30 November 2011

Image of the Day: March 23rd, 2009 - Getting the shot

March 23rd, 2009 - Adam Lucio getting the shot at any cost... We chased multiple storms in S. KS this day. At this point in time there were 3 LP storms from NW through W through SW. We aren't your new generation chaser chasing on their mommy's bank account. We get down and dirty and the least high maintenance of chasers. We don't like to see severe weather we like to experience it... If that means getting pelted with hail, getting RFD'd and soaked, or getting sandblasted then we'll do it.

Case closed :)

25 November 2011

Image of the Day: April 3rd, 2011 - BRAAAAAINNNS

April 3rd, 2011 - On a day where the cap was supposed to win out, Mother Nature said ppbbbbtbtbtbtbbbt! and uncorked a couple of bombs in Eastern Iowa. In this photo frequent lightning illuminated the "brains" of this storm. What a beautiful storm. It is a shame the LCL's were astronomical and this couldn't drop a nice backlit tornado. This storm was in the middle of no where and dropped a bunch of hail on barren fields. What a nice looking storm! It was the only chase I had in 2011 that DIDN'T produce a tornado!

24 November 2011

Image of the Day: April 13th, 1998 - Innocence Snatched

April 13th, 1998 - Innocence taken.... by Mother Nature. This is the very first image of a young storm chaser..... ME! On my very first storm chase. I was sitting straight up gripping the seats because I was so scared. We didn't see a tornado, but did core punch a severe warned bow echo that featured a pretty cool whales mouth. This was my first taste of the drug I like to call storm chasing. Once I got a fix, I needed more. This next year will year number 15 wondering the plains aimlessly in search of Mother Nature's beauty

23 November 2011

Image of the Day: April 21st, 2010 - Peaceful Hell

April 22nd, 2010 - Western Texas panhandle LP supercells developed and dropped a lot of hail but with relatively high LCL heights and wide T/td depressions; the tornado threat was almost non-zero. Here I captured a CG out of the updraft of this storm with sun light shining down through the anvil. Some nice inflow tail action as well as blue sky. Great little storm on a day before the day set up. 

20 November 2011

Image of the Day: May 22nd, 2010 - Sweet Serenity

May 22nd, 2010 - An intense supercell formed near Gettysburg, SD and dropped over a dozen tornadoes in which I captured on film. This particular shot illustrates how beautiful, yet dangerous a storm can be. The power of the parent thunderstorm rivaled some of the strongest supercells on record. This storm absolutely went nuts. This tornado was the one directly after the EF-4 Bowdle wedge occluded and dissipated. Under an amazing sculpted meso, this tornado churned away for about ten minutes.

Review of Adam Lucio's "The n00b" DVD

2012 will be my 15th year wandering the heartland chasing severe weather and tornadoes.... it will also be the 5th year chasing with my regular chase partner Adam Lucio. Adam and I actually met through a website www.stormtrack.org. It was after a local severe weather event that I noticed Adam posted a brief summary and saw that he was from Chicago, IL. Through 2007 we had traded PM's about local storms and built up a pretty decent online friendship where we would shoot the breeze about storms and what not. He lives 3 miles away from me and has a hunger for severe weather that completely reminded me of mine. I had brought up the idea of us chasing together since we both had the same mindset and same goals. He wasn't well known, but neither was I so it was a great opportunity to go out and turn some heads. The first chase we went on we actually caravanned on 4/10/08 and saw a pretty grungy supercell near Galesburg, IL. After discussing things further we both decided we should just team up in one vehicle and hit the plains. Since 5/30/08 we both ruled the prairies of the US with an iron fist and will not let anything stand in our way. Just to bring a little background before I review his first of hopefully many productions....


Alright I am going to model Ben Holcomb's style where he breaks down chapter by chapter and interjects his input.... As Adam's main chase partner I feel I can interject very useful information and add an input since my voice and ugly mug is featured in over half the DVD as well! Without further adieu I will begin....

Chapter 1: April 22nd, 2010 - Texas Panhandle
Adam and I hit the 2010 chase season hard and were rewarded with 6 tornadoes near the caprock. The first tornado being a big dusty bowl that never fully condensed. Our second tornado was a beautiful cone tornado that eventually roped out close to our location. While the second tornado was in progress another tornado dropped from the supercell to the southwest. It was clearly visible and Adam gives a nice perspective of both. Overall it set the stage for a very successful chase season.

Chapter 2: May 22nd, 2010 - Bowdle, South Dakota/ Field of Death
Adam, Ben, and I chased an incredibly violent supercell and subsequent tornadoes in Northern South Dakota. At the time this was my best chase to date. Adam captures the development of the first tornado to the shot of the wedge to a beautiful carrot like tornado back lit by the sun to a big dusty bowl and finally the field experience. This chapter is loaded with action and with tornadoes... a must watch!

Chapter 3: May 7th, 2010 - Holgate, Ohio Core Punch
We had such success in 2010 we decided to chase just about anything and we made the best out of it. We targeted a supercell coming out of Indiana and decided our only chance at intercepting it would be diving south through the core as it was moving E at 75 mph! As we turned south of out town we were met with 80 mph winds, tennis ball hail, and shredding trees! If you like cores and zero visibility then this chapter is for you!

Chapter 4: June 10th, 2010 - Colorado mothership
This was a day I could not chase and Adam and his g/f did. Upon watching his video I am just jealous beyond all belief. Adam had the perfect spot away from the hoards of chasers and watched for well over 30 mins as a mothership supercell dropped an incredible tornado... I can't say much but this is absolute incredible... I will throw a picture below and let you decide for yourself!

Chapter 5 - June 17th, 2010 - Minnesota Mayhem
Best chapter of the DVD; bar none. Best chase of our lives; bar none. A MUST WATCH, AND A MUST BUY!!!!

Chapter 6 - April 19th, 2011 - Central IL
This was my best tornado of 2011 (Adam has better) and it reminds me of June 17th. We document a grungy HP supercell as it transitions and develops a very intense couplet just to our west... The tornado drops a mile away and moves right in front of us across I 55. What a great view! Another must watch.

Chapter 7 - April 27th, 2011 - Super Outbreak
Adam and Jon chased down south and struggled a bit with the early storms, but their perseverance paid off as they captured a violent tornado plowing through the woods of N. AL. Definitely an outbreak to remember.

Chapter 8 - May 24th, 2011 - Oklahoma tornado
Adam and Jon chased down south again in Oklahoma and documented a spectacular tornado down by Canton before intercepting the EF-5 near Piedmont. An action packed chapter like many others on this DVD

Adam then breaks his DVD into bonus chapters and features his first signature catch (June 7th, 2008) and a bunch more short segments of various tornadoes we have caught.

Overall this DVD is a must have... and is genuine and real. I don't own a lot of chaser DVD but it is full of tornado video, no filler, and doesn't feature boring wildfire, snowstorm, or damage video. If there is one DVD to buy this off-season, it is "The n00b" Don't be a n00b, and buy the DVD!!!


Image of the Day: June 17th, 2010 - Bittersweet Reality

June 17th, 2010 - A record tornado outbreak affected much of the state of Minnesota producing numerous violent tornadoes and killed innocent victims. The photo above shows a massive EF4 tornado barely missing Conger, MN. We are looking down main street at this violent tornado that missed the town by less than .75 of a mile. A near miss, unfortunately at this time a man lost his life because he refused to abandon his mobile home.... this was my first killer tornado.

19 November 2011

Image of the day: May 10th, 2010

I am going to set myself up for failure here... I am going to post one image a day on my blog and explain what it is and where it is from. Let's hope this actually lasts!

May 10th, 2010 - A historic tornado outbreak takes aim on Southern Kansas and Central Oklahoma. Adam Lucio and I traveled overnight from Chicago to Wichita in hopes to chase North-Central Oklahoma. We targeted the Medford area and was on the first storm of the day that eventually produced the Wakita tornado. This photo above shows the supercell and it's wall cloud near Cherokee, OK. This was the storms first attempt at producing a tornado. The rotation tightened up significantly as it passed directly overhead. The storm was moving NE at 65 mph and we quickly lost it as we tried to navigate roads... 20 minutes later the large Wakita tornado was in progress......

14 November 2011

I'm back

For the last several months, I have all but disappeared from the general world due to financial and a couple health issues. Things have been rough, but all I keep doing is trying to fight and work my way through it. If anything it makes me appreciate the days where I didn't have responsibility. Looks pretty good right now. However, I work 40 hours at one job and another unlimited amount at the other and will just keep pushing. I missed a couple good tornado events and lots of fun with friends. My car, my computer, and various other possessions are currently not working so well. Probably at the bottom right now lol I was hoping 2012 would be a breath of fresh air and a pick me up but it, too, isn't looking promising. To go from 20+ chases in 2010 to just 4 in 2011..... is discouraging. 36 tornadoes down to 8. Very bad times. I am not complaining and don't expect sympathy, but just to clue you in a little on what is going on. I am ready to embark on something big with another chaser in hopes to turn fortunes around. But since I finally fixed my laptop, I will be around a little bit more working toward my goals.

05 September 2011

Elementary School Presentation for Dummer Elementary School in Sandwich, IL

Back last March I was asked to do a presentation for elementary school kids at Dummer Elementary School is Sandwich, Illinois. I whipped up some footage of some things to expect on the chase and how a normal chase with me is like! I forgot I had it still, so I threw it on Youtube. The kids loved it. I was supposed to be there for an hour and ended up staying 2+ answering questions. A lot of the kids were scared of severe weather, but I told them it is not to be feared. Fear lies with the unknown, I am a prime example of this. My fear of severe weather was unmatched I was paranoid. I was these kids age too. I told them anyone scared of storms please ask questions, because I was in their shoes and I never thought I would be able to overcome it. A mom that was there came up to me during the video presentation and said her daughter was exactly what I described myself as being at my age. I asked where she was and she was sitting in the front row glued to this footage. After the presentation she asked me the most questions out of anyone. I like to think I started a little reversal of her fear in storms. I expect to hear back from them soon as they said they would love me to come back and I would love to come back!



28 August 2011

21 years ago today...

Sparked it all. My sole passion in life. My obsession. All began 21 years ago today. A town changed forever, lives erased in an instant.

27 August 2011

"Fox News Editorial - Do We Really Need A National Weather Service?"


I was directed to this link by a fellow storm chaser tonight. It is an editorial written by a couple bloggers within the Fox News organization. At first look it made me roll my eyes, after reading it I was dry heaving. The information in this piece is unfortunately flawed. Whether it is CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, regardless of who it is; any idea to bash or cut the NWS is purely fueled on misinformation. The main point of this article is the endorsing of the private sector over the government based NWS. One of the lines in the piece states that " Although it might sound outrageous, the truth is that the National Hurricane Center and its parent agency, the National Weather Service, are relics from America’s past that have actually outlived their usefulness." This in fact does sound outrageous. One thing I have learned is that if someone warns it sounds outrageous, it usually is. I will say though, I bet the hundreds of thousands that get their news from local T.V. stations feel the information is useful. Want to know why? Because I am a member of NWSChat and can talk with the NWS in a private chat. Who is in this chat with me? Emergency managers, other NWS employers, and...... get ready for it...... the NEWS MEDIA. Now... if the NWS wasn't useful, why are some of the news agencies supporting this biased editorial constantly in the chat getting this unnecessary information?

Before I go any further I want to point out this rant is slightly in favor of the NWS, but not about bashing the private sector. In fact I think it is great we have both. One appeals to the public and one favors industries, corporations, and high stake events. The article states that "Private weather services do exist, and unsurprisingly, they are better than the NWS. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the National Weather Service was twelve hours behind AccuWeather in predicting that New Orleans would be affected. Unlike the NWS, AccuWeather provides precise hour-by-hour storm predictions, one of the reasons private industry supports them." This may be true... but as shown by THIS PICTURE... the areas affected are grossly inaccurate. This in fact doesn't even show New Orleans being effected.

Truth is the private sector uses plenty of NWS products, models, and data for their own forecasts. Is it possible that Accuweather correctly forecasted Irene? I am not sure, I don't follow Accuweather. All this article does though is make Accuweather (involved or not) and Fox News look bad. Many will say that this was not an "official" article by Fox News.... that means nothing to me. It is posted on their site for all to read and has the "Fox News" logo on top. It would be the same if I let someone post a profanity, sexist, racist laced rant on my blog, but then say "I didn't write it." Many people are going to disassociate themselves with my name and hopefully Fox News name.

The blog also goes on to state many errors and inaccuracies the NWS has made over the last several years. If you can find me a weather service or forecast agency that can accurately (hell even 90%, 80%!) predict the weather day in and day out then I will put all my stock in that company. Yes... the NWS makes mistakes. Yes... the private sector makes mistakes. In a day in age where national disasters are CURRENTLY on going ... writing a bad piece just because your parent news organization over-hyped a nonevent is just bad taste.

"NWS claims to spread information, but when the topic of budget cuts came up earlier this year, all they spread was fear. “There is a very heightened risk for loss of life if these cuts go through,” NWS forecasters said, “The inability for warnings to be disseminated to the public, whether due to staffing inadequacies, radar maintenance problems or weather radio transmitter difficulties, would be disastrous.”

"Disastrous? The $126 million in cuts would still have left the Service with a larger budget than it had a decade ago. The massive bloat in government should not get a pass just because it’s wrapped in good-of-the-community clothing. NWS services can and are better provided by the private sector. Americans will invest in weather forecasting because if there is one thing we can be certain of, people will want to protect their property and their lives." Closing argument from the editorial.

I pose this question.... how many people out there are willing to dish out money for private forecasts when roughly 300 of the 365 days of the year will be tranquil? I guess my point is, who is going to pay money for someone to tell them that next 4 days are going to be sunny? Some will argue that we are paying for the NWS through our tax dollars so then point becomes moot and it all boils down to who do you feel is more accurate? Can you imagine having the Jackson, MS or Birmingham, AL office closed in the month of April in 2011? It was rumored that Little Rock would be the one that would be closed, but point is can you imagine any additional office having to pick up the work load of another CWFA during a severe weather outbreak? At times tornadoes slip through the cracks in outbreak situations.... now increase the work load and decrease the staff and see how that stacks up. Are the news media all going to pay the private sector for their information? I guarantee 70% of broadcast mets out there depend solely on information provided by the aforementioned NWSChat.The system isn't broke. Singling out the NWS, fire service, police, etc for budget cuts isn't the answer. What is more important... money saved? or lives lost?

I would challenge the country to go one full year without the weather service.... if it is a success I will open mouth and insert foot. Without the weather service, where else will many of these brilliant news writers create their hype from?

25 August 2011

"EYE See You Irene"

*Hurricane Irene EYEING Florida, but it was only a quick glance :) *
If you watched the news lately and haven't lived underneath a giant rock, you would know of a major hurricane currently churning through the Bahamas. This storm, Irene, is teasing the Florida coast with whipping rain bands while she eyes the outer banks of North Carolina and ultimately Long Island. Most forecast models take her from Virginia Beach-Ocean City-and up to New York City. Irene is a category 3 hurricane which makes her a "major" storm. Perhaps some strengthening will occur, but the general belief is that she will make brief landfall near Cape Hattaras as a strong 2 and then continue her march up toward the megalopolis. THose in New York City/Boston area need to start preparing now. Those on the shore lines east of NYC may see pretty impressive storm surge and overall 6-7 inches of rain with this storm. Will this be another Bob? or worse. Stay tuned to your local forecasts and track her at http://www.noaawatch.gov/2011/tc_at09.php

Dual-Polarization Radar Training and Upgrades

Over the next year the WSR-88D's we all know and love are going to be changing! The concept has been in the works for the last several years. Only recently has it started to be implemented into service. Chicago is going to undergo the upgrade from Oct 17th to 30th. (Let's hope we don't get another major severe weather outbreak in that time frame; Oct 24, 2001-Oct 18th, 2007-Oct 26th, 2010.) The benefits of this upgrade are countless. As described below from the NWS Chicago....

"Conventional Doppler radars transmit bursts of radio waves, called pulses, in a single, horizontal orientation, or polarization. The pulses bounce off meteorological (i.e. clouds, snow, ice pellets, hail and rain drops) and non-meteorological (i.e. birds, insects, ground clutter, including wind farms etc.) particles in the atmosphere, and are reflected back to and received by the radar dish. After computer processing, the returned signals are converted into usable data regarding the horizontal properties of the particles encountered, including their dimensions and direction and speed of movement. For instance, the distance from the radar to the target is calculated from the amount of time that lapses from the initiation of the pulse, to the detection of the return signal. The radar reflectivity you see on a radar image is actually the “reflected” pulse energy that is received by the radar.

Dual-polarization, or Polarimetric, radars transmit and receive both horizontally and vertically oriented radio wave pulses, typically done by alternating between horizontal and vertical polarization with each pulse. This therefore allows the radar to collect data with information on the horizontal and vertical properties of the targets. Being able to analyze targets in this manner is expected to result in significant improvements in the estimation of precipitation rates, the ability to discriminate different precipitation types (i.e. rain vs. hail, mixed precipitation types in winter storms), and the identification of non-meteorological returns. As an added example, for aviation concerns, with polarimetric radar, forecasters will be able to better discern areas of icing and other hazards such as birds. All these improvements will aid forecasters in the warning decision process, helping the public make better decisions about their safety and protecting their property."

So in the end this is a major upgrade that is most welcome. A lot of people are afraid of change, but this and "warn on forecast" are two of the more acceptable ones.

The basic radar products that have been available to users are Z, reflectivity (base and composite), V, mean radial velocity (base and storm relative), and SW, spectrum width. Three new products that will become available after the upgrade are ZDR, differential Reflectivity, CC, correlation coefficient, and KDP, specific differential phase. Below is an example of Differential Reflectivity on the left, versus reflectivity on the right. The area circled on both images is a hail core in a thunderstorm, demonstrating how Differential Reflectivity can allow for better discrimination of hail from just heavy rainfall. Along with the three base products above, included among three new derived products will be Quantitative Precipitation Estimation (QPE), which will allow for the estimation of instantaneous rainfall rate. Currently, only 1-hour radar-based rainfall rate estimations are available.

For more information on the specific NWS LOT upgrade click HERE 

Meteorologists, non-meteorologists, emergency management, and civilians alike are able to access this radar and can learn more about it by following this link and going through the training modules. I know there are a lot of people out there that like to utilize radar and like to see what is coming at them. Here is a perfect way to train yourself to use this brand new upgrade right off the bat. 


NSSL conducted the Joint Polarization Experiment (JPOLE) in 2002-2003 to demonstrate the operational capabilities of the polarimetric KOUN. During JPOLE, data were delivered in "real-time" to the NWS and other users. NSSL scientists aided in the data interpretation. JPOLE proved that significant improvements in rainfall estimationprecipitation classificationdata quality and weather hazard detection were possible using polarized radar. The impacts of polarimetric radar could be as significant as the nationwide upgrade to Doppler radar in the 1980's, providing measurable benefits to...
  • Polarimetric radar can significantly improve the accuracy of the estimates of amounts of precipitation
  • Polarimetric radar can tell the difference between very heavy rain and hail, which will improve flash flood watches and warnings
  • Polarimetric radar can identify types of precipitation in winter weather forecasts, improving forecasts of liquid water equivalent or snow depth
  • Polarimetric radar data is more accurate than conventional radar, saving the forecasters the step of having to verify radar data
  • Increased confidence in polarimetric radar data can contribute to increased lead time in flash flood and winter weather hazard warnings.
  • Polarimetric radar provides critical rainfall estimation information for stream flow forecasts and river flooding
  • Polarimetric radar could be useful in water management
Aviation users:
  • Polarimetric radar detects aviation hazards such as birds
  • Polarimetric radar can detect aircraft icing conditions
  • Polarimetric radar has the potential to save the public $690,000,000 annually by improving precipitation estimation
  • Polarimetric radar can improve forecasts and warnings and reduce the impact of hazardous weather on our national transportation
  • Polarimetric radar better equips forecasters to issue accurate warnings and in turn helps the public make wiser decisions about our safety


  • Dual-Polarization Technology OverviewClick here to download the Dual-Polarization Technology Overview Presentation for Local Viewing

  • Best Uses for the Hydrometeor Classification ProductClick here to download the Hydrometeor Classification Presentation for Local Viewing

  • Best Uses for the Dual-Polarization Estimated Rainfall Amount ProductsClick here to download the Estimated Rainfall Amount Presentation for Local Viewing

  • The information gathered above is not ALL my own.. The modules/descriptions were gathered from the official Dual-pol pages which I have linked. With this information being passed along I hope you (the general public) will educate and become informed with what is going on with your local National Weather Service Forecast Offices. Give it a try!

    23 August 2011

    Severe weather probable on Tuesday

    A pretty potent shortwave will dive out of the Dakotas today and provide the area with severe weather. Storms are ongoing this morning; with a pair of MCS's in western Minnesota and in Northern Iowa. These will shift east throughout the early morning and eventually decay near or north of the area, laying down a luscious boundary that will play a role in what transpires below. 

    *A "kink" in the flow resembling a shortwave on the H5 maps. This "kink" will provide the focus for today's unsettled weather. Map shows projected position of shortwave at 21z (4 P.M)*
    Now with the "spark" for severe weather moving into the area at 21z, let's take a look at dynamics this "spark" will ignite. We already have a triggering mechanism in the shortwave and an outflow boundary from earlier storms. As the trough approaches the OFB will meet it near the MN/IA border. 

    *CAPE values are pretty bulky in the vicinity of the trof.  Here in Northern Illinois we will be experiencing a moderately unstable atmosphere. While the OFB may not be enough to spark a couple of storms, all this heat energy will be available for storms to munch on as they chew their way toward us later tonight.*
    The 0z NAM and GFS (especially GFS) isn't showing much in the way of destabilization across the area. I would imagine it would be because of the left over effect of the aforementioned GFS. Temperatures holding in the upper 70's/lower 80's while areas to the west are pushing 90. 

    * 0z GFS representation of temperatures across the area. 
    * 06z NAM  depiction of temperatures
    The four basic ingredients to thunderstorm development are 1) instability 2) shear 3) lift and 4) moisture. The amount of each will determine the severity of the storm We already established instability with the CAPE values in excess of 3500 J/KG which is strongly unstable and supportive of severe weather. Next question is do we have moisture, lift, and shear? 

    * Abundant moisture is in place by 4 P.M. coupled with a strongly unstable environment * 
     * Bulk shear values over 40 kts is more than sufficient for maintaining severe weather into the night.  Along with a strong LLJ. Supercells like to thrive in bulk shear environments in the 35-40kt range* 
    *Decent helicities shifting into N. IL. Helicity is otherwise known as rotation that could make it's way into a storms updraft... the greater the value the greater the chance the storm has to rotate.* 
    *From 0z Joliet area*
    Every model I have seen and put faith into breaks out precip along the outflow boundary stretching from the Chicago area to Dubuque. Supercells are likely with hail to the size of golf balls and destructive winds to 70 mph. Initially the tornado potential will be there, but perhaps will INCREASE as the low level jet ramps up and acts to enlarge the curvature in the low levels. 

    *At 0z the nose of the LLJ is just punching into W IL. If storms remain discrete supercells through 0z, I think we may get a couple of tornadoes. 
    This set up actually reminds me of the one on July 27th. A morning MCS moved through dropping a boundary which was the focus for supercells to form in NE IA and NW IL. As of now I think by 6p the Platteville, WI area is sitting prime for supercell development. If a supercell can form and latch on the residual OFB then it will tornado and may threaten Freeport/Janesville/Rockford areas. Otherwise storms will congeal into an MCS with the possibility of producing hurricane force winds and decent sized hail into the Chicago metro. Timing I am going with is into the Rockford area by 7p, Aurora by 830-9p, Downtown Chicago by 945-10p and into northwest Indiana after 11p. Main threats destructive winds. Tornado threat best north of US 20 and west of I 39. Be aware of the situation and please visit www.weather.gov/chicago for official warnings. 

    19 August 2011

    I am a storm chaser...

    I am a storm chaser. I have been chasing for 14 years now and haven't stopped learning. As a storm chaser I see a lot from Mother Nature. More often than not she shows me the show of a lifetime; other times she disgusts me with the unrelenting power on undeserving citizens. There are many types of chasers out there from scientists, to thrill seekers, to those who just want to see a tornado. Some have made a business out of chasing by driving tours, others have sold video and stock photography. Bottom line those of us out there doing it, do it because we have a passion unlike any other. Want to do it? Go out there and give it a try, it is not for everyone. You don't need anyone's approval to chase storms. There are no official storm chasing tests or classes to become a "real" storm chaser. My only advice is to team up with someone much more experienced your first time out. Chasing is not a game. Situations get hectic, stuff may hit the fan in the blink of an eye.... If you can watch this video and think you can handle it? See you out there!

    17 August 2011

    8/17/11 - 22:02 - Couple of thunderstorms developing

    *A couple of thunderstorms are developing a long the cold front in NC and NE IL. These storms are not expected to be severe, but may bring a downpour for a few minutes and sporadic bolts of lightning. Cooler air will be ushered in.*

    Fakes in chasing

    In every profession, hobby, or anything for that matter.... there will be your fakes or posers. It seems so prevalent in the chasing community though. Whether it is a desire to "be there" or just a disease with the craving of some sort of spotlight 24/7. Everyone boosts their resumes in some way or another.... maybe tack on an iffy tornado here, tack on an extra .5in to a hail stone there. Everyone has done it at one point in time; maybe a little bit of over embellishing.  The act is not to deceive as it is to stretch that extra inch to the goal line so to speak. Anyone who claims to be 100% totally accurate has committed a great fallacy. I am not 100% accurate, I try to be, but in the end I chase for me and my personal bond with Mother Nature... NOT to pad stats or claim the irreclaimable.

    When people who want to "be there" or hop in the limelight arise, the reaction is usually knee-jerk and unfriendly. Especially those who don't want to put forth the work or effort in becoming a successful chaser or forecaster. Nothing annoys me more than people that have things handed to them without putting the work forward. As a chaser I would much rather fail at forecasting and sit on the side of the road under blue skies than know I piggybacked off someone else. If you leech a chaser into success, that is bad. If you don't chase and then steal others pictures and work and claim it as your own, then all hell is going to break loose.

    While my work has only been stolen once, I don't make a living or livelihood off my footage or stills. Some may then question my involvement in if I have no dogs in the race. To that I say I will ALWAYS have my friends and fellow chasers backs. With as much bickering and pettiness that is prevalent in the chaser community, when it comes down to it we are always there for one another. If I find a page where someones work is being falsely represented you best believe I will be there fighting for your rights and your name.

    Bottom line... if you want to chase... chase. If you want to forecast... forecast. But please don't piss on my back and tell me it is raining.

    Season of the Storm Film Documentary

    *Click the image to see the intro to the documentary starring Adam Lucio, Jonathan Williamson, and me*

    Adam Lucio, Jonathan Williamson, and I are a part of a documentary titled "Season of the Storm." A group of film makers/students approached us with the opportunity to be a part of this project that has progressed rapidly. What was just a school project has perhaps turned into an hour long feature length documentary. Either way I am MORE than willing to be a continuing part of this film. Have done 2 interviews along with 3 days on the road with these guys and enjoy having them around. In my 14 years of chasing purely for myself, I never thought I would find myself in a position like this. My goals while chasing have always been to enjoy being with Mother Nature, make appropriate and accurate reports, and be able to document every one of her moves.... Not once have I ever been in it for selling video or pimping myself out to each and everyone. There are those who seek out opportunity and there are others that opportunity seems to find. I'd like to think I fall in between those two. What doors will this film open up?

    16 August 2011

    Warn on Forecast...

    For the last couple of years a new experimental study has been ongoing with those at Norman et. al. This program, using largely computer models and simulated radar, is in it's infant stage and could be a major breakthrough within the weather community.

    "NOAA’s Warn-on-Forecast research project aims to create computer forecasts that accurately predict when and where severe weather will occur in the next hour. If Warnon-Forecast is successful, forecasters will be able to make history by issuing tornado, severe thunderstorm, and flash flood warnings based on that computer forecast even before storm clouds form.  The resulting longer warning lead times could give the public 30 to 60 minutes to take appropriate severe weather safety actions."

    If experimentation proves successful it may take more than 10 years just to implement.... A lot of unknowns, but the upside in my opinion is just unlimited. Average lead time now is 10-15 minutes which is good, but can be better. With this new system... high resolution computer simulation models (among others) may actually be able to semi-accurately predict thunderstorm initiation. With that comes the ability to possibly give greater warning times for severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, and even tornadoes.

    Why do I bring this up? In light of the tragic event that occurred the other night in Indiana, a system like WoF could have been utilized. I don't fault the NWS a single minute for how they warned the even the other night. While some may say having only 20 minute lead time wouldn't evacuate a concert of 40k, I do think it was enough time to get everyone away from structures that are poorly constructed like the stage. Thinking ahead, if the NWS adopts the WoF program as typical, then lead time of up to an hour COULD be fathomable. The problem is how accurate is the research currently ongoing, how feasible would it be to completely revamp the warning system, and how would they make it user friendly.

    I am of the belief that those who like the way the warning system is, can keep it this way. Those who want more out of it may now have the option to get more in depth with their warnings. The average person wont be able to decipher the image below, but Emergency Managers, city planners, event managers, professional sports, etc may get an imaginable aid. Now to say that this program will be the end all be all warning process is far fetched... personally I don't believe anyone or anything will ever be able to accurately pre-predict the weather and what specific area will get storms with 100% certainty. This is certainly moving into a more accurate direction though.

    *Example of WoF in action

    So to summarize... the study and experimentation with WoF moving forward is a very valuable tool being utilized by NWSFO, SPC, and other scientists. Hopefully this will be found to be a success and can truly revolutionize warning times and the warning process as whole.

    14 August 2011

    Thoughts and reflections...

    It has been a while since I have utilized my blog... or really did anything useful in terms of my website or with weather in general. I plan on becoming a little more active on the blog and have a lot of stuff to talk about. There have been a few good and bad events that have transpired that I have been directly and indirectly involved with. I want to touch of these a little bit while I finally have the time to sit down, think, and reflect.

    I am the type of guy that may seem a little rough along the edges and opinionated, but overall right more times than not on things I take issue with. A couple issues have been misidentifying storm structure and misrepresenting yourself. Two episodes come to mind, one I was involved with directly and one that I heard about from people I am good friends with. I will start with the direct issue.

    Direct: A few months back the Chicago area was under the gun for severe weather. It was a marginal day and not chaseworthy, but held some potential for some boomers at home. Since I wasn't out chasing this day, I was online in NWSChat, on Facebook, and working on my website. On Facebook I noticed one of the posts was from Tom Skilling talking about the severe weather potential. I respect the man greatly so I clicked on it to see what his opinion on the day was. It was then I noticed some of the comments. Aside from your typical "Is it going to rain in....?" and "I hope it storms, I love storms!" There was a poster with a unique name that caught my eye. To back track a little, I have some meteorology background but never finished the degree so I like to think I do have a leg up in knowledge and experience than just your average enthusiast. Getting back, I noticed this poster had a comment referring people from Tom Skilling's page to his to get up to the minute severe weather updates. I thought I would check out the page because there have been some REALLY good pages out there from non-recognized people in the weather community. I had to send him a friend request since he created this page under a Facebook profile and not a like page. I should have known better then...

    Storms had begun to form on the north side and in Wisconsin and at the onset he was doing a good job with posting radar images for those who can't afford a program like GR3 or Storm Lab. After 10 minutes though it was apparent that this persons knowledge of interpreting radar was well below average. He had a lot of followers that were asking him questions and his explanations were almost comical, however people actually thought they were being fed relevant information. I watched from the sidelines just soaking it all in until this person decided to call out the National Weather Service in Chicago for not issuing a tornado warning for a hook echo that he "spotted" on radar. There were 3 or 4 people that had immediately voiced their concerns for their safety and I assume made way for the basement. What had happened was this day (May 11th) was full of cell mergers and splitting cells. A lot of cellular interactions that briefly pulsed up to severe limits, before collapsing and gusting out. This cell was near Elgin and had just absorbed another cell onto its' southern flank giving it the illusion that there was a hook echo. A hook echo itself on radar doesn't signify a tornado. An example of this could be found during yesterdays storms....

    Visually this storm looks like it could be a tornado producer since the common misconception is that any storm with a hook on BREF is tornadic. The storm yesterday closely resembles the storm I mentioned above.  Which this poster took upon himself to criticize meteorologists and Dr.s of the science for NOT issuing a tornado warning on. I had to chime in and made a comment simply referring to the >30td spreads, the lack of rotation on SRV (on LOT and TMDW), and the fact that this storm had just barfed out a gigantic OFB. 

    He was not shy about spamming everyone with links to his page and forecasts, including my personal forecasting page. I had asked him repeatedly to stop, but he didn't seem to get it. So finally I launched an attack on his knowledge, his background, and the fact that he wouldn't stop spamming myself and others. I had used some of his comments as fuel for a couple of my own Facebook statuses in hopes that he would realize what an ASS he was making of himself. He had no good response but to call me childish for simply pointing out that he should be giving credit to the SPC/NWS because all of his forecasts are nearly carbon copies of theirs. All he did was redo their outlooks and add his input on when he thought storms would develop. For someone who is quick to bash those that know more than him, he sure does run with their ideas. Finally I ended up blocking him, but met backlash on my personal forecasting page from him, his family, and a couple of their followers.

    To make an already to long story short.... he created a few fake profiles, threatened me by saying he knew where I lived, and made some whiny posts on his page. Fact still remains... you have no credibility, you need to stop misleading others, and most importantly learn how to take criticism. An 18 year old kid with no classes in basic meteorology shouldn't be spamming the NWS page with claims that he is an official source of severe weather. End of story. Hopefully this finally puts an end to anymore discussion on this as I need to take some time out to reflect on this gross misrepresentation. 

    That was my direct conflict that I just felt a need to involve myself with. Now onto another pet peeve of mine.... along with more misrepresentation and misidentification.  

    Indirect: A supercell thunderstorm developed the other night in NW IL and became tornado warned for a stretch of time near the Rockford area. I was at work so I really didn't get a chance to follow the situation and obviously chase. I was texted by Adam Lucio about a conflict on another friends page regarding this storm and false reports and identification. Once I found out who the accused were, I wasn't surprised and opted to stay out of the conflict and watch from the sidelines. There are issues in Illinois with groups of "super" spotters that feel their importance is paramount and they can do no wrong. Based on the pictures I have seen of the event, there was a wall cloud evident at one point. At the point the conflict occurred the storms were grossly outflow dominant and really posed no more threat. When another chaser questioned them about it, the conversation turned ugly with threats of violence and perhaps the most hated line I have in my book. "Well I have XX years of experience." It doesn't matter if you have 10 years of experience or 12 days... the fact was there was no wall cloud with that storm at that point. The fact that he mis-indentified something is bad, but the fact that these people refused to acknowledge it by using the "I have 15 years experience, I think I know what a wall cloud is" comment is hysterical. 

    I would had hoped after 15+ years of chasing, you would be a little more humble and a little more open to making mistakes you all are clearly making.


    Chase analysis from 7/26

    Short version: Adam Lucio, Jonathan Williamson, a film crew and I set out for the Northern Plains for a late season severe weather potential. We got on a marginally severe storm that had become contaminated by other development. Abandoned that storm and was one of the only ones on a new supercell that had formed on the triple point and dropped a brief tornado in Hoven, South Dakota. Storm blasted away from us and we were treated to a beautiful mammatus display followed by incredible night time lightning.

    02 May 2011

    Please Donate to the Red Cross

    Since this devastating outbreak occurred almost a week ago, many fellow Americans are suffering and need our help! Adam Lucio, Brad Goddard, Skip Talbot, Ryan Wichman, Scott Weberpal, Jesse Risley, and I (Convective Addiction) are holding a DVD fundraiser. If you buy one of our DVDs, all 100% of the profits will go directly to the Red Cross. On top of the 118 dollars we have raised so far.... we are donating an additional 100 dollars. Please donate to the American Red Cross! Either directly or by buying a Convective Addiction DVD. www.convectiveaddiction.com/store

    *Disclaimer - this is not an attempt to try to boost sales or our name in light of a national tragedy. I personally encourage you to donate DIRECTLY to the American Red Cross or any other charity!

    21 April 2011

    April 19th, 2011 - Central Illinois Supercell and Tornado

    Started off the day in Effingham, IL. Storms developed to the west near Quincy, IL and quickly went tornado warned. Reed Timmer caught a nice tornado near Bowling Green, MO. We went west to Litchfield and a little bit further west to Carlinville to watch a newly develop cell. This cell was splitting on radar and I plotted us to the ESE of the splitting cell in hopes the right split would turn right and tornado. Eventually the cell would get its' act together and drop a beautiful tornado on I 55. It unfortunately damaged a home and was given an EF-2 rating. Pics and video below.

    * Large HP base approaching... upon closer glance this was a moderately rotating wall cloud with strong inflow. The storm was just now tornado warned.
    * Closer it got. Was moving E at 45-50 mph. The right to left motion on the right side of the wall cloud was getting stronger. It still looked pretty ragged but with rotation increasing it was a good idea to move.
    * As we drove east on CR1600N I pointed the video camera behind me to see what I could get. A classic rounded supercell base with inflow bands curling around the cloud base. It was really getting wrapped up!
    * Pretty bad screen grab, but this was to illustrate the rounded cloud base of this supercell with a wall cloud forming to the far right.
    * Just west of I-55 stopped along the side of 1600N. I was keeping an eye on the far right of the image. I was wondering if some sort of tornado may be hidden in there, but it became clear that the show was directly in front of us... Intense rotation was present in this area.... I knew we had to get east as this storm was moving ENE and was going to drop just north of the road.
    * Found a nice spot to pull off on a frontage road just E of I 55. Rapid rotation was ongoing and little rope funnels would develop and then dissipate.
    * Thinking we were going to be teased, the storm finally dropped a large funnel and immediately a power flash occurred with tons of dirt being lofted.
    * Tornado in progress about to cross I 55.
    * Large tornado crossing I 55
    * Tornado widens and is about to hit a home just E of I 55
    * Tornado inflicting EF-2 damage on log cabin home
    * Tornado continues NE into field near Raymond, IL before dissipating
    * Tornado dissipates... was rated EF-2 with path length 3.5 miles and width of 200 yards.
    * Crossing the damage path we stumble on this home with it's western wall taken off and numerous tree debris
    * Wall cloud moving off to the east as the area is in shambles after the tornado passed through
    * We go to check on the well-being of the home owner but are unable to make entrance due to down powerlines.... Bart Comstock is seen in front of us.

    *Full version of the chase... initial wall cloud to full life cycle of tornado to damage afterwards.

    * Just the full life cycle of the tornado here... the meat and potatoes!

    Thanks as always for reading!