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January 6th, 2005---: Dave Lewison and I are currently coming up with ideas for fabricating a hail guard for the windshield of my Xterra. Having protection for the windshield will be a big load off our minds this upcoming chase season. More to follow......
February 7th, 2005---: Over the past month Dave Lewison and I have been tossing around different ideas as far as the windshield hail guard is concerned. I have to say that Dave is really the one with all the great ideas, and has a firm knowledge of how to construct this. Last year, I fabricated hail guards for all my side and back windows, but got stuck trying to figure out how to make one for my windshield. This year, thanks to some helpful info for other chasers such as Eric Nguyen...we were able to come up with some good designs, and will begin work within the next few weeks. I will post pictures as soon as we begin.
March 7th, 2005---: Less than two months to go before our chase trip! This pattern that we've been in is not good at all...thankfully we have a decent amount of time left for things to change. If this recent blocking pattern were to take place in late April, that would cause a problem! Also, Dave, Pete and I are much more flexible this year with our chase vacation. Right now we're planning to leave on or around April 30th, but if the first week of May looks calm, we'll hold off for a few days until things pick back up. Let the planning begin!! I've been doing some maintenence work on my hail guards, and Dave has been building the guard for my windshield. On March 26th, we'll be taking a trip up to Dave's house to finish up on the guard...I'll take tons of pics and post them on the site.
April 9th, 2005---: Brian and I took a trip to Upstate NY today to visit Dave and his friend Marc, and to work on the construction of the windshield hail guard that will be going on my truck. Brian and I tapped holes, did some drilling, and basically helped out in any way that we could. Marc did all the welding, and spent the better part of the afternoon welding pieces of the frame together, cutting metal and taking measurements. Dave was taking measurements, drilling, tapping holes, etc....It was a great day, and all of us worked hard and had a blast! Dave and Marc will be finishing up on the hail guard over the next week or so and it will be ready in plenty of time for this years chase vacation, which is coming up in a few weeks!
April 17th, 2005---: Dave and Marc have completed the hail guard that will go on the roof of my truck! This coming Thursday, Peter Ventre and myself will be meeting Dave in Upstate NY for a Skywarn Spotter Class, we'll be meeting up a bit early to test fit the windshield hail guard. More pics will be posted this coming weekend! Our chase vacation is about two weeks away!
April 24th, 2005---: Dave, Pete and I attended a Skywarn Spotters class last Thursday in Putnam County, NY and while there, installed the windshield hail guard on my Xterra! Click Here to view pictures showing the entire process from start to finish (courtesy of Dave Lewison). And, our chase vacation is only a few days away!!! Right now, things are looking pretty decent for the first week of May. That of course could change over the coming days, but we're all remaining optimistic. More updates to follow.
April 26th, 2005---: Our chase trip is just days away! Right now, things still look good for a Saturday morning departure. The models are still pointing towards an active first week of May. The plan right now is for Dave Lewison to meet me here at my house in Queens, NY Saturday morning around 8:30am. Pete will already be here and we'll pack up the truck and head on out. We'll be meeting up with Mark Robinson and Dave Sills somewhere in Indiana (most likely). Since we won't meet up until late Saturday night, we'll rest for the night and then make the drive to Oklahoma City Sunday morning. This of course is all subject to change, but that's the plan right now. More updates to follow over the coming days.
April 29th, 2005---: After looking at all the forecast models concerning the next week out on the plains, Pete, Dave and I have decided to hold off on leaving until Tuesday, May 3rd. As it stands right now, things start to look more promising towards the end of next week. More updates to follow!
May 3rd, 2005---: Our annual storm chasing trip is finally here! Dave Lewison, Peter Ventre and myself will be heading out of NYC this evening around 7pm. Be sure to check back every few days for updates from the Road!
May 4th, 2005---: Dave Lewison, Peter Ventre and myself departed from NYC yesterday evening and didn't stop driving until 6pm tonight! We're staying the night in Lebanon, Missouri and we're all looking forward to some much needed sleep. We did manage to catch an hour of sleep here and there, but overall...we're completely wiped out. Most motels now offer high speed internet, so I'll be updating this page on a daily basis. Tomorrow we'll make our way to Oklahoma City and decide then whether we'll spend the night there, or continue on a bit further west. Friday is looking promising, but the weekend is looking even better as it stands right now. This can change of course, but we'll know more tomorrow morning when we look at some updated data. Now it's time to pass out!
May 7th, 2005---: After a long chase day yesterday, playing catch up with storms...we managed to see a few bolts of lightning..that was about it...lol. But we're out here on the plains, so all is good. Even though we really didn't see anything yesterday. We still have a long way to go, and today we have some decent prospects in either north central Kansas, or possibly Nebraska. We're still deciding on where to go today, but hopefully we'll see some storms today. Right now we're in Colby, Kansas...
May 8th, 2005---: Tornado captured near Kearney, Nebraska yesterday evening....
May 8th, 2005---: I have to say, the past two days have been great out here! Yesterday we started out the day in Colby, Kansas. Things were looking pretty good for the I-80 corridor in Nebraska, especially around the Kearney, Ne. area. So that's where we headed and right as we got there towers started going up. We bounced back and fourth for a bit and finally targeted a storm near Holdridge, Ne. The storm was heading right for I-80 and we intercepted it in the Kearney area. As we positioned ourselves around the south side, a large tornado came into view. We were only able to shoot video of it for about a minute before we lost sight of it, but it was there...and it was big! After playing catch up for a few hours we decided to call it a day and shoot some lightning video. What a light show it was! Hundreds of flashes and bolts were generated by this storm.
Today, we started out in Grand Island, Ne. and targeted northeast Kansas. We headed down I-80 towards Lincoln and then dropped south. Once again, storms started going up early and we intercepted a cluster of storms near Washington, Kansas. The storm we were on was severe warned, but not tornado warned like the storms we intercepted yesterday in Nebraska. None the less, were were treated to some intense hail, lightning, a nice funnel cloud, and one of the best shelf clouds that I've ever seen! We also had a bolt of lightning hit a field a few hundred feet away as were were driving through the storm. No complaints at all! Tomorrow is looking like a down day so we'll do some sight seeing. But we're in for what could be another active week coming up. Check back for updates!
May 9th, 2005---: Today was a down day, so we did a bit of sightseeing. We once again stopped by the world's largest ball of twine in Cawker City, Kansas...and met up with Cloud 9 tours. We decided to stop for the evening in Kearney, Nebraska (where we filmed the tornado just the other day) and all went out to eat at a great steakhouse, the name slips my mind right now. This place was insane! They give you tons and tons of peanuts in a bucket and allow you to throw the shells on the floor, we spent most of the time throwing them at eachother....it was a blast! Tomorrow we're targeting an area from North Platte, Nebraska eastward. We'll see how things pan out! Hopefully we'll see some more great storms over the next two days! The pictures below were taken on May 7th just south of Fullerton, Nebraska (Courtesy of Dave Lewison) what a great light show we had that night! You can click on the thumbnails for the larger version.
May 12th, 2005---: Today (or at the time I am writing this....it was already yesterday) we were chasing in northern Kansas/southern Nebraska....plenty of storms went up, but they were all moving at almost 50 MPH so it was pretty much impossible to catch them. After several frustrating hours we decided it would be best to head south into southwest Kansas to set up for tomorrow. On our way down south, storms fired along the dryline in a line from Liberal to Garden City to Scott City. We intercepted a storm that was heading right for Garden City, Kansas (which is where we were staying tonight). We quickly realized that we weren't going to make it into the Garden City area prior to the storms arrival, so we stopped on 83 just north of the area in a town called Friend. From there we could see the storm, and shot some great lightning video. The storm was now tornado warned and we very carefully made our way south on 83 towards Garden City. The only reason we attempted this after sundown was the fact that we had the Baron Wx Threat System running at all times. We could see the hook move right over downtown Garden City, at this point we were only about 3 miles north of it. Upon entering the town, we quickly realized that there was no damage, and no tornado was sighted. We did hear reports of a large tornado near Ulysees, Kansas...but this has not been confirmed as of yet. Well, it's late...and we have more chasing to do tomorrow in the eastern Texas Panhandle, so it's time to get some much needed sleep. We witnessed several funnel clouds in the area, as well as some great storm structure, lightning, and screaming outflow winds that we got caught in near the town of Central City.
May 13th, 2005---: Well, we shot video of a beautiful tornado yesterday near Plainview, Tx...but we got caught in the biggest hail I've ever seen and my truck got demolished. The hail guards did a good job, but I still lost the rear quater panel glass. The dents on the truck are extreme, so I'll have to make a claim with my insurance company which I'm not happy about. I'll post a full chase account in about a week when I return to NYC. If you'd like to view a video clip of what we experience yesterday, visit out Latest Storm Videos page!
May 14th, 2005---: We started heading back to NYC today, with the damage to the truck, we had to cut our trip a bit short. But, I probably will head back out with Dave Lewison sometime in June for a quickie chase...this time we'll fly out and rent...lol. I will however have my truck out on the plains again next year, after all..I bought it with storm chasing in mind. And now with all the dents in it, it REALLY looks like a chase vehicle! This morning we had lunch with Jim Leonard, Gene Moore, Mike Theiss, and the rest of the Cyclone Tours group. We then hit the road and are currently in Lebanon, Missouri. Tomorrow we'll head to Pennsylvania where we'll stay for the night and then take the drive back to NYC on Monday morning. More updates to follow.
May 16th, 2005---: After a very long drive home, we're finally back here in NYC. We cut our trip a bit short since this coming week didn't look that great out on the plains, and because of the damage that I sustained to my SUV. All is good though, we came out of it fine...and the glass is repaired on my Xterra. Thank god for the hail guards! And an extra special thanks for Dave Lewison and his friend Marc for designing my windshield hail guard. If it wasn't for them, I would of lost more glass. George Kourounis, Charles Edwards and the rest of the Cloud 9 Tour group sustained damage to their vehicles as well, but have repaired the damage and have resumed the tour. Tomorrow I'll be doing some work on the truck, mostly sanding down and repainting the parts where the hail took the paint off. Most of the dents I will leave though, after all...it is a chase vehicle. Even though many chasers were caught in the hail barrage in South Plains, Tx. on May 12th...thankfully everyone made it out ok. One chaser did get glass in his eyes, but he is ok as well. Dave Lewison and I are planning another quick trip out to the plains sometime in June, hopefully this will happen.
May 19th, 2005---: The past few days have been spent tending to my Xterra, she's banged up, but still going strong. I've been sanding down certain areas where the paint came off, and should have all this done by tomorrow afternoon. It also seems that it was a good move cutting our chase trip short, the plains have quieted down at least for the time being. Dave and I are still hopeful that we'll be able to head back out for a few days next month, hopefully this will happen. I'll post some pics tomorrow of the repairs done on my Xterra, check back! Below, is a radar image of the storm we were chasing near South Plains, Tx. on May 12th (courtesy of George Kourounis @ www.stormchaser.ca). As you can see, we were in the worst part of the storm when we got trapped by the downed power lines.
May 28th, 2005---: Right now, Dave and I are keeping an eye on things, if you go by the long range forecast models, things might start looking up for the June 3 to June 5th time frame out on the plains. That's still a ways out, but if this pans out then Dave and I will most likely be taking another trip out to the plains for more chasing! This time, since it will be last minute, we'll fly and then rent a car. More updates to follow!
June 9th, 2005---: After pulling our hair out all week trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge and fly out for this weekend, Dave and I decided to go for it. We'll be flying into Denver and will arrive around 10am tomorrow morning. We'll have to really haul it out of Denver and hopefully will make it in time to any target areas. This weekend is looking really active out on the plains, so check back often for updates!
June 14th, 2005---: Dave and I flew out of JFK Friday morning and arrived in Denver around 10am local time. We rushed to get our rental car and blasted west and south in the hopes of catching some storms that day in the Texas Panhandle. Everything pretty much turned to crap that day, and the big "outbreak" never materialized. We did however run into some tennis ball sized hail near Boise City, Ok. And almost destroyed the rental on the first day! Dave and I seem to be hail magnets this year for some reason...lol. Anyway, since Friday turned to crap, we met up with Charles Edwards from Cloud 9 Tours in Amarillo, and had a nice dinner at the Olive Garden.
The next morning, after looking at the forecast, we realized that we wouldn't have to go far that day at all. As a matter of fact, we never strayed that far from Amarillo the entire day. Dave and I joined Cloud 9 once again that day and ended up intercepting storms just northeast of Amarillo. This storm was a beautiful LP, with a really nice wall cloud. We stayed on this storm, but worried that storms just to the south would produce tornadoes. THEY DID. Even though we didn't see any tornadoes out of our storm...it was the first time I had ever photographed a nice LP. Everything I've photographed up until now have either been classic supercells, or HP's....so no complaints from me! In all fairness, we did witness what might of been a brief touchdown out of our storm, but this hasn't been confirmed.
The next day would be our last chase day, so we decided to head to Shamrock, Tx on I-40 and pack it in for the night. The next morning, Dave and I realized that our target area had shifted several hundred miles to the south. This was not good since we needed to be back in Denver early Monday morning for our flight home. We headed to Childress, Tx and met up with several other chasers at the Kettle Restaurant (at least I think it was a restaurant..lol), all we knew was that they had wi fi, that was good enough for us. Dave and I were concerned that storms would fire around and just east and south of Lubbock, there was no way we could head that far south, and we knew it. We drove down to Turkey, Tx. where we hung out for a while and watched the sky. Storms would begin to go up, but then die out quickly. Nothing was panning out like we thought. After playing cat and mouse with a few decent looking storms around Memphis, Tx. we decided to start heading back to Denver. Of course storms did fire up east of Lubbock, and the southern most storm ended up producing multiple tornadoes, this was a hard pill for us to swallow, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Hey, if we had the time, we would of been there...but it just wasn't in the cards this time around. All in all though, I had a blast! It was great chasing with Dave again, and I had the chance to get together with some good chaser friends. And....we still came home with some great video! I've posted some video stills on our "New Photos" Page..check it out!
July 9th, 2005---: Well, it looks like we'll have to sit and watch Dennis make landfall from NYC. I wasn't able to go after this one due to several factors, one of which was that we weren't prepared to chase a hurricane this early in the season. Our supplies will be in place soon, so the next time a hurricane threatens the US....we'll be there. Dennis weakened from a cat 4 to a cat 2 as it passed over Cuba, but definitely has the potential to gather strength now that he's back over the open waters. I'll be nowcasting for several chasers tomorrow as Dennis makes landfall....
July 29th, 2005---: Dave, Mark and I are all set supply wise for a hurricane chase. Just when that will happen is anyone's guess, but with the way things have been lately in the tropics, we probably won't have to wait long. I picked up two cases of MRE's, so we'll have plenty of food, and I also picked up 20 emergency light sticks (they really came in handy during Hurricane Frances last September). Dave picked up some spare gas cans and some light sticks as well, now we won't have to sweat running out of gas like last year in Daytona Beach, Fl. Right now things are quiet in the tropics after a record breaking July. That lull probably won't last too much longer, so we'll be keeping a close eye on things over the coming weeks.
August 15th, 2005---: WOW, is all I have to say about yesterday. Over the past few months we haven't really seen anything in the way of severe weather here in the 5 boroughs. But yesterday was blockbuster with 3 rounds of severe storms! It all started around 3pm yesterday when a line of severe storms moved right into Queens, NY. I shot video for The Weather Channel in the area and was treated to a nice lightning show with several strikes hitting within a quarter of a mile from my location. Torrential rains followed and my rain guage recorded .62 inches of rain from that round of storms. Then, around 7pm another line of severe storms moved into our area. More great lightning was to be had as well as more torrential rains. My rain guage recorded 1.26 inches of rain from that round of storms! Then, another line of storms moved in around 10:30 last night. The lightning wasn't as vivid as the storms earlier in the day, but it was still something to see. And from that round of storms, my rain guage recorded .63 inches of rain. I hope we have a few more days like this before our storm season comes to an end. Below is a still image taken from video I shot around 3:45 yesterday afternoon in Queens, NY.
August 25th, 2005---: Dave and I are watching and waiting to see what Hurricane Katrina will do over the course of the next 24 hours. Right now Katrina is over southern Florida and will re emerge over the waters of the Gulf tomorrow morning. If things look good for Katrina, then Dave and I will be flying to New Orleans Saturday afternoon. George Kourounis and Mark Robinson will be joining us, and Jim Edds will be on the chase as well. Check back tomorrow for more updates. Still lots that can happen between now and tomorrow night, which is when we'll make our final decision.
August 30th, 2005---: Dave and I met up with Mark Robinson & George Kourounis and chased Hurricane Katrina. We're currently in Gulfport, Miss. where Katrina caused widespread devastation. More to follow including video clips tomorrow.
August 31st, 2005---: I cannot describe how horrible the devastation was down in the Gulf. Places like Gulfport and Biloxi are destroyed. Witnessing this first hand I can honestly say that it was the most intense and scary thing I've ever gone through. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those affected by Katrina. A full chase account will be posted in a few days.
September 1st, 2005---: Let me start off by saying thank you to Mark Robinson and George Kourounis, you guys are great...thanks for everything. Dave Lewison and I flew from NYC to Orlando, Fl. on the evening of August 27th and headed for the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We stopped in Gainesville, Fl around 1am to catch a few hours of sleep before continuing the drive (we knew we wouldn't be sleeping much after that). The next morning we awoke to find that Katrina was now a Category 5 storm with winds of 160MPH. I have to say, we were both nervous about intercepting a storm of this intensity, but decided to continue on. As we made our way west on I-10 we heard that Katrina had strengthened even more with winds now up to 175 MPH!!
We met up briefly with Mike Theiss in Tallahassee, Fl and talked about our plan. Mike was still considering going to New Orleans, while Dave and I planned to stay a bit east of the projected landfall due to the fact that we didn't want to get directly into the path, we just didn't feel comfortable with that. We stopped many times while driving west since we wanted to gas up as much as possible and pick up extra supplies. We did bring 15 gallons of extra gas with us but wanted to keep the tank as full as possible. As we approached the Mobile, Al. area we received word from storm chasers George Kourounis and Mark Robinson that they had found a suitable shelter in Gulfport, MS. It was a parking garage attached to the Hancock Bank on 14th street. This location was about a half mile from the ocean. At first Dave and I didn't feel comfortable with this location but decided to met up with them and see it for ourselves. We arrived in Gulfport around 6pm on the evening of the 28th and looked over this parking garage. Dave and I decided at that point to see if we could find anything better a bit east of Gulfport in the town of Biloxi. We drove there and searched but found nothing suitable at all. We even tried getting into the parking garage of the Imperial Palace, but were turned away by security. At this point we bounced back and fourth several times on what to do. It was really the lesser of two evils, stay further east and hope we find decent shelter, or head back to Gulfport which was closer to projected landfall but we would have better shelter. We decided to head back to Gulfport.
Upon arriving back in Gulfport we checked out the marina, it was really beautiful and we were some of the last people to see that place intact. We met back up with George and Mark and at this point that had some good news for us. Several people were taking shelter in the Hancock Bank that our garage was attached to and told us that if things really got bad, we could take shelter with them in the bank. This made us feel a bit better. With being on the third floor of this place we felt relatively safe from the storm surge, but still had our concerns on how high the water would get. We also got word that this structure survived Camille in 69'. We also spoke to some emergency management folks who gave us their cell phone numbers. So, this is where we would ride out the storm.
None of us got much sleep that night and around 5am the next morning is when things starting picking up. We all started shooting video from down at street level since we knew that soon we would have to hold up in the garage and only the garage. Around sunrise is when all hell started breaking loose, and by 9am we were in the thick of it. Debris was flying by at an incredible rate of speed and roofs all around us were being ripped apart. Part of the bank roof tore off and landed right above us on the fourth floor of this parking garage. The entire place was vibrating and our biggest concern at this point was not being struck by flying debris. The roar was constant, and every few seconds you would hear glass breaking, and roofs coming apart. We could see the surge surrounding our location but thankfully it didn't get higher than a few feet where we were. If you went just a bit south, they were under almost 20 feet of water. The next few hours were spent shooting video, re positioning the cars and basically just trying to not get injured. Small rocks were being blown into our level and smashing out car windows everywhere, thankfully our vehicles didn't sustain any damage, again....we got lucky.
As things calmed down and we ventured outside, it became obvious that Gulfport was in ruins. We surveyed the damage for about 30 minutes before making our way out of the area. At this point we still weren't sure if we'd even be able to get out but decided to try since if we stayed the authorities would put everything in lock down and we'd be stuck for sure. We managed to make our way back to I-10 where for a few miles had to actually drive eastward in the westbound shoulder. We did all make it out and Dave and I drove to Crestview, Fl where we spent the night in the car in a Hampton Inn parking lot. The next morning we drove back to Orlando, Fl and even managed to get there early enough to catch an earlier flight home! Without a doubt we were lucky in several ways during this trip, we all realize that. I am very thankful to be home now and my prayers are with all those affected by Katrina. If anyone reading this can, please make a donation to the Red Cross...these people need all the help they can get.
September 21st, 2005---: Dave and I will be sitting this one out. Hurricane Rita right now is a borderline Cat5, and will most likely be classified a Cat5 later today. George Kourounis and Mark Robinson will be chasing Rita however and will be leaving this evening for the Tx. coast. Dave and I could not track down any reasonable airfare, basically nothing under a grand. Tack on a rental car, and spending money, and it gets out of control. Also, there is the possibility of Rita making landfall at night. As it stands right now, New Orleans seems to be in the clear which is very good. Landfall right now appears to be sometime late Friday night, or early Saturday morning south of Houston, Tx. possibily near Port Lavaca which is east of Victoria, Tx. Still though, I'd love to go....but need to start saving the bucks, ya know?. Best of luck to all the chasers that will be intercepting Rita. Below is a satellite shot of Rita taken at 18Z today.
September 28th, 2005---: Hurricane Rita battered the Tx/La border with winds of over 100MPH late last Friday night. Dave and I sat this one out, but George Kourounis and Mark Robinson from Canada intercepted Rita in Port Arthur, Tx. Everything went fine until they tried to get out of the area and were blocked by high flood waters and debris blocking the roads. Eventually they made it out of the area, and have made it safely back to Canada. Details of their Rita intercept can be found at George and Mark's websites.
October 19th, 2005---: And yet another record breaking hurricane in the Atlantic! Hurricane Wilma shattered records this morning when she exploded overnight into a Category 5 monster. She is expected to hit the Yucatan and then recurve and hit South Florida this weekend. Money is tight right now so no more chasing for me this year, but next year I'll hopefully be able to chase at least two canes! For all those chasers going to intercept Wilma, best of luck to all of you! It should be pointed out though that Wilma is expected to weaken a bit before hitting the US. But, this far out it's very tough, if not impossible to predict intensity. So for all those living in South Florida, prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.
November 24th, 2005---: And with Thanksgiving upon us, the long winter break from chasing finally arrives. Temperatures are dropping, the cold air is setting in, and even though the tropical season is having a hard time letting go....it's pretty much break time for all the chasers until next spring. See you in 2006!