Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Thats what things are around here lately. As much as Im not a fan of winterm its easier to get through when its interesting. It started off very active...but much like the storm season of 08 did after june 7th it has come to a screeching halt.

Although thats not true south of here, as parts of the OH valley and southern plains have been getting nuked by a pretty impressive winter storm. These areas have largely escaped the nasty winter weather so I guess it was time for something to swing down that way. We got barely clipped by the system and theres just a dusting out right now. We may add another dusting to that overnight but it looks like we dodged a bullet.

Models give me nothing to be excited about...the worst winter can be:
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Yea...cold. No storm systems either when I check other charts either.

Its not all bad though, without me being occupied so much by live conditions I can focus more on getting my gear ready. The cold however, is putting a big damper on me getting work on the truck done since I dont have a garage. So Im actually hoping for mid 30s this weekend to at least get some small things done. My grille guard [aka ram bars or cow guards] finally arrived!

My PC and laptop both had their hard drives crash, so Ill be ordering new ones and rebuilding those as well. Going to make some modifications to my inspeed anemometer too. I dont like it being so close to the roof, I think the airflow over the vehicle could throw off the measurements to I will be building a longer rod for it to raise it up a foot or so.

The severe season is off to a slow start too. By this time last year I had 1 chase under my belt..a local one too. There were already a few outbreaks by this time last year. One good thing though is...so far...there have been no early season tempations to lure me out and use days off work before the main season begins. Well see what February has to offer. The biggest outbreak of 2008 was Feb 5th...a day I chased. So anything can happen.

Stay warm everyone!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Arctic Assault is Over

Well our major dose of winter has come to an end. It is a balmy 24 degrees outside. Ive always told people that temperatures are a relative feeling. 2 months ago everyone was griping and complaining when they heard temps would be in the 20s. Right now its a different story, people are praising the weather gods. I find the mentality amusing. It should put things into a new perspective for people.

We ended up bottoming out at -18 here in Chicago, the urban heat island effect likely protecting us. Sugar Grove, a suburb about 40 miles to our west bottomed out at -32 and an unofficial thermometer not too far from there recorded a reading of -36 which would tie the states all time lowest reading.

The lowest readings of -18 and windchills of -35 occurred just as I went to work Friday morning, and it was definitely the coldest air Ive ever felt. We havent had a day this cold in 13 years, and 13 years ago I was 13 and likely didn't leave the house. It actually hurt to breathe it in. So I have a new respect for those who live up north and deal with this much more frequently than we do.

A boring, seasonal pattern looks to be in store and we may see another cold surge by next weekend but overall it looks quiet. I want more snow as the growing snowpack around here looks neat.

Anyways, some pictures during the cold snap:

This is how we reserve parking in the city, side streets dont get plowed. It may look funny but its serious around here and people actually have gotten shot over their spaces
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I have my chair too, since the new beast wont fit in my garage
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Snow before the cold...were at I think 41 inches for the year [normal total for an entire year here are 36 so were WAY above average]
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This just LOOKS cold:
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An anvil in the snow...nature is teasing me...
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In my truck on the way to the movies Thursday night. It was -15 a moment before I took the picture. Aw well.
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On the front porch
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Interesting frost pattern on my window.
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Close up:
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Winter around here has been a brutal one thats for sure. Still working to get the beast ready for spring. Lots of work to do still. Got my W2 so im hoping the tax return can get me either a new laptop or an HD video camera. I need a whole bunch more, I have a crappy digi cam, busted laptop, a non-functional mini dvd camcorder, and stuff for the truck. WOO! Itll be tough but I think I can get it done.

Ive been so busy lately that I havent been able to teach myself more about forecasting which is usually what I do in winter. Luckily the chase cases on storm track are giving me an opportunity to excercise my brain.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Getting Ready

For the brutal winter assault this week. Models have backed off on the severity of the cold blast in recent days, but it will still get pretty cold. We could still see a day [perhaps Thursday] where highs wont get above zero.

Not only will it be bitterly cold, but there could be at least 3 rounds of accumulating snow...each with the potential to add 2 or more inches to the snowpack here. Friday night and Saturday morning we picked up about 8 inches here near Midway Airport whereas Ohare reported 12.

Matt and I are spitting out ideas for the hail guards and came up with this preliminary design, none of the measurements are exact of course. I havent had a chance to take detailed measurements especially with this weather. I need a garagae and clean [as well as warm] conditions to work in.

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My original idea was similar only it doesnt involve the support coming from the running boards. It will be something to consider tho. I was thinking a dog cage would make for the inside. They seem pretty sturdy and if it lets quarters fall through its no big deal.

Just take that apart and make it fit. The side window protectors would likely be some sort of plexiglass or clear plastic. The challenge for the other windows is the fact we need to use the doors. So I will explore other options for sure. Once we get a design finalized and exact measurements...they can be put into autocad and then my dad and I can begin to cut and weld the steel.

Projects are under way, still waiting for some parts in the mail and I have some more things to order. All to be done by March 1st.

Stay warm everyone. I will post some pics of our growing snowpack and how far down the thermometer on my porch goes in the coming days.

Countdown till March: 48 days

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Arctic blast ahead.

Before I begin my thoughts about the upcoming arctic blast. I was happy to see some boxes with my name on it when I arrived home. Some of the new truck parts I ordered for the new chasemobile arrived. Not all of them, but some. The transformation will begin shortly and I must work hard to get everything completed by March 1st, which is my goal.

Some more stuff has yet to be ordered, but the 1st piece of chase related items to arrive is my taillight-hail guards. These should do well against baseballs or bigger.
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And if they dont...well...at least they look cool.

On to the weather. It looks like the chicago area is in for another blast of snow. A good swatch of 4-5 inches could be expected which will re-establish a decent snowpack around here....but the bigger story weather wise which I have been watching for days is:
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Now thats just ugly. Surface temps around -24 degrees Celsius?! BRRRrrr, it would be one thing if this were gonna stick around for a day, but projections have this big fat airmass sitting over us for almost the entire week with only slight moderations. This airmass has been chillin [no pun intended] over Alaska for days, and has absolutely brutalized them with cold their not even used to, I read it was their coldest outbreak in 11 years...with temps going as low as -65!! I cant imagine what that would feel like, I probably wouldnt feel it at all, Id just die as soon as I walked outside

I wouldnt be surprised to see some of our records become in danger. Right now I think this is being downplayed...its interesting to look at the 850mb level as right now it has a little core of extreme cold over NEern IL:
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So thats interesting. Looking even further out it doesn't look like this damn NW flow is going away. Another interesting feature is a low of 943mb SW of greenland by day 8....thats weak hurricane status and just massive! The winds near that center will be insane.

Bottom line here is winter is about to make ANOTHER brutal assault on us. If I dont freeze to death I will try to take some pictures and whatnot. La Nina is beginning to develop, that should make for an interesting chase year, but may cause a delayed spring around these parts, much like we saw in 08

Stay warm everyone!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The 2009 Optimism Post

Well its the new year, and like many I am filled with optimism and eagerness. Im ready to take on the challenges, and experience some new adventures.

My approach in the field this year will be much more aggressive. 2008 was good, but like Ive mentioned many times, I believe I let others pussy foot me around the storms. Im an aggressive chaser...I will take the riskier move more often than not. Some say Im brave, others call me a stupid yahoo depending on what their view is...whatever your opinion is....its me and thats final. No pussy footing in 2009. Im gettin into that core, and im huggin the bears cage. There have been times where I fled because the danger was too high. Im not just a crazy person with a death wish. When I feel my life is in real danger, I will move. 2-5-08 near Turrel, AR and 5-23-08 in Ellis, KS are two examples of this.

I have 9 more days off this year than last. I will be able to get out to the plains more for those weekday outbreaks. I hate being that guy that only chases the weekend Moderate risks because thats when the entire whoards come out...but my location and work schedule makes it hard for me to have a different approach.

My dad and I are designing and building the hail guards for the new beast. I have a couple ideas in mind. First step is to take measurements and assess feasability. He needs to get permisson from his work to let us use the garage, that way we can be indoors, with light and warmth...and really take our time with it.

I would like to get a new video cam, since I hate working with mini-dvd...and since the HD revolution took off...thats all people want these days. Its low on the list though, depending on the tax return, I may wait another year...as long as I can document, I need to take care of other means first before I spoil myself with unnecassary luxuries.

The latest rage has also been to stream live. As neat as it is I dont see myself jumping on that bandwagon anytime soon.

I hope to get enough better, more intense footage that will promptme to make my first DVD. My stuff from June 7th 2008 would be a wonderful bonus chapter to a 2009 DVD...i just gotta go out there and get the footage!

I hope to meet and chase with more of you in 2009. Many of you have extended your hand and welcomed me into the community and I thank you for it.

Cheers to the next season and lets hope it doesnt have as many HPs as 09 did.