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.