Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Christen Thee "Twisted Metal Chasers"

Greetings from the Boro,

Got new chase partners for next year and hopefully if fall goes apeshit like spring did the rest of this year; Jesse Hines (originally from Nebraska but moved to Tennessee for work and school, he's an MTSU student and a diesel mechanic), Ashley Poling (a cartographer from NW Indiana who was majoring in Meterology at Valparaiso University before switching majors), and Chris Selby (a pharmacy technician at Wal-Mart and guitarist for Oblivion Myth) are my new partners and this blog is dedicated to them.

I met Jes and Ash at our chaser parties, they've known each other from TVN's forum which they are a member of. I knew Chris back in high school but he like everyone else from high school I lost contact with him until recently when he began noticing some of my chases (he's wanted to go storm chasing but didn't know anyone in the Middle Tennessee area that did it). The four of us have yet to chase together although we hope to in the very near future; Jes, Ash, and I did chase last Sunday and not since my vacation did I have fun chasing (I was held back because of my personality, you know being "unprofessional").

Ashley came up with a nickname for our group "Twisted Metal Chasers" (it fits our personalities we chase twisters and we love heavy metal music). I'm not big on group names in chasing however to me it shows unity and that it's not a one man show among three other people (any streaming from this day forth shall have our group name along with our names, I'm still stringing through Kendra Reed and KDRMedia but any sale of footage shall be split evenly between us).

You'll be hearing more from them in the near future as I plan on sharing my blogsite with them that way whatever they have they want to get off their chest through blogging they don't have to go through the hassle of creating their own blog page.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What The Summer Has In Store.......

Greetings from the Boro,

With my chase season for the most part over (I had plans to chase up north but a sudden expense has derailed those plans) it's time for life to return to normal or as normal as can be for me.

I will admit my 2011 chase season while fun burnt me out big time; I made some new friends in the chase community some of whom adopted me into their close knit family, but I also lost some friends well so called friends (a true friend doesn't make you pay for his friendship or make you change who you are because he's embarrassed to be seen with you in public).

I don't know what kind of summer I'll be having, but since everyone I talk to is doing their own thing I might as well follow suit. Maybe do some fishing, barbecues, or getting reaccquainted with my friends and family outside the chase community. Whatever it is I plan on doing I just tend on relaxing and enjoy this down period until the secondary tornado season occurs in the Fall.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chasecation 2011 Part II (My Week In North Richland Hills)

(Continued from Part I)

Okay I made this a two part blog for a reason, I wanted to concentrate on the May 24th outbreak and combining it with the non chase days would have thrown anyone who reads this off subject for a bit.

My arrival at the Ft. Worth bus terminal wasn't without any drama (Greyhound lost my boss' gym bag which had my clothes, toiletries, and 5 packs of cigarettes in it; it wasn't until that Saturday before I was able to retrieve it), the drama aside I was greeted by Bridget who gave me a big hug and after explaining to one of the workers at the terminal about my gym bag we left the building were I met Shane and we were on our way to their apartment (Bridge had shot me a text the night before explaining to me that we would be in chase mode by the time I arrived, so that left no time whatsoever to wait around for the bus that had my gym bag). At the apart I met Bridge's brother Tim (her brother is an awesome guy he shared some of his experiences and plays a killer guitar, all and all a pretty laid back guy) who was staying with them after moving down from Massachusetts. Now since part II is covering my week down outside of our chases I'm gonna fast forward to Wednesday and beyond.

The hospitality Brother Shane and Sister Bridge shared with me in itself was one of the key highlights from my trip, before my trip I rarely ate more than two meals a day the whole week down we pigged out on sub sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, pizza, and of course the celebratory steak dinner (after our tornado grabs on the 24th) for lunch and dinner (my idea of comfort food folks). Shane did have to work during the day and Bridge was doing her school work as well so it wasn't until Shane got home that the party got going. Most of my money while down there went toward gas for our chases and beer and soda plus some snack food like chips and candy (not to mention souvenir shot glasses for my boss).

There were also some fun times after having a few beers; that Wednesday night after our steak dinner we all had a craving for chocolate (Shane wanted Kit Kats I wanted Reeses Cups) so Bridge, Tim and I went to Wal-Greens which was up the road from their apartment for a candy run. No sooner did we cross the street (Wal-Greens was on the other side of the street) a NRH cop pulled up with his lights blaring, the first thought that went through our heads was what the fuck did we do (now keep in mind I drunk a lot of beer that night and had a pretty good buzz going, it was one of those "I swear to drunk occifer I'm not god" type moments were I'd be spending the night in the local jail had I done anything that would have warranted the need of a field sobriety test). The cop got out the squad car and asked us a few questions then proceeded to check our IDs (Bridget left hers at the apartment), after everything checked out the cop asked us what we were doing out so late at night in which Bridge told the cop that we were a bunch of storm chasers out on a chocolate run. The cop then proceeded into telling us about how he appreciates the work of chasers and how they help out communities during critical times of severe weather (win for the chaser community) and he let us on our way telling us be careful and good luck in the future in which we grabbed our candy at the store and hauled ass back to the apartment.

Of all the days down there the toughest one for me was last Sunday my last day. All good things had to come to an end, Shane and Bridge are more than friends they're family to me hence the Brother Shane and Sister Bridget. The last two hours at their apartment even though they didn't notice was rough on me (they invited me into their lives and I have since gained a brother and a sister long before I even went down to chase with them and I'll be brutally honest I even felt a tear rolling down my right eye). When it came time for me to leave we said our goodbyes, hugged each other and then proceeded to return to our normal lives (as normal as can be for a chaser who's season has come to a close). It won't be the last time I'll see them though we'll meet up during chases and I'm gonna try my hardest to make it up to Denver for Chasercon next year, but for all it's worth Bro and Sis if you read this blog I want to thank you for a DAMN HELL ASS AWESOME week and hope for an opportunity to do it again. You guys are an awesome bunch and I was and still am honored to help salvage your chase you guys!!!!!!!!

Chasecation 2011 Part I (Chase Log 5/22-24/11)

Outlook: Moderate (5/22-23) High (5/24)

Target Area: North Texas (5/22-23) Central Oklahoma (5/24)

Chase Partners: Shane Adams and Bridget Geaughan

Chasers Encountered: Craig Curlee, Amos Magliocco, Ben Holcomb

Travel Time: N/A

Miles Traveled: N/A

Result: 3 Tornadoes (5/24), Quarter Size Hail (5/24), LP Supercell (5/23), Wall Cloud (5/22)

Well I'm back home after spending a week in the Plains storm chasing with Shane Adams and Bridget Geaughan (they asked me to go chase with them back in February on The Debris offer I'd be a dumbass to decline) and it was a week I'll never forget. I'll go into detail about my week in North Richland Hills in Part II of my blog but I want to concentrate on the chases we went on in Part I particularly May 24th. The first two days we went out we stayed close to home (home for Shane and Bridge) and those two chases ended in a bust (We saw some great storm structures along with one wall cloud and on our first chase got on a tornado warned cell, but no tornadoes).

Now keep in mind this vacation wasn't just to relax, drink beer, and raise hell all over the Lone Star State I came down to chase and to learn from IMO one of the elite chasers out there (Shane doesn't like looking over models that much or make forecast targets but in the end he's always at the right spot). Our first chase was practically an old school chase as in no laptop or GPS (Shane doesn't even use GPS in first place), just a road map and a scanner (the only radar updates we got was through my smartphone). Our second chase on May 23rd was more of an experiment on technology; two weeks prior to my arrival Shane and Bridget were operating as tour guides for Lanny Dean's Extreme Chase Tours and during the tour an accident occurred in which their Sprint wireless broadband card was damaged which meant no data or streaming of their chases. They did put in for a replacement card however they never got it in time, so I came up with a plan to tether internet from my Droid on to their laptop (I did my homework on tethering which included what app I needed to download on to my phone along with the drivers for mine and Bridge's laptop). Upon installing everything needed the tether program worked like a charm thus we had radar updates when needed and I got to test out my stream which was my first stream since switching over to the iMap.....well so we thought (dealt with constant data outages during that chase, it's amazing to see so many fucking dead zones in that part of North Texas we chased in). Now this was a vital thing to do as the next day the SPC was calling for a major tornado outbreak across Southern Kansas all the way down to North Texas in areas along and east of the I-35 corridor (upon going to bed there was a Moderate Risk with a 30% hatched area for tornadoes from Wichita down to near Ardmore).

Waking up on the morning of the 24th the Moderate Risk was upgraded to a High Risk with a 45% hatched area for tornadoes from Wichita to Oklahoma City and slightly south (can someone say clusterfuck as far as chaser convergence goes); the night before looking at the models Shane looked at North Central Oklahoma as our target area. That changed though when Shane looked at the models that morning indicating that storms would fire up simultaneously causing competition for the moisture and also setting up a scenario of HP supercells which in turn would embed the tornadoes in a thick curtain of rain (Shane compared it to May 10th of last year), so Shane opted to target the Ardmore area as our intial target and if storms fired up further north we'd be in position to go after them (there's two reasons behind this change in his gameplan for one the models showed storm development south of OKC to be more isolated than up north and second, Shane's borrowing his boss' SUV after the Wal-Mart fiasco which meant he had to dodge hail at all cost).

We got on the road shortly after noon for our target area, this is my first trip up to Oklahoma so I was just sitting back enjoying the scenery. We arrived in Oklahoma around 2:00 PM when storms began firing along the dryline north of Ardmore, now if you knew about the 2011 season Shane and Bridget were having add the fact that this was the last chase while I was down....there was a bit of urgency in this chase (Shane even told me this was for the most part their last opportunity for the Spring). We went up north and had gotten on some of the storms when frustration showed it's ugly face; storms to our north became tornadic along with storms to our south, the storms we were on while severe were not becoming tornadic and Shane's fear of another May 10th had came to fruition was storms firing simultaneously to our south while the northern storms were the more isolated cells. To add insult to injury we once again dealt with data outages which not only killed their stream but more importantly left us chasing blind not being able to get radar updates when we needed them (Bridget joked with me about being storm killers especially while they were tour guides and that they've been cursed ever since Wal-Mart destroyed Shane's car; I told her and Shane to keep their heads up that their luck would change once I got down to Texas to chase with them, but even I at that point had a John McEnroe know the YOU CAN'T BE SERIOUS!!!!!!! type of feeling as it looked as though we were in danger of a high risk bust). All the tornadic storms to our north were going too fast to catch them and there was no way we could've gone after the storms to our south w/o core punching them (that involves driving through hail folks and there were reports of golfball to baseball size hail with these storms), hearing reports of a large violent tornado in El-Reno and another large tornado up in Canton added to the frustration. The only hope at that point was for one of the storms were on was to go tornadic, we finally got lucky.

We were on Highway 62/9 going through Blanchard when a tornado warning was issued for Cleveland, Grady, and McClain Counties and that there was a report of a large tornado sighted (we were in Grady County at the time). A little after 5:30 Shane went up the H. E. Bailey Turnpike and had us positioned on top of the overpass south of Newcastle and we sat and waited hoping for a glimpse of this monster. We were positioned east of the storm with our visibility piss poor at best not to mention we were in the inflow of the storm (just hearing the wind outside the window of the SUV was a wicked experience in itself). We were able to get a view of the storm as it was moving northeastward, it was about 3-4 miles away when we began noticing a lowering to the left of this heavy rain curtain and I began noticing what looked like circulation. At around 5:40 PM I began to notice what looked to be the left side of a large EF4 stovepipe tornado....this is a still shot from my video of the tornado (

 After losing the tornado in the rain we moved southeastward on Highway 9 toward another supercell that too had a tornado sighted near Washington, we jump on I-35 and headed southeast towards the town of Goldsby just south of Norman. After negotiating through some small obstacles (mainly the dumbass behind the wheel of a car with a hail guards) we were able to capture what was for me the tornado of the day (

I was in a state of bliss at that point seeing two tornadoes in a span of 30 minutes, and the frustrations of that day disappeared for that brief moment. I was particularly happy with catching the Goldsby tornado, this is the first tornado I could deem photogenic I caught plus I got the feel of being inside of a tornado as the circulation went over us as it about roped out (this was also my first multi-tornado day and this is my first year being able to chase). We chased for another two hours going south and then east pass Lake Murray through Oklahoma's version of the Jungle (yes more jungle chasing for me). We went through the town of Madill noticing some minor wind damage from a tornado warned cell we were on, our chase ended shortly after 8:00 PM near the town of Tishomingo when we decided to head on home and the ride home was somewhat a tense one.

While going through Madill we heard reports of a tornadic cell heading straight for North Richland Hills and that Shane and Bridge's apartment was in the path (Bridge got a hold of her brother Tim warning him of the storm and for him to take cover). Fortunately no touchdown was reported in NRH and a sigh of relief was felt in the SUV, and we were treated to an awesome lightning storm on the trip back home.

This day was one of the highlights of my trip bagging two EF4s in a 30 minute span on what was our last day of chasing as the weather calmed down for the remainder of my trip, but the whole week in itself was one I will never forget and one that I will cherish for a long time (more on that in part 2 of my blog).