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 downtown...you 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: http://www.facebook.com/aerostorms/posts/10150271094208807#!/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...