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.