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.