Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2013: Thats All She Wrote (?)

With the models showing nothing but intrusion after intrusion of arctic air, I think I can finally say the fat lady has sung for my 2013 storm chasing. Though I say that with a question mark, because that is what I thought after October 4th, then those awful wannabe setups trolled us around Halloween and then I thought THAT was it, then November 17th happened. So I guess its never really a sure thing until the clock strikes midnight on Jan 1st 2014.

So, here are the stats:

Chases: 19 (Average to slightly below average)
Tornadoes: 11 (Slightly below average)
States: IL, NE, CO, KS, OK, AR (Way below average)
Tornado Days: 9 (47% success ratio - slightly above average)

And some Milestones:

- New record for consecutive chases with tornadoes: 6 (April 17th, May 18th, May 19th, May 20th, May 27th, May 28th)
- First rear windshield blown out (October 4th)
- Latest tornado of any season (November 17th)

2013 was certainly the year of quality over quantity. Overall 2013 was a very slow year for tornadoes, quite possibly one of the, if not THE slowest on record. When tornadoes did occur though, they were significant and made headlines. With the exception of the Lawton Tornado on April 17th, every catch I had was a photogenic/significant tornado, and while the overall tornado count was only par (11) many of these tornadoes will be some of the most memorable of my career and tough ones to beat.

I did very well on all the big days, the only real big fail I have for the year was missing the El Reno tornado. A couple events I could have played a bit better such as the Moore tornado. We let ourselves get stuck on the wrong side of the river and were unable to pursue it due to lack of crossings and police roadblocks. Next year I am going to be very tempted to just go around those, as they are getting increasingly annoying. Are they really going to follow me and arrest me? Maybe...maybe not.

The year came on the heels of my worst chase season ever, and the agonizingly slow start only helped me spiral deeper into my own mental insanity. Finally, on May 19th that awful streak was ended with Rozel and I was reborn. I entered the year with a new outlook and a new strategy in my mind. No more packed sardine marathons like in 2012, which I attribute to my distraction and overall awful year. Fewer people in the car yelling at me to do things their way, keeping my head in the game, not stopping every 2 minutes while 10 miles away for structure shots and simply just getting up to the tornadoes and getting the video I want. It seemed to pay off. Agressive is my style.

I began to toy around with a riskier plan, aiming to be north of tornadoes more than the tradiotnal south/southeast. I like the view north better. It is often higher contrast, and you dont have rain wrapping around as far as you do when storms go HP. Of course there are downfalls to this, with the obvious being the risk involved of being more vulnarable to the tornado itself. Also, if you dont time your moves well, hook echo precip will cut off your view...something I still have yet to master, but after a few good examples now under my belt I think I can better accomplish this in 2014. If you don't fancy this type of chasing, its probably better you dont follow me next year, because its not going to stop. If your goal while chasing is pretty pictures, dont even bother asking to chase with me because I dont want to stop so you can take pictures of anvils while the storm is maturing and could potentially drop a tornado. My goal is video. I do plan to have an SLR camera next season and will occasionaly do the artsy photo thing, but only on days where tornado threat is minimal or non existent.

After many years of toying around with differnt chasing styles, trying to take in different things and give everything a shot at least once, I think I finally have my style nailed down and what it takes to accomplish the things I like. Providing favorable weather patterns, 2014 should be an amazing year.

Back to 2013, there were some memorable and unique moments including being able to drive the TIV for a string of chases in early April, sadly those setups were not big tornado producers, but that was still an awesome experience I would love to do again so hopefully the Caseys trust me enough to make me the offer next year.

Sadly 2013 was also the year it finally happened. We all know what I am talking about. I still cant listen to the song I was listening to at the time I found out that awful news without thinking about them. That song is "Whataya Want From Me" By Adam Lambert - not an overly sad song, or a song remotely about chasing, but probably forever until the day I die, when that song comes on I will think about those 3. I miss them, as Im sure many do.

Anyways, that sums up 2013 in a nut shell. Winter approaches, and so does a time of more active blogging and chase related off-season projects. For everyone who followed and supported, thank you! For all my chase pals, see ya in 2014. Cheers and Happy Holidays!