I have Returned to Winterfell

After spending the last 10 months in the storm chasers Kings Landing of sorts, Norman OK, I have returned to the north. I’ve brought back with me a ton of experience and some really fantastic tools that provide situational awareness and advanced weather planning capabilities.  I jokingly refer to Sioux Falls as Winterfell because it sums up the climate here to a tee and it’s far more fun to say you are from Winterfell than Sioux Falls, SD. It’s also a better conversation starter because most people know more about Winterfell than South Dakota, except for a great deal do know about Mt. Rushmore. However, those same people don’t realize it’s about 35 hours away from here if you travel by covered wagon and 5 hours by car.

My time spent in Norman was amazing. I absolutely love the people of Oklahoma. They are very genuine, respectful and seem to be pretty tough overall. The climate, HATED it. I knew going there it was going to be hotter than SD. I have driven there many times for storms and such but I always returned north. Living there with back to back brutal days of hot and sticky were not for me at all. Call me what you will but my body told me I belong further north.

The reason I went south in the first place was for an opportunity to work for a leading private weather provider, Weather Decision Technologies. This career change proved to be a good one for me for many reason. My passion for weather being one of them. The second is our suite of turn key products that I truly believe in. My business experience in various industries helps me apply weather data and turn it into profit and that excites me. I’m currently working on a couple of projects that at the core are doing just that. In the call center I trained my managers and team leaders to really read deep into our dashboards and when they could see beyond the numbers and view it like the matrix, only then were they truly aware and that they could stand solid on any decisions and actions they would have to make. The experience I’ve gained at WDT allows me to do the same with weather maps. I see systems move across the globe like money, whether it be due to exposure of direct safety threats, supply chain disruptions, route planning, staff or job site scheduling, weather indeed has a direct effect on the day to day cost of doing business. Put a little thought into it and you will quickly realize that weather intelligence goes far beyond what to wear for work and having the tools and talent to leverage that information can have a direct effect on your own profit or loss.

In returning north, my goal is to highlight WDT and be the provider of weather guidance and decision support to business, city and state governments, health and safety folks in this region. Contact me directly and let me show you how easy it is to not only get the information that every single person including you uses, but how you can leverage it to your advantage. Take a look at WeatherOps and you could get started today. http://weatherops.com

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Can Hurricane History Repeat Itself?

The latest GFS (Global Forecast Systemmodel run shows Hurricane Matthew impacting Florida twice. While double landfalls are rare Florida has seen this occur 7 times in the past.

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Shipping Damage in Pensacola, FL 1906

Unnamed CAT 3 October 18 1906 with winds at 105 knots hitting Marathon Fl (1st landfall)/Near Flamingo which is the southernmost headquarters of Everglades National Park, in Monroe County, Florida. This was point of the second landfall.

Great Miami Hurricane which was a CAT 4 made landfall on September 18th and 20th 1926 with wind speeds at 125 knots.  Palmetto Bay (1st landfall)/Orange Beach, AL (2nd landfall)
While the second landfall did not go out to sea and back again to hit Florida a second time, it did have a dramatic impact on both eastern and western portions of the state

Unnamed CAT 4 September 15 1945 saw winds at 115 knots that struck North Key Largo (1st landfall)/Florida City (2nd landfall)

Unnamed CAT 4 hit September 21–22 1948 with winds at 115 knots and arrived in  Saddlebunch Keys which are a series of mangrove islands about 7 miles east of Key West, Florida(1st landfall)/Near Chokoloskee which is part of the Naples–Marco Island area (2nd landfall).1948_hurricane

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Damage from Hurricane Donna

Donna was measured as a CAT 4 storm which occurred September 10 1960 and had wind speeds at 115 knots and made landfall in Conch Key which is an island located in the middle of the Florida Keys (1st landfall)/Near Naples,  FL (2nd landfall)

Who could forget hurricane Andrew which was CAT 5 hurricane that made landfall on August 24 1992 and had wind speeds measured at 145 knots arriving at Elliott Key (1st landfall)/Near Homestead (2nd landfall). Elliott Key is the northernmost of the true Florida Keys, and the largest key north of Key Largo. It is located entirely within Biscayne National Park, in Miami-Dade County, Florida, east of Homestead, Florida.

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Finally Hurricane Charley a strong CAT 4 storm that made landfall on August 13 2004  with wind speeds at 130 knots  arriving in Cayo Costa (1st landfall)/Near Punta Gorda (2nd landfall). Cayo Costa is located west of Cape Coral and just north of North Captiva Island.

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Punta Gorda,FL.,Aug. 16, 2004–Aerial image of destroyed homes in Punta Gorda, following hurricane Charley. FEMA Photo/Andrea Booher

Could Hurricane Matthew become part of this family of multiple landfall hurricanes? It certainly looks like it could but there is still a lot of uncertainty at the moment. What we do know is the time to take action is NOW.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.” – Alan Lakein

All Hail!

I am having the time of my life here at WDT. I’ve shifted some focus over to our hail map product.

Weather Decision Technologies is at the forefront of severe weather and is the leading weather data provider. The latest in-house dual-pol hail algorithms able us to produce stunning, highly accurate street-level hail maps for use by those in the roofing, construction and other industries. Unlike other hail maps, our contours are produced from proprietary hail algorithms utilizing high resolution dual-pol radar data at all elevation scans. Computing clusters at our state-of-the-art, redundant data center process this information in real-time, outputting hailswath data every hour. This is the fastest, most reliable data available on the market today!

FTWorth6_14With this maps I could see the hail swath growing across central and southern Ft Worth right away this morning. As the pictures started coming in on social media I could clearly see the maps were dead on.

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By 7:09 Ft Worth, TX was under full assault with falling hail measuring up to 3″ in diameter. The detail of the hail maps being generated were fascinating to me as I also watched radar simultaneously.

HailSwath I am having a blast. I finally feel I’ve landed in field I can be passionate about. Because I love weather, it has felt like I’ve been on vacation since Christmas.

Now that I am the hail guru here, (their words not mine) stay tuned for more hail focused posts.

Spring is on the way, and dangerous weather is coming with it…

You, like most organizations, have an inclement weather plan that provides guidance when dangerous weather strikes.  How much more effective could those plans be?

In 2015 there were 1259 reported tornadoes across the United States. December 23rd 2015 there were 39 tornadoes that caused 18 fatalities.

Our team understands that you have enough to worry about just managing your business so here are some things you can do this year to ensure your staff and facilities are safe.Storm Damage

STEP 1. Redevelop your business continuity plan- As you begin to redevelop your plan, the first step is to make sure all critical departments are represented. This will ensure critical functions are identified when preparing for weather disruptions including staff levels or loss of utilities.

STEP 2. Conduct a threat analysis – Are you located in tornado alley? A flood zone? On average, how many hurricanes does your town get in a five-year period? Make a list of every possible weather-related event that has or could occur. Consider the likelihood of new situations. Think also about how you are currently receiving weather information and think about how to improve that.

Receiving timely and accurate information provides the ability to act when necessary but also prevents false alarms that can be costly disruptions.

STEP 3. Be ready at all times – Evacuation orders, safety and health hazards, or damaged infrastructures may prevent employees from reporting to assigned locations in a timely manner. Identify alternative, prioritized gathering places and contact arrangements for employees to meet after a disaster. In addition, consider the credentials employees will need for gaining access into a disaster area, as authorities may restrict entry.

When your business or outdoor event is threatened by dangerous weather; filtering through the noise  Read more….

Runnin’ Down A Dream

The title is also a popular Tom Petty song but this post is not at all about Tom Petty or his songs. It is about me, and whats happening today, and no I didn’t become a rock star although that was a dream of mine some 30 yrs back. In Tom’s song, Runnin’ Down A Dream followed by “that never would come to me” which is entirely different in my case. I finally caught my dream, wrestled it to the ground and made it happen.

me1_thumb.jpgWhat was the dream? It was to combine my business skills and some how marry that into the ever changing world of weather and make a living doing it. I tried a couple of times in the past, first attempting to launch a weather related magazine and then actually launching a media company where the focus was strictly focused on weather. The magazine never launched no funding and the media company just could not maintain the revenue to actually do much more that support a hobby. I was very passionate about it but once hunger sets in, realistic expectations do as well. I even walked away from weather for a bit, I stopped looking at weather models and even stopped watching the local weather produced by my friends at KELO TV. I had stopped chasing completely. Even Mother Nature tried to get me back into it by running storms right past my house to bait me but I was convinced I was done and ignored them completely. I had a good career so maybe it was time to just focus on that and be an adult about things. As time ticked on, so did I but just barely. I enjoyed what I was doing but I didn’t love it. I always knew at some point I would have to make a change. But what? What could I do that would not require a total reset?

The end of 2015 was big. I mean really BIG and it seemed like things just pretty much fell
into place. I had been training my team for theMarcJeffAshley past year, but only 1 person really knew what it was all about.  Right before Thanksgiving a former boss, mentor and friend of mine came in to speak to my team and it was fantastic. It was a really BIG deal to me for a lot of reasons I won’t really get into it except to say, what I learned from him previously made a BIG impact on me personally and professionally and now I had the opportunity to have that kick ass attitude shared with my team from the man himself. I had been given the secret recipe, but I am not always so good at cooking the crazy stew.

Just a couple of days prior to that event I was presented an opportunity that seemed like it was fate. It was an opportunity to relocate to Norman, OK. The prime location for tornadoes and home to the National Sever Storms Laboratory, which is actually located across the parking lot from where I work today.

I now work for Weather Decision Technologies, the industry leader that provides organizations with weather decision support on a global scale. WDT has specific expertise with Big Data as it applies to hazardous weather detection and prediction, forecast modeling, decision analytics, GIS, mobile apps and interactive mapping. The WeatherOps forecast team located right outside of my office is world-renowned and are experts who provide global asset projection and commodities trading decision support. I am learning things I had no knowledge of previously and that excites the hell out of me. Even more excitement than being in the red box with sirens going off.

I do want to thank you to my family and friends that stuck beside me and encouraged me to keep dreaming big. To my former staff that pushed me and held me accountable.

Stay tuned for more ADVENTURES FROM OKLAHOMA

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Oh my god I’m in Oklahoma

No I’m not dead, but the blog sure is.  Well it’s time to pump the life back into it. It’s 2016 and I now live in Norman, Oklahoma.

It is true I said last year I was done chasing after taking a couple of years away from it, but those that know me threw the BS flag on that right away. I knew they were right, I had invested so many years learning and loving weather that I simply could not stop. I recently was presented with a fantastic opportunity to relocate to Norman working and playing again in the weather world. So here I am Oklahoma, what do ya have for me?

Stay tuned for more… 2016 is going to be great!

On a Mission to Pilger

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Pilger, Nebraska still stands tall

(“We’re on a mission from God”.)

That’s a famous line from the movie Blues Brothers. This seemed just about a important as getting the back taxes paid in time to save the orphanage from being closed. Except this wasn’t a mission from God  and this wasn’t a comedy. I was sent by Storm Assist, a collaborative effort by storm chasers to provide aid to communities directly impacted by damaging weather events.

I was given the real honor of delivering on behalf of Storm Assist (http://stormassist.org), funds for relief and recovery efforts currently underway in this close knit community we know as Pilger, Nebraska. after twin EF4 tornadoes terrorized this small farming town. Residents simply call it home and when I was on my way to meet them, I had no idea what to expect.

I had a pretty somber drive not knowing what I would see or feel and with the backdrop of cloud cover and appearing as though it was going to rain didn’t help the mood either. My heart began to sink low as I drew closer to town and when I finally arrived, my heart made its final decent deep into the pit of my stomach and my jaw literally fell in my lap. The first thing I saw were the mountains of debris of what obviously were homes and then just over my other shoulder were the empty spaces where they use to be.

Debris

These were homes

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Square block cleared out

24hr Gas Station

24hr convenience store and gas station with heavy damage

I made the left turn into town and you could see the total devastation to what was the hub of this town, the co-op. It provided grain storage, dry fertilizer and other chemicals, bulk deliveries of fuel, propane and oil. There was also a 24hr convenience store that provided gasoline and other essential items. It becomes kind of a gathering place in rural towns. It’s where you go for the local news and say hi.

I decided to park the car and walk around the town so I could really understand what I was seeing. There were some buildings but most were destroyed or otherwise completely gone. It was really difficult to visualize the town.

Slabs

Empty spaces

damage

Twisted metal

destruction

Total destruction

Mess

A mangled mess

Workers

Getting things working again

There are signs of the recovery currently underway as linemen and women are repairing the electrical lines. Utility workers were hard at work trying to restore those very crucial utilities many of us take for granted.  For the homes that were left standing , had porta potties placed out on the edge of their lawns.  I could hear one of the guys a few streets over shout in excitement as 1 more street had it’s water service restored. Orphan grain recovery teams are gathering whats left of Pilger’s life blood.

There was one thing that I expected to see, I don’t know why but I did, was the look of pity and despair. Not by everyone, just anyone. I saw none of that. What I did see aside from the workers were a few residents that still had homes, leave and head over to the volunteer area for an assignment. So I went too. I saw vehicles from SD, IA, MO and a good number of volunteers pitching in to lend a helping hand. Another older gentleman was tending what was left of his garden as a tarp flapped in the breeze while covering his damaged home going about his day. He joked a little and aside from the appearance of being in a war zone, life seemed pretty OK at that moment.

School

The school all blown out

forever

Cali lives forever

I stopped and took a small moment of silence to remember little Calista Dixion. We’ve all most likely seen the photograph of this little angel on the stretcher whom lost her life on that tragic day.  That photo is a reason so many of us feel deeply connected to her and this town. But she surely lives on in the hearts of all here in Pilger.

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Showing strength and resolve

This flag is a recognizable symbol of strength and it’s sight provides comfort to so many in America in times of need. It was on was proudly on display in Pilger and gave me the sense that it represented their strength and resolve to pull through this very dark time. Thanks to the community and all of the people that support Storm Assist this town will rebuild. There is no doubt in my mind about that.

You can read details about funds provided to Pilger by going to http://stormassist.org

How can you help repair the normal to those affected by devastating weather like Pilger?

Please visit http://stormassist.org and consider making a donation. It really does make a difference.

Damaged car

Like a rag doll

foundation debris

Foundation debris

debris from the co-op

Mangled and twisted debris from the co-op

Ok I’ve had enough!

I’ve already had a dismal chasing season from lack of, well getting out there. I was doing my damndest to stay away from even commenting on the tragic events of May 31st beyond a few replies on some posts but damnit I’ve had about ENOUGH of you GREEN SCREEN MONKEY media with your self righteous attitudes towards chasers and now tornado tour groups.

You have no issues using said photos and video on your shows or sharing through your social media feeds to gain likes and followers, knowing full well it was provided free or the person who sold it got screwed selling it to your company.

You didn’t buy it for public awareness. You bought it for ratings!

And since we’re being honest here, it was one of your own TV Meteorologist that put the public into freakout mode causing them to run from impending doom! And the “Chasers” that died are not like the ones you reference in your pieces/blogs/bs wherever it is you use to drive the story, these were men dedicated to tornado science and public safety and you KNOW that. Yet you leave that part out of certain pieces, but still reference the death of chasers. Does tornado engineers or tornado researchers not draw in the viewers or readers enough? Do you really need a bad guy for every tragedy?

If you want to run pieces about the chaser hoards than do so honestly. I am sure you will find many chasers that would agree it can be messy. But how dare you blame those that feed your careers with that exciting video that keeps your viewers tuned into your program. Let me assure you it is the video, not your steller on TV performance viewers are tuning in for.

Since we are at it, and the men involved survived and will recover lets not talk about the media’s OWN reckless quest for the most exciting, extreme close up video.

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With that I am done. Damnit media, bite the hand that feeds you and you will get smacked with the paper. Maybe chasers should take to their blogs and discuss the need to keep you news types in the studio and leave the chasing up to the pros.

I’d suggest you just be honest with your audience and stop sensationalizing these stories with misplaced fact and tailored narratives. Every town I go to in every state I’ve been, it’s your viewers that are outside looking for whatever. They do not heed your warnings. Why? It’s not because the roads were clogged thats for sure.

Rant over. I will speak no more of this except to reply of course. 

Don’t Believe The Hype

Storm chasing and amateur forecasting have found a platform and incredibly large following throughout most realms in social media. Unfortunately a large portion of it is total crap and can be misleading. So pay attention here.

My disclaimer: I am a amateur forecaster, self educated in the field of meteorology for storm chasing purposes only. I do not hold a degree or even a certificate of course study. Most on twitter, facebook or whatever platform you use do not either. So read them with caution

As the title states, don’t believe the hype. Just don’t! In most cases these fools, trolls or whatever you call them are elevating themselves as an experts in storm chasing and meteorology. You’ll hear terms like “Death Ridge” being used in March where one does not exist or “Tornado Outbreak” used on just about every set up. The problem is they are being misused and many of those people’s followers are none the wiser and bite hook, line and sinker. Those same “Storm Chasers” and I use that term loosely anymore, will come unglued when the media promotes the same hype failing to realize their own ignorance in the matter. I’m not saying these amateurs should not post their forecasts because some of them are great reads, the problem is, the crap cut and paste forecast. It’s a combination of bits and pieces from around the internet. These people will grab 1 or 2 conditions from the SPC, failing to look at the whole discussion and take a slight risk for isolated supercells and tornadoes and start screaming the sky is falling. People get all in a frenzy and start getting ready for the end. I think and its only an opinion, drill down and say why something will or will not occur.

The issue with these HYPER forecasts is, many are totally wrong and only add to the misinformation abound. Most of these internet meteorologists haven’t the foggiest idea what they are even posting about, only posting because someone else said it. They only thing they are doing is promoting bullshit. Hell some of them are now photoshopping their chasing history because they have none. Chasing anymore has become more about look at me than look at the storm. They go so far as to make their own weather maps with hatch marks in an attempt to look official, when a few barely drive yet.

Here are a couple of observations regarding this area:
People that can truly forecast avoid posting the hyper forecasts (With the exception of Reed Timmer) but will post insightful thoughts on a particular setup. Now since I mentioned Reed, I will say he is now competing for a audience with noobs that don’t know shit from shinola so I guess in his case some hype is required. But legit forecasters, whether college educated, or self-educated, some even just starting will add to a setup discussion instead of typical regurgitation of another’s forecast and posting SPC most is the most irritating. I usually see the mad scramble to be first on Facebook after the SPC does an update and then boom boom boom. If you were forecasting, post the map you were using. There are a lot of sources of weather models and my belief is many just look for pretty colors when they post forecast and only mention areas of high CAPE or EHI totally missing other environmental triggers or lack there of. Ask them what the forcing mechanism is and you get huh? I’m no great forecaster, but I don’t do it for the public, I do it so I don’t burn a bunch of gas for nothing. I will take the see text or very low slight risk because I have looked and calculated the potential. You will seldom see me right in the middle of the 5% box. I try and play with some type of strategy based on my forecast. Sometimes I’m wrong, and if I bust I look at how the day unfolded so I can learn from my mistakes.

When I chase, I also rarely hook up with other chasers unless it was planned or we play the same discrete option. If I do end up in the chaser caravan I will make my own play leaving the group. That’s just me. I hate chase roaches and do my best to avoid playing someone else’s strategy. But since this post is about forecasting I will through out another term
FORECAST ROACH: One who lacks the skill to post an insightful forecast so they roach and re post others as their own.

I sound like an elitist, I get that. That is not my goal. But the shear amount of bullshit anymore is maddening. (notice that weather term I threw in there) I just call it like I see it. I just like chasing. I have had the privilege to meet and chase with some really good people with some talent. But you don’t here much about that because they’re too busy chasing. Oh and if you post a pic asking “What is this?” YOU SUCK and need to take a frickin Skywarn class again. Be what your gonna be, but be true to what you are. You will always have to work for what you want but know if you shortcut and bullshit your way… It will burn you. Age has nothing to do with it. You get what you put in.

Everything is big in TX

txSecond chase of the season on 3-18-2012 takes me to TX but the original target was Kinsley, KS. This time Mike Vetter and Carl Brakke were chasing with me. It was time for Mike and I to tune in for the season. Mike and I have a great chaser relationship and we have a system where we can get things done with a nod and a glance most times, hence the need to tune in. Mike is a data head and usually rides the seat. He is great at processing information quickly and makes decisions on the fly and we trust each other completely with our roles. Plus I like to drive, I trust no one else’s driving in a storm situation except my own. Well until now but we’ll get to that later.

So we arrive at our target and gassed up ready for the chase but Mike did not like how capped the area still was and wanted to push south in to the Oklahoma panhandle. So south we went. About 50miles into OK we lost our data and virtually flying blind. Normally this would not frazzle us because we lose data all the time, but this time it was aggravating because we feared leaving our target was going to be a huge mistake. But we pushed southward deeper into OK still with no data or cell signal to even make a nowcasting call. We went into Arnett, OK thinking there had to be a signal there and there was but it was from a open router in someone’s home and we tapped in and grabbed a radar update. Storms were well underway in TX and it appeared KS was going to be a bust so we all made the call to go play these storms. The only other alternative was to lick our wounds and go home empty handed. That was not a choice neither Carl, Mike or I wanted so off we went pulling away from our hotspot we lost data again. No need for data at this point we knew our play, we just needed storms to cooperate with our plan.

We played pretty aggressive but our plan also included staying out of the chaser mess. There were plenty of other chasers on this storm. Not that I feel special or anything but I like to make different plays than everyone else. Sometimes it works sometimes not. This time it did not as we could not see the tornado near Mangum but had a spectacular view of that storm as it made its way towards Willow, OK.

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This storm was absolutely beautiful and offered us a fantastic lightning show and threw a little hail at us too. We switched drivers and Crazy Carl took the wheel. We continued on this storm as it made its way north. It appeared as though it wanted to keep going and cycled a few times but ultimately died along with the sunlight.

Another  cell fired near Claredon, TX and we decided to play it. We came all this way, why not.  We bugged north to I40 and headed to McLean, TX to watch some awesome CG lightning. This storm was firing lightning bolts like mad and the three of us were enjoying the show. We headed back east on I40 and took the Shamrock exit heading north 83. DSCN4262We were just about in Wheeler,  TX  and BOOM lightning struck about 5-7 miles to our northeast. We all knew something got hit because we all saw a very large mushroom cloud. We knew it was not good and we had to get there and see what it was. With crazy Carl at the wheel we took the dirt floating on the road  like a hovercraft. Carl did not break a sweat. That guy was as cool as a cucumber. I have now found another that I trust driving my car in a storm and most importantly, safely. We were still dealing with heavy rain and lighting, but Carl owned that dirt road, making ever so slight corrections as the car floated and wanted to go into the ditch.  The closer we got we could see the glow of what we knew was a big fire. We just didn’t know what it was at this point.

DSCN4282Well we got on the scene of a very large fire and TX does not disappoint with big fires either. It was a crude oil transfer station that was hit and the entire facility was engulfed in flames. Crude oil is trucked into these transfer stations from the well and offloaded into the storage tanks before being trucked to the pipelines. We arrived as the first fire crews made it on scene. These guys were not prepared for this. The only fire apparatus that arrived on the scene were what appeared to be brush trucks. This fire was hot too, and we had a perfect vantage point directly across the street. We could hear additional explosions so Carl backed up slightly so we didn’t get hit by any airborne debris. You could hear the metal creaking as it melted and buckled from the high heat.  There was also a tanker truck that was offloading when this explosion occurred. DSCN4280The fire crew rolled up next to this tanker and started hitting it with water to cool it down before it blew too. And then some bad ass jumped in the truck and pulled it out of the fire. All they could do after that was watch it burn and make sure the fire did not spread to the nearby trees and field. This thing roared on for quite some time with the occasional pop and small booms.

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This chase did not disappoint at all and TX did not let us down with big things which is why I make it from SD quite a few times.

Made it 1640 miles round trip and another overnighter back to Sioux Falls. We were all late for work the next day, but any road time to or from a chase sure beats working any day.

DSCN4310 DSCN4314

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