Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tornado Days

Been on a stats kick lately so I decided to check out all the calendar days I have seen tornadoes and discovered something funny. I have never seen a tornado on the same calendar day in different years. Out of 365 days in a year I have seen tornadoes on 31 of them, but each date is different.

Perhaps that will be a fun little goal I can try to hit in 2013, double up on a calender day to make that my "statistically best tornado day"

Anyways, here are the tornado days:

2nd (2012)
22nd (2011)

9th (2011)
13th (2012)
14th (2012)
19th (2011)
22nd (2010)
27th (2011)
29th (2010)

5th (2007)
10th (2010)
12th (2011)
13th (2009)
21st (2011)
22nd (2010)
23rd (2008)
24th (2011)
25th (2008)

5th (2009, 2010)
6th (2007)
7th (2008)
10th (2010)
14th (2009)
15th (2009)
17th (2010)
19th (2011)
20th (2011)

26th (2011)

12th (2012)
18th (2007)

7th (2011)

Side note - further illustrating how much 2012 sucked, it is the first year since I started visiting the plains in 2007 that I did not see a tornado in May or June. Sad...

Edit* - It turns out the entire context of this blog is false. I just remembered I saw tornadoes on June 5th, 2010 as well which makes that my "best tornado day" Whoops...

Friday, January 11, 2013

First Thunderstorm of 2013 for Chicago

Well here is my obligatory first thunderstorm of the year post. A very unusual winter we are having this year. It is January 11th and the city's official snowfall so far is an almost non existent 1.3" - which is about a foot below normal. Numerous snow records have fallen including latest first date for measurable snow, longest consecutive days without measurable snow and longest consecutive days without an inch of snow. We also tied the latest date for the first sub-freezing high temperature as well broke a couple of other odd anti winter weather records I can't remember off the top of my head. For people like me who hate winter and snow, its been a dream pattern!

The next record to be threatened is the latest first date of an Inch of snow, which is January 17th - but a system tomorrow threatens us with an inch or 2 of snow so well have to see if we can dodge yet another bullet.

Anyways, the lack of snow isn't due to lack of precip, but rather a mild pattern. We have picked up a good deal of rain in the last month which is helping to ease the drought some. Yesterday another good dumping of rain came with a brief period of thunder and lightning and I was able to log the first thunderstorm for the local area. Quite unusual to have it so early in the year, but not unheard of. In fact last year in January we had an even better event with actual individual convective cells containing numerous CG lightning.

This event was more CC lightning embedded in a large shield of rain with only a couple CG. Still though, lightning is lightning and thunder is thunder. I will take it over snow anyday! I wasn't home at the time so the only radar shot I saved was from the app on my cell phone. A CG icon can be seen near Palos Heights.

Naturally, this only makes me long for more frequent and stronger storms and gets me excited for the upcoming season. Preliminary thoughts see it being much better than 2012 for the pure fact I won't be as financially stressed as I was during 2012 and now that I am better established at work I can get more time off to chase, so those two facts alone should increase my success.

Now the weather cooperating is another story. Its too early to tell. Many are worried about the still ongoing drought but I am not as big of a doomsday sayer since much of the country has seen a good snowfall over the winter. Even parts of west Texas which were bone dry managed to get more snow than Chicago. It seems moisture is returning to the US, albeit slowly. So as always, we'll just wait and see...

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

DVD Review: Storm Snob

Storm chaser and good friend Ben Holcomb has released his 3rd DVD this year, titled Storm Snob

Ben is one of only a couple chasers to release DVDs this season. The title derives from the notion that storm chasers who live in tornado alley refuse to chase anything outside of those boundaries while scoffing at others who choose to do so. Given the fact that every second of video on this DVD comes from Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, the title is very fitting.

2012 was a tough year for chasers, but Ben was one of the few who had a good success ratio, so the expectations when viewing were higher than others. This year Ben seemed to have a special knack for finding that needle in a haystack storm that would produce on a day where 20 other storms wouldn't. Despite his success compared to other individual chasers in 2012, there probably still wouldn't be enough content from 2012 alone, so it begins with events from fall of 2011 (which followed his already completed second DVD release.)

The DVD opens with September 17th and covers a marginal, but rewarding setup in Oklahoma. Video shows 2 different tornadoes on the ground at the same time, and some neat funnel rotation directly overhead. The video is good and stable despite parts of the tornado managing to sneak out of frame for a bit. A very nice, solid opening to the DVD.

Things ramp up big time in the next chapter which covers November 7th 2011. This was a big day for many (including myself as you will see since I am riding along with him.) Footage shows many tornadoes of all shapes and sizes from all different ranges. Beginning with the dramatic Tipton EF-4 (which is the cover image of the DVD) and ending with an impressive 3 tornadoes on the ground at the same time 4 hours later. In between there are numerous other tornadoes including one that travels right through a wind farm. This is the longest chapter of the DVD and is jam packed with tornado action. This day could be a DVD all on its own and is well worth the price of purchase.

We finally move into 2012 with the plains' first good tornadoes on March 18th. Another solid chapter showing 2 tornadoes with little "fluff." Its intro, then tornado time.

April 13th follows and shows Ben and his chase partner attempting to view a tornado that went through their hometown of Norman, Oklahoma. Footage is mostly them driving shouting the tornado is there, but it is almost impossible to make out given the position. Some damage footage follows proving a tornado was there though. Later in the day they witness an odd looking cone tornado near Saddle Mountain, OK as they intercept a beastly HP storm. Nothing knock-your-socks-off dramatic as the view was far, but any tornado shot in 2012 is a bonus.

April 14th, the big day of the year follows. Unfortunately there are no dramatic shots of the amazing Langley tornado like many would expect, but there are still several tornadoes to be had, including a non-condensed one in a nearby field. A pair of cone tornadoes near dusk and after dark follows. As a bonus you get to see a turkey get blasted to smitherines, though if you are an animal lover, this might make you queezy. Its only low quality dash cam footage so no need to throw any graphic content warnings.

A chapter covering April 30th follows and shows Ben's big unique prize catch of the year. A beautiful, strong tornado near Medford, OK. As far as I know, the only existing footage of this tornado comes from Ben and you will have to get this DVD in order to see it. Unfortunately, it is after dark so all you are allowed by nature are glimpses in between lightning flashes, but at least the frames are frozen so you can see it longer than a tenth of a second. Still, for night time video it is awesome, and Ben throws in some great still photos as well of this awesome tornado.

May 25th was a decent day for many chasers, including Ben. Another chapter with multiple tornadoes, but again unfortunately they are after dark so all you are allowed are brief glimpses from far away and some still shots.

We fast forward to fall and find ourselves in October chasing a supercell north of Lubbock, TX. The chapter starts out with some large hail footage, which adds a nice variety to a DVD where every other chapter follows a -daily intro-tornado time- format. I for one appreciate variety in a DVD and like to see something other than tornadoes once in awhile. A weak tornado spins up later, and the group was in position to get good video of it. Lightning photos follow to conclude a solid chase day turned solid DVD chapter.

The DVD wraps up with a photo montage chapter showing various structure, lightning, tornado and even random humorous shots throughout the year.

Overall thoughts:

This is about as good as it gets for a single chaser highlight DVD covering 2012. Every chapter features tornadoes, and there is almost no filler or fluff. Little bonuses like radar images are a nice addition to the shot to show how the storms evolve during the chase. Most of the video is tripoded and very stable even though a few moments are plagued by auto focus. This is a definite buy for every level of DVD enthusiast. A great addition to your collection, even if you are the hard to please, must be loaded with tornado video DVD type of person. I highly recommend it.

Check it out and order it here: