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!