Thursday, December 30, 2010

As 2010 Closes

Its kind of ironic that as this amazing year weather wise comes to a close there is a possibility of a semi local chase tomorrow. We already had one rare off season event here last month so why not another?

Of course I'm not a complete idiot and I realize its about as big of a crapshoot as there can be, but its been fun to watch how the system has evolved. Currently it is 48/43 which is pretty mild and moist for this time of the year, some locations south of here are reporting temps in the low 50s with dewpoints in the mid to upper 40s. For 9pm on December 30th thats pretty impressive. I remember the night prior to last months event I was sitting online noticing how exceptionally warm and moist it was. Of course it was November and we were dealing with low 60s temps and mid 50s dewpoints...but I digress...

These needle in haystack, off season rare events are beginning to fascinate me and I tried to do a comparison to past events which you can read here:

One of these days I will unlock the mysteries of these sleeper IL days and use them to my chasing advantage. As I mentioned I find them fascinating to study. They are much more challenging and really stimulate that nerdy side of chasing. I mean, any idiot can spot a classic plains setup on the forecast models and understand where tornadoes will be possible...these wacky off season events provide a greater challenge though.

Best case scenario, I chase and bag a rare tube to myself. Worst case scenario, I go party as planned and maybe get treated to a few [also rare] December lightning flashes. Either way, BRING IT ON!

See yall in 2011!

Monday, December 20, 2010

White Gold

Not much to report here. It was been a fairly active winter so far with multiple snows. None of them in this area have been really significant. The big blizzard gave us a typical glancing blow before hitting us with 40mph wrap around snow on the back side. Still, our snowfall here in the city is running above the long term average.

Good news for me, as I recently found some work doing snow removal with a landscaping crew. The pay is excellent, almost double what I made at my last job working in downtown Chicago. I also enjoy the work. The guy who hired me gets a kick out of level of enjoyment for being placed in the worst conditions possible. After the blizzard winds were gusting above 40mph with wind chills below zero and here I am standing in a snow-nado created by my snow blower yelling BRING IT OOOOON!!!!

So I will take it for what its worth. I love being outside in the elements, at a time when most people are whining and crying about the weather I am out there basking in it. Ive always been that way though, I love the weather everyone else hates. So this line of work is perfect for me. He says he needs to hire some people for more steady summer work as well. We will see where this leads.

I haven't decided to go crawling back to a typical job since my layoff just yet. Instead rather I have been working on ways to make my own money. Its going slow, but going slow is better than not going at all. It's not that I have a problem with working...its that I have problem with being a slave to my work and I refuse to be one of these poor drones who cant chase just because they have to work. I always find it amusing when people argue about this with me. They say "yea well, you're struggling financially without work" and I always say "yea well, you're struggling financially WITH WORK, at least I have a passion I'm enjoying." That seems to shut them up rather nicely.

Some people try and say that chasing is their escape from their everyday life of work, family, kids, whatever else. If thats what works for you great, but I think that mentality is sad, any life you need to have an escape from is not a life worth living. Different strokes for different folks I guess. One of my favorite lyrical quotes comes from a 311 song and it goes "Some people live for the rules, I live for exceptions."

Anyways, just thought I would chime in with some typical weather-life related babble. Its about to start snowing here, so I better get the gear ready and be on standby for the call.

Also, big winter storm coming around xmas. Stay tuned to for the latest as that is where I write most of my forecasts now instead of here. I will try and post again before the new year but if I don't I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday season!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Helping the Noobs

You know, something happened today that irked me quite a bit.

Over the years I have had lots of people reach out to me and ask me advice. I always do my best to give them the answers they are looking for. Sometimes they are satisfied quickly and we exchange only 1 or 2 messages. Other times I have had month long dialogues with people as I try to help them along the way. If they ask me things I feel I cannot give good advice on, I always try and point them to a resource that can better help them.

Today though one such person tells me "I emailed a guy once when I was like 10 with some questions and his response was something along the lines of "leave it to people who know what they're doing." I was like... okay..... rude"

I asked her who it was but she can't remember. Whoever you are, I just want to say you are a jackass. If you feel you are too important to bother helping newcomers, let me be the first to knock you off that pedestal you've built for yourself. Because all I can see is up your nasty nose and smell your rancid groin when youre standing that high on your own ego.

I don't care if you've been chasing since 1970. That only means you were born sooner than me. It does not give you the right to be a pretentious jackass. You may be experienced, but you're still an anti social retard.

The ironic part is typically these types of people are the first ones to bitch about under educated people out there ruining the holy grail image of storm chasing. Of course though, they can't be bothered to help a person who has some genuine questions about getting started. Much like the people who bitch about StormTrack, I almost never see them contributing anything of use.

I dunno, I have always enjoyed interacting with people, and going out of my way to help others. I enjoy talking and discussing the topic. Seeing the level of excitement people have as they pursue something they are really interested in gives me a great feeling. Passion is truly powerful, and I've always encouraged people to pursue what they really love, and will always do my best to be whatever mentor I can be.

And I get the fact that some of you can't be bothered, you're too busy trying to balance your shitty 9-5 lifestyle with chasing and are juggling 19234785 things at once. Life is a clusterfumble of crap, I get it...but that doesn't give you the right to be rude. If you cant help, point the person to someone who can!

So again I say, to people who respond to people in a negative way. Go take your anti social narcissism and sit in the corner while you slap yourself in the face with a 2x4 repeatedly. Everyone deserves a chance to make the most of their interest. If you choose to still be an ass to them, just know that you lose any respect for yourself that I might have had.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Late November Chase

On Saturday I made a post on facebook about Monday the 22nd being a potential chase day but as usual was met with some opposition. I dunno what it is about weather nerds always trying to shoot down the idea, its like being negative gives them an easy way to say "told you so" when something doesn't happen. Once midnight rolled around and temps were climbing into the mid 60s with dewpoints not far behind that should have been my first clue something was up.

Funny thing is I'm always arguing with people that at this time of year with the insane-o shear in place you dont need 6hrs of heating and 1500+ CAPE for severe weather and tornadoes, and today was a perfect example of that. We had a few hours of sun, and CAPE values were between 500 and 1000. More than enough.

The front was moving slow, and was progged to be favorably timed for storms in IL. Around 8am I was awoken by thunder, I got up and enjoyed that for an hour then went back to bed. I awoke at 1pm to 11 texts messages and 4 missed calls. All the texts mentioned a tornado watch and I shot out of bed to make a last minute dash of doom. No need to go into anymore detail can all be read here:

This is the latest chase I have ever gone on in any given year so that was a new feat for me personally. My last chase was July 14th as I passed up quite a few setups between then and now to regain myself financially. It felt great to get out again but on the flip side now has me craving more action. This chase had the makings of an early March type chase so it sucks to think that as I type this the temps have crashed about 30 degrees from where they were just 12hrs ago but alas, thats reality.

Another system should affect us Weds night into Thanksgiving, there may be a shot at some more storms Weds night before the system deepens rapidly to our north and tugs the cold air here to stay. At least the pattern is somewhat active.

Busy as ever, but I thought I would chime in with a few musings about the day.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Feeling Cheated by the October 26th 2010 Storm of the Century? (updated)

Feeling that this "record storm" didn't live up to its hype? Wondering why the news and weather geeks such as myself were going so bonkers over it? Sneering at the fact that you secretly wanted  to see destruction and chaos and upset it did not materialize? Wondering just what in the hell was the big deal? Well, here we go.

The storm was forecast to be a record breaker, as I mentioned in my previous blog. Well,

- Chicago set a new low pressure record. At 7am the barometer plummeted to 29.02in, old record set in 1959 was 29.11in

- But perhaps the most important record of all. The all time, new, lowest barometric pressure ever recorded in any non-tropical storm system to form in the US mainland. The low made it down to 956mb with some unofficial reports of it going just a tad lower. Thats not a lie, although the data is still preliminary so I don't know of any official statement yet which I can post.

*Weather 101 fact for the non weather savvy - the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm system.*

So, when you hear "strong storm system" here is what they are talking about.

To put it into perspective, most storm systems don't go below 990, most stay around 1000. So 954 is INCREDIBLY strong. So when they are talking about a storms strength, its that pressure they are referring to.

To those who feel that they were cheated and the storm did not live up to its hype, you were just that, cheated. Especially for my friends in the Chicago area. The fact of the matter is the timing of the storm system is what spared us its greater wrath. The storms formed along the storms advancing cold front. Which happened to plow through here just after dawn. This, and this alone is the sole reason why severe weather wasn't more widespread across the Chicago area.

*Weather 101 fact #2 - Storms need energy to become severe, the main source of this energy is the sun, thus, at night and during the morning there is the least amount of energy*

The predawn hours are the LEAST favorable time for severe weather, and sure enough, thats when the front came through this area. Normally severe weather would not be forecast at all when the timing is such, but again, we were dealing with a record strong storm, which can sometimes offset the lack of energy, and it did. We did get storms and severe weather in the early morning hours, it just wasn't widespread.

So here is some of the evidence of severe weather occurring in the area.

Tornado damage photos near Peotone, courtesy of Dave.

This one is too awesome not to share.

Closer to home, some tree damage in the Chicago and Oak Lawn areas. Taken by myself and my father-in-law.

Here is a radar shot I took showing the storms moving through, the white box is actually a tornado warning just south of the Chicago area.

As mentioned though, the fact the storms came through in the early morning during the least favored time is what kept it from being more widespread. As the storms pressed east and the day got later the magnitude of the event can be seen in the amount of damage reports in the following graphics.

Ok ok you get the point. The event was a significant one, and because it is still ongoing much more information has yet to come in. Everything above is preliminary and maybe I will post a followup with some official totals but the bottom line is this.

If you feel cheated by this event, you should. It did indeed do everything it was supposed to do but remember this. Severe weather in itself is a rare and isolated phenomena, it can greatly affect your block, and leave the next untouched. So don't worry, your time will come. No one location can dodge the bullet forever.

For the latest information, see the NWS in Chicago:

UPDATE 10/28/10 - it now appears the storm DID NOT break the record, but nearly missed it by a measely .2mb. It looks like a stupid nor'easter still holds the top title:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Waiting for the Big One!

Its been awhile since there has been this much excitement over a coming weather system. In less than 24hrs the Midwest is going to be under the assault of a near record level storm system that is in its early stages of ramping up as I type this. I mean, check this monster out!!

Weather nerds such as myself are excited to see what this sytem will bring us. The threat of severe weather is indeed there, the only main limiting factor is the poor timing of the front here in Chicago. The morning hours are the least favored time for severe weather, but ironically the NAM is generating the best CAPE with this sytem as it moves through IL in the morning hours. The 4km wrf brings a broken line of storms through the area before congealing it all into a massive squall line as it races east of here.

The system is forecast to strengthen rapidly and deepen incredibly low, for those who are un-weather savvy, the deeper a low pressure gets the stronger it gets. Typically most low pressure systems don't deepen anywhere below 990mb and most stay around 1000mb - well, this one has the potential to go all the way down to 955mb! That is a category 2 hurricane!

I am monitoring the situation like a hawk stalking out a fish in a lake for I am undecided if I want to attempt to chase this or watch it from home. It will be a last minute decision without a doubt.

Even if we somehow miss the storms, we are under a high wind warning with non thunderstorm gusts expected to reach 60mph! That is just insane for this area, so even without storms, the potential for damage is there. Halloween decorations? BYE BYE!

LOT has an interesting comparison on their homepage: 2nd deepest low? Wow, truly we are about to be hit with a rare, historic storm. I will post updates as time allows!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Discovery Storm Chasers and Other Stuff

Discovery's popular series StormChasers is back on and while many may bitch about it I always found it to be entertaining. I don't get why people bitch so much about anything on TV related to chasing. Of course it is going to be fake of course there is going to be cheesy drama added in but what TV show doesn't have that? IMO the drama there is no different than the drama and bitching I have to read about stupid football every Sunday and Monday, so we all partake in it one way or another. I think some chasers need to stop trying to hate whats popular just for the sake of going against the crowd...that whole mentality is just...stupid. If you really don't enjoy the show, fine...don't make it public then because even YOU are helping expose it by talking about it.

I will continue to enjoy it and discuss amongst my peers. I will say this though, according to their website some new "love interests" are to brew up, and if its one thing I cant stand it is cheesy love crap. So I seriously hope they don't go too overboard with that as that is probably the only thing that could really kill the show for me.

Honestly I would love to someday do a show, not for big fame or fortune, but to have it be a big part of my life and what I do. Chasing is what I love, its who I am, so why wouldn't I want to spend as much of my life doing it? Yea, new pressures may arise that could ruin the "fun" out of it but...the only reason people need chasing as a hobby or escape route in the first place is because their normal jobs are lame and unsatisfying and they have given in to a fabricated lifestyle. I for one do not want to have to escape from my life, because if you have to escape from your life by chasing [or anything else for that matter] then I must ask why even continue to live it the way you're living it? I guess I have a different way of looking at things than most people.

In personal news I, along with Skip and Danny gave a presentation to a club at a high school about chasing. I really enjoyed it and the students were great. It was simple and short, just going over some basics about chasing, ourselves, and then showing some youtube video of highlights which they especially enjoyed. The room lit up with lots of questions, some of the students even wanted to stay late [after the meeting had ended] to see more. If its one thing I enjoy its talking weather to people who want to listen. I love sharing what I know and what I have done, and helping those better understand things they don't know as well as perhaps get them started with a chasing career of their own.

Oh, speaking of chasing...the GFS is hinting towards a pattern change more conductible to severe weather. It is still out in fantasy range and I wont look too much into it, but perhaps fall 2010 may warf out a system or two worth chasing. Something to keep an eye on. I was roused out of bed Wednesday morning by a loud clap of thunder as a narrow line of storms moved through ahead of an approaching cold front. Although they only lasted about 20 minutes it was a welcome break to the boring fall pattern we've been stuck in.

One last tid-bit before I depart. I was fishing Tuesday and a little thundershower developed in the distance. I watched it bubble up from a tiny cumulus cloud to a towering storm that resembles Pegasus, the greek mythological horse. As I fished this agressive little cloud tower sent some nice booming shockwaves my way as I fished in sunlight. Again, it was a welcome relief to the overall boring fall pattern.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ugh, and it continues.

This image of Grandpa Simpson will become all too familiar unless this damn pattern changes.

At least this year, unlike last year its been warm and sunny instead of chilly and cloudy with thunder-less drizzle. Currently the Chicago area is in the middle of an unusual stretch of 80 degree weather that began on Friday [even though the official site at Ohare only made it to 79 all the surrounding areas including the lakefront were 80 and above.] So at least I have been able to get out and enjoy some late season fishing and camping type activities.

Midway Airport set a new record high of 87 degrees on Saturday beating the old record of 86. So this is exceptionally warm weather. Still though, the thought that I may not see any more storms or severe weather until next March is one that irks me. We've had some awesome October severe weather outbreaks around here in 05, 06, 07 and some decent storms in 08...but '09 and so far '10 have been lamer than the lamest of lames. I have a lightning time lapse project I want to finish but I need some storms to get the shots I need first. The last time we had storms here, of course, I had a pre planned business meeting. Oh mother nature, I hate you sometimes.

GFS has been trying to barf up a system around the 17-18th but the latest runs keep wobbling back and forth between a bannana low system and a low that marches up the OH valley putting us on the cold side by only 20 miles. Figures.

So for now, enjoy the nice warm weather!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall Snooze.

Fall 2010. Lame. Its bad enough one has to face the fact winter is on its way and soon any chance for any sort of local storms will be replaced with lake effect snow. Much like 2009 though, the fall of 2010 has been very quiet so far, and the pattern we are locked in is much like what we saw last year at this time. A high amplitude ridging pattern in the west with a deep trough over the east has sent mostly below average temperatures amid sunny skies for the midwest while the west coast bakes in heat and the east coast gets all the chances for severe weather. Looking out as far as the eye can see on the models this does not look to change anytime soon.

In short this:

Equals this:

So it looks like there wont be anything interesting to talk about local weather wise in the near future. I guess not all is bad though. Its giving me the time to focus on the many projects I have been working on but still, a little active weather this way would be nice. I hate being on the troughy end of the pattern.

Next on my plate is working on the 2010 DVD with my Convective Addiction group. I have decided to not do a personal DVD this year for 2 main reasons. 1 being I dont have a computer capable of such a thing and 2 being the fact I just dont feel I have enough awesome footage to pack into a DVD yet. I don't want to make one of those DVDs that has a few good moments and the rest filled with shelf clouds and rain shafts.

So while I wait for the weather to throw me a bone I will continue working on projects as always. I will also be attending a few events in the future that I am looking forward to. Those events being the National Weather Festival, Chasercon  and the Minnesota Chasing Convention. Of course I will be making detailed posts on all.

Thats all I got for now...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Minnesota Storm Chaser Convention

My Convective Addiction group has been invited to speak at the 2nd annual Minnesota Storm Chaser Convention. Website can be found here:

I will not be the main speaker, that duty will be left to Ryan Wichman, since it was his case study of the June 17th 2010 Tornado outbreak that got us the invite. I am tagging along to co-speak along with Jesse Risley since we actually chased the event and captured some of the best footage of our lives that day. The plan [as of day 1] is to take a look at the case study and relate it to what we the chasers were seeing at the ground at given times. Obviously we haven't even begun to work on this yet, so that is all I can provide at this time.

Oh, well have a booth too which will showcase our DVDs and perhaps some other goodies that nobody really knows about. Whether or not the rest of the members chose to come is up to them.

I am excited for this. One thing I enjoy is talking about severe weather and storm chasing, especially to people who are eager to hear what I have to say. Not only that but anything that helps get the group some exposure is always a good thing.  Public speaking generally does not frighten me, and I will be eagerly awaiting this opportunity, albeit a small one.

The convention is a fairly young thing that has only been recently started but has the potential to become a pretty significant yearly gathering, if that is the case, it will be cool to be apart of it during the early years. One thing for sure though is the people attending will be the die hard passionates who are really into it, before [if] it becomes a more mainstream event.

More details as they come! As far as the local weather goes, expecting lots of rain and maybe some thunderstorms tomorrow. I won't hold my breath just yet though...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dallas Tornado VS Chicago Lake Breeze

The weather in Dallas, TX today [image courtesy of News8:]

The weather in Chicago today [image courtesy of GR3:]

For those who don't know...that is a lake breeze that moved through here earlier today.

Yea, guess where I would have rather been. Things have been pretty boring around here lately. Aside from some dying severe storms last week its been a pretty boring 2009 like pattern. The tornadoes today in TX were the result of the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine which have stalled out over the area. Originally those remnants were supposed to swing our way but now looks to pass well south of here. Those types of setups don't warrant a chase all the way from IL.

I've started eyeballing the models more and more again looking for that random fall chase op but right now nothing stands out. There are a couple marginal chances but at this point don't justify a long marathon haul on my limited funds.

So what have I been up to? Well, mostly working with my Convective Addiction group on our many projects. So many good ideas this group has that keep me really excited and busy. I do need to start working on my own personal DVD, but don't want to get too deep into that until I have a computer that can at least completely make them on my own.

Furthermore I have been getting ready to embark on a new business adventure that holds promise but won't come easy. After reading all those sad statuses from chasers in TX today who missed tornadoes because of work it just reminds me why I never want to work for someone again. I will never deem myself successful if the phrases "I cant chase because of work/money" still come out of my mouth. Maybe other people like to work and chase some of the time...but I don't. I'd rather struggle for a couple years and be scrutinized for it than just hang up my dreams and conform to a normal life.

Ugh, is that first fall chase here yet?!?!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Plainfield, Illinois F5 Tornado 20th Anniversary

The Plainfield tornado is without a doubt the most significant tornado to strike near home. That incredible F5 tornado is not only the lone F5 to strike the greater Chicagoland area but it is also the only F5 to strike anywhere in the country during the month of August. Unfortunately 29 people lost their lives making it one of the deadliest tornadoes to strike this region. It is a classic example of an unseen event as the day called for potential severe thunderstorms but the thought of tornadoes never crossed anyones mind. The tornado struck without a watch or a warning. It was spawned from an incredible HP monster and to this day there are no known photographs or video of it which makes it somewhat of a mysterious monster.

That day was August 28th, 1990. I was only 7 years old at the time but do have several vivid memories from that day. I remember the evil green sky and the newspaper photograph of a demolished church. Plainfield is still a good 20 miles from my home, but close enough.

What caused such a violent storm? Weather observations weren't as in depth as they are today, but there was obviously an extreme amount of instability in the atmosphere, temperatures had soared into the mid 90s with dewpoints into the upper 70s, that alone provides an extreme amount of energy. A cold front was sliding south through the area but the wind field wasn't anything that screamed weak tornadoes let alone an F5, and this perhaps is was fascinates modern day forecasters to analyze this day using the vast network of new and improved forecasting techniques that have come since then. The unusual direction the tornado traveled [northwest to southeast] is yet another piece of the overall unique puzzle pieces that came together this day. The storm had to have some sort of boundary interaction and my guess is the odd movement of the storm against the very unstable surface flow coming from the opposite direction really enhanced its srh [storm relative helicity.] One can only speculate though until another similar event occurs and is further analyzed.

Could another event like this happen? Absolutely. The advantage we have now is a better understanding of weather, better radar technology along with more active spotters and chasers out there. It is hard to believe that such a significant event could happen again without warning.

The NWS put out a great pdf article of the event which includes video at the end of the storm before it produced the tornado. Its quite an eery video showing a mean green HP machine sporting a violent wall cloud and some insane rising motion. That article can be seen here:

I decided to pay a visit to the memorial to pay my respects to those who lost their lives in this underrated hazard that exists in our area. The memorial itself is quite a site, it stands taller than me [I am 6'3"] and is lazer carved from beautiful black granite.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blowing It.

Yea, Ive seen to have blown lots of good chase opportunities lately. There have been several gorgeous tornadoes in MN this past week and I never even made an effort to even try and think about maybe wanting to see if I can perhaps chase. Alas though, I dont feel angry or any "SDS" about it...I guess thats what having an amazing season will do. Still though, I really would have like to been there for some of them.

Only a handful of chasers chase this time of year and the odds of getting something unique are greater, however one of the problems with tornadoes this time of year is what has always made me not want to chase them. They are needles in haystacks. The fact is allot of these summer setups all look the very same, at least to me and my moderate forecasting skills. Its hard to justify having the funds to run out great distances this time of year when every day looks similar. You can have the same setup 8 days in a row, and only 1 or 2 with tornadoes. Often times these come down to last minute mesoscale details which by the time I am able to pick out, its too late to make it to the target area in time. Damn this living location of mine! I never imagined the main 2010 season would be as active as it was and thus I exhausted all my chase funds early...lesson learned.

Unfortunately I am not one of these chasers whos rich parents can help fund my chasing. I do everything on my own and the fact of the matter is I am still not making enough money at the moment. What money I do have coming in is going to paying off the expenses of the active chasing I did from March - June. My chase partners help with gas but what they dont help with is the vehicle maintenance from the intense abuse I put it through, especially since I have driven 26 out of 27 chases this year. I chose to do it that way though. I don't really like being the passenger.

Speaking of March, April and May...I wouldn't even bother with those months if I knew June/July/August would be like this every year. Thats the other thing about it, the northern plains tornado season is never a sure things. In 08 and 09 it was practically non existent, this year just happens to be a year where it is very active.

Hopefully I can recover some chase funds soon to go after things in the coming months. I still hope for some local chases. Other than June 5th, IL has had a relatively quiet tornado season but there have been plenty of bow echoes and MCSs to mess around with. Those types of things I like to just sit at home and let them hit me. Especially knowing if they do anything significant I can make a media sale without putting up any cost up front. Its been a great year for local storms though so I can't complain there.

I keep a "thunderstorm log" of all the days with storms at home [yea, Im a huge nerd] and so far I have around 30 entries. Last year there was a measly 20 the entire year...stupid 2009.

I sort of get a kick out of watching spotter network on any given day there are storms around here. Allot of new names and aspiring spotters/chasers zipping around after garbage crap storms. Ahhh I remember those days...the days where I would wait for a storm...any storm to be in progress and just drive around it not knowing what the hell I was doing...luckily back then noone could track and laugh at me.

The problem I see is a serious increase in bogus reports. Yesterdays MCS came with a whopping 6 funnel cloud reports. No tornadic signatures on radar whatsoever, the storm rolls over me and I see lots of pointy, scuddy lowerings which explains the false reports. Not to mention some of those spotters bombard our beloved Tom Skilling with these "funnel" which there is NOTHING resembling a funnel in...but alas, such is chasing and spotting these days.

Anyways, back to the point. I've sat out some good chase days and missed some good storms, but I wont be sitting out much longer! I see some chasers have donation buttons on their websites...I wonder if people actually donate...I should try it. Even a dollar can get me a value meal on the road!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

4 Times the Irony


Thats the number of times my neighborhood has been smacked by damaging severe storms this year. I cannot recall any year that had so many damaging rounds, but then again I never paid as much attention.

Want to know something ironic about that....check out the dates:

June 18th, June 23rd and then July 18th, July 23rd

The definition of irony shows itself in thunderstorm form. It makes me wonder what August 18th and 23rd will have in store for me? Think I am making this up? Behold the proof:

June 18th:

June 23rd:

July 18th:

July 23rd:

All of these events featured damage within 3 blocks of my house. The event of June 23rd was most significant in that it was caused by a tornadic supercell which if you look closely on the radar image you will see the white box which indicates the tornado warning. The rotation passed right over my house and of course, I was not there. Had there been backed winds [winds from the southeast] that day I am certain a tornado could have touched down.

While its fun to  speculate that the dates have some mythical significance I know better. That does not change the fact that it seemingly has been way stormier than normal around here. It is to be expected though seein as how this is the warmest summer in over a decade. We have more 90 degree days this year than we have had in the last 2 combined. With the heat comes the humidty and with that comes the energy to spark these powerful storms.

It also helps that the jet stream this year seems to not have migrated as far north as it could. Leaving us on the southern end of stronger than normal jet streams, so any storm that does form has the ability to tap into that jet and bring those winds down to the surface. Typically in the summer around here we see lazy flow aloft and we get popcorn pulse storms that pop up, dump on ya for 10 minutes and then die, but not this year. With the storms tapping that jet energy they can sustain themselves longer and become severe.

The stronger than normal jet also explains why that despite being so hot an humid this year, we have had no air quality alert or ozone action days. When the jets flow is lazy the air can stagnate. So I guess there is some light in this stormy tunnel right?

The most recent barage of storms on July 23rd brought flooding to this area that I have never seen before. I have lived here my whole life and never have I seen my street completely covered in water higher than the curb and onto the lawn. I have all that documented here on my site:

I was also able to get some footage of the extreme weather and damage onto ABCs Good Morning America which was another personal victory for me. How I would love nothing more for than my lifes work to be documenting such events and reporting them to the world. Alas, Ive been living a pipe dream, but its fun when it comes true even for just a day before reality sets back in.

The forecast this Wednesday calls for more severe storms but I think the timing of the FROPA is ill for this area and we will see another south of I-80 type event. We shall see though.

Also makes me wonder what the fall will bring. The northern plains have been extremely active this year and when that jet makes its yearly sag back south in another month, the true insane-o shear will return. I havent looked at the long range GFS in awhile but it did snow a major pattern shift suggesting this explosive pattern could finally come to an end in August...but as always with the weather, we will have to wait and see!

So much more I can write about. More later!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bullseye Bowdle.

By now I am sure you know this exists, but if for some reason all you know of me is through this blog, read on.

The group I have aligned myself with, otherwise known as Convective Addiction has released its first full length DVD titled "Bullseye Bowdle" The DVD centers on the infamous May 22nd 2010 chase. That day a single supercell dropped a family of tornadoes ranging from photogenic trunks, fat cones, drill bits, stout stove pipes to a violent EF-4 wedge. The DVD covers every single tornado [just how many that was I still don't know!] from our multiple angles.

Projects like this were the reason I joined up with CA in the first place. I alone would not have enough footage to make an interesting DVD on the day, but combined with the others there is more than enough to tell one heck of a story. Those who did not chase could contribute by handling the bulk of the project itself, and that saves me time to do other things. Splitting the profits 8 ways isn't the best, but its profits I otherwise wouldn't have on my own. So why complain?

I also think it is something unique we have to offer. Chaser DVDs are all pretty much the same, a summary of key events. No real story. I mean, while the footage can be good, the sad reality is I can get my tornado video fix on youtube, which [along with every damn cell phone having a video camera] has nearly killed the market. So unless a DVD has something more to offer than just tornado footage, why bother? Others might not see it that way but hey, opinions are a dime a dozen these days.

Tornado footage itself used to be the draw. It was rare, mostly unseen and the only way to see for yourself what went down was to purchase a DVD or be lucky enough to catch the news that night. Times have changed and technological advances have new footage popping up almost daily at your fingertips so why spend 20 bucks for something when you don't have to?

However, chasing is quickly gaining in popularity and as much as I hate to say it, is becoming a trend and a fad. With that being said, one has to think of new ways to tap into the financial side of this booming field. I think our group is well aware of this and that is why we are offering a unique style of DVD. The DVD not only has over an hour of good tornado footage but also tells a story, and hopefully will give people more satisfaction when they watch it.

I am proud of the production as it is the first one I have been apart of. I got to see just what a real pain in the ass it is and now know what I need to do to release my own personal DVD hopefully at the end of this year too. I look forward to the challenge. I have several ideas to go about implementing a new style of chaser DVD, and it will take some time to be done right. Before I jump into lumping 10 minutes of this chase and 6 minutes of this chase onto a DVD, I have begun actually writing the DVD. I am not a my first challenge will be to become one.

That being said, head on over to Convective Addiction and pick yourself up a copy, you will not be disappointed and if you are, beef it up with mother nature and tell her to somehow make a better storm.

The trailer:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Storm Bubble.

I see it all the time. People always say "The best storms always go north and south of me because of *insert something unique to their area here.*"

The dreaded STORM BUBBLE. Their existence cannot be proven by science, but just like ghosts, many are believers. Take the past 3 days here in Chicago. Multiple rounds of thundery onslaughts, yet not one single one passed over my house. Luckily thunder and lightning can be seen/heard for many miles otherwise I would probably be blogging photos of the local squirrels I just fed my leftover 4th of July fireworks to.

Lets take a look at the evidence from the past 3 days, 7-6-10, 7-7-10 and 7-8-10. My spotter network icon is circled and shows the exact position of my house.

It makes me wonder, I wearing my storm repellent today? The logical mind would laugh at this and realize that storms are completely random and their location is determined by the happenings of the atmosphere and nothing man made. Terrain DOES have some influence on storm development on a larger scale such as the uplsope area in the high plains and the caprock in TX but not on such a small scale.

So how does one explain the seemingly sure existence of the storm bubble?

The fact of the matter is, when watching radar there are millions of other places a storm can hit other than your house. We live on a teeny tiny plot of land on earths general surface. So "north and south" of me are pretty big generalizations. 1 mile south? 10 miles south? 50 miles? 100? It is easy to watch the radar and see where storms are going that aren't hitting you yet are hitting everyone else. If, however, you were to put a pin mark on a radar in one of the locations you think gets hit all the times. You will probably in due time notice that single tiny spot has just as many near misses.

Thus, if seeing storms is so important to you, I suggest setting yourself up in a way where you can watch them easily. A house not surrounded by trees, A house with a 2nd story window facing west or south. A house on top of a hill. Not living so far north. Otherwise, you will be in the bubble you're entire life. Don't fret though, your time will come, because even the biggest bubble pops.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2010: Thats Most of What She Wrote!!


Its hard to comprehend it all, but I finally hung the towel on chase season 2010. With the events of the last few days I can say the jet has finally migrated to its summer position and we have transitioned into MCS season. It did so in a blaze of glory that had my region stuck on the edge of the "ring of fire" pattern for nearly 2 weeks.

The preliminary stats are:

Chases: 26
Tornadoes: 32!!!
Largest Hail: 2.75" [baseball]
Highest wind: close to 100mph
Miles: not sure, but rough estimate would be close to 20,000!

I chased 3 states for the first time: WY, OH and MN.

I saw not one, but 2 EF-4 tornadoes which are the strongest I have seen in my 6 year career

Until this year I never had a day with more than 2 tornadoes. This year I had one day with 6, one day with 9, and one day with 8!

I made my first ENG sale to CBS and FOX news.

I got into the most intense situation of my life, one that will follow me around for awhile in the chase community [the infamous SD field incident.]

My first DVD productions are in the making.

Yea, Its safe to say that this season has completely blown away every other season. I mean, its sick, other seasons don't even come close to 2010. I did have some major fails though, May 19th and May 24th rank as the biggest, both of those days we missed major tornadoes from bad decision making, however I am thankful for each fail because with each fail comes a lesson learned, and it helps keep my expectations of chasing within reality.

I have so much content to go through, so many projects to work on and updates to my site to make. During the season I largely focused on getting the chase logs up. There is much more to my site than chase logs though, and I will be busy with the insane amount of content for months to come.

Chasing is not completely over with either, don't get me wrong. We have transitioned into MCS season and I will not make regular trips to go intercept those. I tend to average one chase a month from July through October, so if I see something I think will be more than just a bowing MCS I will of course make a run for it. I might even chase a major hurricane too. Living in the midwest the season never really ends, but from this point it will definitely come to is yearly slow down. I will be a little more reserved about when I go out and chase.

Peak is over, summer is here, and I have no complaints!

Much more to come in the future.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Yes, I am still alive.

It has not slowed down since the end of April, so I hope everyone has been able to follow along. I don't think I have any unique followers here on blogger that don't know where to follow along elsewhere. This blog takes low priority when things are active.

Ive finally caught up with chase logs which can all be seen on

June looks to bring allot of marginal days, the kind where I sit there and debate whether or not I want to chase. Nothing in the future stands out as a major day, but they can happen anytime anywhere.

Anyways, just chiming in here briefly to keep it alive. I am working on a number of projects for the time being and am still busy. I will have much material to work with once things die down.

I hope everyone is having a good year! 2010 really turned around from the slowest start in history to complete insanity.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


My friend said it best the other day "I am the busiest jobless man in the world."

Its true, between searching for work and chasing I am as booked as booked can be.

That being said, it looks like things are about to start getting active again. I could be chasing as early as Friday somewhere near Ohio. If I didn't own my summer trailer so close to the target area I probably wouldn't consider such a chase...but logistically for me it would be a cheap chase...and ya never know. There is also an opportunity to be one of few chasers on any given event, something I long for these days. Now that it is May and the hordes are out in full will be painfully difficult to find any sort of ambience with any given plains chase.

Furthermore, the competition for sales is tough, Ive been getting skunked by those I consider enemies as well as those I consider friends. So it has been a bit frustrating for me considering I NEED the extra income where as many others don't, but alas...we're all in it for the same things.

I am having a record year though so I can hardly complain, if things keep on track I can release my first DVD by the end of the year!

Recent chase logs have been posted to the site, if you don't know it by now then shame on you! I don't have too much time to get into a detailed forecast, time only allows for me to make it for myself. Its too much effort to save, upload and link pictures right now.

Things are busy and with luck Ill be seeing some BIG ASS TORNADOES next week!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thoughts on the last few days

3 days of active chasing has come to an end. All in all I am a very happy man. On Thursday the 22nd I bagged an incredible 6 tornadoes in one day. This not only beats my count for all of last year but also sets a new record number for a single chase day. It is also the first time I saw 2 on the ground at once, an incredible sight indeed!

That being said, the day before and the day after were decent with great structure and a possible tornado...but the great thing about marathons is it only takes 1 awesome day to make the trip worth it.

If you wish to read about them , the logs are all up at my site

I am kind of dissappointed I couldnt make a media sale, but thats the name of the game. I am also disappointed I didn't plan my trip to allow for the chase in MS on Saturday. I would have been on that storm for sure. I basically nowcasted Ben H, Kris Hair and Connor to that storm. I was chatting with Ben and he said they were heading north and east when I made a plea for him to turn around and get on that storm [it wasn't even severe warned at the time.]

Of course everyone knows what happened after and the shit storm that followed. My opinion on that is a simple one...for those who open their mouths just STFU. People will chase how they want to chase and while I don't agree with intentionally driving into tornadoes I am not going to tell someone what they can and can't do. It is their business how they want to chase. Simple as that.

Now, CBS aired a bullshit story showing a certain well known chaser in a hero-ish light saying he chases for science and not money, yet ironically this same person charged a local highschool 4,000 dollars to come talk to kids about severe weather. If its one thing I can't stand its lies and hypocrisy. Not only that, but the same article also belittled a new chaser who mentioned talking to "his agent" as he put it.

The irony in all that is, CBS probably didn't get to use any of that footage for free, so while their article uses that angle, they had to shell out some pretty dollars just to get the footage, from both the new guy and Mr Hero scientist who doesn't chase for money. So as long as theyre paying I say let them say what they want...they can come to me because I don't care what the public thinks of me. Those who matter know the truth, so if I can put a dime in my pocket, I will play the part.

Now...I just need a tornado to drive into ;)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Wheres the Negativity Coming From?

I've spent the last couple of hours comparing this year to years past on a personal level. By now it is known that we are off to a pitiful record slow start. It is hard to hold back the complaints, but after going back and comparing this year to years past, I am AGAIN ahead of myself.

So far this year I have more chases than any other year, despite one of them being a cap bust. I also snagged some intense footage on Easter Sunday followed by some great structure and damage shots just 2 days later, which also marks the earliest point in any year such things have been accomplished.

Some facts of my chasing career:

- The earliest tornadoes I have seen were May 5th.
- The latest tornadoes I have seen were on June 15th. [Not counting the nappanee EF-3 from 10-18-07 here because I never actually could confirm I saw it, even though we were right behind the damn thing.]
- My best chases seem to come in the first week of June, Ive seen tornadoes on June 5th ['09] June 6th ['07] and June 7th ['08] along with the best structure I have seen to date.
- June 7th seems to be a magic day, if you go back and look at the SPC outlooks almost every year has a MDT or higher [crap I probably just jinxed it.]

So why am I so down? I guess it stems from other stuff going on in my life. I was let go from my 6 year corporate lifestyle job which I absolutely loathed. Since then I have been sort of lost trying to figure out what I want to do next. The corporate lifestyle is not for me. Whats the point of having money if you're miserable? i for one don't enjoy being another faceless sheep pushing 50+ for a corporation that spends more time trying to figure out a way to let me go so they can save money as opposed to keeping their employees happy. That might be the American dream thats pounded into our heads in the classroom but they aint fooling me.

I told myself going into this year that this would be the year I can try and make a huge impact, chasing is truly the reason I exist, it is the only thing that keeps me sane and the ONE aspect of life I cannot live without. Sure, I have plenty of other things that make me happy, but happy and sane are two different things.

Its almost to the point of foolishness, since I know its pretty damn difficult to make a living off chasing thanks to the technology revolution, but others have done it so I don't see why I can't. All it takes is passion, motivation and drive plus not caring how people may judge you based on your social status. There is some of that in the chasing community. A snobbish attitude where those who are well off look down on those who are struggling to find themselves and pursue what really makes them happy...I for one could care less how any person views me.

So I guess thats where my impatience is stemming from, now is the time for me to really get out there and prove myself...but mother nature is barely tossing me a bone. I might not have the means next year to be as free as I am now, and that ads to my eagerness to get out there and get the job done.

Many are optimistic for May and June, in the world of weather I never hold any hopes for what the future will hold, all that matters to me is the NOW.

Alas, as I mentioned above, comparing this year to years past I am off to a great start, so if the pattern can change I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to trump my prior seasons yet again.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Early Season Marathon

I went on my earliest chase marathon and chased April 4th 5th and 6th. It was finally nice to see some signs of life but the setups themselves were pretty meager. I was able to pull away some gems though. Afterall, I don't need a tornado to make me happy, at least this early in the season. I would like to snag one early on though that way I don't start stressing about not seeing one especially with the GFS showing another crappy pattern ahead.

Easter Sundays chase was probably the best. I got into a pretty intense situation which some might dub foolish but oh well thats how I roll. I don't claim to be the smartest person in the world, I just do what I love and enjoy doing it! That was a great chase and the wind footage I got is my best to date.

Monday was a bust, oh well...shit happens.

Tuesday was a good chase in Iowa of all places. Good structure, nice hail and documenting some damage made it a well rounded chase.

Looking ahead it appears we will be back to the same moisture issues...we had moisture for these most recent setups, but had other issues to contend with such as veered flow and unseasonably strong EMLs and caps...ugh...2010 just doesn't want to make things line up the right way. Given that I still feel it is a frustratingly slow year...but with a couple good chases in recent memory I can't be down on it.

To see the logs check out the site

Everyone keeps talking about May, Im getting kind of sick of it. It was only the first weak of April and we had to shake a bunch of people who were spotter network stalking us. Ive always been a cynical bastard...I don't like mooches. While I believe everyone has a right to do something they enjoy, I can't stand people who won't take the initiative to do it right...and its only April...whats going to happen in May when everyone who takes their yearly chasecations are out not to mention the V2 and discovery amrmadas.

Oh well, at least I have a vehicle that can take me off the main roads to get away from the mess.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

April FTW

I can't wait to punt kick March 2010 into weather history. Some quick and depressing facts.

- It is the slowest start to the tornado season since 1988 - thats 22 years!

- There has not been a single severe report in the state of IL yet. Although, on March 11th there were plenty of penny and nickel size hail reports, however those are no longer considered severe...but its some food for thought.

- I now have the fewest number of logged chases since 2007. Lame.

Anyways, I'm not one of those patient chasers who can sit and wait for May. Its spring. I want to chase and I want to chase now...SO...what I see for April has me happy.

A nice troughing pattern! FINALLY. Of course though, there are problems. Number 1, which has been a problem since 2009 is lack of gulf moisture. When I'm done punt kicking March I am going to punt kick the GOM next. I suppose its not its fault. Stupid El Nino had system after system tracking along the gulf coast and kicking the GOM's ass.

What I found funny was during that time everyone was praising what the parade of wet systems would do for soil moisture...I guess we seemed to have forgotten about the effects of moisture suppressing cold fronts along with constant surges of cool dry air.

So within this pattern are also a parade of systems, with the dynamics that scream severe weather...but the moisture [or lack thereof] is going to put a serious hinder on any significant outbreak. Despite this, there should be enough to squeeze out some marginal setups, and probably the best we have seen all year, so I am thinking at the very least there will be some LP hailers to chase. I am okay with that.

The good news is it looks like this pattern may persist though at least the first half of the month as an omaga type blocking pattern sets up...if the ridge and high pressure can stay anchored over the southeast, this will give us many days for moisture to return to where it needs to be.

So, even if these first few setups within the pattern are meager at best, it would appear the atmosphere is priming itself for some big things even further down the road. El Nino springs in the past have been violent in the Midwest...and I am curious to see how this one will play out. I am keeping a close eye on how it evolves, to further educate myself in longer range pattern prediction.

Friday, March 19, 2010

March Rollercoaster

Ah the March weather roller coaster. If it were a ride in real life it would probably go like this.

In reality, it looks like this.

Ok so its hard to see but the current temp at the time of this posting is 64. The temps behind the front are 36. All circled, although they have recently dropped to 34 now but Im too lazy to take a new image. Good thing I know better and made no outdoor plans this weekend. It has been pleasant around here lately with a string of mild days and several thunderstorm days last week, so I guess its time to take a slap in the face from mother nature.

So far 2010 is a disappointment chase wise. Oh sure, there was March 8th, but that was one of those 1 in 20 events. I'd be willing to bet the only reason so many were out there was it was the first chance of the season, if that setup were in May or June it would be scoffed at. Thats the luck of the draw though.

There are hints that things may get active once April rolls around. So lets hope. Chaser wishcasts are a dime a dozen these days, so I see no reason to go into detail about it. Looks like mother nature is gonna hit the snooze button for the remainder of the month. Maybe shell wake up briefly though before its all said and done.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why I chase

The first chase of 2010 is officially in the books, and while the day did not live up to its tornadic potential, there was plenty of hail to mess around with and some interesting structure features. Typically my first chase of the year barely yields lightning, so for me it was a great start.

The log can be seen at

Things kind of went backwards from my last post, I chased the jungle setup and the local chase fell apart, but thats the way it works in this game, I don't decide when I chase the weather does.

Upon arriving home, I was reminded why I chase, local storms like to give me the run around, but at least I was treated to a  distant lightning show and a few rumbles of thunder which sounded no louder than an airplane overhead. Not even a raindrop ever fell on my house though. Although it did storm there in the morning, but I was in Missouri. So for Chicago, the day of its first [rain] thunderstorms was 3-11-10.

You can run, but you can't hide!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I poked the bear - first potential chase coming up!

I guess mother nature doesn't like being compared to an elephant seal because much to my dismay she spit out some INCREDIBLE tornadoes the day after my last post. It looks like the coming days ahead will hold a shot for some tornadoes as well. I may be looking at my first chase Thursday here in local turf.

There is a chase in the jungles tomorrow which I think I will sit out on, but beginning yesterday the NAM has begun to show a decent chase setup on Thursday. Fellow IL chasers agree, and SPC has even mentioned it now, along with LOT mentioning tornadoes in their AFD this afternoon.

I was beginning to go loco thinking I would not be chasing in March, but low and behold, the bitch formerly known as mother nature heard my cries and is showing some signs of life. Hopefully yesterdays photogenic tornadoes are a sign of things to come. The season has officially begun.

Time to go out and bag that piece of the pie! Check out for detailed forecast thoughts, and as always my personal site for the latest on my chasing.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Right now this is mother nature:

A fat, lazy blob not really doing anything except occupying space while contributing nothing of signifigance.

This is what she needs to be:

A pissed off, raging beast ready to devour everything and anything in site. In case you're wondering, the above creature is from what I believe to be one of the best creature features ever made, The Relic...the damn movie scared the shit out of me the first time I saw it. Anyways,

2010 is not off to the start I was hoping for. Oh sure, people try and re-assure me that its only March and to be patient and blah blah blah but I don't care. Im ready. I need to get going! I don't want my season to only consist of the same peak chases during May that every chaser and their mother longs for. One of the things I enjoy about chasing is the part of it that still gives me personal ambience. Those days are best accomplished on non peak season setups where the less motivated and more picky will stay at home, leaving the pure junkies such as myself out there to take the gamble.

If its one good thing 2009 taught me, its that 30% hatched days suck, and 5% days can yeild great storms.

I wont lie, part of me is greedy and I hate getting the same damn shot everyone else does. I don't want to have to compete with the V2, TIV and Bubblenator armadas [plus whatever else comes out this year as chasing seems to be getting more popular.] I usually do a pretty good job at avoiding these hoards though, as I've equipped myself with a large 4x4 with all terrain tires allowing me to safely travel off the main roads. Even on massive convergence days that everyone bitches about such as 6-7-09 I was able to largely stay isolated and came back with the same results [and a non busted windshield!] Still though, its just another challenge to juggle, which I accept, but still think it would be nice to not have to worry about every once and awhile.

So, while those of you who only want to chase your May 5000+ CAPE days sit around and patiently wait. I will continue to remain antsy for my first insane-o shear early season gamble, hoping I get it and hoping even more it pays off!

The daily model scans yeild nothing of significance either, just that phantom armageddon system the GFS love to spit out beyond 300hrs.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lake Effect Thundersnow!

Check it out:

The Image shows GR3's confirmation of what I saw/heard. The bolt is just east of my spotter network Icon.

All winter I have made mention that the Chicagoland area typically sees its first thunderstorms near the end of February. I thought this year would be different with this ultra boring blocking pattern we've been stuck in. Nope. For once Lake Michigan made me proud and strengthened a meso low which prompted the development of a really intense lake effect snow band. Not only did it have 2"/hr snowfall rates but yes, it had thunder and lightning!

For awhile I doubted such a phenomenon was even possible, Ive read it is, and people smarter than me have told me it is...but seeing really is believing. Ive always found lake effect snow to be more fascinating than "system snow." The flakes are generally really big and can pile up at incredible rates. The bands are very narrow and intense. Here in Chicago though we live on the side of the lake that doesn't experience it too often, so the really intense events aren't all that common. We'll get a few events a year, but its usually northern IN and southwestern MI that bear the brunt of this beast.

I was lucky enough to witness 2 flashes of lightning, the second time I was able to get my window open in time to hear the thunder. So this will go down as the first thunderstorm of 2010, surely not the way I expected it, but the timing is on schedule. Last years first thunderstorms occurred on February 26th, so already 2010 is ahead of 2009!

Perhaps I'm more giddy than I should be...but I love thunder and I love lightning. The two most basic elements of a storm are enough to make me smile. It didn't satisfy my need for a good storm, but up until now it has been since October 10th since I last saw lightning and heard thunder. I know because I keep a general thunderstorm log which I then post to my site at the end of the year.

Spring is not far, the GFS has finally been showing signs of a pattern change around March 7th and we may see some general storms with a system then. No big severe outbreaks yet, but at this point all I want is general storms and some milder temps. Today is about as close as winter can get to remind me that it is almost over and my time of the year is almost here.

Hopefully my next post will be about upcoming chase plans!

Monday, February 22, 2010

High Definition


I finally made the upgrade to HD and purchased a Sony 500v. I researched cameras for a long time before deciding on one. I would have like to have gone pro-sumer but no way does my budget allow for such a move yet. It came down to the Sony 500v and the Canon Vixia f12 or something like that [Canons version of the 500v basically.] Differences were subtle and since Ive always used Sony products I decided to stick with them. Tony Laubach also wrote an excellent review of the camera, and hes had good success with footage he shot with it, so that was the final push. The main motive for going HD is to become more valuable in the stock footage market.

So now I need to test it out and see just how terrible my 5 year old PC can handle the editing. Im still rockin a Pentium 4 and I'm afraid upgrading to HD will require upgrading PCs as well. I really hate how fast technology evolves. Hopefully this will be last camera I purchase for a couple years so I can now save up for other things. I got a great price though thanks to Matt Cumberland, who owed me a favor after the meet and greet thing I did for Best Buy, saved me a good 350.

So now I need some interesting weather to film! Looking at the GFS I'm not seeing a whole lot to get excited about yet. Finally todays 12Z is showing some signs that the gathering warmth in the south will attempt to make a surge north. Up until now each run looked the damn same, cold all the way to the gulf, so I hope this isn't a fluke run and this damn sandwich blocking pattern will finally break down and we can get some spring-like warmth our way.

Usually by now we are dealt a tease of spring around here, and our first thunderstorms are typically at the end of February, doesn't look to be the case this year. So if we are going to get a late start then I hope our patience is rewarded.

This is the warmest looking run Ive seen - Cmon! You can do it! It wont be long now...I need this.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chasercon 2010

**Note** the train is bouncy as hell so if I mistype things, oh well!

It is now 1017pm on Sunday night. Im sitting on the train on the way home, a little over an hour into the 19 hour total ride home. So lets recap the thoughts, the photos wont come until I get home because I am an idiot and left the damn cord at home. One would think I could get a loner being around 300 tech geeks but for some reason it was all around fail for that. Anyways,

I really had a blast out here, I accomplished everything I wanted to do. Lets try this in day by day format.


Travel day, Danny and I left Chicago which had recently just been whomped by a record setting snowfall of 12.6 inches. The bag check lady at Union Station was a bitch and gave us both attitude, we ate pizza hut for lunch and then boarded the train. The ride rocked, I really love taking the train. This was my first time and I cant believe Ive waited so long. It is relaxing, roomy, and walking around and chilling in the lounge car talking to different people rocks. We arrived in Omaha where we un-boarded[?] the train and met up with Scott Bennet who offered to drive us the rest of the way because he wanted company. We discovered what he had a feeling would happen - the bitch didnt put Dannys bag on the train so we had to go to Walmart for some emergency shopping.


Awoke at Mr B's house and after helping him load up we set off for Denver. It was a pretty entertaining ride. Danny had a black cloud over his head due to the bag incident which seemed to have added a voodoo curse as misfortune after misfortune happened to him, us being the supportive individuals we are made sure to laugh allot. We streamed the drive and did an improv type live show where we asked people to call in. Not many did though but it was still fun.

We arrived in Denver and got right down to Business. Most people hadn't arrived yet and there were no scheduled events so we did what most of us wanted to do. We partied. We went into downtown Denver for the Convergence event Dan Ciannca organized and discovered Denver has a pretty awesome bar scene. We arrived back from that and joined up with some chasers hanging in the hotel lounge area but that didnt stop the partying. The other half of our group arrived and we had a hotel after party which got pretty loud and crazy but was allot of fun. Eventually security told us to calm down so we went back to the room to crash, at about 6am.


We partied too hard - I awoke with the worst hangover Ive had in years. I couldnt let that stop me though. A group of us agreed the night before we wanted to go sight seeing in the mountains, I was especially enthused because I had never seen them before. Me, Danny, Ben H, DD, Sarah and Andrew all set out for our adventure into the Rockies. We stopped in Idaho Falls for pizza which wasnt anything special [Im from Chicago and have extremely high standards when it comes to pizza.] The town was an awesome place though, all nestled in the mountains, I would love to live in a place like that if only it was chaseable.

Eventually the hangover subsided and I was able to enjoy the awesome day. The mountains are incredible and I took allot of photos. We got to experience a true Rocky Mountain snow squall. When we entered the mountains the sky was clear blue, after about 40 miles it was white out. A 3 car accident happened right infront of us, lucky we werent involved.

We arrived back once it got it dark. The main events for the night were the "ice breaker" which is basically where everyone is forced to meet one another and the opening of the vendor room. We hung out mostly in the vendor area checking everything out and helping with the CTV booth. None of us were in the mood to really party because we were all whooped by Thursday nights rowdiness, so we just hung out for a bit afterwards watching videos and went to bed. At this time Mr Matt Cumberland met us in our room, the crazy bastard drove 15hrs from Chicago just to attend for one day, now thats dedication.


I was actually able to get up in time for the mornings presentations, which were very good and informative. I learned some new things I definitely will be applying to future chase forecasts. I had a scheduled interview with the weather channel so I had to leave the presentations early to get ready for it. The interview was severely delayed because a certain individual ended up being in there for about an hour which pushed everyone else behind. The interview itself went really well, although theyre trying to con me into giving them free video, probably wont happen unless I know exactly what their intentions are. Im sure Ill be updating this blog with followups in regards to that though.

After the interview was done I continued with more vendor area stuff and sitting in on presentations. A big group of CTVers went out to this amazing resteraunt called Texas de Brazil. I can best describe it as a meat lovers paradise, I was in heaven but wow talk about a price tag for that amazing meal. We raised our glasses and toasted to a good 2010 season and laughed our asses off at the ridiculous status updates we bombarded facebook with.There were basically so many different kinds of meat at this restaurant that we tried to come up with new names for them.

Once that was done Ben, Kris Danny and I were in party mode so we set back out for a club in downtown Denver, we had a blast but I was reminded why I stopped going out all the time. I get too generous and drop way more money than I want to. It was worth it though.


I wanted to watch the mornings presentations, but it is now day 5 of getting only 4hrs of sleep and the bed sheets had a death grip on me. I went to McDonalds for breakfast with a chaser from Britan who shares amazing passion for the chase. We had a really great conversation about that. I came back and sat in the presentation for about 20 minutes but they went into subject material I didnt care for so I went back to the room. It was near checkout time and knowing our train wasnt set to leave for almost 8hrs I opted for a late checkout.

We sat around in the lobby saying bye to everyone. Only a handful of us remained so we continued to talk and watch video filmed by David Drummond who had been documenting everything, it was hours of good laughs. Once it was time to leave we dropped Ben and Andrew off at the Airport. Danny and I met up with Brandon again at Union Station and boarded our train for home.

And here I sit...getting sleepy and not really looking forward to the return home. Definitely glad I made the trip and will come next year for sure. I met allot of great chasers there and expanded the network. I also am really proud to be apart of CTV. Making the switch was a great move. We treat each other with respect and we do things together other than just chase, we are actually friends. We go out to dinner, we party and we laugh our asses off. Scott and Steve run as honest of a business as there is in the weather world...and it shows. Too many chasers are greedy and their businesses are ran dishonestly, ChaserTV is the exact opposite, and I like that.

There were several times where that was interrupted by the latest gossip with people talking shit, but we brushed it off. I find it funny how they cannot adress me [or us] face to face.

Photo montage will come soon, not sure how I'm going to do it. Ill probably make it an album on my site because after all, I need more hits!

Oh, we also launched our new site. So check out

Monday, February 1, 2010


Thats what the weather has done here lately. Winter has been pretty timid around here overall. We have had only one instance where temperatures went below freezing [-1] as well as only a couple days above 40 which is also abnormal. Weather is driven by temperature fluctuations due to uneven heating on earths surface, so it comes as no surprise to me that with a generally steady temperature profile through much of winter we haven't had any major storm events either. I can't say that for other parts of the country though, no doubt this winter will be a record setter for many areas.

As I've mentioned before, other than seeing more freezing rain events than we typically see around here, this winter has been largely uneventful. The snow tally is around 28 inches which is about normal. There are no big snows looming on the horizon and if the current pattern maintains we may finish winter with below normal snowfall. Im not sure what the new normal is. Since it is 2010 and averages are based on 30 year cycles [ending each decade rather than year] I'm sure the numbers have changed. I believe its around 35 inches give or take.

I am glad the pattern is this way now though, I would much rather have a boring pattern in winter than spring. SDS is on overdrive for allot of chasers/storm junkies. I seem to be doing ok. I prepare myself this time of the year to not have storms and I find ways to keep busy. Its when we don't get storms in the warm season [like much of 2009] that I go crazy.

Chasercon is coming up soon, I'm extremely excited for the trip, not only to see everyone but I will accomplish a couple of "firsts" in my life as well. Ive never ridden an Amtrack train and Ive never seen mountains [shocking I know!] This trip will knock both of those off my lifes to do list. Its all about experience for me. I don't want to just fly in and fly out. I want it to be an experience, an adventure, something unique and different in which I will undoubtedly return home with some stories and photos to share.

I haven't made many big site updates in recent days. I began cataloging all the typos and other minor imperfections in a notebook I recently purchased. Once that is done I will spend an hour or however long it takes cleaning them all up.

The latest chaser drama? Oh its there and Ive got quite an opinion on it, but I'm not one to step on the soap box to try and convince people my opinion is more right than theirs. Others should learn to do that as well. I'm here to chase and have a good time. Immersing myself in all the childish bullshit is not my idea of fun or a good use of my time.