Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thats All She Wrote v2012

With only a few days left to go, I eagerly await to put the nails in 2012s coffin. Anyone who has ever chased something other than their own tail knows why. It is highly unlikely another chase will present itself, so its now safe to compile the stats. So lets take a look at the quick and dirty numbers.

Total chases: 15
Total tornadoes: 10
Tornado days: 4

New milestones accomplished:

- First Kentucky tornadoes (2) on March 2nd which were also the:
- Earliest tornadoes seen in a season

...and thats where the accomplishments stop, the first chase of the season. 2012 was an awful year, not only for me, but for most chasers. Numbers don't lie either, and last I checked, this may end up being the year with the second lowest tornado count on record so in part I don't feel so bad. Another reason I don't feel so bad is the fact I started a new job in the beginning of April and it would have been hard for me to squeeze out of work to chase. I wanted to build up a good reputation with the company, and missing a bunch of good tornado days would have made that extremely agonizing. So in a way, the selfish part of me is very thankful for that.

Still though, what made the year so frustrating was the days I did chase either A) busted or B) bad decision making or bad luck cost us the day. There were really only 2 big tornado producing days I chased. March 2nd and April 14th. Both days I saw tornadoes, but both days I also blew scoring the best catches of the days.

On March 2nd I didn't communicate with everyone what time I wanted to leave, and we got a half hour late start. My lead foot made up for lost time, but a traffic accident around Indianapolis forced us onto a critical time costing detour. My plan that day would have worked perfect, but we were an unfortunate 15 minutes too late. We did the best we could after though and got the Kentucky tornadoes, and ended up not crawling home busted...except in terms of worthy video.

April 14th saved the season for many. Take away this day and you would have a larger number of chasers currently taking Xanax over the winter. I saw 5 tornadoes...but 3 were pathetic weak bird farts. The last 2 were very nice tornadoes, but at dusk/after dark. No good video from them either. On this day I teamed up with Ben and we had a conflict of interest in terms of a target. He liked Oklahoma (of course) and I liked Salina,KS. Both our targets saw nice tornadoes, yet for some reason we ended up in the middle with mediocrity. Going back on that day I'm still not sure how that exactly happened...and would rather not think about it. After much analysis I think I finally figured out why our storms didn't produce, and will use this new knowledge to hopefully not make that mistake in the future.

I guess another milestone I could technically add is my first chase to North Dakota, but with that being just one of many busted days. I hardly look back on it and think pleasant thoughts which brings me to the next point.

The bust count was highest I have had in any year (9 out of 15!!) with days holding big potential such as April 27th and May 5th going to waste. Illinois even got into the blue sky bust action on September 5th, and until then I have never experienced a blue sky bust on home turf. That one stung...

Certainly over the years I have been somewhat spoiled by the amazing things I've seen, and this might play a role into the way I perceive things. Take my 2012 results and stick them in say, 2006 and I would probably still be floating in the air from excitement. I think part of that is because I KNOW that despite 2012 being an overall downer of a year, there were still amazing things that happened. I just can't chase everything...yet. My lifes goal and dream is to be able to do this. It is taking longer than I had hoped though, and that is perhaps adding to the frustration, I knew it would be difficult, but it appears I was over confident from the get-go.

Lack of funds were also a big factor. I may have bit on more marginal days that ended up producing if I had the funds. I always hated putting all my stock into higher risk and weekend days but those were the cards I was forced to play this year. I worked my ass off all week, and hauled more ass out to the plains on any weekend there was a setup, no matter how meager. I just had to try.

2013 is looking better in the financial department already with the coming of a HUGE raise once work resumes in April. I am definitely excited about those possibilities. Even if I still can't get time off to chase everything, the fact I wont be stressing over affording it will be nice, and if I end up not chasing much I can upgrade equipment and pay off debts to put myself in ever better shape for the future.

I go back and forth with the idea of moving. I hate Illinois and especially Chicago (for political reasons I wont get into on this blog) but this is my home, and I've grown to love the fickle and challenging climatology. I don't subscribe to the growing trend of moving to Norman so I can become the next super chaser, but on the other side there is an obvious advantage to living in the alley, so I can't completely write it off. We'll just wait and see how the cards continue to fall I guess.

We're heading into the dead of winter (or should I say anti-winter) here in Chicago, and there are many projects ongoing. Ill be blogging more frequently from now on as well as I have much to say.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

DVD Review: A Journey Through the Plains.

A Journey Through the Plains is the second DVD release from which covers the 2012 chase season. I have not seen the first DVD so I can't compare the two for the sake of evolution.

The DVD's first chapters cover some less significant local events in Ohio. Nothing terribly dramatic but it shows a couple good spring time thunderstorms with a few wind gusts and some hail. A little too much "driving in the rain" footage makes me wonder where the good parts of the storm are, but they do happen. Educational pieces cut in to explain what is actually going on and what they are getting excited about. This is found throughout the DVD and is great for education purposes. A very nice "bonus" that is not advertised.

Things begin to pick up pace once the groups actual journey to the plains begins. The first of these 3 chapters covers a severe hail event in Texas where the group encounters severe hail accumulating on the ground like snow, they then stop to help a motorist who slid into a ditch and observe some structure on the backside. Some scenes are a little drawn out, but overall highlight the event in a nice way.

The next chapter is probably the highlight of the DVD as the group has a very close encounter with a large tornado near Cooperton, Oklahoma. Many different shots of the event are provided, though the dark nature of the encounter makes it hard to see allot of the details. An out-house type structure is blown away and destroyed nearby, showing just how close of an encounter it was. The film quality takes away from the experience a bit, and I for one am not a fan of lots of screaming and yelling. If you are a fan of dramatic chapters with the close encounter, this is the one for you.

Moving on to the next chapter, which covers April 14th. This was the single day that made the season for many chasers as multiple tornadoes struck Oklahoma and Kansas during the years biggest outbreak. The group managed to get on some of the early storms that dropped a number of rope and trunk tornadoes. My favorite shot shows a vorticy in a field moving directly over a house, but doing no damage. If you are a fan of clear, classic looking tornado footage this is the chapter that best accomplishes that. While none of the footage is in your face jaw dropping, they are still good shots of classic plains tornadoes, and overall represent the goal of every storm chaser when they set out to chase. Music and narration overlays a good deal of footage which is both good and bad in its own ways. I prefer a natural sound, but I know from my own filming that sometimes wind noise and obnoxious dialogue is too unbearable at times, and music is a good way to solve that issue. This is probably my favorite chapter despite my own bitter feelings towards this day.

The final chapter covers a historic derecho that affected the Ohio valley on June 29th. I always enjoy footage of local damaging events as they put into perspective of the damage that a non tornadic thunderstorm can do.  Highlighted moments include multiple trees crashing down as the worst wind hits and then the damage afterwards.

Overall Thoughts:

The editing was a strong point in this DVD which showed good pre planning and thought as opposed to just chopping footage together and slapping it on a DVD. I was definitely impressed with it. The educational graphics and radar images are a great bonus that will help the viewer better understand what is going on. Some of the chapters run a bit longer than they need to be, especially early on during events that weren't too significant or dramatic. In a year like 2012 though it is hard to fill disc space, so its allowed. Having tornadoes in the DVD is always a plus, though none of that footage is knock-your-socks-off dramatic (not always a bad thing, but a weak point when considering the fact that much of today's audiences seem harder to please.)

I would certainly recommend this as a trade, as well as a good buy especially since the 2012 DVD market will have slim pickings due to many chasers simply not getting much. If you enjoy new DVDs, having a large collection, seeing everything that happened in every year then definitely scoop this up. If you are the type who only prefers dramatic, clear, stabilized tornado shots from beginning to end, this is probably not the DVD for you.

Check it out and order it here:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Next DVD

I have sort of fallen off the weather scope this year. Most of us know 2012 sucked overall as a chase season. Take away April 14th and almost all of us, myself included would be going even more insane with post season SDS. Working 12 hours during the week and then trying to have a life away from the computer on weekends gives me little time to work on what video I did get. I mostly stay active through my facebook "like" page, posting weather updates there when I get a moment.

However, that doesn't mean the weather gears in my head have stopped turning. I am talking about this years DVD. Why am I making a DVD if the year sucked so bad? Well luckily the amazing chase of November 7th 2011, which couldn't be squeezed onto my first DVD will be able to provide a good 30 minutes or more of tornado video, so that will save it from lacking good tornado video. The other reason is I have a really good idea for the next DVD, and this is the perfect time to do it. I don't want to give too much away but as far as I know I haven't seen another DVD done the way I am thinking of doing mine.

I am actually pretty excited thinking about it, because it is different. Now doing something different always comes with risks. People will either receive it well, or not at all, but nothing ventured is nothing gained. I am not sure when I will be able to get the DVD done and right now I don't think it will be before the year is over. As mentioned above, work eats up all my time, but since is my work is seasonal I will be able to ramp up production big time when I am finished for the year.

I don't know when that will be, it basically depends on when it snows. Last year they finished on December 2nd, the year before they were done on November 20th. So that is up in the air. Even when life gets in my way, I am always thinking about how to advance my chasing career. I am currently in a tough spot in life, but I will find a way to persevere. I also need to get back into the groove of promoting myself more either through pictures, former chase logs or youtube videos.

There has been a recent spike in Noob DVD orders, which also helps keep me motivated. Its nice to know people actually want to see what I have been able to accomplish. I still welcome trades as well, and I think this next DVD is mostly going to be for trade and sold at a low price of like 10 bucks or something.

More details as they come! Still waiting and hoping for a fall chase to save the year. Cmon 11-7-11 v2.0!!!! 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rough Year


Since my storm chasing "career" began accelerating back in 2007, each year got better. I saw better storms, got better video, made better media sales, website hits etc etc. I kept telling myself this trend couldn't last forever and that I was getting spoiled and like the old saying goes "what goes up must come down" I knew I was eventually due for a year that would just not go my way.

This is that year.

I can't complain too much I suppose, I do have 8 tornadoes under my belt, but from those 8 tornadoes I don't even think I have a minute of truly good tornado video. The daytime tornadoes I caught were all brief, weak spinups or in horrible terrain so the view was mostly obscured by trees. The best looking tornadoes I saw were all at dusk or after dark and barely came out at all. So this year has been absolutely awful in that regards.

Almost every setup I chased ended up under performing from a forecast standpoint. Blue sky busts and structure-less crap storms I can see here in Chicago. I would at least be happy with awesome structure to take pictures or video of. Something, anything...but nope, not much in that department either.

The 2 big outbreak days [March 2nd and April 14th] I saw tornadoes on, but had overall blunders that kept me from the best action. On March 2nd I failed to inform everyone when we were leaving so we hit the road an hour late, and storms went up 2 hours early, we could have still made it for our planned intercept, but a car accident on I-65 forced us onto a time costly detour. April 14th we somehow ended up in a small zone of Kansas where storms just refused to wedge out. Never before on any chase have I see such rapid rotation not produce a prolific tornado. Scud was literally spinning just above the ground. I wish I was smart enough to understand why those storms couldn't get it done, while the ones to the north and the south did.

The big problem with this year goes back to February when my financial situation just got completely destroyed. I was forced to get back into a full time working routine, and when I say full time I mean full time plus overtime. 20+ hours per pay period to be exact. I have to be picky again about choosing setups to chase, and apparently I can't choose the right ones for the life of me. It seems the best tornadoes this year are all the results of mesoscale accidents. It also doesn't help May was characterized by a summer-like pattern where you have a string of 5% days with thermo nuclear caps, 1 in 20 will produce awesome tornadoes, and just which setup will do it is anyones guess. You either have to already be out there chasing everything or live close enough to make the haul. Unfortunately I fall into neither of those.

It has been a terrible midwest year. Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota. Forget about it...2012 is the year traditional tornado alley earns its title. Local setups? Non existent.

Stream views are low [not much to watch] and I haven't submitted one clip for media sale. Yeah that is not what chasing is about, but for me its a part of it, and a part that is doing terrible as well this year. Of course my setup is working flawlessly this year, and I have not had any issues, unlike last year when people were actually trying to watch. Go figure.

The fact I am working 12+ hour days leaves me little time to update my website and social media pages to gain followers. Why does this matter? Well, when I do have something to offer its nice to have more people to offer it to.

Why don't I just pack up and move to Norman as so many have suggested? Well, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't seriously considering it, but its just not possible right now. I still carry the burden of my pre-chasing  past and have some debts to rid myself of before I could take on the burden of new rent and finding employment. Few chasers know my actual life story. I don't key them in because most just simply don't understand and most of them simply don't care. The wheels are in motion for moving to be a possibility though, because if its one thing this season has taught me, its that I cannot work full time in Chicago and have the chasing career I want. I will never settle for this. I don't care if my priorities are out of line. I know what I want, and if its not what "normal" people want...oh well.

If there is a light, its that I learned life does go on missing all the good stuff and I can have other reasons to smile and laugh, but it does suck. I belong out there, in the action. I have also watched some of the chasers I have the most respect for [Bill Doms, Shane Adams and Mike Hollingshead] all go through these rough patches as well, and they always bounce back and I have more respect for them for never giving up and pushing through it. This also helps keep me motivated to know its not just me [sorry guys, don't mean to benefit from your misery lol!]

I have also had a blast out there chasing with everyone as always. If anything, having such a great time on the road and coming home with sub-par results has reminded me why I love this so much. The hours on the road, the places visited, the weird conversations and antics inside the truck all remind me why storm chasing is simply the best thing to do...ever.

May 2012 will be the first May since 2006 I have not seen a tornado in. June has always been my best month, and hopefully this June will offer redemption in a big way, or it is going to be a looooooooooooooooooong summer/fall/winter. The pattern ahead looks boring through, and with the traditional end of chasing season usually falling around June 20th. Panic mode is setting in. I may have to hit up more northern plains setups in the summer until I get that season making tornado shot.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Back to the Full Time.

Work schedule that is...

There is nothing I want more in my life than to be able to chase freely and whenever I want to while being able to afford a comfortable living for myself. Doesn't seem like much to ask out of life but apparently it is. I have always admired people that chased their dreams as opposed to just simply conforming, and try to live by example, but it is tough. I have myself to blame for some of it.

Very few chasers know my actual life story and the burdens of my past. These burdens still haunt me in the present in the form of great debt. A debt which has made it harder to get the life I want as I struggle to rid myself of it all. That is the main reason for this decision.

I came close to achieving it back in 2009, more than half of it was wiped out and things were going swell. But then life had other plans, my van exploded and I was forced to purchase a new vehicle, then I lost my job a few months later [great timing HUH?!] Since then I took the time off to experience the chase freedom I've always wanted. I had some money saved up, and there was unemployment. Yes, I collected it for awhile and chased. Think less of me for it? Fuck you. I deserved it.

That time was short though, but in that time I realized what I truly want out of life. I was making big bucks back in the day, but was miserable at my job. Being able to chase freely is the most amazing thing in life, but struggling to pay off debt isn't. It's clear now what I have to do.

It is damn near impossible to make a decent income from chasing. Especially in my position. No money to start, living far away from the alley. I don't have a rich family supporting my passion. I've had to purchase my way in with mostly bottom of line, shitty equipment that breaks down allot. My competition is spoiled rich kids with fat allowances that can load up on the latest and greatest technology and simply smoke my ass. I have no trust funds or large sums of money coming my way to secure my life. Fair enough.

So, what does one do? You need money to chase. If you dont have people paying your way through life, you must work for money. If you work, you can't chase. When I say you can't chase, I mean "I can't chase as much as I want to." Some people work because they want big paychecks to buy a big house a big boat, have 7 cars and a bunch of ridiculous stuff to which they can use to validate their own perspective on what it means to be successful.

Not me, I will work to support what I love doing. Even if it means living in a small trailer or apartment on a 25K a year income. If I can chase, my life is complete. So that is where I stand today. I've taken a job with  Deck Staining company working full time. The pay isn't as great as I was hoping initially, but it will be enough to get me back on track, to hopefully wipe out my truck payments along with credit debt.

In a year they tell me I can be my own boss, with my own schedule and can chase whenever I want along with a good income to boot and that is the reason they hired me. They want me in that position, not doing the labor/field work I am going to be doing this year, but its something I have to do while I learn the business.

Plus, I may be gloom and dooming my situation more than I need to. The guy who hired me is understanding of what I want to do, and told me if there is a system I can't miss and want to chase they will work with me. It seems like a good fit. They understand my passion, and seem to be a company based on "you get my back, I got yours" and I like that. I've turned down better paying jobs when they've told me "yea, you get 1 to 2 weeks off a year thats it, chasing won't work and you have to make a choice"

Well I've made my choice...I will never give up the dream. I will make it work, and while my 2012 season may have taken a hit. I refuse to let my life and my dream suffer the same fate. I don't care what work I have to do to make this happen. It will happen. Work is just Not life.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Calling You Out

Anyone in the weather community knows what happened in Henryville. We all know the internet is, well...the internet. I am all for people expressing their feelings but when they go out of their way and try too hard to be controversial and then don't have the balls to allow for people to respond to it. Well, that is what makes a person a sad sorry lowlife.

So to the person who made this video:

How about enabling comments or linking us to your website/facebook/blog or whatever you have.

You are a pussy, and a sad excuse for a human being. Man up and show yourself mr big wannabe internet shocker badass. I think its karma who is going to find YOU one day. Loser.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Here We Gooooo!!!

Looks like the severe weather chasing season of 2012 is about to really kick off with a couple active systems of interest. One being this Tuesday with potential severe weather along the KS/NE border and another area in the southern MS river valley. Afterwards the EURO along with the GFS are showing an even more potent system around March 2nd.

As much as I would love to chase both systems I will probably sit out the first, and wait to see what the second holds. Not because I don't want to chase...but a last minute financial disaster may leave me sitting out some of these early season temptations so I can recover for better stuff later in the year. Obviously this is not my choice, but I need to be smart. Still though I am monitoring each system and if logistics can fall into place I will chase!

I kind of like the idea of blowing off some early season grunge and perhaps taking a stab at the late spring and summer setups instead. Those July and August storms, even when they don't produce tornadoes have some of the meanest, greenest, evil HP storm structure you can imagine. Give me one of those over some 20 foot LCL scuddy March grunge anyday! Plus fewer chasers venture to the N plains for the summer season, so that is a bonus. Regardless of what happens. I WILL GIT R DONE THIS YEAR!

I am almost ready to launch the new site. Its not perfect and I will need to continue tweeking it once its launched, but it will look and function pretty much how I want it to, so that is good enough. If I have to sit out the early season setups though I won't do so quietly, and will use the time to draw people into the Aerostorms world with my forecast and nowcast posts. I always got positive feedback from my ramblings on the Convective Addiction site, so I must continue to utilize my skill to my advantage. I've come too far to suddenly half ass things.

Its almost go time folks, start your engines!!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Previewing the New Site

The other day I made mention I was working with someone to help redo my site. Well here is a little preview of what he has slapped together so far.

So far so great. The site design is moving along faster than I had hoped. I just need to figure out how I want the rest of it laid out and once it gets put together and any remaining bugs worked out I can begin the daunting task of transferring all of the content from my current site over. The goal is to have this all completed by March 1st, the unofficial beginning of chase season.

This new site, as mentioned will be a more modern site that should appeal to the masses more. This, along with the new facebook page dedicated to it will hopefully help get the Aerostorms brand name out there and get it stuck in peoples' heads. I look forward to being able to quickly and easily make forecast posts and daily updates with the new template, and giving the visitors a chance to leave comments and interact on the site.

I already had such an outlet with the Convective Addiction site, but that site is a mess and noone is motivated to fix it. I wish everyone was enthused as they were when we first created it, because we really blew people out of the water our first year, and then half the members just decided they didn't really care anymore, that chasing suddenly wasn't cool or something. I've tried to keep it alive mostly by myself and with occasional help from Skip and Jesse, but if the day ever comes where it folds over I need to make sure I have my own solid thing going.

Some might be saying, why should any of this matter? Chase for yourself you attention whore etc etc etc. Well, maybe YOU want to work a 9 to 5, chase SOME of the time, and are ok with chasing being a convenience whenever other things in life allow you to do so. Not me though, chasing is what I want to be known for. Too many people are simply just born with the means to make themselves easily successful because its easy to start out when you have all the resources to simply just buy your way to the top. For people like me, who have try to make something out of nothing, you have to give 110% and build up something solid, or risk failing hard trying. My chasing isn't supported by a parents credit card, so I must build this up for myself. I have too much passion for this to simply just half ass it.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Future of Aerostorms and this Blog

Since the launch of my personal website back in March of 2010 the site's content has grown quite a bit, but not its exposure. For starters, stupid me named it a made up word so when it comes to awesome google search-a-bility my site is pretty much a no show. Who knew trying to be creative and avoiding overly used, cheesy, plain and boring names like "__ ___ storm chaser/s" or things like "dark cloud" would have a negative effect in the end. Oops.

Secondly, the internet world as we know it has been shying away from traditional looking websites in favor of a more blog oriented site. I personally have never preferred this look, but then again my entire life I always seemed to be on the other side of the fence when it comes to whats popular.

So, what does this mean? Basically, its time to convert, and for the past 2 months I have been tinkering around a new platform, since I am not very PC savvy its been a slow process. I have now enlisted the help of someone with more experience to help get things running. It is time to give a facelift.

The main reason being I am tired of selling myself short, and its time I give my work the exposure it deserves. There are some pretty powerful websites out there, with far less meaty chasing content that are very successful just because they are updated in a timely manner and have good public exposure.

It is too much of a pain in the ass to update my website on the fly, and for whatever reason the site builder software isn't browser friendly and only works on an old version of firefox. Any other browser or even newer versions of firefox and things just don't work how they're supposed to.

I also like to write weather posts and graphics, there is no easy way to do this on a website without a blogroll.  With my new site I plan to update it almost daily, since doing so will be far much less effort. I don't have all the time in the world to sit and dilly dally with my site all day, so I need to start thinking about how to do things in the most efficient way possible.

That being said, once this major project is completed this blog will become less active. I will probably only reserve it for more personal thoughts relating to chasing as opposed to the types of general weather posts I sometimes make, those types of general weather posts are what I want to start featuring on my website! Its those types of posts that drive hits and keep people coming back and in turn, can help make a website more profitable. Other people have done it, and so can I.

Its time to start stepping it up, and being more competitive. I've come too far and worked too hard to sell myself short. In 2012 I really plan to, and hope to get the Aerostorms brand name out there!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

First Thunderstorms of 2012

Well, here is my annual "first thunderstorms of the year" post for 2012. A little early it seems but its true.

Typically we see out first thunderstorms at the end of February, but every now and then we'll get a little bonus in January. This was one of those years. I read on WGNs blog that in 141 years of weather records there have only been 54 January days with thunderstorms. Seeing as how thats 54 out of 4371 it goes to show how unusual such an occurrence it is. It also read that January [to no surprise really] is the month with the fewest thunderstorms.

In true Chicago weather mood swing fashion, these storms came just 2 days after our biggest snowfall so far this winter. Funny to think that 2 days earlier I was streaming snowfall out my window, and then I film the storms. Of course when I turned on my camera to do so I only had 8 minutes of battery, gotta love off season laziness and un-preparedness.

The event did do a good thing though, it has reminded me that spring is closer than it seems, and its time to kick it into high gear to finish pre-season prep work. I still have much to do. Anyways radar grab and video below!

Unfortunately, these general storms were part of a much larger story which was the years first significant severe weather outbreak in parts of AR, AL, MS and TN. An EF-3 tornado struck already hard hit Birmingham, AL area killing at least 2 people. Not a good start to 2012 in that regards.


A short youtube video as well, mostly put together because I want to test a new, more professional platform for uploading clips online.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What a Potential Blizzard Looks Like 10 days away.

This is what a future potential blizzard looks like on a forecast model 10 days away. If this plot were to verify the Chicago area would escape the worst, we would start off with mostly rain [potentially heavy] then get whats called dry slotted and then perhaps an inch or 2 of snow on the back side of this system as it moves away.

The center of the system is located over C IL, from here and points SW is where the dry slot would form [this is what gives storms those big comma shapes on radar/satellite] so we would expect a break in precip, before the snow moves in on the back side as the system moves in.

Parts of IA/MN/WI are on the "cold side" of the system the entire time and would see the heaviest snow accumulations.

Areas around the MS river and points east could potentially see severe weather in the form of a squall line that brings a wind damage/tornado threat.

BUT, 10 days might as well be an eternity when it comes to forecast model reliability. What is important to take away from this though, is that the forecast model is showing an overall colder and stormier pattern, which suggests our easy winter is about to end. So while this event shown here might not become a reality, overall, the second half of January doesn't look as pleasant as the first half. This is basically how a long range forecast is derived, by looking at trends.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012: Here we go

Well here we are, 2012. Now I can say these are the official numbers from 2011:

Chases: 25
Tornadoes: 26
Tornado days: 11 [3-22, 4-9, 4-19, 4-27, 5-12, 5-21, 5-24, 6-19, 6-20, 7-26, 11-7]

I hit quite a few milestones this year as well:

First tornado on first chase [3-22]
First Iowa tornado
First March tornado
First July tornado
First November tornado
First back to back tornado days [6-19 and 6-20]
First chase in Alabama
First Alabama tornado
First Nebraska tornado
First EF-5 [Piedmont, El Reno 5-24]
Longest consecutive days chased: 7 [5-18 through 5-25]
Longest tornado/chase streak: 4 [6-19, 6-20, 7-26, 11-7]*

*technically this streak is still going, if I manage a tornado on the first chase in 2012 it will be 5 and counting*

2011 was a very successful chase year. While the tornado count doesn't compare to 2010, I had more tornado days in 2011. This lends me to believe I am getting better at storm positioning and field tactics. 2010s high tornado count is due to mostly 5-22 and 6-17 [with over 20 tornadoes just from those 2 days alone.] So it is a good thing to be able to say I was able to see tornadoes on more chases for sure.

2011 was not without its major fails though. I blew some pretty big days, namely 4-14 and 5-22. These days it was simple chase mistakes that happen from picking the wrong storm. It will be impossible to never have this happen in 2012, and I expect similar flops, though hopefully minimized.

With 2011 being the exceptionally violent year that it was I saw more death and destruction up close than I did any other year, while this is not something I care to repeat in 2012, nor proud that its something that happened in 2011, its still a fact whether I like it or not.

So what does 2012 bring? I touched up on this before a bit in my last blog but now that it is here its easier to gauge where I am at. 2012 is going to be a very tough year for me, especially financially. I am stretched about as far as I can go and unfortunately I think this will be a limiting factor for me in 2012, unless I team up with people more, which I don't like doing as much. No offense to anyone out there, I just prefer to chase in my own vehicle and have all the say...but I will do what I have to do.

I have a feeling I will be on less solo missions this year as a result. As for my setup, not much will change. I hope to acquire a new laptop from a friend in Denver that will allow me to better stream and upload video to media more efficiently, but if that falls though, I know my current setup will at least work. I probably won't have too many upgrades to the vehicle itself. I still hope to get a HAM cert, as well as a cert in first responding, but thats becoming more unlikely with each passing day.

The big change I will do for myself in 2012 is be more conscious of my video-taping skills. After releasing a DVD this year I realize I need to improve my videography skills some. Less multi tasking during tornado time and more focusing on getting high quality video is the main improvement I plan to focus on this year. Also at the same time, I plan to be allot more aggressive in how close I get. I've seen the limits, and with each passing year I gain more knowledge about intercepting. I wan't better, more dramatic shots that show more detail of the tornado.

I plan to raise the bar for myself in that regard, which contradicts the improved videography goals as there won't be much time for relaxed tripoded intercepts, but I will find a balance when out there in the field somehow. I have a feeling though my name will end up in the negative chaser spotlight more times than once. Often times such feats come with controversy...and thats fine. I am not afraid to take the heat.

Afterall, its my chasing career, and I will do with it as I please. I have no time to worry about what people think of me, I just need to go out there and git r done. I don't want to, nor have I ever tried to intentionally piss people off, but they are going to judge me regardless, so I might as well do what I want. Remember this name, it will be relevant in 2012!

Basically, I just want to keep improving my chasing in every way I can. There is always room to improve, grow and evolve as a chaser. 2012 will be no exception. I will address the challenges, and make sure I do everything in my power I can to make it the best chasing year yet. I know no set bounds, only my own personal limits.

More updates as they come! Its been an easy winter here. Mild and dry. Even though its January we have less than 2 inches of snow to date this winter, and our coldest temp has been a balmy 18 degrees or something like that. Ill take it!

Spring gets closer with each passing day, I am anxious, and ready!