Monday, June 12, 2017

Chase 061117 Monticello MN (Morning) SE MN (Afternoon)

We're going to call this one "The 2Fer". Early Morning MCS plows through the metro like a boss dumping a shit-ton of hail in the NW suburb of Coon Rapids. You can read the Day 1 here. Along with the Preliminary Storm Reports.

I sure hope this isn't going to hurt...

My view of the approaching line.


As you can see, This line was not messing around.

Radar view shortly after Coon Rapids received the ice beating it got.

My Sunday morning drive. Don't you people sleep?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Chase 051717 Northern Iowa, Owatonna MN, New Prague MN

We get two route maps on this one. GPS tracking unexpectedly quit on the first leg so, the backup was put to work. This is why we have backups.

Exactly one day after the Chetek WI tornado, a major portion of  Iowa, and slivers of SE MN and SW WI were under an enhanced outline in the 1630Z (i.e. 1130 CDT) day one outlook from the Storm Prediction Center.

10% TOR? Yeah, let's go.

Target: Mason City IA. As I head down to meet the front, this greets me.

I decided to keep out of Mason City proper choosing to hang out just North of the city. By this time, the sky was really beginning to boil.

A short time later, things just exploded and the chase was on... North.

And then the second tornado watch of the afternoon popped up. How fortunate, right where I was going...

Storm Prediction Center's Severe Weather Event Archive of this day

More to come as I sort through the photos and videos...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chase 051617 Chetek WI. (EF-3)

First chase of the season found me dashing out of work at 1635 right into rush hour traffic at 1645. Heading east on I94 at that time of the day is not for the faint-hearted or impatient. And I dove head long right into it. No matter, the storm I was interested in was dead ahead and churning wildly.

Radar at the time was showing things moving in an east north-east direction and if I was going to have any chance of getting near it,  I was going to have to move North... Quickly.

I ended taking Hwy 95 to Stillwater where I prayed to the nautical gods that the bridge spanning the St.Croix was down and letting vehicles pass through to the Wisconsin side.


With that little bit of drama set aside. I bolted up WI 35 just as fast as I safely could falsely empowered by the new radar detector perched upon my windshield. 90% of the time, I drive in a realistic fashion (i.e. following with the pace of present traffic. I mean, think herd mentality, they can only chase a couple of us down right?)

I will say the detector is a nice addition just to tell me what I'm coming up on even when speed isn't a factor. If it's not barking at me, In this situation, i'm getting a little heavy on the pedal to make up lost ground. Maybe 10% more speed. Detectors mean nothing if you're in a ditch.

East on WI 64 gave me a wonderful view of what I would eventually be under (provided I caught up to it of course.)

Finally within reach, I made the fatal move of not continuing east on Hwy 64 choosing to follow Hwy 53 North toward Chetek which by then, had already had the storm pass through it. The better choice would've been to continue east and then intercept north on Co Rd. 73.

In all, it was good to get the rust out. Plenty of items that need to be reassessed before the next time out. Time to go have a beer.

The National Weather Service survey of the event can be found here.  As it turns out this tornado is now the longest track in Wisconsin at 83 miles!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Chase 052316 Central Iowa/South Central Nebraska

We begin our birthday week with a couple of days on the plains chasing. Several setups were possible according to the SPC Day 1 forecast from MN through IA, NE, and south through the remainder of the alley.

I decided to make a play toward Lincoln NE but first, ride the boundary that was setting up to my West. Parallel to I35.

I decided to play a possible "Tail End Charlie scenario with a cluster of cells that had popped up southwest of my position fairly quickly and looked promising.

Racing South on I35 to meet up with the cluster, I watched it line out quite rapidly taking out any chance of a cell being able to parlay what little shear there was available to get things rotating.

Just outside of Audibon, I was able to find a side road that rose quite impressively so much so when I reached the top, I was able to see the entire valley to my west along with the oncoming front and a very ragged shelf cloud on its leading edge. Basically signally the end of the chase before it even started.

Little lightning, a little thunder, a little hail. Not much in the way of productive elements when you're out chasing for Tornadoes. The positive was I wasn't veered off my original planned course so lost no time with this slight detour.

You can see elements of a Meso attempting to get its act together, Just not enough atmospherically to play with and soon it died. Some remaining low hanging "cloud fruit" made for an eerily strange palate to the afternoon.

Screw this. Actually? All I had lost was the time I'd fiddle fucked around chasing this storm "wanna be" Time to get back on course and maybe put a little lead to the pedal to make up for some lost time.

It was about that time I'd received a text from Amanda Hill letting me know that they were located not too far from where I was and her and Nick Elms were headed back home after a protracted period of successful chasing in NE. I had been tracking their progress the following week and that had been one of my deciding factors for choosing Central NE as my base of operations for the next couple of days.

As I plodded along, I had originally thought Lincoln NE would be about the length of time I wanted to be in the vehicle for the day.But as I entered the area, I realized I didn't want to be in any metro area overnight. And so, I expanded my choices on I80 to include Grand Island, Hastings, and Kearney if my back and ass could tolerate a few more hours of freeway punishment.

Remembering that Amanda had mentioned a brewery in Kearney NE called Thunderhead Brewing and knowing full well that other chasing friends had made the trek there to sample their wares, who was I to miss out on an opportunity to combine two of my favorite hobbies: Drinking Beer and Chasing Storms. You simply don't go that far into Nebraska without stopping there. It's going to be my new rule.

I mean how many places can you go to drink beer and pregame your activities while watching the home team hit atmospheric batting practice? I never did get into the record store across the street.

After a couple of beers and a little nosh at Thunderhead, Decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel but only after a brief stop at the local liquor and cigar stores. I squealed like a little girl when I found out that Thunderhead was canning the very product (their Honey Wheat Ale) I was fawning over at dinner.

Sitting out on Kearney's Country Inn's front "patio" overlooking the parking lot sussing out my immediate domain, listening to the StormviewLive crew on Zello and smoking my AF Curly Head Natural, I began to hear excited chaser voices exclaiming the storm they were on in Grand Central NE. Fifty miles to my east.

I poke my head around the corner.

Oh! Would you look at that!

Do I drive to intercept? Nope. I've been drinking and in strange territory. We'll sit this one out. Besides, the thought of another 100 mile round trip doesn't sit well with my ass at that point in the evening.

Zello: "Heavy Rain and Hail in Grand Island"

One look at the radar can confirm that bit of news...


Zello: "You ought to see the lightning show I'm witnessing right now"

Well? as it turns out we all were getting a show. A heavy duty cell had developed to the SE of my Hotel patio and was casting off some wonderful cloud to cloud lighting that could be seen where I was.

Having burned off any buzz I'd acquired I decided to try my hand at grabbing a few shots of lightning before retiring for the evening. I was a bit disappointed at the performance of my lens but the fault was entirely my own for not taking the time to set it up with my camera body prior to hitting the road. The focus at infinty basically sucked.

Lesson learned.

Keep in mind folks this view was almost sixty miles away!

After about 45 minutes of mindblowing long distance cloud to cloud, I was completely fried. I was lucky to make it back the five miles I had taken to get to the open field in view of the storm at hand.

But I had one last stop to make before beddy bye.

The setup for tomorrow is looking promising.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Well? Let's see how this works...

A new season. Time to clean out the old and come up with a new plan. A better plan.

It's what I do. I am an engineer. You know, Better, Faster, Cheaper. Always improving, always looking for that "better way", taking your lessons learned and applying them to the next.

I've decided one thing for sure. I'm not going to record my adventures eight ways to Sunday. Christ! Why have three different videos showing the exact same thing from a slightly different mount. Enough! I can't even finish my entries from last season because of all the "Media" I chose to capture with last year!

JPG's RAW, XAVC, GIF, MP4! And I've made not dime one from any of it because I concentrated too much on the product and not the moment.

Streaming? Gone. Although I will maintain some way of "getting out live"
It's going to be a one button push. Anything more than that, and it's going out the drivers side window. I can think of nothing more frustrating than concentrating on providing a feed to ungrateful viewers telling you how to shoot the storm in front of you all while the data meter is running $$. You're a chickenshit fuckwad if you fail to drive right up to the storm and give it a big 'Ol French kiss. Good bye.

So there you have it. I'm streamlining for me. A couple of tablets, a dashcam, my radios and a dslr. One antenna hanging off the roof this season... Not four. 


If we have a season like we had last year, at least I won't feel like I worked hard to get there.

And maybe I'll have some room for beer this year... Good beer.

Here a pic of the end result. From the backseat.

Where I never am.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Chase 071215 Central MN Moderate Risk

Nothing much to say about this one. Those who were early to the show were treated to a couple of short-lived tornados in west central Minnesota. It just didn't end up being what was advertised in the day's SPC day one.

I took a leisurely drive up toward Little Falls with the intent of meeting up with the leading edge of the storm for a possible UUUUGE! "Shelfie" cloud pic and maybe a little lightning.

By the time I reached Buckman MN, the party was already in full swing. I decided the prudent thing to do was to run parallel to the line for  a half hour or so and see if I could find an active point in the storm and grab some lightning with my Hood Cam. Little if anything came in the way of even remotely usable video.

Had an interesting moment crossing the dry line and able to record the instant condensation that takes place when you exit 67 degree air and enter 85/72 air.


Purely by chance, I decided to pull over for a moment to retrieve something from my back seat and end up interrupting a white tail doe's meal in the ditch. Something tells me that had I not pulled over when I did? I've a feeling the local food shelf would be receiving a "fresh kill" and I would be having a chat with my insurance agent. In any case, let this serve as a lesson: not only do we have to endure the perils of lightning, hail, wind, shit flying through the air at Mach 10, and sleep deprivation, we also have to be extremely aware of these "Ditch Rodents" and their propensity to ruin a chasers day.


One of the very few photos of the day focused in on the texture of the sky, the agriculture, and the land around it...

Be safe out there.

Great Radar Animation of 071215 Derecho

Meteorologist Tim Buckley posted this wonderful radar animation of the Derecho that began in NW Minnesota on Sunday and made its way to North Carolina basically in the same form and intensity it had when it began its journey.

LONG-LIVED LINE OF SEVERE STORMS: Here's an animation of the incredible line of severe weather that moved from Minnesota...

Posted by Meteorologist Tim Buckley on Tuesday, July 14, 2015