Tuesday, December 10, 2013

An Alternative Dashcam for Chasing.

I always enjoy finding new ways to reuse old items. Case in point:

After my fourth close call traffic "incident" in one day, I decided it was time to look at mounting a dashcam in my vehicle to record my daily commute and at least give me a leg up if some bonehead decides they're not going to accept responsibility for their part in the wreck that either takes me out or one of my fellow drivers because of their stupidity.

I've gotten quickly tired of people who can't show a little restraint while behind the wheel and insist on making sure they're out ahead of everyone else on the road by weaving in and out of lanes, cutting off those behind them, failing to yield, failing to signal, etc. You know the ones.

Now I don't claim to be an angel of the pavement myself. But I have at least enough sense when in city commuting traffic to know I'm not omnipotent. And when others feel their travels are more important than mine to the point where my safety becomes secondary to their mega-mocha latte in the morning? Well, I'm going to have as much evidence as possible to assist law enforcement in making sure John or Jane Latte gets taken off the road for a while or at the very least, have some money sucked from their wallet.

Record Breaking 2.6 Mile Path El Reno OK Tornado Overlayed On Twin Cities Metro Area Map

This is really quite unnerving but, completely possible. This is the actual width and track of this tornado. The actual damage area could extend several miles either side of the track as the storm intensified.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

10/4/13 Moderate Risk Southern Minnesota

Wow! It's been a while.

This could be the "Hail Mary" for the 2013 Northern Plains chase season.

SPC initiating a Moderate Risk area in its midday day two outlook.

I'm not ruling out a possible chase. However, I am concerned about storm speeds and positioning prior to initiation. We'll wait for another model run before I make my decision.

It is beginning to look tasty however.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Grand Rapids MN 07/18/2013

Probably one of the most disappointing chases to date. Plenty of promise, little delivered.

The setup itself, was a pretty standard one for this time of the year. Plenty of heat, plenty of moisture, CAPE values weren't stellar, but enough to take notice. Shear seemed to be missing with the morning models but caught up later with the midday enough to give the SPC a reason to go moderate on our asses.

I bit. One thing I said I'd never do was go chasing primarily on the thinking of the SPC. Yet, here I was, debating. We were hungry for something. and wouldn't it be nice If I could bag something with a minimum number of chasers on a weekday run especially being just fresh from the El Reno disaster.

So straight North I went. Initiation was already occurring just South of the MN/CAN border along the now diving cold front. Based on that, I targeted Grand Rapids as my intercept. As I continued my way North, I noticed things to be slowing waaaay down in terms of storm motion. I began to start to fear if I was going to see anything at all short of going up to the BWCA.

I arrived in Grand Rapids with my fears confirmed. The front had arrived just at the same time I had with nothing behind it to warrant the trip. Still, the main line was cooking but 100 miles further to my North. I decided I'd had enough driving and I'd sit tight to see if anything would materialize.

The only thing that materialized was an MD (Mesoscale Discussion) from the Storm Prediction Center regarding the Thunderstorm Watch that had been issued for the area about two hours prior.

It said basically:

"Show's over. go home."

More than a few of us were scratching our heads wondering what meteorological anomaly was going to explain our complete lack of storms even with all the ingredients present. I turned tail and headed for home.

About 40 miles south of Grand Rapids, I did manage to grab some stills/video of a storm that did pop up over Grand Rapids. Maybe I left a bit premature, But I can say no one under the cell got the shots I did. I swear when I got out of my vehicle to set up my camera, the million mosquitoes that came out of nowhere had planned to rip me apart and leave my carcass by the side of the road. Good thing for remote control shutters...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Severe Outlook for 6/25/13

CAPE values tomorrow are through the roof for southern Minnesota. Model values are for 7:00 PM tomorrow night. Probably more of a heavy rain and hail event can be expected but we won't rule out the possibility of a tornado or two.

Check out this map from WeatherGeek Pro!

Plenty of energy in the atmosphere this afternoon for severe weather. CAPE values very high into the early evening hours!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Radar Doesn't Lie...

It was an interesting evening on Friday 6/21. We were out with family as storms moved in from the W/SW. Dinner and drinks were punctuated by several visits to the radar app on my phone. Where we were located, we lucked out having not lost power or having any visible damage to trees or structures. I know that was not the case for a lot of folks, guess we were just living right. On our travels home, we did come across a damage path which closely matched the radar image here.

The bright pink areas indicate wind velocities of 60 mph or greater. It tracked through several suburbs from the SW to NE and made quite a mess of things. Trees down and significant damage to the local power grid where up to a half a million customers were without power now being reported as the largest outage in Minnesota history.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Today's Game Plan: 5/29/2013

Well, it appears we"ll be playing a bit of chaser "Whack-A-Mole" today. Which means my target is going to be in continuous flux. As you can see, there's a wide area of severe weather that can play out today, all of it determined by a level of uncertainty due to possible cloud cover, dewpoint, and surface heating.

I do know I won't be following through on my original plan of south central NE and entering the risk area while tracking north. As you can see, the area has moved further south and to the west as of this AM. Thus making it just too far to reach by projected initiation time this afternoon.

I do however, feel I can continue with the first part of the journey South to IA on I35. However, once I get to the border, a gut check will need to take place as conditions may favor SE SD by that time.

I personally think things are going to work in favor taking a moderate approach and hanging in NW IA and see how things play out. I have my doubts that the show is all going to be as the Storm Prediction Center plays it out here.

I will be streaming later today as I finalize and approach my target area.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

5/29/2013 Moderate Risk

We'll be chasing tomorrow in the moderate risk area. Moving our way North for the Thursday show wherever initiation happens to occur. I'll be posting updates as time allows...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Interesting Data.

Comparison of Radar Data of the May 3 1999 Moore Tornado and May 20 2013 Moore Tornado

View of May 20 2013 radar from Weather Underground with emphasis on Debris Ball

Moore Oklahoma Radar Animation

Here's a minute by minute radar animation from Weather Underground of the Moore Oklahoma tornado from touchdown to dissipation.

Really not much to say...

Moore Oklahoma gets clobbered again by an EF5 tornado.
Life will be forever changed for some...

There were casualties...

Children died...

There were heroes...

There will be sadness...

There will be anger...

There will be excuses...

There will be hand-wringing...

There will be time...

There will be memories...

There will be scars...

And there will continue to be nowhere to go,

When the next one comes.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

It's Time... Really.

I finally pulled the trigger today and said "Piss On Mother Nature." and loaded the truck with this year's batch of chase equipment.

Actually? loaded up the truck with last year's chase gear... What? ya think I'm rich or something? 

We're going stealth this year. Well, OK we were stealth last year too but, a couple of markers through the tinted rears hopefully will keep John Law off my back. Of course, five antennas on the vehicle won't help to mask anything. But I will say it is rather fun to have someone come whipping up along side of you with the intent to pass you at 80 or 90 miles an hour only to put the binders on when he/she sees the equipment in the front area.

This is of what I speak. Yes, the dashcam attached to the windshield gives the appearance of law enforcement speed measurement equipment but I'm not going to tell them it's just a garden variety HD video camera. The laptop adjacent to it also adds a certain enforcement feel when the adjacent lane catches a glimpse of it. It's always fun to see how long it takes for them to figure it out.
Small and portable is the word this season. Everything can be removed from the truck to assure security within a very short period of time. This also gives me the option to bring my equipment into another vehicle with little issue. The iPhone is what is used as an on-board hotspot to provide internet access to the laptop and any other devices needing access.
The radio on the right keeps me in contact with chasers using amateur radio frequencies. And to provide spotter reports to Skywarn. 
Same dash cam as last year. While it's not the best, it's certainly not the worst and I've been very happy with the performance to have it on board this season.
Here's the view from the drivers seat. Everything is viewable and accessible from here.
The laptop is the real workhorse of the entire system. It allows me to stream live dashcam video, monitor radar, provide location information, and access to the Internet for up to the minute forecast information. This may be it's last season. I'm finding that streaming on-board video is becoming more of a chore than it's worth. I'm going to continue to provide it for this season and then determine if it has any future. I'd love to continue it but, the costs are coming out of my own pocket and when it takes away from the actual chase to attend to streaming issues? well, it may be time to end it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

5/2/2013 What. The. Hell?

15.5 inches of snow in Owatonna. I just wanted to make sure that was written down on record somewhere so when our society is burned to a cinder crisp from the impending nuclear strike by North Korea, the alien archeologists that come upon this will have a good chuckle...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Let's get one thing straight...

First of all, I'm really getting tired of the "follow me" pimp up that so many in social media feel they now have to end every comment made in the SM ether with. Have lives become so meaningless that we now have to beg to be liked? That in order to feel whole we need to have no less than five thousand following  "twitterer's" at any one time to feel like life has meaning?

I am especially weary of the huge number of chasers out there who feel as though we need to hear about what they had for breakfast as they mount up for the days chase and the prerequisite "follow me" to close each and every tweet.

I did a little experiment:

I "followed" ten of these aggressive "I need your follow or my life is shit" twitter/chasers recently.

How many of these folks decided to "follow" Ol' Chase in return?




So I want back to check the statistics.

Seems I'm following some 150 people who share the same passion for storm chasing that I do and yet, out of that 150 or so folks, only 35 of them appear to have any interest in what I have to say or contribute to the greater good.

And yet these are the same ones that seem to feel they have to slam us with "Buy our shirt/hat/underwear with our new, NEW! chase season logo!" in between tweets telling us that their "stream is up" and to head on over to "www.chasingnarcissists.com" to watch the live 3D stream for only $2.95!

To those of you that took the time to follow me, thank you. I hope we can meet in person away from all of this social hierarchical bullshit and enjoy a storm on the road together sometime.

For the rest of you?

Nobody really cares.



Seriously People?

There were obviously quite a number of chasers bored out of their minds today to chase this crap.

Carry On.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Stream Is Up!

We're just testing our systems. I've placed my camera looking out the window from my Office. We should begin to start seeing snow here within the hour. It is now 2100Z. We are expecting somewhere on the order of 6-9" before the storm passes around @ 1200Z 4/23.

Snowfall with rates of up to an inch per hour should guarantee thundersnow sometime during the event.

Feed will stay up until approx 0500 4/23.

Hopefully this will be the last we see of the snow for the season!

Go over to the "Live Chase Map" page. You should see my vehicle icon. Click on that to see my video feed.

Let me know if you have any issues seeing the feed.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Possible Tornado Outbreak 04/17-18/2013

I'm baaaaack!!!

Did'ja miss me? Yeah, didn't think so...

Well? after a four month sabbatical I'm ready to get back to doing what I do best:

Driving long distances, chasing marginal conditions, and completely over thinking the day's forecast to where my head hurts before I even leave the driveway. Fortunately, I invested in a couple of more software tools to increase my daily overload of data even further.

Perhaps this season, conditions will actually germinate to where I can actually make use of these tools and correctly place myself in an area of storm viewing with two or three hundred of my fellow chasers and maybe record the incident as proof that the bucks I've spent to this point wasn't completely in vain...

Sounds like a great hobby eh?

Here's the setup right now:

Wednesday sees Central Oklahoma and SE Kansas as the focal point for a possible outbreak of tornadoes. Many of the ingredients line up according to models but, some speculation still exists as to timing and location of initiation.

Thursday moves things to the east somewhat and some forecasters feel this may be the more severe of the next two days assisted by a strengthening surface low over MO drawing warm gulf moisture across a eastward moving cold front.

In either case, both days will require close monitoring of the weather and immediate action taken if conditions warrant. make sure you have a fresh set of batteries for your NOAA all hazards radio and test it prior to the onset of severe weather and please heed all warnings applicable to your area.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Train Loses to Tornado.

Five Years ago today, Surveillance video on a railroad locomotive operating near Lawrence IL captured some of the most nerve wracking video I've ever seen of what occurs when a train crosses paths with an F2 tornado. To my knowledge, no one was injured thankfully but man! what a ride that must have been! The storm produced two rare January F3 tornadoes when everything was said and done...

But then if that weren't enough, someone goes and build a mock-up of the event using their model railroad setup and a leaf blower. And it's pretty damned funny!

Reminder: Midwest Storm Chasing Convention 1/26/13

Just a reminder that the convention is fast approaching! I've been attending this convention number two.

It's a great way to get a fix of all things storm related and meet with fellow local chasers while we wait for the 2013 season to begin to wind up.

The organizers always manage to snag some great speakers, and seats fill quickly.

So don't miss out!

Details can be found here.

Hope to see you there!

2012 Tornado Statistics

Greg Carbin from the Storm Prediction Center produced this annual report.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Animated Breakdown of Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Warnings issued in 2012

No doubt they'll be adding this to a long term animated warning history.

Say ten years?

How useful could that be to chasers?

It's a very facinating, unique, informative :30 second display.