Friday, March 29, 2013

Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

The slow start to this chase season is eating me alive. It wouldn't be so bad if it was actually warm out, but with the exception of the past 2 days, the past 6 weeks have been below normal around here. We had no storm days at all during March. Pathetic. January actually saw 4 tstorm days in Chicago!

So what is one to do when not chasing? I actually created my own silver lining to the slow start by aggressively doing vehicle maintenance. I made a long list of things that needed to be done in order to get the thing running in tip top shape. The major burden was a catalytic converter replacement required by the state of IL in order to pass the emissions and legally renew my registration. That was a nice 900 dollar, unecessary repair. I figured as long as I am doing that I might as well just do everything.

It has been very costly, and while not all the work was needed, it will benefit me in the long run with a reliable vehicle that will easily go 200k miles and beyond. I have one thing left to do, and it is road ready. I go back to work in just a few days, so while I have completely exhausted my budget, the money will soon start piling up again.

Another thing I have done, and some may have noticed this is I have upped my self promotion to the point of almost being one of those annoying people who whores themself out. For years I told myself I would let myself be discovered through my own hard work, and while that has indeed happened, I was lazy in actually making a strong effort to put myself out there. I just kinda did my thing and let people find me. It worked, but as I did this, people were blowing me by, and getting the things I want for myself.

I also didn't want to deal with people turning their nose at me for "whoring" myself out. There was a time I didn't want to upset my peers by coming off as some whacker noob in it for the wrong reasons. Those days are over and I am now of the mentallity that if you dont like me or what I do, you can piss off. This is my life, my dream, and Ill be damned if I let someone else and their opinions try and tell me how to run it.

So this year I have sent out emails, I have branched out and made new contacts. I finally have a real logo to identify my brand with. I finally figured out the direction I want my facebook page to go and how to engage my followers. It took me a year to reach 650 likes. In the last 2 months I have tripled that simply with a new plan. I scored myself a couple small sponshorship deals which include some free stuff and free mobile internet. This makes chasing easier on myself financially and opens up my work to a wider audience.

As they say in Twister, "The days of sniffing the dirt are over." There is nothing else I want more in life than to have chasing be my full time gig. Ill work a normal job to support a comfortable living for myself, I have no problems with that, but if I really want the freedom to chase wherever and whenever I want I need to figure out ways to make that happen.

No more sitting around and waiting for things to fall into my lap, its time to grab the bull by the horns and make it happen for myself. I've come too far, and put way too much effort to quit now. I believe I have too much skill and good things to share with people than to just sit in the shadows and let people pass me by.

..and THIS is how one keeps busy during an abnormally slow start to tornado season. Im feeling really confident right now after all I've struggle to do in the last couple months. Hopefully the pattern picks up and I get a chance to back up my claims and show my worth. Cmon mother nature...send a bull into my rink.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


We are a week into March. Woo Hoo chase season, Spring!!! But wait...something isn't right. Thats right, Chicago just received 9.5" of snow yesterday making it the largest snowstorm since the GHD blizzard back in February 2011 as well as a top 4 March snow event in all of Chicago's 128 year weather history.

The start of March is an exciting time for most people. Spring is just around the corner, warmer weather, better times, sunnier skies and stormier days. No group of weirdos on the planet await this time of year with more anticipation than storm chasers, which I consider myself to be (a subjective definition if ever there was one, but I believe I fit the bill in my own biased eyes.)

So...where the hell is spring?!?!?!? Lets turn the trustworthy forecast models. (click to enlarge image)


While fluctuations like this are normal, especially in the long range, these are pretty radical. Overall the trend has been colder than normal though, with only brief spells of mild weather. Every now and then we'll get teased by a few runs that look warmer and more spring-like, only to be followed up by more runs showing colder than normal temps.

So we can't look there. Where else can we look? While I don't consider myself an expert and noone should view me as such. Over the years I have become a huge fan of the teleconnections, especially one known as the NAO (North Atalintic Oscillation.) Basically it has to do with ocean currents and how they affect the jet stream. Like all weather patterns it fluctuates.

A positive pattern promotes west coast troughing, a pattern more favorable for severe weather while a negative pattern promotes east coast troughing and generally cooler weather across the US. Not good for large scale severe weather patterns. I have been observing this for a couple years now, and found it to be pretty accurate (but like anything with weather, it isn't 100% garauntee) Taking a look I am not seeing much love here either, but a low trend towards hopefully a positive phase is better than nothing. I have also marked 2 recent noteable tornado outbreaks and both correlate with a positive phase.

Notice in February we tanked into a negative phase, and suddenly winter arrives and take a stronghold for many in the heartland. The forecast seems to go along with the general cold trend seen on the models, another sign I am not a fan of.

All of this is hard to digest for a severe weather lover such as myself as I am not seeing many of the signs I normally would like to see come spring time. It is far too early to sound the panic alarm though. This type of pattern is not unheard of this time of year, and sometimes things get off to a slow start. 2008 was the only year in my chase career I didn't chase in March, and 2008 set a record number of tornadoes for the country. Anything can happen.

All it takes is a sudden pattern change and BAM, things light up. Unfortunately, such a pattern doesn't look to be in the cards just yet. There will be marginal setups along the way though, and even slow patterns have their fare share of severe weather producing setups, just not the kind to lure someone like me from Chicago to Kansas.

My advice to those eager to get out who can't sit still is to take advantage of what appears to be a slow start. Fine tune your projects, double check all that vehicle maintenance. Put in some overtime at work to stock up on time off for when things do decide to change. 

It will happen...