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Storm Chase Blog 2012

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November 21st, 2012---: The last few weeks have been VERY eventful here in NYC! First we had Hurricane Sandy, and then a snow storm a week or so later. The snow storm brought several inches to the NYC area and many more trees came down due to two main factors. The first being so many trees were already weakened by Sandy, and the second being heavy snow piling up on tree branches that still had foliage on them. The past several days have been quiet however, and I have to say, I'm happy that we're getting a break here. So many have lost so much over the last few weeks, a nice quiet period is very welcomed as folks try to get their lives back together. I was very lucky in that only minor damage was sustained here at my house. Only a few roof tiles missing and some siding, that's it. We did lost tv and internet for 5 days, but never lost power thankfully. So, I have nothing to complain about at all. In other news, I worked on several different television shows about Hurricane Sandy and one of those shows (NOVA- "Inside The Megastorm") airs tonight on PBS at 9pm ET! I'll be appearing on camera talking about my experience chasing the storm here in the NYC area. If you miss the show, search YouTube for the program. I've noticed that many of these shows end up on YouTube after they initially air. It's not exactly legal to do that haha, but it does make it convienent to catch shows that you've missed. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

November 6th, 2012---: The past week has been a blur, literally! So much has happened since Hurricane Sandy made land fall. I won't bother rehashing the aftermath as by now, most if not all of you are aware of all the devastation Sandy caused. I am currently working on several documentaries about Sandy that are set to air in the next few weeks on PBS and Discovery so be sure to look out for those! In the meantime, I have two videos posted on my "storm chasing videos" page of the Sandy preps the day before the storm, and of the land fall in Bayside and Rockaway, Queens. Check them out! In other news, as if the northeast hasn't had enough, another powerful nor'easter is on the way for tomorrow! While no where near as intense as Sandy, strong winds and heavy rains are likely for many of the same areas affected by Sandy. Because of this, any trees or power poles that are in a weakened state will come down in the strong winds forecast for tomorrow and tomorrow night. Be on the lookout, and stay alert! I will be live streaming once again from my home in Queens as conditions deteriorate tomorrow.

October 27th, 2012---: The latest model guidance is becoming nicely clustered around the New Jersey coast. The 00z NAM model has just come in as well and continues this trend with a land fall around Asbury Park, NJ. Keep in mind though, the exact point of land fall is not very important in this case. While the exact point of land fall, and the angle of approach will ultimately determine which areas see the worst conditions in terms of wind damage and flooding, Sandy is an enormous storm and her effects will be very far reaching. Be sure to heed all your local watches and warnings.

Hurricane Sandy New York

October 27th, 2012---: The NYC/NJ and Long Island area is still on target to take the brunt of Sandy beginning tomorrow, peaking late Monday and Monday night (as it stands right now) and lasting into the day on Tuesday. This will be a very long duration event with many hours of strong winds, flooding rains, and coastal flooding. From this point foward I won't have much time to update this blog so be sure to follow along on Twitter as I will be updating there much more often throughout the weekend and into early next week. I also plan to live stream from my place here in Queens, NY beginning on Monday so be sure to check back for that. For the latest information on Sandy be sure to check out the National Hurricane Center website and keep it tuned to your local news and radio outlets. Image Below: The official NHC propabilities forecast for tropical storm force winds (39mph and higher). Chances are increasing for the NY Tri-State area.

Hurricane Sandy NYC

October 26th, 2012---: The 12z models are in and the GFS is sticking with it's story of a NYC/LI/CT land fall on Tuesday morning. However, this particular run shows a strange loop of sorts as the center passes over NJ. The center of circulation then does an about face and passes near, or over NYC again and then off to the northeast. The 12z ECMWF has shifted it's track a bit further to the north on this run (as compared to the 00z run last night) and has a land fall Tuesday morning on the southern New Jersey coast. It also shows Sandy or her remnants doing a strange loop as well and then heading off to the northeast. What this indicates is that these two models are forecasting the steering currents to break down and then shift shortly after land fall. If this were to materialize it would mean an extended period of gale force winds, coastal flooding and flooding rains for the entire area. Keep in mind, don't focus on the exact point of land fall. I've heard a lot of people say things like, "Oh, it's coming in over southern NJ most likely, we'll be fine here in NYC". Not necessarily. This storm is huge and tropical storm force winds are forecast to spread out over 300 miles from the center. This will be a high impact event for much of the Mid Atlantic and Northeast, regardless of the final land fall point. Sandy will also be pushing a ton of water along with her and the exact angle of approach to the coast, will determine which areas see the worst coastal flooding. The angle of approach will determine the wind direction. For us here in NYC a worst case scenario of sorts would be for Sandy to approach us from the southeast and make land fall over the central Jersey coast. Southeast winds would pile up water on the coast from the Rockaways to the Battery in Manhattan.

I'm anticipating the models converging on a more focused solution over the next 24 hours. The closer to the actual event, the clearer things usually become. But by no means will this be an easy forecast. As it stands right now Sandy has lost some of her structure due to high wind shear, but the official National Hurricane Center forecast calls for re strengthening in a day or two due to a complex interaction with the deepening trough approaching the east coast. This will be key in how strong this storm ultimately becomes, and right now, it's impossible to tell just how much Sandy will strengthen due to this complex interaction. But, all signs are pointing towards a very powerful coastal storm so preparations should be made for an extended period of high winds at times approaching hurricane force, likely power outages, and flooding rains. It can't hurt to stock up on some canned food, water, batteries and flashlights. If you live along the coast, please heed any evacuation orders. I understand that it sucks to contemplate getting out of your home, but it really is better to be safe than sorry. The storm surge potential with this storm is very high, and the potential is there for it to be worse than Irene last year. Many people look for guarantees but there are none. After all is said and done your area might be just fine, where as another area is completely under water. This is why it's best to prepare for the worst, and then hope for the best. If all this works out better than expected, awesome! But, if it gets really bad, you'll be prepared. Just look at it that way. Again, I'm not one for hype and I continue to refuse to hype this situation by comparing it to past storms. It's not any of those storms, it's Sandy 2012. With that said this storm does have the potential to be truly historic, no doubt there. Back to the models for a moment, I'm continuing to have a hard time buying the extreme, pretty much unheard of low pressures that many of the models are forecasting. I still think they are overdoing that, but again, time will tell. For more details about why the central pressure of these storms is important refer to my posts from yesterday. So to sum up, keep it tuned to your local media outlets for up to date info and as always, you can refer to the official National Hurricane Center website for the most accurate and up to date information about Sandy. I'll post another update tomorrow afternoon when I have time. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Image below: The latest 8pm track from the NHC showing a land fall in southern NJ/northern MD. I wouldn't be surprised to see this track nudged a little further north at 11pm due to a shift north by some of the models, but that remains to be seen. Again, you can expect the forecast to bounce around a bit for the next day or so until things come into focus.

Hurricane Sandy NYC

October 25th, 2012---: The 12z models are in. Let's start with the GFS first. The 12z Operational run has made a dramatic shift west on this run and now is in line with the CMC and NoGaps models in bringing Sandy into the NYC/Long Island area this Tuesday as a very powerful 940mb-950mb storm. The latest 12z GFDL Tropical Model is also in and shows a New Jersey land fall with a pressure of 925mb. I do not think it will be that low by the way. The models struggle with forecast pressure this far out. Why do we talk about the pressure you ask? Well, the lower the pressure the more powerful the storm is. Many of the forecast models have been showing land fall pressures anywhere from 925mb to 945mb, this would be unprecedented, not impossible, but certainly historic. And I'm not at this time buying that. My thinking (for now) is that the pressures will be more in the 950-960mb range. Still an extremely powerful storm regardless which should be taken seriously. The latest 12z ECMWF model is showing Sandy taking a hard northwest turn after 96 hours and coming ashore near Washington, DC. My thinking is the turn may be a bit more gradual than this but anywhere from DC to New England is still in play. Extra balloon soundings have been launched starting last night and this extra data is being ingested into the model runs. More data for the models to digest should bring things into focus over the next 24-48 hours. But it is becoming more and more likely that the Mid Atlantic and Northeast US will see direct impacts from Sandy late this weekend and into early next week. In terms of a time frame, it's looking like Monday into Tuesday right now. The models are still diverging a bit in that regard but remember, Sandy is enormous and her reach is far and wide so the weather will most likely begin going downhill here in the Northeast beginning on Sunday as it stands right now. In terms of what locations will see the worst impacts, the jury is still out on that. Remember, we're still about 4 days out so there's still a wide cone of uncertainty. Best estimates right now appear to be converging on the New Jersey, New York City and Long Island area. However, this could change...when it comes to the weather, nothing is ever written in stone. Another thing to remember is that even if Sandy loses her tropical characteristics and becomes extratropical, she still will be packing quite a punch. Her enormous wind field alone could bring widespread damage, flooding and power outages to millions of people from the Mid Atlantic into New England. And big time snow fall could hit areas west of us over western PA and into western NY State. All of this however will ultimately depend on the exact track. To sum up, my feelings on this right now as it stands is we need to prepare for an extended period of high winds, potential power outages and flooding beginning on Sunday and lasting potentially into the mid week period. I won't make any solid predictions in terms of wind speeds, but it is possible we could see winds approaching hurricane force, IF the worst of Sandy tracks into the NYC area. Either way, someone is going to see the worst of Sandy and since it's still sketchy as to what locations will see the worst the best bet right now is to make early preparations in the event your area is hit hard. I'm not one for hype, and I refuse to hype this storm up. A lot of people get pissed and think I'm downplaying things but I just see no need to do that. Could Sandy be an historic storm for us? Yes, absolutely. And, there is the potential for widespread damage over a huge area. But we'll just take things one step at a time. For now, prepare for a major coastal storm, have batteries on hand, water, food, and plan for power outages. As we get closer and things become more in focus, further preparations can begin. I'll have another update tomorrow morning.

Image Below: The latest 5pm track update from the National Hurricane Center. For up to date info refer to the NHC for reliable info.

Hurricane Sandy NYC

October 25th, 2012---: Hurricane Sandy made land fall yesterday as a strong Category Two storm on the east coast of Cuba. She's lost a bit of her punch after crossing the island, but not much. Some strengthening could once again take place today as she approaches the Bahamas. The models to a certain extent are still at odds in terms of impact on the eastern US, but it's still looking very likely that the Mid Atlantic, Northeast, and New England will see adverse affects from Sandy late this weekend, and into early next week. What areas will see the worst is still unknown, however, the latest 00z ECMWF model has been the most consistent and is still showing land fall near Cape May, NJ on Monday. The GFS model is showing land fall anywhere from Nova Scotia (the 00z run) to Maine (the 06z run). I'm anxiously awaiting the 12z model suite to come out early this afternoon as those extra balloon soundings taken across the USA today should help bring things a bit more into focus over the next 24 hours or so. Either way, it's still looking likely that a wide area from the Mid Atlantic, all the way to New England will see strong winds and flooding rains late this weekend and into the early part of next week. There is still the possibility however that Sandy could get pulled harmlessly out to sea, while not looking very likely at this time, it is still a possibility. So be careful not to get too wrapped up in all the hype, but at the same time, have a plan in place in case the worst case scenario for your area begins to look more likely. I'll have another full update this afternoon once the 12z model suite is in, and I have a chance to analyze things.

October 24th, 2012---: Well, things got interesting in a hurry here in the northeast. Hurricane Sandy is now (as I type) moving north towards eastern Cuba after directly striking Kingston, Jamaica earlier this afternoon as a Category One storm. A few days back, some of the forecast models (namely the ECMWF and CMC) were showing a very interesting scenario where Sandy interacts with a digging eastern trough which, instead of pushing her harmlessly out to sea, actually pulls her back west causing her to strike somewhere between Virginia and New England. Well, over the last few days more and more of the forecast models are latching onto this possibility and now, the likely hood of this happening is increasing. It's still not written in stone of course, and Sandy could still track harmlessly out to sea, but the chances of that at least for now, are decreasing. With all this said, Sandy is not expected to maintain her tropical characteristics if and when she strikes the Mid Atlantic and Northeast, by that time she is expected to have made the transition to extratropical. However, this does NOT mean she won't still be packing quite a punch. There are even a few indications that this could be an historic event for us here in the Northeast. All will depend on the exact track, and those details are still very sketchy at this point. Again, no need to panic or get too ahead of ourselves here, there is still plenty of time to watch how things progress over the next day or two. In the meantime, have a plan in place in the event we are faced with a potent storm here in the east early next week. The NWS will be launching balloons every six hours beginning tomorrow morning to aid in the forecast. The data collected by those balloons will be ingested into future models runs and this will hopefully shed more light on what Sandy, or her remnants have in store for us here along the east coast. What are my personal thoughts? Well, I think we will most likely see some adverse affects from Sandy here in the NYC Metro since all signs right now are pointing towards a track relatively close to the east coast. This storm is HUGE and the wind field will expand out many hundreds of miles from the center of the storm. So, even if the ultimate track takes here a few hundred miles north or south of us here in NYC, we'll still see strong winds and potential flooding rains. How bad things will get here will ultimately depend on the exact track, so stay tuned!!

Top Image: The latest 12z ECMWF model showing land fall near Cape May, NJ on Monday, October 29th.
Bottom Image: The latest model guidance which includes the GFS ensemble members (the white/gray lines). Note, many of them are taking Sandy into the Northeast US early next week, where as earlier they were calling for an out to sea solution.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy

August 29th, 2012---: Dave Lewison and I chose not to intercept Hurricane Isaac due to several reasons. The track and intensity forecast was very uncertain (and as I write this the track is still making the forecasters guess!) and I had a last minute family health emergency come up so I felt it best to pass on this one. The story with Isaac continues to be the incredible amount of flooding that is taking place. I'm hearing many different stories this morning about a few levy's being overtopped and breached, but cannot confirm any of them at this time. Some of the pictures that I have seen this morning tell the tale pretty vividly however! Take a look at this one below! Shot from the Braithwait Ferry store roof which is located just SE of New Orleans proper. Photographer unknown.

Hurricane Isaac Flooding 2012

June 10th, 2012---: *Storm Chase 2012 Re-Cap* Chase 2012 is now completed and this years chase was another success! All in all Dave and I saw and documented 4 tornadoes, multiple hail storms, high winds, lightning and many supercell thunderstorms. Overall however, unlike 2011, 2012 was a marginal year for storms as there just weren't many big events that took place this season. It was a tough season of chasing and we did the best we could. I'm happy that we picked the later part of May to head out, this seemed to offer up the best opportunities for us.

The trip started out with a few bust days as storms just did not materialize, but the big decision on our part was whether to chase in Wisconsin on May 24th. The Storm Prediction Center had issued a moderate risk for severe weather and there was a heightened tornado risk as well for that area. The thing was though, it looked to be a very messy set up with storms rocketing off to the northeast at over 70mph in some cases. We just didn't feel that it was going to be worth the drive all the way there. Instead, we decided to go for the lower risk target in southeast Kansas. The decision paid off! The Wisconsin storms didn't produce any photogenic storms on the 24th, so holding back turned out to be the right call. And we were treated to some amazing storm structure and lightning later that evening in Kansas but most importantly, were were in great position for storms the following day in central Kansas! What was just a "see text" risk the day before became a slight risk with a 5% tornado threat the next day (May 25th). Many of the chasers who decided to head to Wisconsin the day before just couldn't get back in time to chase in central Kansas the following day. This day ended up being incredible.

We began May 25th in Emporia, KS and targeted the Great Bend area. Upon getting to our initial target we pretty much over took a Subway Sandwich shop and spent the afternoon checking data and fine tuning our target. As it turned out, our target was pretty spot on and as the afternoon wore on, more and more chasers began showing up. Around 4pm we decided to float a little west towards Rush Center where a full on storm chaser convergence was in effect. We got to chat with all the chasers and a short while later, storm began firing so the chase was on! We ended up targeting the southern most storm and for a while were concerned that we had made the wrong choice. Reports began popping up on Spotternet of tornadoes touching down from the more northern storms. We hung in there and right at dusk, our storm produced. WOW did it produce! This was my first visible night time tornado and it was also the largest tornado I had ever seen. I heard a report that at one point it was three quarters of a mile wide! We shot a ton of video of it being illuminated by lightning but became extremely concerned that La Cross, KS was going to get hit. They were directly in the path of this tornado. We reported it on Spotternet along with several other chasers and all we could do at that point was hope. We followed in behind and as we got closer to La Cross we could see emergency lights up ahead. And as we pulled into La Cross we realized that the tornado was STILL on the ground! It was in a field just to the north of town and we pulled over and started filming once again. What made this chase even more incredible is through the lightning flashes we realized that a second tornado was on the ground just to the east of the main tornado. Two tornadoes on the ground at the same time! This was definitely a new experience for me. Man how we wished it was still daylight out, if so we would have been treated to the ultimate show. Still though, no complaints from me as it was a truly incredible experience! And what's even better is that while there was some minor damage in La Cross, it wasn't too serious and no injuries were reported! We tried to head north on the 183 out of La Cross, but were stopped by the local police due to power lines blocking the road from where the main tornado had crossed the road. We turned back towards town but were prevented from driving south on the 183 as well since that is where some damage occured as a satellite tornado touched down causing the minor damage in town. So we opted for west and north and ended up staying in Oakley, KS on the I-70. It was VERY late by the time we got in, but we didn't mind one bit. It was an incredible chase day across the board! Check out the images below! Top Image: The tornado track map generated by the National Weather Service. Our viewing position is noted on the map. Notice the small track on the south side of La Cross. Bottom Image: A radar screen shot at the time of tornado genesis, also showing our position in relation to the storm.

La Cross, KS Tornado 2012

La Cross, KS Tornado 2012

Our next big chase day came on May 29th. The SPC outlined a severe risk in and around the Oklahoma City metro. We targeted the area to the NW of OKC and storms began initiating in the mid afternoon. From the get go these storms were prolific hail producers! Some of the biggest hail that I have seen since South Plains, TX back in 2005 occurred on this day. One thing about these storms that amazed us was the distance the large stones were being thrown from the main core. This was the exact kind of day our hail guards were designed for. All the hard work that was put into those hail guards by both Dave Lewison and I paid off BIG time on May 29th. All attempts to get into a good viewing position on the storms northwest of OKC were met with huge hail barrages. There was really no way around it. The hail guards took some big hits and it was amazing to watch hail up to softball size ricochet off the windshield guard as we were driving south down a dirt road (attempting to get out of the hail). We finally did manage to get out and sought shelter on Piedmont Road, in the town of Piedmont, OK as the storm quickly approached. Our goal at this point was to shoot video of the hail, from outside the vehicle. But, to do so meant we had to find a suitable shelter. We found one in the form of an abandoned gas station overhang. While I do have hail guards to protect my vehicle, I still try to stay out of the hail if at all possible since I prefer filming from outside the vehicle, plus...I try to minimize body damage as much as possible which if you saw my Xterra you would probably ask me, why bother? LOL. The hail barrage finally came and we got great video of hail up to tennis ball size falling all around us. It didn't last more than just a minute or two before turning to rain, but while it did last it was quite intense! Now here's where things got a bit hairy. While filming the hail I quickly ran back to my Xterra to grab something and I hear our friend Dayna yelling on the radio that they were observing a tornado with our storm, and it was just to our west! Our visibility at that point was terrible so we couldn't see what they were seeing, but knowing that this storm now had a confirmed tornado with it made the next few minutes a bit dicy to say the least. Upon viewing back our video later that evening we actually did capture the beginning of this tornado which literally was just west of our location. We captured it in the "bowl" stage, just prior to it becoming fully wrapped in rain which is why we never saw it. However, Brad, Dayna and Simon were a few miles south of us and from their vantage point they had a clear shot of it so they were able to keep us posted on the movement. It only lasted a minute or two before lifting and Dave and I were never in any danger of getting hit by it at our location, thankfully. After it was all over with we blasted south towards Mustang, OK where we planned to meet back up with fellow storm chasers Brad Rousseau, Dayna Vettese and Simon Eng. Upon getting into Mustang we were finally able to raise Brad, Dayna and Simon on our ham radio and they informed us that they had taken shelter in the town of Tuttle. They were hoping for another hail barrage so we decided to join them. Thing is though, we never made it to them...at least not at that point. The storm quickly overtook us with torrential, make that blinding rains so we pulled over underneath another abandoned gas station overhang, jumped out of the vehicle, and rolled more video as yet another hail barrage over took us! This was the day for hail, no doubt about it! I racked up more hail video on May 29th than in the 7 years prior. We finally met back up with everyone and made our way back to the Guest Inn in Norman, OK where we also met up with Chris Kridler and had an awesome sit down dinner at the local IHop. Another great chase day under our belts.

The following day (May 30th) dawned for us in Norman, OK at the Guest Inn. Our initial target was Woodward, OK but as the morning wore on we quickly realized that our target was changing, and changing in a BIG way! We were traveling west on the I-40 and made the call that instead of NW Oklahoma, the better chance for storms was now looking to be in the Texas Panhandle! Would we make it in time was the big question. We blasted west and then south as storms began going up to our southwest. We were late to the game so we had big time trouble getting into position on storms that were traveling southeast as we were approaching them from the north. Not a good intercept route at all, but it was all we could do. As luck would have it as were were trying to get into position on the southern most storm of the line, a new supercell had gone up to our immediate west. We pulled over, watched it for a while, and shot video. This was going to be our target storm! The inflow on this storm was insane as several jets of dirt and debris were witnessed racing into the storm. We blasted south to stay ahead of it and had to drive through several of these inflow jets. The video we got as we were doing this was awesome! Upon getting into the town of Guthrie we decided that the tornado threat was minimal so once again, we opted for shelter and decided to shoot more hail video. And this storm did NOT dissapoint! The hail started off around quarter size, but quickly grew. This was a full on golfball, tennis ball, baseball hail barrage. Once the hail subsided we new the winds were on the way. RFD winds (Rear Flank Downdraft) can approach and exceed in 100mph in some cases. And when they hit, they hit hard! We could literally hear them coming as roofs and sheds were being torn apart down the road from us. Once the full force of the RFD winds hit, everything started flying around. Trees were being ripped apart, and pieces of roofing material were flying everywhere. The video was very dramatic and at that point we crouched down as low as we possibly could and huddled in between the other vehicles that were taking shelter with us. The fierce winds lasted about 3 minutes in total, and when it was all over, Dave and I took a drive through the town to make sure there wasn't any one that needed assistance. Thankfully, we didn't come across any injuries. Large hail was still covering the road and we ended up at the local football field just down the road from where we rode the storm out and documented large hail stones that were literally embedded into the grass. The day ended with a beautiful mammatus cloud display at sunset.

These were the more intense chases of my trip, but there were more storms to be had. But I figured I'd cover the most intense chases for my blog here. If you're interested in checking out some highlights videos from my trip, head on over to my "Storm Chasing Videos" page! You can see first hand what I talked about above!

And finally, we will be rolling out three new episodes of our web based series "Rolling Thunder: True Storm Chasing Stories" in July covering the three main events I talked about above! Episodes one through four are already posted on my "Storm Chasing Videos" page so be sure to check them out! And don't forget to like us on facebook (link is on our home page).

May 20th, 2012---: Dave and I are hitting the road today! Chase 2012 begins! Be sure to follow me on Twitter for the latest updates, I will be updating my Twitter feed much more frequently while I'm away. Once I return I will post full chase summaries here.

May 17th, 2012---: Mid May and I'm still here in NYC! Wow, I'm having 2009 flash backs! To see what I am referring to just bounce on over to the 2009 storm chase blog and you'll see. Anyways, there hasn't been a decent set up for storms out on the plains in about a month, but, if the trend in the forecast models continue, that may not last for much longer. As it stands right now it appears likely that we'll see a return to an active pattern out in Tornado Alley beginning mid week. So, Dave and I are in the final preps stage and we're planning on a Sunday morning departure! I look forward to my storm chase vacation every year and I super excited to get back out there and do some chasing! While I am gone be sure to follow me on Twitter as I will be updating there way more frequently than here on my web site. When I return home in a few weeks I'll post full chase accounts here.

May 2nd, 2012---: May is here, and for now we're still here in NYC. Well there is a reason for that. The upcoming pattern out in Tornado Alley isn't looking all that stellar for good storms so we're essentially in a holding pattern. As always, Dave and I like to wait until we see an active period of severe weather setting up on the plains before pulling the trigger on our trip. There may be a marginal set up for the next Monday/Tuesday time frame, but after that an eastern trough looks to dig in leaving the plains states under a ridge and northwest flow aloft. Not exactly conducive for big storms. So, we'll check things day by day and will head out when things look to get active again. Once I do head out I will be updating via Twitter on a frequent basis. I'll update here as well upon my return when I will have the time to post detailed accounts of my trip. But in the mean time be sure to follow me on Twitter! More updates over the coming days..

April 17th, 2012---: An intense, multi-day severe weather outbreak occured over the weekend, and the preliminary tornado count for Saturday alone is (as I type) sitting at 135! Dave and I unfortunately could not chase this event as the last minute airfares were just too brutal and we figured since we'll be hitting the road in a few weeks time anyways, we should reserve our funds for our 3 week trip in May. Speaking of our upcoming trip, preparations are in high gear and I'll be heading up to Poughkeepsie, NY to meet up with Dave Lewison this Saturday to prepare my 2004 Nissan Xterra for the long trip to the plains! We have a lot to get done this weekend and I'll be posting pictures early next week so be sure to check back. Won't be long now before we hit the road once again! Can't wait. Image Below: Prelimary storm reports from the Storm Prediction Center for the Saturday, April 14th tornado outbreak

Tornado outbreak April 14th, 2012

April 11th, 2012---: A very active period of severe weather is on the horizon for several plains states including Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. This upcoming series of severe weather set up's is more reminiscent of May or June than it is April, but with the way things have been the past several months (insanely warm winter, warmest March on record, etc.) nothing really surprises me this year. Unfortunately for Dave Lewison and I we will not be able to chase this upcoming set up as work and family obligations are keeping the both of us here in NY until May, but all this excitement is certainly getting me amped up for our annual chase trip! This year we can spend up to 3 weeks on the road, so we're both super psyched! For us, we'll be free to head on out from May 5th onward. When we see a good pattern setting up, we'll pull the trigger and hit the road. Getting back to this upcoming severe weather threat, storms are already ongoing in the Texas Panhandle and southeast Colorado this afternoon with a localized tornado threat there as well. Tomorrow things really begin ramping up with areas from the Texas Panhandle, to western Oklahoma, north through western Kansas and into Nebraska being under the gun. The threat will continue in roughly the same areas through the weekend, but how bad things will be will depend much on where storms form tomorrow, how widespread they are, and where the resulting outflow boundaries set up. So, we'll take things one day at a time. Regardless, for my friends living in the mid west, please be on guard these next few days and be sure to have your NOAA weather radio in alert mode! If you do not have a NOAA radio, please consider getting one as they are very inexpensive. Keep an eye to the sky and heed all the watches and warnings for your area.

As a quick side note, I'll be heading up to Dave's place on Saturday, April 21st to begin prepping my Nissan Xterra for this years trip!

April 4th, 2012---: Yesterday was a classic example on how you do NOT need a moderate or high risk day to see destructive tornadoes. The SPC had a slight risk out yesterday with an overall 5% tornado risk. Most would think these are rather low probabilities, but as we saw, there were a few storms ahead of the main line that dropped tornadoes in and around the Dallas, TX area and a lot of damage was done! Thinking back, I personally have seen several tornadoes on slight risk, 5% days. The slight risk days just mean that a widespread (key word there) severe weather event is not expected. But, if your house just happens to be in the path of one of the storms, that's all it will take to turn your life upside down. I am hearing reports of some injuries, but as I type this, I have haven't heard of any fatalities. I hope this doesn't change. Image Below: Current storm reports from yesterday via the Storm Prediction Center.

Forney, TX tornado Lancaster, TX torando April 2012

April 2nd, 2012---: Another month has gone by and now things will start ramping up in preparation for my 2012 chase trip!! The time has come once again where I begin preparing for our multi-week trip to the plains in search of the most intense storms on Earth. So far, April is off to a quiet start, and while there is the chance of some storms today from Kansas to Texas, the overall severe threat is relatively low. And after today, if you believe the forecast models, things should remain pretty quiet for the next 7-10 days. The NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) has trended slightly negative, something we really haven't seen the entire winter! And the forecast calls for an even more negative trend over the coming week. When the NAO is negative, this usually translates to lower heights (lower pressures) and cooler temperatures in the east with rising heights (higher pressures) and warmer temperatures in the west and central states. The current NAO seems for now to be jiving with the two medium range models(the GFS and ECMWF) in calling for a relatively quiet spell, so there may not be much in the way of storms to chase after tomorrow for a week or so. Usually the pattern chasers like to see is ridging in the east, and troughing in the west, more common in a positive NAO pattern. But for Dave Lewison and I, we don't hit the road until May anyways so we're taking this time to prepare as we do every year! Many things have to be done over the next 4 weeks. Vehicle maintenence, hail guard maintenence and mounting, ham radio antenna installation, wiring, etc. Most of the hail guards I leave off my Xterra until we actually hit the road, but we do mount the windshield hail guard prior to the trip since that one takes the most time. I'm planning a trip upstate to meet with Dave on the weekend of April 21st which is when we'll bang that out, along with some wiring and testing of our roof-cam which now features a motorized wiper assembly which will keep water droplets off of the dome when we're filming! This was a huge issue last year so we're happy to have that problem solved.

Through all this we are also shooting a web based series, produced and edited solely by Dave and I. The series is titled Rolling Thunder "True Storm Chasing Stories". This series chronicles our weather and storm chase adventures and it is 100% true to life and science based! NO BS!! We already have three episodes posted and episode four will chronicle our chase 2012 preparations. If you would like to check out our first three episodes, head on over to the official Rolling Thunder website and check it out. The latest episode is featured right on the main page, and past episodes can be found under the "videos" tab. Future episodes will feature all our 2012 chases so be sure to check back often for updates! So "when" are Dave and I planning to hit the road? Well we're pretty flexible when it comes to that and essentially we will be on call to head on out of NYC anytime from about May 7th onward. Can't leave prior to that date due to work and family obligations, but anytime after May 7th we'll be ready to hit the road when we see a good pattern setting up for severe weather.

March 4th, 2012---: By now I'm sure everyone reading this has seen the images of devastation coming out of states like Indiana and Kentucky. As was feared, a major severe weather/tornado outbreak occured two days back and over 100 tornadoes have been reported from this event. Lives have been lost as well which is always terrible news to hear. The spring storm season is not off to a good start! The average number of tornadoes in a given March are around 85. We have already topped 100 for the month, and it's only March 4th! The next few days appear quiet which is good news as there is a lot of cleaning up that has to be done in many states in the south and mid west. For Dave and I, we will be keeping tabs on any upcoming severe weather events, and if our schedules allow, we'll get out there for an early season chase, prior to our main multi-week chase in May.

Image Below: The preliminary tornado count for the March 2nd, 2012 tornado outbreak.

Tornado Outbreak March 2 2012

March 2nd, 2012---: Here we are right at the beginning of meteorological Spring and we're off to a heck of a start. A major severe weather outbreak is likely today covering several states east of the Mississippi River and folks need to be on their guard. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a High Risk for severe weather today and the focus seems for now to be centered on parts of Kentucky and Tennessee. After analyzing several different models I am inclined to agree. Dave Lewison and I cannot chase this early season event due to a scheduling conflict but our virtual targets for today are very similar. If we were chasing we would be heading for the area between Louisville and Bowling Green, KY. Bear in mind, a large area is under the gun today, but this is where we feel the highest risk lies. Over all, the risk covers many states so please be alert today and keep those NOAA radios on and in alert mode. If you do not have a NOAA radio, keep it tuned to your local news outlets and be sure to heed all warnings that may be issued for your area. Take this seriously. Storms that do form this afternoon will be moving at a high rate of speed, between 50 and 60mph will be the norm so if and when a warning is issued for your area, act immediately.

Image Below: Storm Prediction Center's latest Day One Tornado Outlook. The 30% risk area essentially states that at any given point in that purple shaded area you have a 30% chance of a tornado passing within 25 miles of your location. In the red shaded area, your chances are 15%. This is very high, so again...stay alert today.

Tornado Outbreak March 2 2012

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