Sunday, December 28, 2008


Thats been the weather around here the past 3 days. A quote from Skillings blog says it best:

"Since Christmas morning, the city has weathered severe cold, an ice storm, dense fog, heavy rain, rapid snowmelt, urban and river flooding, high winds, severe thunderstorms and record warmth."

Chicago also has set a new record for wettest year ever! 50.83 inches is our new yearly total. The 1st time in recorded history we have gotten over 50 inches. September with 13.63 inches [mostly from 1 event] was a huge contributing factor to this.

The after xmas chase event ended up being mostly a straight-line wind event for Illinois. A few tornado reports came out and some of the damage reports could suggest a brief spin up. In my opinion the whole event was over hyped. I saw a potential, but wasn't totaly sold on it otherwise I would have been lured away from family plans. Although I do wish I was home for the local thunderstorms but down in KY they had record warmth so the air felt nice and I got to drive with the windows down.

On the way home the FROPA was impressive. Sudden intense winds and a brief bout of blinding rain was followed by a temp drop from 55 to 43 in less than 2 minutes. About 20 minutes later it was 37 and when I arrived home it was 28 with west winds gusting to over 45mph

Looks like we have a few calm days ahead...time to take the truck to the wash and get a coat of wax on it...GFS wants to bring in another deep west coast trough by this weekend and the start of another active pattern could be in the cards. The ridge I saw last week is non existent now. Ill take the active patterns anyday. Still the possibility of a little clipper system affecting us thursday but those usually dont bring significant snows.

As far as Xmas mostly cash and a couple other small big chase gear. The cash will go to truck parts mostly. The tax return may provide me a chance to get a new piece of equipment.

Hope everyone had a good holiday, Happy new years to all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

After xmas chase update

Given all the factors I probably wont chase this one. There will be some severe weather, but the type and location, dont really justify the means. Plus I dont see much of a threat re-developing during the day, I think the main threat will be carried over from Friday. My original forecast was pretty close to where SPC highlighted in the day 4-8 outlook. So ill always take a forecast win. Ive come to learn that forecasting events you dont chase also helps the learning process:
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Although in the future I should probably NOT use the oval feature in paint to highlight my target areas...lesson learned. Using a freehand tool would be better.

GFS and EURO bounced this one around for a few days. With the latest runs pulling it even more NW and slowing it down a bit. The one thing about this system that has remained consistent though is the insane amount of moisture it will have available.

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Thats very impressive. Especially for this time of year. I wont post surface charts or forecast dewpoints but dewpoints [tds] to near 60 will stream up all the way to Chicago. It will be interesting to see if that actually happens. With the snowpack in place and this kind of juice, Im thinking it will be quite foggy around here [this is the 1st time Im forecasting fog as well.]

Looking at the precip plot you can also see the low way up there in that with the image I posted in the previous blog for 0Z Sunday and youll see just how much the path has changed.

Going back to the precip...ahead of the cold front we will see a ton of rain up here which raises concerns for flooding. Ice jams have been reported on the KK river already, and we sit downstream from an impressive snowpack in wisconsin as well as our own. Temps approaching near 50 will just add to the rapid melt. So its going to get messy thats for sure. Chicago could even see a thunderstorm embedded in this.

Since I will be in KY, I will likely just wait/hope for a squall line to come to the very least Ill get some thunder and lightning. However if things change and suddenly tornado fest becomes plans will change. After this system it looks line zonal flow will return as the pattern does a teeter totter flip. The zonal flow will keep temps seasonal. Once the west coast ridge develops though the dreaded NW flow will return and we may get cold again...but remain dry for the most part. Maybe a little Alberta clipper type system around new years but nothing big. I hope mother nature makes one of these huge west coast troughs in the spring...these past 2 weeks have been exciting weather wise.

Active pattern ends...BOOOOOoooo. Well see what happens. MERRY XMAS EVERYONE!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

After xmas chase?

So far winter 08-09 has been a pretty wild ride. Weve been pummeled by several winter storms the past few days, and now as I type this the current temperatures are about -2 with windchills in the -30s. Yuck.

Watching the models the past couple days is making me nervous/frustrated. It looks like another powerfull winter storm will slam us on Tuesday, bringing another round of significant precip. More importantly though is the system that the GFS has been somewhat persistent in developing the weekend after xmas.
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By adumbftw

Just one of many shots Ive been pouring over. Todays run isn't as aggressive as yesterdays...but it still hints at a possible and quite rare December chase for the OH valley and perhaps anywhere as far north as central IN and IL. Since it is on a weekend this would be an end of the year blessing, but alas...xmas plans have me traveling down to KY to be with family. They think Im selfish because I spend more time chasing storms than I do making efforts to visit...but none of them have obviously pursued a dream before.

Maybe I am selfish because if this verifies, I will chase....but for once Im hoping it doesnt just to spare my life the personal drama. GFS hasnt been the best performer this winter...but it has been persistent with this system bringing moisture and warming temps all the way up to near the IN/MI border. Shear profiles are pretty unidirectional at this point but there is some turning in the lower levels. The low right now would deepen to 994mb as it races NE over lower MI. Yesterdays run had it dropping down to 984mb before occluding whereas todays run has a more gradual deepening but it doesnt occlude until well off the coast.

Of course with the snowpack in place I could see it being quite foggy IF that kind of moisture were to stream that far north....and then theres the daylight concerns and so much more...this would probably one of those low instability strong dynamic setups...not the most favorable...but a setup none-the-less. The model does put the precip bullseye over us too...and this system wont be lacking moisture.

So if, right now, i had to pick a chase area, it would be the following. The area in green being possible, with the area in red being more favorable and where id likely set my target area based on weather, terrain, road network etc etc. I know this will likely change, and that right now I should take this with a grain of salt, but to me its fun to watch the progression of these systems.
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By adumbftw

Or...maybe traveling to KY will get me a little xmas bonus in the form of a squall line? Well see. I love my family and want to visit, but chasing is and always will be my #1 priority. The presents aren't going anywhere...but I have to treat every system like the last one for awhile...Unless your a chaser or weather fanatic, you wont understand that mentallity.

Just like last year, mother nature isnt giving me much of an off for now I will be watching this like a hawk...and bracing for the next winter storm which should hammer us on tuesday.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday season.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Experienceing the [winter] storm.

It was Sunday night December 14th 2008 and my TV shows had finished for the year. I walked over to my crappy computer to check up on the weather, a common practice of mine. I knew there was a powerful storm that would bring about an abrubt change in the weather and that my buddies in Minnesota were enjoying a raging blizzard. Checking the surface obs it was clear the sharp frontal boundary was in central Illinois. Midway's METAR read 57 over 44 whereas Dekalbs read 36 over 30.

Craving some sort of experience I decided to grab a few cans of my favorite cheap brew and park my rear end on the front porch. I snapped open the first can and listened to the wind, it was really talking tonight. The thermometer on the porch was wobbling between 55 and 60 and the flag was jutting out to the north as winds were still strong out of the south. I marveled at the fact these powerfull winds were screaming north to circulate around a massive low pressure system. Only to circulate back several hours later. Even though a thousands mile away, every inch of earth from here to there is being affected by the same system.

I sat there only in a long sleeve t-shirt yet I was comfortable. The chair having been outside was a bit wet, but nothing my jeans couldn't handle. I began to sip away at my first tallboy and continued to sit and patiently await the arrival of the front. About 20 minutes went by when all of a sudden I heard a load roar, the wind had been howling all night but this gust wanted to be heard above the rest. A small leafless branch breaks off my neighbors tree and falls to the ground. I think to myself "That was pretty neat, probably a good 45mph gust." I then realize my tallboy has come to an end so I go inside to reload. Picture of the tree branch (I took it a couple hours after it actually fell.)
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Upon returning to my throne I heard a tapping sound on the awning above me. Rain. Looking around at my neighborhood and seeing Christmas decorations, rain hardly seemed fitting but alas, it began to fall steadily. About 15 minutes later I see a bright flash in the sky. My heart skips half a beat and I think "LIGHTNING!" I then waited for the sweet sweet sound of thunder, which is music to my ears. As I gazed in the general direction of the flash, waiting for the thunder, I see another flash. This flash was green, and it persisted for about 4 seconds. It was a powerflash. Then the neighborhood goes dark. I jump off the seat and walk infront of my house to see if I can see better....another green flash...followed by a bright orange flash. I stand there waiting for more and wishing I had my camera on me. My neighbor opens her front door after a minute and asks if she should call 911 just as the street lights come back on. I tell her I think everything will be ok and go back to my seat. I send fellow chaser Danny Neal a text message about it, just in case he knew something.

My second can is gone, time for number 3. Its about 90 minutes later now. Rain has become on and off. Suddenly I look at the flag and its now pointing to the right. Westerlies have arrived. Thermometer still at around 55. I sit and wait...I get my first chill of the night after about 20 minutes. I look up. Under 50 now. Temps had begun to fall. I decided to go inside for a little bit, I was actually feeling a bit cold now. Can #4 tasted the best of them all and I went back outside about 30 minutes later. I sat down briefly when I started to hear a crackling sound. It was pretty cold now with the thermometer near 30.
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I looked at the flag to see its movement but it wasn't moving. It was frozen solid. Freezing rain was now coating the world around me, producing the crackling sound most commonly heard in bowl of cereal.

The crackles got louder and I noticed little white things bouncing all over the place. Sleet. It began falling hard so I decided to walk around and take some pictures. A neighbor across the street pokes their head through the curtains. Probably wondering what the crazy guy getting blasted with sleet is doing taking pictures of the ground. Sleet was falling heavily and began accumulating over the sheet of ice. What a slippery mix but I did not fall. I was amazed by the sleet, afterall it is as close as Im going to get to hail in the wintertime. Ive never really seen sleet accumulate so much but then again, I never purposely put myself in that position. I sat and listened to the crackling sound some more. I dragged my girlfriend and my dad to the front door to show them. Though they didnt really care. it was now 130am and the only thing they cared about was TV and sleep. Which is where my mind should have been seeing as how work is a mere 5 hours in my future.

Thats not how it works though, when your obsessed with the weather you will wait....and wait....and wait.... The funny thing is, Im not a patient person, yet show infinite amounts of it to mother nature. Satisfied with the experience I returned into the 70 degree warmth of the house. Dramatically experiencing two different seasons in a matter of hours was neat to me. Perhaps winter can offer some neat weather experiences afterall. Time for bed now, the commute is going to suck tomorrow. Spring, hurry up and get here.

Pictures and video of the sleet over ice.
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I wish I would have got the idea to do a "story" sooner, I would have taken better pictures and video. Oh well, thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wettest year for Chicago ever?

Thanks to Danny for showing me how to make my pictures not get cut in half...that being said this page will likely get tweeked allot.

According to KLOT 2008 is about 2 inches away from being the wettest year on record for Chicago. It doesnt seem like it would be, but then I think back to the 10-12 inch deluge around sept 13th (pictured below is a GR3 shot i saved of doppler estimated rainfall from that event.)
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A good chunk [nearly 25%] of our yearly moisture came from this. We had allot of snowfall in the winter months, and other than june 7th and Aug 4th...there weren't a whole lot of local thunderstorms.

Looking at things right now, it looks like an active week is ahead precip wise, currently a 983mb low is churning over MT. Impressive. This system will dig down south and then quickly eject to the NE. Tomorrow [sunday] looks to be mild around here with lots of rain...kinda boring but Ill take the salt getting washed off my truck. After next week, zonal flow looks to return and things may quiet down a bit, but well see how that pans out.

The record could be in jeapordy though. Right now there are some 53dbz rains to our west moving in, and its been raining a good chunk of today. According to GR3 about .5 has fallen there so far, but with some heavy rains out to our west could easily put us over the 1 inch mark. I think 08 WILL become our wettest year on record.

So far winter 08-09 is pretty similar to 07-08. Something interesting considering how things turned out in the 1st half of 08. These patterns are definitely worth watching.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Link to 2008 chase review

Because I have yet to figure out how to lay out this blog site the way I want it to where it wont chop off half my pictures, I posted my 2008 review on my myspace blog.

Link is here:

2008 was a good year. One that I can easily beat. As Ive mentioned before, I attribute allot of missed intercepts to pussy footing around storms rather than staying close or core punching a clearly outflow dominant storm to get to a better one quickly. This will change in 2009. My best moments and intercepts came from just diving in and core punching. Although for some reason this year I always found myself north of any storm I was going after, it would be different if I were approaching the storm from the south or east...but I always have a habit of putting myself to the north or west of any storm.

Eventually I want to join the chaser-DVD market. Probably wont happen for a couple years since all my equipment is bottom of the line and the quality in which i document is pretty crappy. If I am to be successful in this area, I need good, intense footage that will keep people interested. Not only of tornadoes, but hail and severe weather in general. Ill be honest, I love viewing tornadoes as much as any chaser or someone willing to spend 20+ bucks on a DVD...but even I will FFWD footage if its the same tornado going through a field for 10+ minutes. If it were in person I would never take my eyes off it...behind a screen is different though.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Chasemobile

Been too busy to do a real update.

Shortly after the November 5th chase, my 1st chasemobile blew a head gasket and was forced into retirement. After 8 years and 174500 miles, I cant complain really. Thats more than most people get out of their vehicles. I was hoping I could get 1 more season out of the van, but it wasn't meant to be.

That being said, I will be hitting the plains next year with a 2006 Ford Expedition. Allot of thought and shopping went into picking out the right vehicle. Not only do I travel allot on chases, but I also do allot of traveling for camping, fishing, and various other adventures. I need to haul lots of gear and sometimes people.

After the mud incident on May 23rd, I realized 4 wheel drive is a must...not that I plan on driving on a field again, but you never know. Rear wheel drive only just wont cut it. So that was another reason I opted for the large SUV. The fuel economy is horrible, but if gas prices can stay where they are I will be able to manage. Although I wont be so generous in giving freebee chases and may ask those who ride along to chip in a little more.

Many upgrades will come to this vehicle and I plan on designing and building hail guards for awesome thing about the van was it had a fiberglass hood and rear liftgate that kept it free from dents. Since I plan to sample more cores in 2009 i think hail protection is a must. So here she is...a true gas guzzling whore if ever there was one.
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I like how it had the custom grille already installed, as well as a tow package...Price was 15k but in the end ill have paid about 22k after all the financing crap.

So...RIP to Aerostorm....for now...the van will remain in the garage and be fixed in the future when I have the time and money. Itll mostly serve as the local driver whereas the SUV will be for the long trips. I saw my 1st tornado with this van on 5-5-07. Pictured here along side the TIV in Murdo, SD on 6-6-07
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and with an awesome shelf cloud...
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The weather pattern around here sucks. Its very similar to last year with a massive blocking pattern over greenland keeping us in a mostly NW flow. Temps are way below average and the lake effect snow machine has been in overdrive. Luckily its been minimal here in Chicago, but NWern IN and Wern MI have been getting pummeled. Im wondering if this pattern will feature a winter of extremes like the 07-08 winter. I hope so. We had an EF-3 in January about 70 miles from here, a december squall line which downed trees and powerlines in my neighborhood. And hail during a storm in February...not to mention the historic Feb 5th tornado outbreak. I guess well have to see.

For now...storm chasers is on tonight. I will be chiming in on spotter chat along with everyone else for my wanted and unwanted thoughts.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Recap of Nov 5th chase to Southern KS

Thats right, southern Kansas.

We abandoned our northern target to play the southern target. The problem I have is once Im out there, I tell myself "its only a little bit further" and I forget I have a long drive back to Chicago once its all said and done. About 2 hours into our changed plans, SPC updrades to MDT risk as we drive down there. High Fives all around and confidence is up high. But alas, no tornadoes. Another thing I know but like to deny...SPC are not the all knowing gods of severe weather. In the end our northern target saw storms as well, so the original forecast was still good. Though they were less concentrated than the south.

The sun slowly rises in Iowa and we find ourselves driving through crapvection.
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We finally make it to Kansas and decide to play the waiting game around Fredonia. Iniation took place around OKC and storms quickly became severe and started racing off to the NE. They would eventually track through where we were but we were concerned they would be linear by then so the decision was made to go after them.

Starting to see them as we approach.
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We got down to hwy 166 and headed west, just as the 1st storm of a bunch went tornado warned. We stopped along the highway and the CG activity really picked up, it was one of the most intense CG barages Ive experiences, 4 strikes within 100 yards of us..including one that was probably less than 30, jolted us within a minute. I wish I had the camera rolling.

Looking west towards the tornado warned storm, at a ragged wall cloud partially embedded in a precip core.
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The storm started looking outflowish, and then the winds turned outflowish as well. I had very little confidence in the storm producing, so rather than staying out ahead of it I mad us at least sit to sample the core. If im not going to get a tornado, then I opt for cores.

Yea I was not impressed by that, but driving along the leading edge of the precip shaft was really neat. Like driving under a moving waterfall. We decided to stay ahead of the storm after that. The precip shaft was very well defined now behind a classic outflow feature called a whales mouth
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I really like that picture. Anyways, the next storm in the bunch went tornado warned as well. It had a better presentation on radar visually, but I still wasnt to confident. For some reason I just get a feeling for when I feel the enviroment is going to produce, I get a feeling of excitement/nervousness...I just wasnt feeling it this time. The storms were all bark and no bite...but we had to stay on them...the weather likes to prove me wrong sometimes.

But it was more of the same the whole time. Whales mouth infront of a well defined precip shaft. Tornadic potential = almost zero. Although theyre still pretty to look at.

Trying difference camera settings here...shoulda tri-poded them
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This one sort of confused us, it looks like there was a wall cloud back there on the 2nd tornado warned storm, but the big whales mouth along with the outflow winds were the dominant story. I knew better but at the same time, you just never know with the weather.
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Awesome hail core on the 2nd storm
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Well we decided to leave these storms and call it a chase, stopped for Sonics [yummy!] in Independance, KS and headed home. This will likely be the last chase of 2008, even though Im keeping an eye on the next trough lol. It felt great to be in the action of some tornadic storms again, though the tornadic potential was very brief. The intense CG action along with the brief overrun by the core made it a fun and worthwhile chase.

We met up with fellow chasers Dick Mcgowan, Darnin Brunin and others from their crew. Ive always had some respect for these guys and the shots they get in the field, it was awesome to meet and chat with them in person finally.

See everyone in 2009!

Chase: 14
Miles: 1,460
Tornadoes: 0
Largest hail: pea .25"
Highest wind: est 40mph.
Chased with: Danny Neal and Matt Fischer

Google Map of chase: larger view can be seen by clicking the link below it:

View Larger Map

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I have no will power

GAAAHHH!!!! Im obsessed I swear. I just cant pass up even the slightest opportunity. I know if something happens tomorrow ill toss myself infront of a CTA bus for not going. If nothing happens...oh well, I tried. I still have 29 days off work at my disposal for next year. This year I used about 10 for chasing, and it was an active year, so 29 should more than be enough.

Me, Matt and Danny are going to play the norhtern target, somewhere near the NE/IA border. Dynamics are good. Instability sucks. Storms are already firing though in NE kansas [elevated non-severe obviously] but if that can get going already, plus with the mid 50s dews I see in nebraska already...perhaps this could be one of those under-forecasted events. Ive seen it happen. Its a gamble. OFF WE GO! Good luck to everyone else heading out and playing the southern target.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Oh well.

Well the final vote for tomorrow is no. There is a threat, but given whats involved to get out there...its not a favorable gamble. Sucks, but oh well. These systems have minds of their own. This setup is very similar to what we had all spring it seems, such awesome dynamics but little instability to work with. All thanks to typical southeast ridging keeping the gulf choked off.

Thursdays potential seems to have gone down the crapper too. Instead of a nice beefy system we have a lost little closed/cut off low thats gonna bobble around before finally getting shoved outa here by a kicker wave. During this time it will loose upper level support and occlude itself to death and we will likely be dealt a sharp temperature decline that may produce a flurry or two. *PUKE*

The only saving grace is perhaps an isolated t-storm before the FROPA with maybe a few lightning strikes that I can be lucky enough to capture on camera...but...should anything worthwhile devlop, ill still be ready to bolt out the door thursday, tho I wont be using any time off so id be racing after it at night.

Saving grace #2...the pattern looks to become active..with system after system...hopefully one of them can produce something worthwhile...times running out so they say...but then I remind myself that on January 7th of this year, an EF-3 touched down near the IL/WI border. Anythings possible.

Monday, November 3, 2008

May wait till Thursday

This is the part I love/hate. To go or not to go.

Actually if it were a weekend id be all for it. One day I wont be bound by the 9-5 and I can chase when/wherever I want...but for now I must be picky.

Now that the potential event is closer I can take a look at more models takes. NAM, WRF and GFS are all very similar, with the GFS moving things a little more north and a less deeper low, but all paint a similar picture, this system will move very slow and it almost appears to cut off although i know this isnt the case. There will be a definite moisture return as far north into MN. Looking at surface plots theres a nice convergence zone between the OK/AR, KS/MO boarders all the way into Iowa, with nice backed flow on the eastern side. NAM wants to pull moisture allot further north than the GFS
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Now the Shear along this entire area looks good...not much complaints directional wise, speed shear looks good too. Id like to target SWern IA, due to my local bias and better backed flow and convergence buuuuuut heres the problem
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PHHHHHHHHHHHHHHT. No instability that way, as is the problem this time of year, looking at RH plots up at 500mb reveals cloud cover may be an issue for the northern target, but its possible with such strong kinematics in place that not much instability will be needed to get things going. Always a gamble.

So theres the ideal target around south central kansas, decent shear, good moisture, better instability...or the preferred northern target that has similar ingredients in place just without the CAPE. Well I could write forever and ever about what I see on models so Ill just move along.

Right now the IA target doesn't seem like it would justify taking a full day off work, nor the Kansas target taking 2 days off....but things can still change. As of right now I will hold off until Thursday.

With the system slowing down so much, and a big cold front progged to plow through against such strong surface heating ahead of it. A raging squall line appears possible. And there even looks like some moisture could advect into my hometown before hand.
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Ugh. sorry for the smaller maps but I dont like how this blogger cuts off larger images. Anyways, so with this possible scenario coming into play, I may opt for a half day chase downstate, or perhaps west to intercept a possible squall line.

Im not just in it for tornadoes, I love all storms and sever weather, so it may be more worth it to make a 2hr drive for some good shelf structure and maybe some severe/hail and wind. At least I have two options, and its not do or die on Wednesday. I wish SPCs day2 would come out now so they could just tell me what to do haha. But that takes the fun out of it.

So thats where I stand, right now I think for me the Thursday chase is more probable, unless some things really come together for the IA target and confidence goes up regarding moisture and instability....and also pre-dark initiation.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Coming together

Ok so yesterday I did a quick 5 minute crap shoot post about the potential chase day next week. Today Ive had a bit more time to look at things.

Models are all over the place with this thing with each run thats for sure, making such a setup even harder to forecast. The area I mentioned yesterday isnt even close to where Id consider today...gotta love it...I probably wont make a final decision till Tuesday. Latest runs don't deepen the surface low as much and slow it down a bit. This may help the timing of whatever moisture we get a little better. All it will take this time of year is tds in the mid 50s, especially with really cold templs aloft. Pretty good surface heating may lead to some really steep lapse rates. I can see these storms being prolific hail makers too. I still like the backed flow over much of MO and into IA and even shifting into central IL by 12z thursday.

Right now I would set a target around south central IA based on the winds. Moisture is the big problem that far north. Storm speeds will be on the quick side, but it doesnt look like theyll be near impossible like they were on 10-18-07.

So Im still on the fence, id like to see the best target area shift east a bit, just because Im locally biased to a 1 day chase. If the best area ends being the central plains I will have to sit this one out, id rather hold my days off for a better setup in the spring, where moisture is more abundant and it wont be dark at 530pm. I can certainly pull off a 1 day chase to IA or god forbid...MO.

So for now I will keep my faces glued to the PC and further analyzing things with each run...and will post a more detailed target zone and forecast probably monday night.

I just had my laptop stipped down to factory settings, so I need to scramble to get everything back on there and working. Stay tuned.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Chase day next week??!?!

I mentioned it in the last blog, but things may be coming together for a pretty significant episode next week...

Depending on where it sets up, I may be heading out there, right now it looks like the middle MS valley could be under the gun, areas like the boot heal of MO into AR and TN...if perhaps we can get some of that moisture more north, central IL may see a threat as well. This is something Ill be keeping a close eye on....GFS wants to eject a 985mb low with some of the paramaters coming together...dont have much time to write so ill add more later!! Keeping a very close eye on this though...

me likey...
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By adumbftw

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Reverse psychology?

Ok so yesterday I mentioned I would throw in the towel on the chase season...but low and behold I check todays GFS and sure enough look what I see 10 days out staring back at me in the face.

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HMMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmm *raises eyebrow*

What a nice little trough we have here...digging into the plains...yesterday this was merely a ripple in the isotachs resembling more of shortwave than today its a full out trough.

And yes...I know its 10 days out and I know all about model sketchiness and unrealibility that far thing I cant stand about ST is when someone tries to start a discussion about what they see on models that far of the 1st responses is always "bla bla bla thats too far out why are u getting ur hopes up" I KNOW ITS FAR OUT...AND IM WISHCASTING...but to me I always like to see how these things end up verifying...and watching the evolution of these potential systems over the models...its never to early to raise the eyebrow and making sure your prepared...ok anyways...

Even on the surface chart, there is FINALLY hints at some moisture coming back, almost as far north as the quincy area, with some backed surface winds from NWern MO back into Ern AR
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Although taking a look at the precip plot, it looks like the bulk of the precip will be on the northern fringe of the ssytem, suggesting maybe a snow event for the northern areas...and less isolated precip in the 'warm sector'...
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i dont know if i buy into this yet...going back to the 1000mb chart there looks like a warm front advancing across central MO and maybe into SWern IL...direction shear looks good between 1000 and 850 but then becomes more unidirectional between 850 and 500 it seems. Perhaps the speed shear, which looks modest, could still be enough to promote some turning. Ill wait before I check for any signs of a cap...instability and helicity and whatnot.

Its far out...and things will surely change...I dont look into things much more in depth than that at 10 days out...or i WILL drive myself nutty wishcasting myself into a maybe ill take a peek and see what EURO has to say...its an eyebrow raiser thats for sure. If I had to pick a target now, id say central MO [yuck] through eastern AR.


Monday, October 27, 2008


Ew. Yuck. Sick. BLECH!!!

No, I didn't attempt to eat my first ever salad....Im talking about the sighting of snow flurries around here today. I knew it officially snowed here yesterday, but I didnt see I was able to at least fool myself into thinking the year wasn't over yet. Today reality pimp smacked me in the face and I am finally tossing in the towel on the chase season. Fall was a major let down as far as chaseable setups go...but its never a real garauntee. We just cant get out of this damn west coast ridge-east coast trough may break for a day or 2 but nothing ever comes of it...large highs over the east are keeping the gulf cut off to even the southern states. my last entry I mentioned a meager threat for thunder with a cutoff low progged to move over the region...well to my suprise as Im shopping for camping supplies anvil crawler streaks across the sky followed my favorite sound in the entire world...temps were chilly, but height falls were enough to support tstorm development after-all. Some daytime "heating" also helped get the process going. It was definitely welcome.

Driving back from my camping trip to Indiana [which included us getting lost in the dead of night in a canyon for an hour] I decided to drive by the sight on I-57 where I filmed the tornado. It would be the 1st time I have been there since that day...and much to my suprise, there is still allot of debris scattered around...just goes to show how lazy I-dot is. Only a few moments later I found myself in a barage of mushy, pea and smaller size hailstorm that covered the road in only about 20 seconds. I wasnt convinced it was hail at first but after going over things and checking reports and conditions...i believe it really was. A nice little bonus.

So now that the year has drawn to an almost certain close...whats planned in the off season? More of the same...continue teaching myself more and more. I dont overload myself with more information than I can handle, which has helped me learn more than I ever plan. I hope to get a real chase website up and running as well, but that will be a much bigger project. As far as "upgrades" will depend on how finances treat me...a windshield camera mount is on the top of my list. Perhaps a real camera from which to take better quality still images with, and begin educating myself on that aspect of the game.

Some quick stats on the season:

Chases: 13
Tornadoes: 4 [3 in Kansas, 1 in Illinois]
Largest hail-core: Half dollar size - 1.50"
Miles: Approx 11,400
States covered: IL, IN IA, NE, KS, AR, MS, TN

Of course a more detailed account is coming...but that will be later.

Since its now the off season, there wont be much forecasting going on over here, but Im sure I will have plenty to rant and talk about over the winter. Next year I plan on being very aggressive. I feel allot of opportunities were blown because we were pussy footing around the storms rather than diving in and just going for it. I know all there is to know about intercepting the various types of storms, so next year I will be getting my hands dirtier. Im still developing my chase "career" so its one step at a time.

On a serious note, Id like to ask you to send your thoughts and blessings out to fellow storm chaser Andrew Pritchard...his GF just went through the horrible tragedy of losing her sister to sensless violence by a piece of shit sorry sad excuse for a man. The news is horrible and I wish him, her and the family the best during this hard time. The chasing community is with you guys and you have our unending support.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Time to throw in the towel?

It would almost seem like it is time. With October rounding the half way mark and not even a sign on the models of anything worth-while. Usually the 1st half of fall provides at least 1 chaseable setup. This year that does not seem to be the case. November also can provide such a setup, although it would favor the southeastern parts of the country.

Looking at things now there is definitely nothing worth getting excited over. Last week 10 days out a cutoff low was starting to take shape. It looks like this verified as the feature has shown up consistently all week on not only the GFS but the EURO as well. Even the shorter range NAM picks up on the feature. Before that the temperatures will begin a graduall decline.

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There it is shown above, this feature looks to move slowly and begin affecting my region on Wednesday...bringing miserable, cool and rainy conditions. The only hope for even a rumble of thunder would be if the system tracks a little more to the north, but I dont see that happening.

What I really dont like is what i see 10 days out.

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Yuck. Although the GFS has a tendency to overdue cold surges that far out. I hope in this case it is true. The dominant pattern since summer though seems to have been west coast ridging and east coast troughing, so this seems all the more probable.

The last saving grace for the year could be a teeter totter like switch near the end of the month and into the beginning of november...if that doesnt verify then the towel will be thrown in, at least Ive managed to rack up more time off for next year. Which some think will be even more active than this year. Lets hope.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pre-SDS is kicking in.


The first signs of SDS. I spend an hour trying to follow the chaser drama blog trail. Im glad im neutral in all of that. Then again Ive never been one to care what someone else thinks or says about me. Im going to do what I want to do regardless, for every person who has something bad to say, theres 5 who have something good to say. Its a shame such a small community of enthusiasts is divided by its core fundamentals.

It all comes down to difference in style really. Some get close and in-your-face shots. Others dont. Allot of criticism comes to those whove had near death situations....but in the end...its their own call to put themselves in harms way. Who am I to tell people who are trained what not to do. They know the risks. I tend to be riskier than the average chaser. Not so much for fame, but I wont turn down any offer that came my way. Its everyones dream as a child to be well known for doing what they love, and to be successfull in doing so. If that makes me a bad person for fulfilling my dream then so be it.

Each year my network amongst chasers continues to grow, all for the positive, Ive gotten along with everyone Ive met. Someday that will change....and thats ok with me. Negativitey creates balance. Its impossible to please everyone.

As far as the weather goes...glancing at the 10 day GFS is a cause for attacking a bottle of whiskey. I dont like to look farther out than that because I always end up wishcasting. The ever persistant west coast ridge looks like its coming back. Putting us in the cool trough region. The transition wont feature any storms here though. The main surface low responsible for the big snows in Montana has drifted way into Canada leaving only a weak trailing cold front. The good juice has been stuck down south, as is common this time of year, and there isnt enoug instibility go get anything going.

The "second season" is having a togh time taking off, and right now I see nothing in the near future worth getting excited over. SDS is slowly setting in. Its going to be a long winter unless the season has one last breath of life.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Recap of June 7th, 2008 Chicagoland Tornado Chase

June 7th...a day Ill never forget. I woke up early in the morning in a bad mood because I had oral surgery scheduled. The weather pattern favored a tornado outbreak in Iowa and if it weren't for the surgery, I would have been there. Turns out the surgery was a good thing.

As I sat in my room spitting up blood in a cup for hour after hour and chatting with fellow chaser Danny Neal, an interesting storm blew up to our southwest. He and I were "armchair chasing" which is a common practice among chasers when we cant be in the field. Tornado reports started coming in, but I was pessimistic and crabby and didnt want to believe them. The following conversation ensued before I was finally convinced to bolt out the door and get what so far is my greatest footage. Its kind of long so if you dont wish to read it all, you can scroll down to see the actual chase pictures and videos.

TORII48LEGENDS (3:56:11 PM):tornado coming
AeroStorm911 (3:56:11 PM):argh
AeroStorm911 (3:56:25 PM):well see
AeroStorm911 (3:56:25 PM):lol
TORII48LEGENDS (3:56:32 PM):lol they got one down in marshall coming
TORII48LEGENDS (3:56:40 PM):county
AeroStorm911 (3:56:55 PM):sweet
TORII48LEGENDS (3:57:08 PM):i just got home from baseball and saw TOR WATCH i was like huh
TORII48LEGENDS (3:57:09 PM):?
AeroStorm911 (3:58:24 PM):yea and it doesnt include cook again
TORII48LEGENDS (3:58:41 PM):lol
TORII48LEGENDS (3:58:54 PM):if this storms continues NE its gonna hit me head on
TORII48LEGENDS (4:00:09 PM):now watch
TORII48LEGENDS (4:00:10 PM):oops
TORII48LEGENDS (4:00:13 PM):wrong IM
TORII48LEGENDS (4:03:07 PM):new tornado watch
AeroStorm911 (4:05:51 PM):if its not here then i dont care lol
AeroStorm911 (4:05:52 PM):damn storms
AeroStorm911 (4:05:58 PM):one to the south and one to the north
TORII48LEGENDS (4:06:09 PM):its here
TORII48LEGENDS (4:06:31 PM):
TORII48LEGENDS (4:07:49 PM):lol why arent we chasing
AeroStorm911 (4:08:23 PM):me cuz my mouth wont stop bleeding
AeroStorm911 (4:08:27 PM):fucking oral surgery
TORII48LEGENDS (4:08:30 PM):lol wow

TORII48LEGENDS (4:08:52 PM):haha
TORII48LEGENDS (4:09:59 PM):look what just blew up on the SW and west side
AeroStorm911 (4:10:35 PM):i see that
AeroStorm911 (4:10:38 PM):watch it miss me
TORII48LEGENDS (4:10:43 PM):lol
AeroStorm911 (4:13:31 PM):i think its all going to
AeroStorm911 (4:13:35 PM):damn midway bubble
TORII48LEGENDS (4:13:48 PM):lol those sups are making a bee line for here
AeroStorm911 (4:14:12 PM):they look like mush tho
TORII48LEGENDS (4:15:42 PM):rotation looks good
TORII48LEGENDS (4:16:06 PM):look at the one heading for Odell
AeroStorm911 (4:16:38 PM):on srv it aint bad
AeroStorm911 (4:16:40 PM):bv is shit
TORII48LEGENDS (4:17:21 PM):tornado report outta lostant in la salle
TORII48LEGENDS (4:17:54 PM):north storm is getting choked off by the south one
AeroStorm911 (4:19:48 PM):i see that
AeroStorm911 (4:19:57 PM):im almost tempted to shoot down i-57
TORII48LEGENDS (4:20:12 PM):its moving up 55
TORII48LEGENDS (4:21:50 PM):funnel cloud reported ne of pontiac
TORII48LEGENDS (4:23:50 PM):tornado on the ground
TORII48LEGENDS (4:23:54 PM):NE of Odell
TORII48LEGENDS (4:24:01 PM):numerous reports
AeroStorm911 (4:24:09 PM):really
AeroStorm911 (4:24:10 PM):dammit
AeroStorm911 (4:24:11 PM):lol
TORII48LEGENDS (4:24:13 PM):lol
TORII48LEGENDS (4:24:45 PM):heading right into dwight
AeroStorm911 (4:25:37 PM):they were 90 over 75
AeroStorm911 (4:25:38 PM):wow
AeroStorm911 (4:27:01 PM):its raining here now
AeroStorm911 (4:27:03 PM):psh
AeroStorm911 (4:29:04 PM):weee
AeroStorm911 (4:31:02 PM):i see that
AeroStorm911 (4:31:04 PM):SCUD!
AeroStorm911 (4:31:07 PM):run for cover
TORII48LEGENDS (4:31:12 PM):lol
TORII48LEGENDS (4:31:22 PM):thats a decent signature though
AeroStorm911 (4:31:27 PM):yea not bad
AeroStorm911 (4:32:05 PM):is it even worth battling 55 traffic
AeroStorm911 (4:32:07 PM):thats the question
TORII48LEGENDS (4:32:23 PM):lol its gonna heading into southern cook
AeroStorm911 (4:33:47 PM):57 is the way to go i think
AeroStorm911 (4:33:50 PM):if it holds
AeroStorm911 (4:33:54 PM):its turning
TORII48LEGENDS (4:34:27 PM):i know
TORII48LEGENDS (4:35:43 PM):its got a meso marker on it
TORII48LEGENDS (4:35:45 PM):yellow one
AeroStorm911 (4:35:48 PM):yea
AeroStorm911 (4:35:51 PM):i see
AeroStorm911 (4:35:54 PM):moderate lol
TORII48LEGENDS (4:36:01 PM):idk if i can catch this
TORII48LEGENDS (4:36:40 PM):tornado lifted at 426
TORII48LEGENDS (4:36:46 PM):new funnel forming
TORII48LEGENDS (4:36:53 PM):per odell fire dept
AeroStorm911 (4:37:46 PM):it can be caught
AeroStorm911 (4:37:50 PM):its over an hour away from 57
TORII48LEGENDS (4:38:02 PM):lol giddy up hah
TORII48LEGENDS (4:38:21 PM):looks like heading for peotone
AeroStorm911 (4:38:55 PM):latest scan is mush

AeroStorm911 (4:39:29 PM):wtf
TORII48LEGENDS (4:40:22 PM):54 miles away
TORII48LEGENDS (4:40:55 PM):very large tornado reported on ground
TORII48LEGENDS (4:41:02 PM):per spotters
TORII48LEGENDS (4:41:10 PM):between dwight and odell
AeroStorm911 (4:41:20 PM):rain shaft
AeroStorm911 (4:41:21 PM):lol
TORII48LEGENDS (4:41:26 PM):lol
TORII48LEGENDS (4:41:37 PM):im tempted
TORII48LEGENDS (4:41:39 PM):big time
AeroStorm911 (4:41:53 PM):lets see what this scan does
TORII48LEGENDS (4:42:04 PM):new report by storm chaser
TORII48LEGENDS (4:42:15 PM):large debris cloud tornado on ground larger than last one
TORII48LEGENDS (4:42:32 PM):oh fuck
TORII48LEGENDS (4:42:37 PM): its heading into dwight
AeroStorm911 (4:43:06 PM):god dammit new shit to the south of it
AeroStorm911 (4:43:09 PM):the choke off begins
TORII48LEGENDS (4:43:48 PM):a lil west of 55 tracking tornado into dwight guy sees it from his house
AeroStorm911 (4:44:24 PM):i wonder if its a landspout
TORII48LEGENDS (4:45:00 PM):lol no
TORII48LEGENDS (4:45:04 PM):not with that rotation
TORII48LEGENDS (4:47:28 PM):new circulation moving into dwight
TORII48LEGENDS (4:47:30 PM):and im still here
AeroStorm911 (4:47:43 PM):and im still spitting up blood
AeroStorm911 (4:47:45 PM):ugh
TORII48LEGENDS (4:48:23 PM):


TORII48LEGENDS (4:49:35 PM):new tornado forming
TORII48LEGENDS (4:49:41 PM):1 mile south of dwight
TORII48LEGENDS (4:49:47 PM):moving north east
TORII48LEGENDS (4:50:00 PM):I 55 and dwight road
TORII48LEGENDS (4:52:11 PM):huge wall cloud Rt 47 just north of dwight
AeroStorm911 (4:52:26 PM):almost near morris
TORII48LEGENDS (4:52:45 PM):moving into wilmington soon
TORII48LEGENDS (4:53:46 PM):david mayhew i so ff
AeroStorm911 (4:54:52 PM):i hope sum1 is gettin pics or video
TORII48LEGENDS (4:55:56 PM):I 55 and rt 17 large tornado reported 10 mins ago
TORII48LEGENDS (4:56:10 PM):damage reports coming in
AeroStorm911 (4:56:58 PM):anything good
TORII48LEGENDS (4:57:20 PM):didnt say specifics they just said we are getting damage reports in from NE livingston co
TORII48LEGENDS (4:57:42 PM):storm looks like its bowing out
AeroStorm911 (4:59:56 PM):mayhew is going for it
AeroStorm911 (4:59:56 PM):lol
AeroStorm911 (5:00:03 PM):good luck buddy
TORII48LEGENDS (5:00:06 PM):lol
AeroStorm911 (5:00:10 PM):that i-55 traffic is hideous
TORII48LEGENDS (5:00:24 PM):57
AeroStorm911 (5:00:38 PM):o shit he is on 57
AeroStorm911 (5:00:44 PM):well once he gets passed 80 hell be good
TORII48LEGENDS (5:00:56 PM):its 4 miles to 57 from my hous
TORII48LEGENDS (5:00:56 PM):e
TORII48LEGENDS (5:00:59 PM):he just passed it
AeroStorm911 (5:01:12 PM):my shit must be behind


TORII48LEGENDS (5:02:30 PM):wtf is that
AeroStorm911 (5:03:28 PM):what is what lol
AeroStorm911 (5:03:35 PM):and i dont have those tornado icons on mine lol
AeroStorm911 (5:03:38 PM):what place file is that
TORII48LEGENDS (5:04:06 PM):
AeroStorm911 (5:04:30 PM):ok got em
TORII48LEGENDS (5:04:42 PM):look at that hook north of coal city
AeroStorm911 (5:05:30 PM):o that lol
AeroStorm911 (5:05:35 PM):looks like a bow segment to me
AeroStorm911 (5:05:43 PM):could be something new tho
AeroStorm911 (5:05:47 PM):i like it bein more north
TORII48LEGENDS (5:05:47 PM):got rotation
TORII48LEGENDS (5:06:03 PM):srv2
TORII48LEGENDS (5:06:38 PM):its splitting
TORII48LEGENDS (5:06:46 PM):guy says inflow is starting to increase
TORII48LEGENDS (5:07:56 PM):expanded TOR watch again
TORII48LEGENDS (5:08:44 PM):NWS LOT just caleld spotters asking them if they see it swinging north
TORII48LEGENDS (5:08:49 PM):svr warning
AeroStorm911 (5:12:17 PM):and the chicago bubble lives on
TORII48LEGENDS (5:12:46 PM):lol
TORII48LEGENDS (5:13:47 PM):whats the odds of more development to the south and west
AeroStorm911 (5:15:16 PM):id say slim
TORII48LEGENDS (5:16:21 PM):watch lasts another 3 hours
AeroStorm911 (5:18:32 PM):my hopes arent up
AeroStorm911 (5:18:34 PM):cloud cover
AeroStorm911 (5:18:36 PM):loss of heating
TORII48LEGENDS (5:18:45 PM):lol its already hot enough
TORII48LEGENDS (5:18:58 PM):90/77
AeroStorm911 (5:20:04 PM):2.75" hail?
AeroStorm911 (5:20:06 PM):wtf is going on
TORII48LEGENDS (5:20:32 PM):storm looks good near wilmington
TORII48LEGENDS (5:21:09 PM):reporting rotation near wilmington again just now lol
AeroStorm911 (5:21:32 PM):argh
AeroStorm911 (5:22:08 PM):the edge of that box is by my house!
AeroStorm911 (5:22:09 PM):haha
TORII48LEGENDS (5:26:44 PM):tornado on the ground
TORII48LEGENDS (5:26:50 PM):in wilmington
AeroStorm911 (5:27:08 PM):fuck
AeroStorm911 (5:27:12 PM):time to go i think
TORII48LEGENDS (5:27:18 PM):its coming right here
AeroStorm911 (5:27:38 PM):if that storm crosses the warm front which is just to our south then its history
AeroStorm911 (5:27:47 PM):i hope tio can stay rooted there
AeroStorm911 (5:27:51 PM):or the warm front is on the move


AeroStorm911 (5:29:34 PM):im out
AeroStorm911 (5:29:35 PM):cya
AeroStorm911 (5:29:36 PM):lol

So I grab the laptop, my cameras, NOAA radio and out the door I go. I took the fastest way I knew to get to I-57...once Im there I find myself in the storms core. The storm now looks like a monster plains supercell on radar.Once I emerge from the core I see the most incredible straited meso I have ever seen. It easily trumps any storm Ive seen in the plains to date. Video:

I knew I needed to get south...and fast...or I would be in some serious trouble. Core punching such a storm is a risky move which some would consider for me Im willing to take the risk. Near the end of the video you can see the RFD cutting into the storm creating the "clear slot" I knew this baby was about to put down. Sure enough I look back out my passanger window and see a funnel quickly drop. By the time I Stop the van and jump out...its already on the ground. Video:

I wish my over-excitement didnt get to me and I was able to keep my mouth shut. I will never talk smack about people who blurt out stupid stuff on camera again. Unless your a passionate chaser, you wont understand the feeling one gets when being so close to something so amazing.

I cut about 30 seconds of the clip out, just before I make the phone call, fellow chaser Danny Neal called me to see where I was at, I hurried him off the phone and let a few more profanities slip so I could call the NWS, whos number I left at home so I called 911 instead to get the information out as the tornado crossed the highway. Video:

Needless to say it was very intense, due to the wet RFD blasting me I had to seek coverage on the side of my van, with no time to setup a tripod. The tornado was rated EF-2 by the national weather service and did wreak havock across the highway. I quickly tried to turn around and stay on the chase....but got stuck in the expressway lockdown due to all the damage.
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After about an hour they let us through. Thankfully there were no serious injuries but this situation could have ended allot worse. 6 people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries. People were extremely lucky this time. Once I got home I quickly called my chaser pals over to show them what I was able to capture. Danny, who was also on the chase, was about 2 miles behind me and got stuck in the storms core. Here is a radar image of the storm as it crossed the highway...a truly classic supercell shape on radar...and in my home territory for once!
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Everything worked out for today, and I consider myself lucky, the surgery kept me home otherwise I would have chased Iowa and likely not seen anything as amazing, some of my chasers pals, including Skip Talbot were in Iowa and bagged a bunch of awesome wall clouds, but those dont compare to tornadoes. Poor Matt was stuck at a family function and couldn't chase. We had just spent 3 days in Kansas and 2 in Nebraska and saw 3 tornadoes, but none like this, its a shame he missed out because events like this near Chicago are extremely rare. Ive done the last minute local chase many times, but never catching anything like this. It will certainly be a tough one to beat....and I look forward to the day I do.

Here is a google map of the chase. A full map can be viewed by clicking the link under it.

View Larger Map

First post

I dont have the time to update this with every chase Ive been on, Ill just post my most recent one from june 7th, other chase blogs can be seen by visiting my myspace page. All the chase blogs are linked on there.

This site will no doubt undergo lots of change. So bear with me.

Thanks for stopping by.