5/14/18: Daily Post

Yesterday, we chased two storm cells that formed in eastern Colorado.  We left Boulder in the late morning, and drove out I-70 towards Limon.  We had our first intercept south of Limon, and then muscled ahead of the slow-moving storms in Arriba, then Siebert.  The storms became disorganized enough that it wasn’t worth following them east any farther, so we doubled back to Boulder for the evening.  Here is a photo of our storm becoming outflow-dominant and weakening.


We have been staying at one of the chaser’s apartments, and when we arrived, we had a nice roast chicken, rice and broccoli dinner waiting for us.  We are getting spoiled on this chase- short days, good food, and free lodging!

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5/13/18: Daily Post

Yesterday, we went storm chasing around rural Colorado.  We left Boulder and caught a storm north of Limon, CO.

We chased the storm until near sundown, but then returned back to Trevor’s house.  We got some Chinese carry-out and hung out for a bit before calling it an early night.

It was a really laid back day, an easy chase day.  Typical chase days are not as easy as the past few days have been for us.

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Daylight Saving Time

I remember daylight saving time in the spring of 2003. It meant spring had arrived, and spring meant that I would be going on my first Great Plains storm chase.

At the time, I was going to school full time as a materials science and engineering student at Virginia Tech. I had switched out of electrical engineering, and this was my first semester in my new major.

I was also working full-time at night at Kroger (grocery store), stocking shelves. I was trying to raise the money for storm chasing. My 1988 Nova needed a few major repairs before it could be trusted for cross-country travel.

I had very few friends and was generally bitter towards the whole world. I did meet Dave Carroll, who was leading a storm chase out of Virginia Tech and Pulaski County High School. This meant I would not have to drive my car, but would have to come up with tuition money for his class instead.

I had no idea if it would all work. I had very few friends at this point. My grades in materials were better than in electrical engineering, but not enough for an internship. I didn’t know if I’d be able to find a job once (if) I graduated. I almost quit school and continued to work at Kroger.

I went for a walk along the Huckleberry Trail, not having to report to work until 9:30 PM. As I walked, I saw the 00 Z balloon sounding from the Blacksburg, VA, office float overhead. As it scouted out the world from a higher point of view, it was like a sign of better things ahead.

The storm chase was something on the horizon to look forward to. No matter what happened after the storm chase, at least I will have done that.

15 years later, I’m teaching engineering. I have a degree in meteorology as well as two in engineering. I have yet to miss a single season in the Great Plains, and have caught somewhere around 30 tornadoes. I have probably launched two dozen of those same balloons.

I still have the same feeling around daylight savings time. I’m sure my blood starts circulating cyclonically. The doldrums of winter weather slowly lose their grip on my mood, as the trough and ridge pattern amplifies over the mid-latitudes.

I don’t know if I have a favorite time of the year, but this is pretty close.


7/1/17: Daily Post

Yesterday, I started out the day by driving to the Camp Meeting, which was an event hosted by the Texaco Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists.  It was held just north of Ruidoso, so I left Socorro early in the morning.

I attended Sabbath School, Church and an afternoon session.  In the late afternoon, severe storms had developed across much of the state, including one cell just south of my location, passing through Ruidoso.  I headed south to Ruidoso, then northeast along US-70 to chase this storm.  It fell apart soon after my northeastern turn, so I ended up punching the core and driving home.

Thank you for reading my post.

6/25/17: Daily Post

Yesterday, we woke up at the Field Day site in Datil Wells Campground, NM.  We had breakfast with the other ham radio operators and I did a quick forecast.  I had received several messages about chasing storms from my Virginia Tech storm chasing crew, and sure enough, we were in an Enhanced Risk area.  We packed up at the Field Day site, and JoAnna and I headed home to pick up Joey.

He jumped in the car and we headed north to Las Vegas, NM where we intercepted a cell that was showing rotation on radar.  We could clearly see the entire base, and there was no organized wall cloud, and no tornado.  We did take one big hailstone to the center of the roof after seeing an occasional pea-sized hailstone, so we headed south out of the storm.  I will post the entire writeup on my storm chase blog later tonight.

We returned in the evening and unpacked.  I was pretty well beat from the Field Day and the storm chase, so I went to bed early.

Thank you for reading my post.

6/5/17: Daily Post

Yesterday, we packed up and headed east for a two week road trip.  We only made it as far as Amarillo.  We stayed at a Quality Inn just a little ways off I-40.  Along our route, we also punched a weak hail core (slushy pea-sized hail).  I tweeted about it and it was picked up by Albuquerque NWS as well as Channel 4 in Albuquerque.

JoAnna and I talked about hard work last night.  I value hard work and struggle, but why value struggle?  It is inefficient and stupid.  Learn something new everyday, I suppose.

Giving up fighting depression.

Thank you for reading my post.

The Last Two Weeks

I have been out storm chasing with a few Virginia Tech alumni for the past two weeks.  I haven’t had time to post on this blog, and am behind on my storm chase blog as well.

This storm chase has been probably the best chase I have ever done.  My chase team was solid.  We caught four tornadoes in four states.  We were on severe storms almost every day.  Navigation, costs, and everything were within spec.  I did get a few hail dents, but kept all of the windows.

I did lose a former student during this time.  Unfortuately, my former student and friend, Ben Nzavi, drowned while trying to save his daughter, who fell in a lake and also drowned.

I’m in a little post-chase depression, as usual, after our last chase day.  I just dropped Kathryn off at the Tulsa airport, and said goodbye to Alex, Aaron and Dan, as they drive back to VA.  I am at a Waffle House just north of town, getting ready for my long trek west.

Thank you guys for reading my post.