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:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usImage Hosted by

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.

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

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.
Image Hosted by
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.
Image Hosted by
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.)
Image Hosted by

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.
Image Hosted by

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.
Image Hosted by
Image Hosted by

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.)
Image Hosted by

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.