth, watch tornadoes rope out so delicately they look completely harmless, stare at twin tornadoes seemingly dance around each other, and so much more that I need to stop before I spoil it all. My one recommendation: watch it in the dark and prepare to be spooked!
My personal favorite so far is the May 19th Central Kansas tornadoes in the wind farm. The backlit tornado looks downright ominous, and you continually hear a low roar in the background. And the most spectacular part for me is when the camera points upward to the top of the funnel. The anatomy of a tornado rarely comes in any clearer than that. And if the video starts to get too quiet for you, the hail will wake you up.
…And yes, I do feel bad for those windmills.
Storm Assist does more than get you the best footage of the year, they get help for those in need after the devastating effects of severe weather. As storm chasers, we help as much as we can when disaster strikes, but we can do so much more with just a little help. If you’re looking for a new storm chasing DVD, I give Storm Assist a five-star rating. And with the DVD for only $20 (Blu-Ray now available for $25), you get 100 minutes of tornado footage and photography from over 40 different storm chasers. You can watch the DVD trailer and purchase it here: http://stormassist.org/store/
I felt this DVD packed so much for such an amazing price that I just had to write a review for it. Storm Assist donates all profits to a charitable organization local to the impacts of severe weather through the year. It’s never been easier to help those affected by severe weather. Help those in need while getting entertained with some of the most spectacular storm footage to come out of 2012.
…Did I mention you get to watch Caleb Elliott and Skip Talbot storm chase in an airplane?
Did you miss me? I know you did. I’ve been distracted, well, mostly by my grown-up job…but that pays the bills so I deal. Plus, I like what I do, so that helps. What have I been up to aside from SDS?
Preparing for storm season! (aka dealing with SDS)
After I got the car, and the laptop, and additional photography knowledge yada yada yada…I decided it was time to really get set up for 2013. This will be the first year I’m planning on taking a full-on chasecation in May. I also have some personal goals including quadrupling the number of tornadoes I saw in 2012 and catching a full-blown storm with the Badlands as a backdrop. I think the first goal will be far easier as I only caught seven tornadoes, 5 of which were all on the same day: April 14th.
This year I’ll have a functional laptop mounted in my car (just picked up a Rosewill mount and I’m hoping it’s worth the price difference between a RAM mount and a cleaned-off tree branch), and I just picked up GRL3. It only took a few tornado warnings in LA this morning for me to figure out how to use it.
Aside from that, Denver has been the usual severely sunny weather. It did smell like rain outside today, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a brain malfunction due to the 40+ hours I’ve already put in at work this week. Soon we’ll get hit with precip, be it rain or snow and at this point it matters not which we get. I just need something! Maybe Saturday’s 20% chance of playoff snow will jump higher.
As I prepare more and more for the upcoming chase season, I’ll keep y’all posted. And if I’m not certifiably insane by January 28th, I’ll have a full report on how the Minnesota Storm Chasing Convention went. Oh, and Fogo de Chao.
I’m ready for storm season.
Okay, mentally I’m prepared but I have a whole slew of things I still need to be completely ready. Most importantly, a video camera for streaming. What do I have in the mean time?
It will be the year of chasing with decent technology, and I for one can’t wait to see how it helps! Now I just hope there will actually be weather worth watching out for.
There’s more coming soon for StormRush, but you’ll just have to wait and see.