Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Decentber: About My Hate for Snow

A pretty mild, calm and boring December it has been so far, hence I am calling it Decentber. Because the weather hasn't been bad at all. Most days have been above normal, with sun, and what little precip has fallen has been rain. I could definitely live with it staying like this the entire winter.

Many are shocked that a weather nut such as myself loathes snow. Somewhere between the time when I was a kid and snow meant a potential day off school to the time I became an adult and it meant a pain in the ass commute to work it is true, I lost my love for the stuff. It is annoying and an inconvenience.

Now don't get me wrong, if we get another blizzard like we had back in February that would certainly be awesome. That was a full on severe weather assault with 60mph winds, hail and thundersnow totalling over 20 inches that put the city to a hault. THAT I WILL TAKE. But you can save all your piddly 2-12 inch accumulations for somewhere else in the country.

The media chaser would say "but snow video sells good," Yea, maybe in Texas where an inch of snow equals the apocalypse, but here in Chicago we have plenty of media to go out and shoot their own B-roll shots of idiot drivers sliding into ditches. Believe me, I have tried. So that argument is moot.

Sure, snowstorms are a challenge to forecast and are a good way to rack ones meteorological brain and put their forecast skills to the test, but again, I can do that with a snow event somewhere else. Doesn't need to be in my backyard.

Snow makes for pretty pictures: Yea, not in the city, it turns brown and black after about 2hrs. I am not a photog and driving 2hrs to take pictures of snow is not appealing to me.

So I just don't get excited over the stuff, and wouldn't complain if Decentber continued all the way into March. Winter is basically a go big or go home type deal for me. Snowpocalypse that brings the human race crawling to its knees, or nothing at all. Because unless it is just that, it is nothing more than an inconvenience. Snow loses its magic at the age of 16, when suddenly one must drive in it, and places of employment [unlike schools] remain open.

Plus, the weather statistic nerd in me has realized that if we continue on this pace, we will set a new record for the latest date of measurable snow in the city, and who knows what else. Always neat to experience either end of the record spectrum.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things I am Going to be Working on.

Before I get to the point I should mention I had an incredible chase about 2 weeks ago in Oklahoma. At east 8 tornadoes, some very beautiful and high contrast, were documented by myself along with Ben Holcomb and Jonathan Williamson. Detailed log can be seen here:

The sad part is that only covers about half of what went on. A little known fact about that day is we actually got hit by a brief spinup while blasting north under a new developing area of rotation. My ears popped, debris flew by from the west, and then whipped back around from the east. No doubt in my mind it was a brief tornadic spinup. At that point the battery in my camera was dead from filming over 90 minutes of the chase so I have no video. Jon had his camera on the seat since he was focusing on still pictures, I was filming with Bens camera and had it pointed out the windshield, but he said the video turned out like crap. So who knows...

That being said, one of the things I will be upgrading is a new extended battery. Never again do I want to have a battery die during the middle of a hot chase. That was the first, and will be the last time that ever happens.

I also plan to get a wind filter, one thing I can't stand in video is excessive amounts of wind noise. Sort of hard to avoid in this line of work, but a filter is a relatively cheap purchase so its worth a shot.

New laptop is coming thanks to a very generous individual. It won't be top of the line [nothing I own ever is] but it will be better than what I have, and I've been able to make do with what I have, so an upgrade is an upgrade. I am tired of being skunked in video sales [especially by people with worse shots] because it takes my old ass laptop 2hrs to render out a 20 second video clip to upload.

I say this every year, but I would really like to finally get my HAM license. Not sure Ill have money for a radio though, so we'll see. 

I also want to get certified in first responding. Arriving on the devastation moments after it happened during the April 27th and May 24th outbreaks really was a kick in the gut. The things I saw those days were just...ugh. I need to be able to help more.

So that is a bit of a preview of the things I plan to change for 2012. 

If I have time I may attempt to build the rest of the hail guards for the windshield and rear window. Time is short, and so are funds. So we'll see!

Any moment we will be in winters grip, and as always there is plenty to keep me busy during the off season. 2012 potentially has some major opportunities for me. Lots of leads for good things, just gotta keep my head in the game and make sure I am always striving to improve!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Closing Out October

Hard to believe October is almost over and November will begin. It won't be long now until the Chicago area is the grips of winters nastiness, which from "expert" opinions is supposed to be another terrible one, similar to the last 3 years. I remain skeptical, seeing as how winter 2010-2011 broke the record for consecutive years with 50+ inches of snow here, it seems inconceivable that it would happen 2 years in a row but hey, records were made to be broken.

In other news I had to miss the NWSF this year which kinda bummed me out. I was all set to go but went to the dentist a few days prior to get one of my many teeth problems fixed and got slapped with a bill that was allot higher than expected, and there went all my trip funds. I suppose I still could have went, but it wouldn't have been the smart thing to do financially, plus many of the faces I wanted to see down there weren't going, so I decided to just save my resources for chasercon.

I have been aggressive in knocking out bills and debt, so I can move forward with life on a clean slate. Its been a challenge but it is my priority now. I don't make much money, but what I do make is being used to knock out my debt so that once the future rolls around I can be better off. Its tough, but I manage...

DVDs are moving off the shelf, not as fast as I was hoping though. Not sure why, but probably because I set my price at 19.99 while most other chasers are offering theirs between 10 and 15. Mine is jam packed with 4 years worth of my best stuff though and is pretty much wall to wall tornado and extreme weather. Not knocking other DVDs but if I had allot of filler content and stuff I find boring [like blizzards and forest fires and 7 minute long dashcam shots of me driving towards a shelf cloud] I would have charged less.

Another reason is probably the title, it wasn't meant to be taken serious which is probably why allot of seasoned weather enthusiasts are ignoring it. Most of my sales are coming from the general public and fans/supporters of mine as opposed to the typical members of the chase community minus the couple trades I have done. Thats fine though, I wanted to branch out in that harder to reach market so in that aspect its been a success. I have had a few people tell me mine is the first DVD they have ever purchased, so for that I feel special and extremely grateful!

There is still the CA 2011 DVD which is about to be released as well, and those typically sell well and are bought by all the usual suspects so if I can have a leg in each side of the market that is certainly a good thing.

One things for certain though, when compiling footage for a DVD it is definitely the best way to critique your own shooting style, and I will be making sure I do allot of things to improve my videography skills in 2012. Tripoding more is a must. Many times I didn't want to grab my tripod because I didn't want to miss filming the tornado for those few seconds. I have now realized its worth missing a few seconds to have the rest be professional and stabilized.

Although in 2012 I plan to be more aggressive in my distance to tornadoes by getting closer, which means lots of in vehicle shots. Perhaps a dashcam mount - but for some reason I tend not to like daschcam footage when I see it from others. A stabilized shot is good, but those just seem TOO stable [if that makes sense] to where it diminishes the true chaotic-ness of the situation. We'll see, the winter will be long and Ill have lots of time to consider the pros and cons of the things I want to do differently in 2012.

Speaking of conventions. I am supposed to speak at the Indiana Storm Chasers convention this Saturday. Working with the bums in my group has been an eye rolling experience as usual since they can't commit to anything. Perhaps devolving the group into just a DVD production is the way to go...but thats another issue for another time...and now the GFS is driving me crazy with fantasy runs showing a potential chase the day of the convention [of course] so we'll see what happens.

Thats all for now!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Fire Photo That Will Not Die.

Those of you who are my friend on facebook know about the eternal flame photo. This past weekend I went camping with friends, nothing unusual there. I snapped a pic of the campfire and uploaded it to facebook, nothing unusual there either. In fact, if you browse my mobile uploads album you'll see more than one instance of this [most recently on my Birthday while visiting Jon Williamson in WI.] Somehow the photo is stuck in a weird loop and auto posts every 4-5 hours.

I've done everything on my end I can think of to make it stop. I deleted the photo out of my phone, deleted my message boxes, upload folders, restarted the phone, took out the sim card, deleted the original facebook post but alas, just like Old Faithful, every 4-5 hours it appears again. I don't have a smart phone so there is no facebook app to try and jigger settings on.

So I decided to have some fun with it since people seem amused by it, and used it as a way to promote my DVD I am working on by offering people free copies if they were the first to comment stupid random sayings I made up. I'm generally a go with the flow type of person, never take things too seriously and will roll with the punches. I've even gotten about a dozen friend requests since the wacky incident started. The parody photos and videos have been hilarious, and offer a nice distraction from life's stresses. Ill probably collect and save them all somewhere at some point.

Some of you think I am doing it on assured that even if I were clever enough to come up with the scheme on my own, I am definitely too lazy to make sure I am on facebook every 4 hours to post it. Contrary to popular belief I do sleep and work...sometimes ;)

Alas though, there are those out there who value the content of their facebook feeds like a first born child, and apparently having to take an extra second to scroll past it is a huge burden on their life so I will be contacting facebook [if thats even possible] about it to see if they can stop it.

Though it will one day be extinguished, it will never truly die!

In other news, the progress I am making on my DVD has been great, much faster than I expected. I am ashamed of myself for waiting so long, as I am having trouble cramming 4 years worth of content into one DVD, but once I got rolling with the project my focus really ramped up and I've gotten really into it. When I first started it I gave an estimated release date of December 1st thinking my lazy ass would have all sorts of road blocks, but at the rate I am going I don't see a reason it won't be done in the next two weeks, so stay tuned for more announcements regarding that!

I plan to promote it to the point people will get sick of hearing the word noob, but if the word association sticks [for better or worse] and keeps me in people's heads, I will deem my unintended marketing campaign a success.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Storm Chasing DVD Trailer!

I've finally begun working on my first ever DVD. There is much to do, but I have finished the trailer. It only took me about 5 hours, mostly because I had to dig out my old computer that had some of my 2008 and 2009 stuff on it, but I like the way it turned out. Anyways here is the trailer.

Why did I title it The Noob? Well, a couple reasons. It is my first DVD which covers my first several years as a chaser. I also find the term amusing, especially when someone attempts to call me that as an insult. It's a snarky way to stick it to those who thought I could never do it. Rather than trying to get defensive and give a million reasons why I am some die hard non-noob chaser, I simply embrace what I am and where I am in my career. These WERE my noob years, and I have allot of accomplishments to be proud of!

I am not sure when the DVD will be released. I am going to put it together using software I've never used before, so I expect it to be a nightmare with lots of problems. Hopefully sooner than later, and definitely before the holidays!

Storm Chasers: I will accept trades. Some of you have hooked me up with your DVDs over the years and rest assured I will definitely reciprocate! Everyone else; thatll be 19.99 - I need some new gear for 2012!

I am excited, and hope everyone will enjoy it when it is done.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Storm Chasing and Making Money

I've been a bit of a crabass lately, so its time to rant on a popular debate in the chase community. The whole issue when it comes to storm chasing and making money.

First and foremost, if you are a new and aspiring chaser hoping for big fame and big bucks for the latest and greatest tornado video. Don't even bother. The market is extremely tough, and in this day and age even if you get a good shot one of 2 things will happen.

1 - Someone better than you who already has the connections will get a better shot or
2 - Some dipshit with an I-phone will give the news a crappier shot for free. The news could care less about quality.

The big debate revolves around those who want to make money are said to be less passionate. Are you kidding me?! Often what you see is blanket statements like "I don't care if I make money, I am there for the love of the weather and to save lives." Get over yourself now. I am tired of reading this from people. As if somehow that statement is going to convince me that you are a die hard chaser and deserve to be there more than others. Please, you ain't fooling anyone except those who try and spout the same bullshit. Then you can all rally together and stroke each others egos.

There is nothing I would enjoy more than being able to make my lifes living off of storm chasing. A pipe dream sure, but a dream none-the-less. I could give a rats ass about a persons "real" job nor do I want to be remembered in life for the work I do. Hey wow, you work in IT! Congrats. PHHHT. Sure, in the grand scheme of things storm chasers may not really matter, but neither do half of the occupations out there.

When I die I want people to think "There goes Adam, he was a badass storm chaser." Not "there goes adam, he was awesome at fixing computers, flipping burgers, filling out tax forms, cutting lawns, driving forklifts, etc etc etc." I think allot of time people assume that those who want to make money off chasing want to become RICH from chasing. There is a difference. I would be happy living in a dumpy apartment or trailer, if it meant I had the freedom to chase. More money is always better, but to me life fulfillment outweighs just how much money I make. If I was handed a job offer for 40k a year that guaranteed a way I could chase when I wanted, I would take that anyday over a job that offered me 100K a year but said I could only have 2 weeks off.

So you better damn well believe I will do everything in my power to make as much money as possible with my chasing en devours. If that makes me a sellout in your eyes thats fine. I don't owe you or anyone anything and you sure as hell aren't going to help me in anyway so why do I care if you think I am a sellout? Have fun not chasing as much as you would like in the meantime, just don't expect me to feel sorry for you because you're stuck in a routine and the storms won't always come within 20 miles of your house.

Another argument is chasing for money turns chasing into work as opposed to enjoyment. While there may be some truth to that it still wouldn't bother me. Its work I would enjoy, and it would be my life. Every job has its stressful moments, its ups and downs. I might as well have my work be my lifes passion, and if I want a hobby I purely enjoy thats where fishing, BBQing and camping comes in.

This all goes back to chasing being different things to different people. If you are happy with your situation thats all that matters. If chasing only a handful of times a year is enough for you, I applaud you and surely don't look down on you. The people I look down on are the ones who whine about their situation and do little to change it. Succeeding in your dream is harder than succeeding in everyday normal life.

Life is hard, and bills need to get paid. I am not blind to this. I may chase allot, but its not nearly enough as I want to because even I still have to do what I have to do to survive. I have given up allot of "normal life" things in order to be able to chase as much as I can though. I was not born into an easy means to chase freely, so for me it has to come with hard work and sacrifice. I've sacrificed moving out of my house when I was in my mid 20s, getting married, having a family, that nice job know, all the normal stuff people are supposed to do. That may be the ultimate goal for many, its just not mine.

I think the bottom line is, even if I never make another penny doing it, I am still going to do it. But as long as I am doing it, I am not going half ass it, and will do everything in my power to make the most from it. I think allot of people fail to grasp that concept. Do I think I am better? Certainly not and sometimes I have a struggle from within thinking I am making the wrong decisions and that I wish I wasn't a slave to this desire. Its a tough battle to fight trying to climb your way up from the very bottom.

Basically, if you don't want to make money from chasing then good for you, but you are not better than anyone, you are not more passionate, and it doesn't give you anymore right to be there than someone else. So STFU, and thats where I stand on that whole issue.

EDIT: While discussing this entry on facebook I summed it up quite nicely and wanted to add it in here.

Really the point I am trying to make is who cares what others are doing and that none of us are better than anyone else. Do it for your own reasons and enjoy it. I think WE ALL do it for the love of storms. That is the ONLY THING that fuels us to go out there. What spin you decide to take on it from there is up to you, and no matter what that is, you have a right to do it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Severe Weather Nowcast - Too Little Too Late?

Today is a perfect example of how morning garbage storms can really mess up an otherwise great setup. Sure, the shelf cloud was pretty but you can thank that decaying crap complex for ruining what would have been something far better. Perhaps I would be less bitter if the complex had held together when it reached Chicago, but instead it fell apart completely and even the shelf cloud was gone, leaving the area in nothing but thundery showers for a whole 4 hours. Finally, a loud pulse storm rolled through around 4pm, and the sun quickly has come out over all of IL as shown by the visible sat:

We are finally destabilizing as shown by the 3hrs CAPE change:

But it might be too little too late. Areas to the west though have had a chance to sit in the sun and cook longer, but of course out there the cap [a warm layer of air aloft that thwarts storm development] is more of an issue. Still, convection allowing models have shown a new band of storms developing shortly around sunset. Most notebly for Chicago, the 12z 4km wrf, which has actually handled todays storm situation quite well so far. So we will see if this trend continues:
Another popular convection allowing model, the HRRR also buys into a similar situation though it keeps the development further west and never really brings it into the Chicago area, likely due to the lack of instability that has yet to materialize over this area. However, this model is run each hour, and the solutions can vary greatly from run to run, below are the 2 most recent runs for the same time [10pm this evening] and you can see a huge difference.

Naturally being a storm lover I want the bottom solution to verify, but I am leaning towards the top one as of right now.

A big negative factor for severe weather is dismal low level lapse rates. This is lower than pathetic and would need to change quickly.
Still though, shear over the region remains impressive, with bulk shear in the 40-50kt range. Low level flow is backing, and there would be both ample speed and directional shear to support severe storms including a brief window for supercells with very large hail and an isolated tornado threat given the high instability out west, After which a more typical transition to a linear mode takes over with attendant wind/hail threat.
Such is always the case when watching an event unfold, there are factors supporting severe weather, and other factors scream bust. I think the forecast I posted last night is on track fairly well though and would expect the area that would see the best chance of severe weather to be from I-39 west towards the Missisippi river. As far as Chicagoland goes it is a tough call, but those in the area still need to be on alert for potential severe weather.

For the latest you can always stay tuned to my facebook page, or follow Convective Addiction here:!/convectiveaddiction

Monday, August 22, 2011

Potential for Severe Weather in Chicago Tuesday and Wednesday.

Bored and checking over the 0z NAM as it continues to trickle in. A NW flow type event could bring multiple rounds of severe weather to the area. These are quirky setups that occur in this area from time to time. Basically if you take a traditional setup and rotate the shear profile clockwise 90 degrees you get a NW flow event. They have dealt some surprise tornado events in the past, and are worth watching.

Tomorrows setup looks to be one of those cases as decent directional shear will be in place. Surface to 500mb crossovers show a good 90 degrees of turning, though speed shear is a bit lacking near the surface which leads me to believes storms will puke on their own outflow before they get a chance to utilize their full potential. Instability will really need to be in place to compensate for this, and it looks like the best instability will be to the west, with a modest 1500 CAPE in the N IL area.

The other big question is what will happen with a morning round of storms progged to form in E IA and track over N IL. Latest HRRR runs as well as the 0z NAM support this idea, though the NAM is much later with initiation. There are a couple scenarios that will play out.

1- Storms form in E IA earlier than later, move through Chicago by early morning, and N IL has sufficient time to recover. Outflow from this complex could spark a new round of storms, potentially supercells early on given ample directional shear before eventually congealing into a large bowing MCS. This would be the most ideal scenario chase wise.

2- Storms form later than sooner, and move through N IL and the Chicago area in late morning or early afternoon. If early afternoon they could potentially be severe if enough instability can develop ahead of them...or we get a decaying MCS with moderate rain and a CG or two. Despite whichever scenario plays out, a later passing would likely ruin the threat for the remainder of the day. I would then place the favored area of initiation further north and west into Wisconsin, this new round would potentially reach Chicago after dark.

The other trend I noticed is the fropa seems to have slowed down a bit. This intrigues me as well since severe storms will likely redevelop ahead of the front Wednesday. Slower frontal passage gives the Chicago area a greater chance of getting in on this action as well as opposed to what normally happens where the front passes through here at noon and storms form near I-65 and flip me the bird as they slide away. So I am all for a slower frontal passage.

Basically, I don't know exactly what will happen with the threat these next two days, but it will probably be one of the scenarios I mentioned above, so I am going to be nowcasting the event, and head out if I deem it worthwhile.

Right now my target triangle for potential supercells would be Rochelle, Madison, Dubuque.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hail in Chicago and the Little Me

Back on June 30th Chicago got whacked by a significant hailstorm. Im pretty sure I bitched about it another post because it just barely missed my house. Hail is somewhat rare around here, from what I read online we average 2 hail events a year here, most of it small. This year I have managed to see 3 small hail events at home but am still bitter about the big one missing me. Anyways, todays barrage was all pea to dime size, but unlike the other events it lasted for a good 6-7 minutes as opposed to 30 seconds.

A pic and some video:

[Ugh, I don't know why its showing up retarded like that, I hate bloggers editor and what it does to the format when I try and add pics/video to this blog - thats the reason I hardly do it anymore because its a pain in the arse and I've tried to fix it 4 times already with no luck. Google, PLEASE GO BACK TO THE OLD EDITOR THAT DIDN'T DO THIS!!]

Anyways...the storm. Before it hit tried to take on the appearance of a supercell with a hook echo.

So I think mother nature is still teasing me, but it was a fun local storm. They have been fairly plentiful this year, so I have no major gripes.

On a different note, if you watched the video you may have heard a child screaming. I am usually filming a storm whenever it hits my house, and lately I have noticed one of the kids on the block always comes running outside during a storm. He is around 6 years old if I had to guess and he is always excited. When I was watching a shelf cloud a couple weeks ago he came running outside going WHOAA THATS SO AWESOME! Jumping up and down and getting excited. Today he was outside running around in the hail while his mom watched.

So I finally decided to go over and hand them a business card and a laminated picture of the June 7th 2008 tornado [I have about 20 of them and I carry a few in my laptop bag to give to kids.] I explained to his mom what I do and that I notice how excited he gets during storms, she said he loves them and is obsessed with the weather. He reminds me of me as a kid, because I did all the same thing. So I gave them the card/picture and said I would be willing to help him learn weather or anything they would want. Might as well right? Im a big advocate of people following what they love, and it would be a shame to see young mind slip into the dreary 9 to 5 lifestyle that gets jammed into our heads.

After that, I went on to do more interviews with the film crew working on their documentary, as well as sign release forms for the footage I am letting them use.

Just another day in the storm chaser bizz...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wettest Day Ever in Chicago

Its been a stormy weekend here in Chicago. Repeated rounds of extremely heavy rain and vivid lightning have bombarded the area since Thursday night. I never managed to get any lightning shots as it seems like the bulk of the lightning activity managed to evade my house with the exception of those random 2 or 3 strikes that are really close during a 3hr long storm barrage.

The bigger story has been the flooding though, in fact Chicago just recorded its wettest day ever with O'hare Airport picking up 6.91" of rain on Saturday, which outsed the previous record of 6.64 in September of 2008 when the boring, thunderless remnants of a hurricane dumped on us for a couple days.

Here is a local news story about the event [probably time sensitive so I dont know how long the link will be valid:,0,6626062.story

While the rain at O'hare was incredible, we got about 4" less here at Midway, which just goes to show how much it can vary during these events. A tidbit of irony is that exactly one year ago on the very same date, the Midway area was hit with 7" of rain in one day and the massive flooding was affecting my neighborhood. I have a write up on that event on my site which can be seen here:

The photogenic prize for the weekend was a wicked shelf cloud that passed over early Friday morning, you dont often see structure and colors like this around here, so it was a real treat, but hard to capture in full due to the buildings and neighborhood trees. More can be seen on my homepage.

Since I have a weird date obsession with storms, it appears I will have to look forward to July 23rd 2012! Though usually once I notice a coincidence in the dates in which my area gets hit with storms is when the pattern ends. Today should be the last day of storms here, and normal people will finally get some weather they enjoy, while I look forward to a similar pattern rebuilding around Wednesday and potentially lasting 3 or 4 days. I love summer ring of fire patterns.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chicago Heat Wave!

No news here, been sweltering through a heatwave most of the week. The high at Midway Airport has reached 100 degrees 2 days in a row, which hasn't happened since the deadly heat wave of 1995 that claimed nearly 700 lives.

I actually don't mind the heat though and for some reason look for excuses to be outside more than when temperatures are normal. Perhaps its that weird weather nerd in me that enjoys unusual weather, to know that such extreme heat is pretty rare around here and I want to get a taste of it, especially to feel what people in Texas have to deal with on a daily basis.

Other than that its been boring. With such a heat pattern comes ring of fire storms with vivid lightning, so far they have evaded the area day after day much to my dismay, but the next 48hrs are as good a chance as any, so heres hoping.

There is also a good chase setup tomorrow and Saturday too that I cannot partake in and its frustrating me to no end. See, there are very few things that keep me from chasing, and I am blessed with very understanding family and friends as I am always canceling out on and ditching plans last minute to go chasing, but once a year there is a massive annual picnic. Since its in the dead of summer I figure its safe enough to commit to and be a big part of the planning. Well, not this year, although the better of the 2 setups [Friday] I could still chase if it weren't for one more truck.

My air conditioner went out in early June, and for over a month its been a back and forth struggle with my mechanic to get it looked at, order the right parts and last week I FINALLY got an appointment scheduled, yup, that appointment just happens to be tomorrow. Otherwise I would just chase myself and marathon it back in time, since my normal crew of Skip and Jon are chasing both days. I guess the cards were stacked against me this  time, it sucks, and while I wish everyone the best luck, I am secretly hoping the cap holds. Nothing pains me more to miss a chase due to circumstances I can't control, but I guess I have been spoiled with more freedom to chase than most. Still, it irks me.

The other thing is I may be starting to work full time again very soon, and my freedom will be cut down, so I would like to grasp any chances I could, but then again after my second interview I may not like the offer anyways, so well find out.

O well, hopefully I can snag some lightning shots in the next 48hrs, if so, Ill post em here!

Monday, June 27, 2011

2011 - Thats All She Wrote...For Now.

Well here it is, nearly the end of June. Traditionally this time marks the end of what is considered to be the chase season. Granted, I live in the midwest and the season never really ends. Surely there will be a random summer setup or two I can mess around with and then theres the fall, but the most part, the season is done.

So here are some stats and facts.


Chases: 24
Tornadoes: 17
Tornado days: 9* [A new record for a season]
Largest hail encountered: 3.00"
Closest to a tornado: 30 yards [June 20th]
Longest tornado video taped: May 24th Canton, OK - 9 minutes
Strongest tornado witnessed: May 24th - EF-5 tornado near Piedmont, OK

New milestones:

Longest consecutive days chasing: 7- May 18 - May 25
First EF-5 [Piedmont, OK]
First tornadoes in the following states: NE, IA, AL* [Also first time ever chasing AL]
First time taking a "customer" chasing
First stock video sale for a TV show [Nat Geo's I-witness: Tornado Swarm 2011]
First tornado on first chase [failed to document!!]
First back to back tornado days [June 19th and 20th]

Thoughts on the season overall:

2011 as I expected wasn't as great as 2010 as far as tornado numbers and photo-genic-ness goes, but without a doubt 2011 is my second best season. The season was a major black and white season for me. I had allot of bad luck I had to overcome, especially when it came to vehicle problems. My laptop also began melting down during the second half which meant more tech problems that needed fixing in the field than usual.

I experienced more death and devastation than I ever hope to again this year, including the deadly outbreaks on both April 27th and May 24th. These days were the first in which I've ever freshly arrived on the scene of EF-5 tornado aftermath, seeing bodies get pulled from churches, kicking down doors and searching for people, helping treat wounds with clean tissues and try to help distraught locals stay calm, contact loved ones, clear trees so vehicles can get through all were new experiences I experienced and hope to never have to repeat. I know better though, and its an unfortunate side of chasing that will present itself again someday.

I saw some incredible tornadoes, but as far as video goes, only 1 of those tornadoes gave me more than 5 minutes of tornado video. It seems that on days I got great tornadoes, I missed even greater tornadoes on a different storm. While I understand I can't see every tornado on every storm, its sometimes bothersome to know that I could have gotten 20-30 minutes of amazing video as opposed to 5. There were also no real big multi tornado days. Most days only had 1 or 2 tornadoes. In fact, only 1 day had more than 2 which was April 9th - and almost all of them were at night and I got no good video of them anyways, adding to the bittersweet theme of 2011.

I made more money selling video and streaming than I have in any season, in fact, if it weren't for gas prices being over 4 dollars a gallon I would have easily turned a profit, but to know in the end I will come out near breaking even is a pretty nice feeling. Each season it seems I do better and better with promoting myself and getting exposure. I know thats not what its about, but chasing is what I love, and its what I want to be known for...not my meaningless jobs I do when Im not chasing. Chasing is my life, and its all I want the world to know of me.

Lets break it down by month.

March: The season got off to a slow start, and I had my latest first chase of any season. Despite it being the latest, I did see one tornado I failed to document due to thinking it was pointy scud as opposed to a funnel but alas, well credited chasers nearby did infact video and confirm it was a tornado. The bad luck was off to a quick start for me and the month saw no more chases or tornadoes.

April: Bonkers, with more and frequent tornado outbreaks than ever experienced.. The month broke all sorts of records. April had 3 tornado days for me, the 9th, 19th and 27th. The tornadoes on the 9th left me feeling unaccomplished still and I went into early panic mode, but the Litchfield tornado on the 19th gave me a fresh breath of redemption, only I botched the video due to auto focus. Chasing the new Super Outbreak of April 27th is something I will never forget. Seeing the devastation of the Hackleburg EF-5 moments after it happened was very haunting. Also nearly getting stranded down there due to the fuel problem is an experience I wont soon forget.

May: Most of May was a complete waste. The first 20 days of the month were just like 2009 and we couldn't get a decent setup to save our lives. Despite that, I chased hard and often, and took on a new task when I was sought out by a gentleman from Oregon wanting to chase. He agreed to cover expenses in exchange for me taking him wherever he wanted whenever he wanted. It was quite a challenge trying to get him the best action on what turned out to be really marginal chase days, but each day I was able to forecast and put us in the best spot and overall it was a very enjoyable trip in which I saw lots of friends and made new ones. It really put my forecast skills to the test and definitely gave me a new respect for the chasers who are out there all season, not just when it is convenient or a SPC MDT-High risk setup. The real chasers are out there no matter what, and I respect them that much more for that. Chasing outbreaks is easy, chasing season-long is not.

The season roared back to life in the months final 10 days which saw some significant tornadoes rake the country. Vehicle problems began to affect my chasing at this point, and I was forced to a target I didn't want to play a couple times due to logistics, causing me to miss some significant tornadoes on the 21st and 22nd [including the Joplin tornado] but on the 24th I was able to catch an incredible tornado near Canton, Oklahoma. This again would have been my most amazing video from the year, but a damn raindrop on the lens totally ruined the shot. Bittersweet 2011. Later that day we caught a brief glimpse of a rain wrapped wedge that turned out to be my first EF-5. More bittersweet because the destruction we came across was devastating and we spent the rest of the day doing search and rescue. Overall May was a solid month that gave me just about all there is to experience in chasing.

June: My favorite month went to mostly a waste. Much like the first 2/3 of May, the first 2/3 of June could not see a decent chase setup to save anyones life. I had about given up hope on a chase during my favorite month and was ready to accept an early end to the season, when the 19th and 20th rolled around and presented a couple of setups worth chasing. These setups ended up giving me tornadoes on each day and made for a real nice close to the season. Again though, while what we got on the 20th was amazing, we missed the best show of the day. We had the best post chase after party I've ever been to with the discover crew, and it was the perfect way to end a season.

So, in a nutshell that was my season. I could type a million more details, but I've already taken up enough of your time. If you made it this far I applaud you.

I am not done chasing this year though, for when that random summer or fall setup presents itself, I will be there!!!

To see some of the tornadoes I caught, check out my websites home page

Thursday, June 9, 2011

White Towel Time?

Quite a thundery mess here in Chicago last night. A constant nearly 11 hour long assault of lightning from sub severe storms. I always say I love summer nighttime MCS season but wait a minute...

Its only June 9th...and I haven't chased once yet this month. I guess it was bound to happen, I have been talking up the first 10 days of June since I first started chasing as my favorite. Never before now have the first 10 days of June failed to give me a tornado, even in the dismal 2009 season I was able to nab a good prize during this time frame.

Even the upslope has been slow to do anything this year, leaving many gambling chasers disappointed. Looking ahead I see nothing worth chasing that catches my eye, some more meager setups which by now I have exhausted all my resources for a 1 day gamble out west. That is what typically happens though and at this point I am no longer desperate for a good tornado so with the funds nearing their depletion I can be a little more conservative about when I chase. Granted if I was better off I would chase everything no matter what, but that is not the case.

Its been a black and white year. April was bonkers. Then May was dismal until the 21st when the season roared back to a violent life through the 25th, and now the brakes have once again been slammed and a decent chase setup is hard to come by. Memorial days gustnado fest was fun, but not ideal for this time of year.

So, hopefully something will happen in the next 2 weeks, otherwise as much as I hate to say it...thats all she wrote for the 2011 chase season. Luckily living in the midwest the season never really ends, and a surprise summer event can spring up at anytime.

At least I've been able to wet the fishing lines lately...

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Wont Kiss Ass

Seriously, there was a time way back when, as I first started immersing myself into this wonderful community in whatever year it was...06 or so...that I was quite intimidated. The last thing I wanted to do was say something stupid to have someone think badly of me. For some reason I wanted the opinions of other chasers, especially those I once looked up to, to be good of me. If I made a post on StormTrack and someone called me out on it or had something bad to say I would quickly apologize.

And now....screw it. I don't give a shit if you've been chasing 20 years or 20 minutes. You're all on the same level and noones opinions matter anymore. Granted I am not out to piss anyone off, nor do I go out of my way to make enemies, I would rather be liked than hated but one thing I will not do is suck up, kiss ass, or brown nose. Being a self proclaimed veteran simply means you were born earlier than me. If I was born in 1962 as opposed to 1982 I would have started chasing in the late 70s and 80s as well. You can blame my parents for not having sex earlier.

Whether or not I "earned" this right to not want to bow down I also don't care. While I still appreciate any advice given and respect those who've pioneered before me, I've reached a point where I don't care if they think badly of me either...and thats alllll im saayyyiiin.

This is probably why Ill never make it anywhere in life. To get anywhere these days you have to brown nose and suck off the person above you, and that is something I simply never have, nor will ever bring myself to do. Respect from me is earned through honesty and integrity as a human being, not for lame ass statistics.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Canton Oklahoma Tornado May 24 2011

6 straight days of the most die hard chasing I have ever done. Every setup no matter how big or how small. Marathoning like I have never marathoned before and it led to another unprecedented 45% high risk setup in Oklahoma.

We made good position on a storm early on, and finally, what I have been searching for all year came to me.

Photos will show the rest, from when we first arrived on the storm. Video later.

And finally...
  Unfortunately this was just one of many strong and violent tornadoes to rake Oklahoma with extensive damage and fatalities. I always hate when a beautiful tornado day turns deadly.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tour Guide Chasecation

Well I am finally getting caught up after the years first big chase trip. This trip had a bit of a twist though. I was contacted by a gentleman by the name of Phil Bates. He owns a stock footage company based in Oregon and was looking for someone to guide him around the plains to get some extreme weather shots. He shoots with an insanely high quality camera known as a RED camera. It shoots 4 times better than 1080HD and his setup is very impressive, and expensive. Not quite sure how he got lead to me but I agreed I would take him out.

However the setup ahead was a meager one, and I explained this too him and that if it were me chasing on my own dime I would not be taking the risk. He was eager to get out there though and offered to cover expenses. I again explained I didnt think it would be worth it but he didn't seem to mind. I made sure he understood his odds and along with Matt Cumberland and Jon Williamson, off we went.

I have to say this was an extremely memorable and enjoyable trip. I learned so much on this trip. First and foremost I have gained allot of respect for tour companies and the challenges they face when they are stuck out there during a slow weather pattern. It really puts your forecasting skills to the test. I have to say I am pleased with myself on how I performed each day. We were able to be in the best position in the middle of a very large and marginal target area. Any storms that blew up we were there, and got just about the best action we could.

I now realize just how easy and convenient it is to chase only the big setups. The setups where you are almost guaranteed a storm and tornado as long as you don't screw up intercepting them. Thats the easy way to chase and I have to say I really really enjoyed the challenge in trying to pick out the needles in the atmospheric haystack.

Seeing so many people out in the field was incredible. The TIV crew, the TVN crew, everyone I partied with in Denver. This is it, these are the full timers, the people who chase regardless how crappy the setup is. They don't just wait for it to be easy and convenient, if there is a chance, they go for it. It is their life, their passion and its awesome to be able to relate to them in that regards.

Phil Jon and Matt are great company too, not caring about seeing only tornadoes but just enjoy the entire aspect of the chase. The drive, the sightseeing and the storms we do get into. Its not a waste of money to them if we don't see a tornado, its a damn good time on the open roads of America. Storm chasing is an adventure, each and every time.

I also had to put Phils needs ahead of my own, and change the way I play the storms. Typically I am agressive and get right into the bears cage with little stop and tripod time. Since Phil needs tripoded stock shots I had to plan things a bit differently, and was able to make them work.

In the end it was the most educational trip I have ever embarked on. We caught one pathetic landspout in Nebraska on our last day out...but for some reason I found myself not wanting to go home from this trip more than any other...and that means something.

This is STORM chasing...and I love it for ALL that it is.

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 27 2011 Alabama Tornado Outbreak - More Thoughts.

So much to talk about. I wanted to keep this separate from my usual chase log which can be seen here.

First off the tornado itself. It was by far the creepiest, scariest and loudest tornado I have witnessed. Sure, the visual appearance to people who only live through the event from behind their screens may not understand why but allow me to shed some light.

As we found the view we did we watched the storm approach for quite some time before the tornado emerged. When you chase tornadoes, seeing them is often somewhat fast paced. You get in position, you watch the sky and BAM a tornado forms but this was different. This tornado was already ongoing long before I got a view of it. It slowly emerged from the rain until it finally and obviously made its presence known. I was further away than I prefer to be, but I could hear the echoing of it tearing through the forest over the hill tops. It was by far the loudest tornado I have ever heard.

Its hard to put to words but when you chase you have a feeling of adrenaline that keeps things exciting and pumped. That was not the case here...the tornado was moving incredibly fast, yet the whole experience seemed like in slow motion. The tornado just came into view, did its thing and moved on, as if ignoring my presence.

It was like seeing a ghost step through a hallway in a cheesy horror film.

Just like that it was over as debris began to rain down on us. We would catch another view of it as we tried to pursue it, but the whole time I just felt incredibly "put in my place" by this tornado. It would not wait for me, and nothing would stop it from charging on its way. It came, I saw it, it conquered. I was not cut off by the damage as if the tornado was saying "Ha, nice try!"

As we stopped to survey the damage some distraught and injured locals approached us. Their house had been hit down the road but they were all accounted for and their injuries weren't life threatening. We provided them with some bandaids and clean tissue to dress the wounds as well as water. Volunteer fire was now arriving and took control of the scene and we moved on.

All throughout the day this situation played out. Damage blocking road and locals approaching us. Many trying to simply figure out a way they can get by to check on loved ones and in some cases just to see if their house or business down the road survived or not. We tried to help clear trees when we could, but there was simply too much.

As the day went on a new problem would arise. Power outages and the need for gas. As a rule I don't like to chase with less than half a tank of gas because in my mind I always somehow pictured this possibly happening. I stopped at station after station after station after station. Same story. No power. Each station had people already stranded there and out of gas. One station had generators going, but it was to keep ice cream from melting. Really?!

We pressed on and 200 miles later my tank was on E. I stopped in Decatur, AL out of options. No fuel, no power. I was prepared to spend as much time as needed there. Luckily fellow chasers came to my aid. I owe Ben Holcomb and Bill Oosterban all my gratitude for helping me get out of the predicament. Bill came with 5 gallons and I was able to drive north and get more fuel. I rationed it with a few other people at the stop, who then followed us to the station with power. Bill was leading the way.

The town was pandemonium, but at least in a non chaotic way. Fuel lines were 20 cars deep, as well as all the lines at fast food places. So many people displaced. So many people with no food, gas or anywhere to sleep. All the motels were swamped. I was amazed and never experienced such a disastrous event in this way before. I tried to help as many people as I can in small ways, but felt bad I could not do more.

Ive been called a fool for chasing down there, and some tell me Im stupid and wasting money. I fail to see the logic, sure I didn't see the big dramatic Mississippi and Tuscaloosa tornadoes because I was not on that storm but I successfully documented and tracked a major tornado in a difficult area, and in my first attempt at chasing down there too. Quite an accomplishment in my books.

This event brought it all into perspective for me. Storm chasing is what I love to do. I documented the severe weather, including a tornado that not many else saw. I was able to help out many people in small ways. Far from a waste. If I could, I would be there each and everytime this happens, but unfortunately am limited in my own means to do so. Unfortunately it will happen again someday and I hope I can be there.

That is all for now, more may come later.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Litchfield, Illinois Tornado

What a chase!

I will keep it short and sweet here, the detailed log can be seen at:

It was finally what I had been looking for as far as a tornado went this season. I know it is early but everything that has been dealt either seemed to be in bad terrain or after dark. Some amazing tornado was coming out from across the country and I was ripping my hair out because I was missing it due to a variety of factors but alas, today worked out well, and I got the shot that can make my year. It feels good, and only in April too!

In 2010 I didn't even bag my first tornadoes till April 22nd, so this year is ahead of pace!

Anyways, pic and youtube video link below!

I am a bit miffed by my crappy camerawork, which was due to a number of factors. It doesn't take away from the experience too much though, and will only motivate me to make sure I do better next time!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Does the "To Do" list never end?

Before I get started, I did have a good chase in Iowa yesterday. The cap broke early and storms were pretty despite not being tornado producers.

If you wish to see more on the day you can visit the chase log seen here:

Ever since I began chasing I have always done so with limited resources, at least compared to what others have out there. My laptop is old, my cameras is a POS. As a man who never had much money [and unfortunately isn't funded by rich parents] Ive had to slowly and painfully try and upgrade my arsenal a little bit at a time. It took my entire tax return to get an HD camera last year. This year that tax return simply went to the gas fund.

Sometimes I feel like it limits my ability to compete with all these rich kids out there just starting out with the latest and greatest technology simply because they can afford it, but at the same time I am glad I know I can survive and have success without out. Still though, it seems like my to do list to have a full chase setup is always growing, never ending, and before I can make the next upgrade, something breaks which requires an immediate fix and only further hinders my attempts to move ahead.

I need:

A new laptop [mine is 6yrs old and can barely handle running everything needed for chasing.]
A new machine at home [this one barely handles the HD video]
A DSLR camera [my 200 dollar point and shoot is a joke]
An actual wired setup [my cigarette plug inverter just crapped out on me in the last chase]
A cell amp
An external hard drive
A smart phone
*insert stuff I know I am forgetting here*

Things not related to chasing that I need to get before I can worry about the above:

A new rear window [long story]
A new set of tires
A shutter in my torque converter fixed.

On top of ridiculous gas prices. I am certainly stressing over the finances related to this season. Last year everything was great and somehow just completely fell apart over winter. Its been difficult trying to put the pieces back together. Sometimes I feel burnt out and feel like throwing in the towel. Something I love shouldn't come with this much stress should it?

And then I get out there like I did yesterday...and all the struggle is worth it. Even when there aren't tornadoes. Just beautiful storms to witness and experience. It really ramps up the motivation from within. This weekend is looking like it will have more chases, and I will be there!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

First 2011 Chase in the Books

Finally was able to get out there. I wont recap the day too much, the log is up on the site. I don't know if I need to repeat anything here. If there are any blogger-only readers out there that would like me to link photos and site posts please let me know, otherwise I will just use this blog for what it is...a blog.

Anyways it felt great to be out there. I really missed chasing and was reminded as to how much I really do love it. When I stepped out of the truck in Nebraska City with 80 degree temps and brisk south winds with a huge storm going up in the western sky it hit me...this is why I am alive...this is what I live and breathe for. Everything else is trivial.

Eyeing a setup on Monday in Texas which scares me. Gas has hit 4.19 in Chicago which is just brutal. I won't let that stop me from chasing as long as I have the money but damn...4.19...REALLY?! This is going to be a really tough year as a result of this. Life is a catch 22, to have more chase money you need to work more but when you work more you cant chase. Talk about a tough situation to resolve. Im supposed to talk to my snow removal boss in April about summer work. If I am lucky he will be understanding of my chasing obsession and work with me. Id be willing to take un-paid time off as long as it meant I could do it whenever I wanted. Ha...I can dream can't I?

Chilly temps here in Chicago, gross. Only 31 degrees right now. After the spring tease of recent days it makes it that much harder to deal with. You hate to see this during a time of year when you know you could be getting severe weather instead. Cold and snow is ok in the winter....but its severe weather time now!


Monday, March 14, 2011

A Sad Stat.

It is March 14th...2011.

I have yet to embark on 2011s first chase, and thus 2011 will have the latest official start for me personally than any other year. After seeing Sean Caseys IMAX movie the other day [which was awesome albeit a little short] I have the itch to get out there more than ever. Its driving me insane. I need to chase.

Life has been slugging me in the gut with one big financial blow after another lately, and also unlike any other year I am a bit worried about funding this year. I am far from a rich man, but I've always been able to get by. I do not have steady employment, but the side jobs I do work usually help me get what I need to do done and I was ready to go this year until gas decided to shoot up the way it did. As long as I have the money, it wont stop me from chasing, but I'm worried my annual chase budget will dry up sooner than later this year. It also doesn't help I will be on more solo missions with my man chase partner starting a new job.

For some reason everyone elses American dream does not make me happy. Working a 9-5, having a family and a nice white house in suburbia...its just so...thought-less and cliche. I've always felt conformity is for suckers, but alas, opinions alone don't pay the bills, so for now I must still continue to be a slave to society's monotony...unless I catch that miracle break, the kind that sometimes falls in others' laps but never mine. The other problem...I have never been one to brown nose and hump legs to get to the top...which these days its pretty much the only way to get things done, I must learn to swallow my pride I guess.

Anyways, checking the GFS shows a nice active pattern continuing. I feel a potential first chase coming soon, but hopefully not anytime this week as Ill be working one of said side jobs from Weds - Sun. *sigh* I will never consider myself successful in life until I never have to worry about money or a job keeping me from a chase...until then. Life rolls on...

On another note. I finally have some hail guards for my vehicle. A detailed site update about those will be posted hopefully in the next day or 2.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Closing Out Winter.

Wow, just one day left in what is considered meteorological winter. I have to say it was pretty pain-less for me. Usually lack of thunder sends me into a borderline alcoholic frenzy...but winter 10-11 was consistently active and there were plenty of storms to mess around with including my new years eve chase, the big groundhogs day blizzard, and even as I type this...there is thundery freezing rain falling. My new job in snow removal kept me busy as Chicago had an above average snow season, we broke the 50 inch mark again making this the 4th year in a row now...the first time ever in recorded history to have 4 consecutive years with 50+ inches of snow.

I know I didn't type a big blog about chasercon like I did last year...just know that it blew last year out of the water. I had so much fun it was ridiculous. Already looking forward to next year. I don't really go there for the weather part of it...but to hang out with all the chasers I consider friends that I have met over the years. Although next year I will probably have a table for the Convective Addiction group, so there may be a little "work" involved but thats ok.

Speaking of CA - it is going great, the guys are finally getting motivated to get projects done. I felt like a bit of a nazi over winter always nagging to work on stuff and keep us in the spot light. Most people are busier with work than I am so I need to take that into more consideration, but I am always eager to take things to the next level and don't like to be slowed down.

Also CA related...myself along with Jesse and Skip ventured up to the MN storm chasing convention this weekend to give a presentation. The presentation itself was a soon as we plugged in Jesses laptop to start our talk it blue screened...we had to do a time swap with Dean Baron [thanks again!!] while we scrambled to get it running on laptop is simply too old and too much of a POS so that was not an option. Once we were running there was a problem with the projector and our video was showing up dark as hell, which prevented allot of the detail from being seen. I was a big heartbroken by this as the basis of my talk was ruined...but I was able to improvise and get most of my points across with just the slides. Of course after we were done they fixed the projector so everyone elses video showed up we look like the fools but oh well.

Despite that...the "fan" part of it went amazing. We received a ton of great followup about our talk. Our booth was crowded the entire time with compliments from the general public, NWS mets and warning coordinators, emergency management and even Tim Samaras, the leader of Twistex. We sold a high number of DVDs, and even had quite a few people request autographs which I thought was a bit silly considering I am just me [a nobody,] but it was fun to embrace and make people happy. We are definitely making a good impression out there. I would love to do another event like this and hope I get more opportunities to speak at other palces in the future.

It was great to finally meet Bill Doms. He was one of the first well established and experienced chasers to reach out to me in my early years and really one of the first chasers I ever interacted with online. So after all these years it was great to put a face and a handshake to the name.

As far as this season goes. I missed a low contrast, non fully condensed tornado along the OK/KS border that many bagged today. I am not too upset...but it has now slapped me in the face with a big reminder that the season is here...and it is time to chase.

I am a bit worried with the recent spike in gas prices, I am far from a rich man, but was always able to manage chasing on a limited income by carefully budgeting...but gas has really shot up in the last few weeks and if the trend continues it is going to be hard for me to overcome...but I will find a way.

I hope to go down to KY to get my hail guards built this weekend...but alas, snow is in the forecast just like every other time I try and get them built...which means Ill have to we will see!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Its Almost Go Time!

 Its February, and in less than a month March will be here! Now is when the thoughts of active chasing begin creeping into my mind. A time of the year friends and family hate because now every time they ask me to do something I have to say "weather pending" as I make ZERO commitments from March 1st through June 30th.

Although I have been locally chasing since I could drive in 1998 I consider 2007 to be my first full time chase season. So what were the dates of my first chase in the years since then.

2007: March 1st

2008: January 7th

2009: March 8th

2010: March 10th

So you can see why one gets excited once February rolls around. Winter 10-11 was a pretty amazing winter for SDS as I experienced none. Between the crazy thundersnow blizzard a few days ago and some whacky off season chases on Dec 31st and Nov 22nd coupled with more local storms I had enough to keep my sanity.

Big changes for 2011? None really. I still HOPE to get my hail guards built by driving down to KY and seeking assistance from my brother...but a constant snow threat around here has left me with little time to take a multi day trip down there...and now the second half of February is pretty booked with conventions so I am not sure when I can get down there. I will probably have to squeeze it in during March. Even though March is chase season there aren't typically too many chases to be had in the month itself, just a few random insane-o shear setups that have yet to yield me a tornado for the month.

My stream is up and running again. Last year in June it just turns out my theory was correct and my camera simply stopped outputting via USB because as soon as I plugged in my easyCAP through the A/V out everything fired right up.

I plan to focus less on taking pictures while filming. After watching some of my 2010 video I realize when I fumble with my still camera while filming that is often times when my video becomes the shakiest, and since I stand zero chance at making money off of still photography it will be much less a priority in 2011 as I focus more on video.

I took some major financial hits over the winter, so it is going to be a tougher year to fund than any in the past but where there is a will there is a way. Plus my 2 most common chase partners in the area either have started new jobs or are about to start a new job so I have a feeling I will be largely chasing solo this year. No worries though.

It is crunch time people...the 2011 chase season is almost here.

Mother Nature, BRING IT ON!!!!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting Ready for the "BIG ONE"

Its not news anymore, but Chicago is in the bullseye of a potentially historic winter storm. If there is any storm that has a chance of breaking our infamous "big snow" record of 23.0 inches set in 1967 its with this upcoming storm. I don't even know where to start as far as discussing it goes.

For forecasts simply check out the ConvectiveAddiction site, as we have posted several forecasts there with all the pretty charts and explanations that don't make sense that you are used to.

The NWS experimental snowfall forecast has Chicago in an area of 20-22 inches of snow. At this point it is silly for me to try and say if I think this will happen or not. I certainly believe it is possible.
Just an inch shy of the record but when you also take into the consideration this snow could potentially fall in thunderstorms with 3 inch an hour accumulations possible it would not surprise me to see that record fall....or...

The heavy band sets up just to our south and we end with lesser accumulations of 12 inches or so. It is kinda funny think of *ONLY* getting 12 inches of snow as being cheated, but this storm certainly is no laughing matter. Aside from the big snow here, catastrophic ice damage will probably occur in Indianapolis with the severe weather and tornado threat in the gulf coast states maybe even into TN.

Check out the NWSs forecast wording for tomorrow night: "Tuesday Night...Very windy. Snow and a slight chance of thunderstorms. Blowing snow with visibility one quarter mile or less at times. Snow may be heavy at times. Significant snow accumulations possible. Lows 14 to 18. Northeast winds 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 55 mph at times. Chance of precipitation 100 percent." I don't recall ever seeing snow and thunderstorms in the same sentence. Needless to say I am excited.

Unfortunately I probably wont be able to document this storm top to bottom as I would like to because I will be out working my snow removal job. It is a bittersweet thing. I will make allot of money doing so along with being out in the extreme elements...but without my video camera. Although I will probably bring it with and plead with my boss to let me get a few minutes of filming in during what will likely be more than an 18hr shift.

For now though....the calm before the storm.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WDT buys ChaserTV - Thoughts.

I couldn't fit this all onto a facebook status...

Since joining CTV last year I have been very pleased with their service. It has been everything I could ask for in a streaming company and yes, I have all around knowledge of the big 3. I even attempted to stream with TVN for the first year when they made me an offer, but that was a huge fail and I ended up quitting. Why? Well, thats a good campfire story.

Anyways, by now it is old news that WDT has now acquired CTV and I couldn't be more thrilled about it. It sucks that CTVs owners will no longer be a part of it as Scott and Steve are both great guys, but this is the way business works, it benefited them and it benefited the streamers and I feel was a good decision. The most important thing is the CTV brand will stay the same. The fact that Scott and Steve pushed for this and WDT was understanding an accepting shows they had us in mind. I can only hope this does not ever change.

I am mostly excited for the ad revenue potential, since shortly after quitting TVN they rolled out a pretty sweet deal with WDT that paid out quite nicely. I always thought to myself "Dammit, I wish I had a way to tap into that." Now I do. With gas going up, this will make chasing just a tad bit easier. Profitable? unlikely... easier? Yes. The added exposure is a great thing too. It looks like TVN streamers are already trembling knowing that some of the CTV guys are now in direct competition, sorry fellas, if you thought you could "DOMINATE" that easily, think again! =)

I am by no means trying to start a stream war, but Im already seeing some shit going around on facebook about how poor TVN is getting short handed now. OH WELL, thats how business works. There are plenty of talented and capable chasers out there other than the TVN boys. I do not feel sorry for TVN, its nothing personal [despite my miserable streaming experience] its just the way the world works. They have had a great run and lots of success [which I wont lie, I'm jealous of and would love to have that success level.] So for anyone to think they could float at the top so easily is foolish, its a competitive world. Chasing is no exception.

This couldn't have happened to a better company [CTV.] I am glad to see that for once an honest company and its supporters are being able to move ahead in the game. Lets face it people, chasing is becoming more popular each year, and this is where the future of it is heading. I for one am aggressive and will embrace and make the most out of it. To survive you need to adapt.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Boring Winter

Winter 2010-11 has been pretty boring around here. The most exciting weather was obviously on Dec 31st when we were treated to some pretty loud thunderstorms and [for me] a failed chase, which was my first ever in the month of December. If somehow you haven't seen the log you can check it out here:

Other than that though, there hasn't been anything really interesting. We are running above normal for snowfall though, but rather than coming in as one or 2 massive snowfalls its been a constant series of 2-4" mini snows that just add up. I guess its good for my newly acquired job doing snow removal, since the minimum amount needed for us to go out and work is 2 inches, so Ive gotten 5 days of minimal snow removal work with good pay at least.

But other than that there hasn't been much weather of interest to talk about and I have had no really interesting photo opportunities for winter weather. 2 inches of snow on a city neighborhood really isn't that exciting...and Im not that much of a photog where I will make daily or weekly adventures to go find a dilapidated barn in a field or anything like that.

Some big events coming up though. The yearly Denver gathering, then the MN convention the following weekend. Plus, if we ever get into a dry pattern where I wont have to worry about having to go out to do snow removal for at least 4 days I plan to visit my brother in KY who is going to help me build my hail guards. He is a mechanical genius...I am not...and I know he will be able to come up with some crafty ways to make my idea for a design a reality.

Its crazy to think March is already less than 2 months away. Let the crunch begin!