Saturday, April 30, 2011

‎. . . horrific and violent acts of nature.

‎. . . horrific and violent acts of nature was quoted by local weatherman Leon Smitherman.  I think this above all sums up the storms this week.  I chase for the fact that I can warn the public, but I also chase because I truly believe this is the raw power of nature.  I think this also reminds us that even though we get tired of our shows being interrupted by the weathermen, and sometimes ask why do I need to know about a tornado in Wichita at the Colorado border, that there is a human toll.  Watches and Warnings save lives, and it becomes dangerous when we become complacent.  
This aerial photo from Thursday, April 28, 2011, shows damage to an east Tuscaloosa neighborhood. (The Birmingham News/Joe Songer)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Beginnings . . .


I was seven years old and I hated thunderstorms. Being a child of the Midwest, this meant every summer I was in abject terror. We lived behind a TV station and all around their radar tower was lightning rods. Across the street, was a church steeple. To this day, I don't know what got struck by lightning more. Knowing me, it was probably the church.

My family loved to fish and camp, so every summer we went to a little spot called Melvern lake and we camped beneath the dam. We were there over Memorial Day weekend. Storms had hit earlier in the evening and intensified overhead in the dark. We sat in our fifth wheel camper and listened to hail plink off the roof and rocked as the wind buffeted the trailer's side. The weatherman looked nervous and tired on TV, there had been a lot of thunderstorm warnings, so we headed to the campground's storm shelter. I will use this in the loosest terms since it was a brown brick structure that housed the showers, washer and dryers, but solid if all hell broke loose.

The shelter was full but we squeezed in. There was a nice place in between a washer and dryer and I hunkered down. I remember the sound of thunder but not the conversations. There was a lot of thunder and hail in the storm. People seemed tense, but the storm slowed down. My father called me and we went back to the camper. (Hint: for all you Twister Fans think of the term “Cone of Silence”).

Back at the trailer, Dad knew I was scared, and to counter that, tried to show me Solitaire. To this day, I still don’t know how to play. The rain started again, lightning hit right outside flickering the power, and the weatherman interrupted regular programming. A tornado was sighted at Melvern Lake heading to the dam we were right below.

Dad ran outside and got the truck. He pulled it close enough to the camper door that mom and I were able to jump right in when it started hailing. It was the largest hail I remember, but sometimes that’s how childhood memories are. We made it to the shelter with a line of people screaming and forcing their way in. We made it, right in front of a ripe pregnant woman screaming, “Oh my God. It’s going over the top of us”.

I found my spot between the washer and dryer and waited for the apocalypse. . .

My novel “Hell to Pay” will be coming out August 2011 from Hellfire Publishing.

Stay Turned . . . I might tell you more.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The last few days . . .

Wichita had a severe chance of storms on Thursday from a system that went and spawned several monster storms that at this time has claimed 27 lives.  Chilling to think that many have died when we have the warnings that we do this day and age.  I know the previous days losses were due to trees falling on houses. posted a map of the storm reports:

Needless to say the backside of this system wasn't pleasant.  Wichita had wind gusts a few MPH below Hurricane strength.  Some damage was reported across the state.

Thursday didn't quite pan out as I hoped and I found myself on the backside of a multi-cell cluster that finally became a squall line and moved quickly to the east.  There were a couple reports of funnels and tornados in Kansas, but a couple small towns east of Tulsa took a direct hit.

At the Soccer Stadium on Greenwich as the storms began to initiate.
In the town of Furley realizing we were to late and going to miss the dance.
Panoramic of multicell storm building around 4pm on 4/14/11 in Kechi. 22 photos went into this shot.
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Saturday, April 9, 2011

04/08/11 Hail

Burning fields.  More Hail.  I know, I know, it's not coincidence.
Semi monster hail (baseball size) in Rose Hill did a number on cars including the police department's.
I'm just saying give some particulate matter for the moisture to hold on to, let it do it merry little up-and-down dance, then fall solid.  Once again, I know, it's been proven it doesn't happen like that.

 The sky did get that odd orange look to it last night.  Tornado Warnings stayed south of the Oklahoma border except for a brief one after dark north of Emporia.

Like I said, a lot of field burning is going on at the moment, which always makes the sky a little murky.  We were mainly running around Butler CO. looking at one of the storms.  We headed to Augusta and decided to bail in midtrip due to some of the hail reports.  We turned around, made it to K-254 and ended up between Towanda and Benton when the hail hit us after dark.  Huge rain shaft on the storm.  Started seeing hail and decided to pull off on a side road when it began to hail.  Just a reminder, if you get caught in a hail storm on the highway and you decide to pull over, don't just stop in the middle of the road.  It makes you a target.  I mentioned this on my call to the radio station.  If you stop on the highway, pull over.  Someone behind you will arrive shortly freaking out that the hail is destroying their car and rear end you at a high rate of speed.  Also stay out from under bridges.  If you're not a troll, you don't belong.
I don't know if I'm happy with my Sony DSC-W350.  The tech is awesome on the camera but low light photos (Hello, storm chasers) come out noisy.  I'm going to play with it a little longer.  I think it's an awesome day to day great point and shoot, but maybe not for my hobby.  I do like the grittiness of the photos below.  I just don't want it in more of my important shots.  I use a Sony DSC-V3 in the field and am very happy with it.  I just want to increase my MP size.  I know, I'm comparing a $135 point and shoot to a $700 semi-pro model.  Hey Sony?  Want me to try some new equipment?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sunset 4/6/11

Squint real hard, spin around three times and click your heels.  You may see the moon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

1300 Severe Weather reports

Over the last 24 hours there were 1300 Severe Weather reports.  Unfortunately, eight people also died.  Deaths were caused by falling debris, mainly trees snapped off in the winds.

More storms possible Thursday.

Green dots: Hail reports
Blue dots: wind reports
Red dots: Tornados
Storms from the night of April 3rd, 2011

Storms April 4th, 2011