Monthly Archives: November 2009

Aug 5th 2009 Night Chase

Aug 5th 2009, Derek Davis and I headed out south of Sioux Falls on a cell that had a massive wall cloud. This was a late evening/night chase which I normally do not do.

We got to the storm and within mins it went severe warned, and stayed that way for most of the time we were on it. There was another cell further to the south of us that also went severe warned but we decided to stay on this on for the lightning. And boy did it produced lots of lightning that could be seen from all sides.

While this storm wasn’t a tornado producer, it was still a beautiful storm tha put out very strong winds that tore down rather large trees and powerlines in the town of Beresford, SD and also dropped some decent sized hail.
After going through my photos from 2009 I thought I’d share some of the lightning shots and some of the damage.

Heading Out
Massive Wall Cloud
Lightning Strike
Lightning Strike
Cloud to Cloud Lightning
<img src="Photobucket” alt=”Damage at Casey’s General Store” />
Large tree down covering cars

Strike Alert Personal Lightning Detector

StrikeAlert is a small (about the size of a pager) and affordable lightning detector that provides an early warning of approaching lightning strikes from as far away as 40 miles and lets you know if the storm is coming your way. Its designed for personal and portable use.

Strike Distance An audible alarm sounds when there’s a strike and a corresponding LED light illuminates accordingly at lightning distances of 20-40 miles, 12-24 miles, 6-12 miles and within 6 miles.

I tested this product during the 2009 season and found it to work very well. It came in handy while watching distant storms.
It’s small, only the size of a pager and can be used by anyone from storm chaser, TV crews, sports officials, anyone who spends time outdoors.

El Nino, La Nina, tornadoes and 2010?

I’ve been having a discussion with my chase partner about El Nino and La Nina and whether or not these cycles produce tornado outbreaks. While this is turning out to be far more complex than just a simple question.
However I have forced myself into looking at this further and what I have found is no reason to expect more or fewer tornadoes overall. But the findings show clear evidence of geographical shifts in tornado activity within the United States when comparing strong El Nino years to La Nina years.
Comparing tornado activity during El Nino and La Nina events by calculating a ratio of tornadoes on a state-by-state basis. Findings show more tornadoes in the central and southern plains and the Gulf Coast during strong El Nino years, with a shift to more tornadoes in the lower Midwest, the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, and the mid-Atlantic region during La Nina years. This study also showed there is little evidence that El Ninos are associated with more or less tornado activity.
La Nina events, however, seem to favor an above-average annual number of tornadoes in select geographical regions. The strengths of these cycles also seem to be a factor in this data as well.

Another key finding is that tornadoes during a La Nina are stronger and remain on the ground longer than those observed during an El Nino. That means an increased danger of large destructive and deadly tornadoes during the cold phase. There is also an increased risk of “tornado swarms” or outbreaks of 40 or more twisters from a single weather system in a La Nina season. Some researchers believe a recent climate shift favoring a cooler Pacific and more frequent La Nina events suggests we have entered a period of increasing severe storms that could last a decade or more.

Current ENSO Oct-Nov models show severe weakening or the end or of the El Nino cycle in May. Then moving into a neutral cycle. Neutral cycles tend to produce less tornados then during the El Nino and La Nina cycles. So maybe 2010 turns out to be a bigger bust than 2009.
Again I’m focusing on El Nino and La Nina and there are way too many factors to base whether or not tornado outbreaks will or will not happen. Could there and will there be some other weather phenomona that will break the norm and increase our chances. Other chasers have predicted a 2010 outbrake as did myself, but is that just may be more wishcasting that actual scientific prediction.

Nov 2009 ENSO Forcast Model

My Daughters First Chase

My daughter Lianne had her first chase this year in 2009. She is 13 years old and proved she really wanted to do this by reading all of my chasing books and participated in the Skywarn™ training. She continued to ask questions and really showed she wanted to learn. I was thrilled because I could share something with my kids and it was something we both enjoyed. Storm chasing and weather was not something I pushed on her, it was something she asked to do.

Now Lianne didn’t get to take the long trip many of us take for our chance but she would get excited when I started planning for a local chase and would start looking at models with me and would run through a checklist and ask more questions. Well she finally went on her first chase May 31st.
We chased a moderate storm just to the NW of Mitchell, SD. This storm did go severe for a short time but did not produce a tornado. I was happy that she didn’t get a tornado her first time out because I think now she has the drive to catch one. As I said this storm didn’t give her the twister it did provide her with some great views.
I could tell she was enjoying herself by the sounds of the camera going off in the back seat. She took well over a hundred photos.

The best part is she went a few more times and is now in full learning mode in the off season.
The biggest benefit to me is she is starting to drive which means I will never have a problem finding someone that wants to do most of the driving.

Here are a few of her pictures

2009 Chase Season Recap

Well 2009 wasn’t a total bust as far as storms go. I sat out alot of chases that ended in busts, but the ones I did chase provided me the opportunity to show my daughter the ropes. She is now offically a stom nut/chaser. She still has lots to learn as well as myself but another way to stay connected with my family is fantastic. My wife also chased a few times with me and proved to be a useful navigator. Her (wife) only downfall is she is impaitiant and says “If it’s not going to drop a tornado then get in to the purple this is boreing” referring to the large hail core.
This season I also learned alot of things about my current chase partners, some good and some bad but now it’s all on the table. 2009 also gave me the opportunity to meet up with some new people and chase with them.
Robert Brown made the trip down from Washington state to chase on the plains and brought with him fantastic forecasting skills that allowed us to get on the best storms every chase. During his time here it was action packed. Chase day, down day, chase day, down day. That allowed him to see what he came for and also allowed me to show him our beautiful city of Sioux Falls. I also met Derek Davis who himself turned out to be a valuable asset and chase partner. This chase season also included Jennifer Jones from SDPB (South Dakota Public Broadcasting) who interviewed me and rode along on a chase for the Dakota Digest segment on SD Public Broadcasting radio. Also streamed LIVE video of severe weather to a local TV station so the community can see whats happening.
All and all it turned out to be a great season for me and I can’t wait for 2010.

Storm Predator 3.4 is released

Version 3.4 has been released and is available from our web site.

Registered version:
Free trial version:

This update is, as always, free of charge for all current version 3.x customers.

Here is the change/feature list:

New Features:

— The installer preserves configuration settings.

The installer attempts to read any existing configuration file and preserve the settings.
In most cases, the user no longer needs to enter the serial number, user name, and email during the installation.
In addition, settings made in the program that have been saved in the configuration file are merged with the updated configuration file.

— The text of email alerts is customizable.

The email body text is free-form and may consist of up to 65536 (64kb) characters.
When the user presses the Change button in the Email Options dialog, the program begins editing a template file.
That template (named \data\database\email_ template.txt) may optionally contain any of the following tags that will be replaced with values from the program when email is sent:

$TIME — the current time
$DATE — the current date
$ID — the radar site METAR identifier
$CITY — the radar site primary city
$STATE — the radar site state abbreviation
$VCP — the current Volume Coverage Pattern (VCP) that the site is operating in
$THRESH — the precipitation threshold setting in dbZ designation
$VIPTHRESH — the threshold setting in VIP designation
$DBMAX — the maximum detected precipitation level in dbZ designation
$VIPMAX — the maximum detected precipitation level in VIP designation
$SENS — the current threshold sensitivity setting
$PROD — the currently selected radar product
$DESC — a text description of the maximum detected precipitation level

When an alert occurs or the Test button is pressed in the Email Options dialog, the template file is read and any replacements are made, and the result is stored in \data\database\email_ body.txt and that file is used as the email text.

The inclusion of images is not affected by this operation.
The text of mobile device messages is not affected by this change, that text is currently not customizable.

Changes to existing features:

— The scan zone popup alert window may be optionally disabled.
This is independent of the audio alerts and email/pager messages, which are also optional.

All of these alert indicators may be enabled/disabled in any combination.
The options are set in the Display Options dialog.

— The user may double-click on a site entry in the Location dialog to select a site.
I have no idea why this was not included in previous releases.

— The inclusion of the scan zone and/or markers in published imagery is optional.
In the Publisher Options dialog, the user can check boxes to include or exclude scan zones and/or markers in published images.

— Optional delay value for animated GIF files.
The user may select a value in seconds that the animation will pause at the end of each loop.
Selecting 0 (no delay) means that the last frame of the animation will pause for the same amount of time as the rest of the frames.
The option is selected in the Publisher Options dialog.

— In previous versions, the user was restricted to testing either email or pager/mobile device functions, one at a time.
That’s been changed to allow either type or both simultaneously.

— The mail functions have been completely revised.
Please see the this post in the General Discussion area of the forum for more details.

— Added support for VCP 211, something that was belatedly implemented by NWS/NOAA
Thanks to PaulC for actually finding a radar site that was in that mode.

— The scan zone popup dialog now displays values in dbZ designation vs. VIP levels.

— Added support for HTML email templates as well as text templates.
This allows users to send “pretty” messages that include backgrounds, logos, custom fonts and colors, etc.
Details for enabling and sending HTML mail can be found in this post.

— New palettes added.
New palettes are available for mixed precipitation, winter storm conditions, and an interesting cloud cover simulation. Many thanks to PaulC for creating these palettes and allowing us to incorporate them into the product.

*Disclaimer- I am sponsored by this company (intelliweather & parent company IT works) and recieve compensation in the form of equipment and weather image services.