Tag Archives: Severe Weather

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.

Tornado strikes 4/9/2011

I want to preface decisions I made this night will continue to play in my mind for a very long time. This blog is not about tornado counts or bragging rights, it’s about 1 chase and 1 decision that sets off a chain of events Brent Koops, Cory Watkins and I will will never forget and has changed the three of us forever.

We starting planning this chase on Tuesday and Cory made arraignments to fly from OK, to SD and arrive Friday evening. He made it as far as MSP and had to spend the night at the airport for a flight out in the morning. Picked him up at the airport about 9:45am and the journey began. We first stopped at the pizza ranch in Rock Valley, IA and met up with the rest of the group Brent, Joe Miller, Joe’s wife Jill and Greg Rardin for lunch and make our final plan for the chase. Joe selected Onawa, IA as the perfect staging area for our chase to begin.

We arrived at a gas station just off the interstate where we met up with Ben Holcomb and Scott Bennett and shot the breeze waiting for storms to fire up. DSCN1238 Other chasers arrived and everyone was getting jazzed about what was to unfold. Models looked fantastic, SPC had a moderate risk for the area.

I’ve had the flu since our KS chase a week prior and should not have even been there but we all knew it would be big. However I for one was not expecting that what would later unfold would affect me on so many levels.  I should have known though after a large bee (the only bee) landed in my shirt and stung me in the back, mother nature was not going to be very kind to me.

DSCN1271 Towers popped up and we all took off a through the next hour we all jockeyed around for positioning and as the storm took off and went tornadic the group pretty much put their own strategies in play and we all broke apart. DSCN1329DSCN1304

I will fast forward past the positioning details and get right to the tornadoes we encountered. We were just between Ida Grove and were heading toward Arthur when everyone’s worse nightmare happed. We were struck by a tornado! This is the moment we went from chasers to chased. A moment earlier we were watching a funnel/tornado form just off to our left. It was like watching through the strobe light. 1 second it would appear touching and then next not so much. While watching this we continued on not paying attention to another merging cell. There was a pick up a couple of hundred yards or so in front of us when suddenly he stops on a culvert bridge right in front of us and debris suddenly flowed across the road like a blinding sheet as we were pushed to the right, we could barely see the truck. in_tornado

The car began to shake violently and the reflectors on the side of the bridge were twisting back and forth looking like blinkers flashing on and off. The car lifted slightly in the rear and was pushed further to the right. Just at that moment the rear window imploded and sent glass and debris flying into the car. All of this happened extremely fast and immediately after the window blew I stomped on the gas and got out of it. We drove like a bat out of hell for about 2 miles and stopped to see what had just happened and to make sure we were all ok. It was amazing not a cut or bruise on any of us. But this is what we saw from the back window. Image1

We continued to track this storm that appeared to be dropping tornado after tornado. As we continued on this storm we could see a wedge forming. To top it all off data was non existent but we could clearly see the wedge and headed toward Newell. This was bad decision number 2. At night perspective changes and distance and timing are all out of whack. We missed our east west and found ourselves staring down this wedge. That’s a slight stretch, but we were close enough to notice the air was filled with the smell of pine. You could smell the trees being ripped up. Cory called 911 and reported our location and the damaging tornado. This is when the chase stopped. We knew what this tornado was doing and we rushed to Newell and expected the worse was coming. We sat just looking south out of town and the power went out. The tornado was tearing up farm homes. We punched up through the hail core to get back around and on the damage path and helping people as we found them. We lost a few minutes in the hail but were able to get back on things.

We found an older couple where the tornado chewed through a tree grove on their property.  Large trees moved more than 10ft but luckily  the home was spared. DSCN1415DSCN1396DSCN1399DSCN1403DSCN1408DSCN1409DSCN1412

A little further down the road was another home that was badly damaged. Other chasers had arrived moments earlier and pulled the man from this badly damaged home. I was amazed that the grass a completely flat pointing towards the home. I looked as though a steam roller flattened it.

We continued check homes on the way to Virina where we encountered more damage.  We checked in with the fire dept. on the scene and we were told of a command post location and to check in there. It wasn’t there. That’s for another blog because many doubt my actions this night, but it’s on video.

At the end of this chase we are thankful to have survived and the 3 of us have bonded like brothers. I cannot even begin to describe the emotions I went through on this chase as we went from chaser to victim.

Here are a few shot of the car

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This is not something I ever want to do again. God had his finger on the car and he chose to spare us.

Nice little hailer!

First day of fall and BAM! I’m out chasing severe weather.

I half heartedly  watched the storms pop up all morning today and I was home sick. I mean really sick. Very sick indeed, kept an eye on things developing and I saw a window of opportunity from a cell I was watching passing over Turner County, SD and it was heading right for me.SP_FSD_200pm Well maybe a little southeast of me but close enough I could rationalize chasing it in my mind. So headed out to intercept in Canton, SD. I have a really close friend that lives and works in Canton so I thought I’d pop in and say hey, I mean what better conditions right? As I approached Canton I could see right away this thing had some hail in it.

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While it wasn’t one of those storms that you drive hundreds of miles for in hopes for a tornado, this was one that if you were close enough it was worth investigating.SP_FSD_230pm

I pulled up to my friends place of business and he was in the back of the shop. I saw me pop in and asked “What brings you here?” I replied “Hail”. After pointing out the front window and showing the storm that was on the way he quickly pulled his truck in the shop with not a moment to spare. Within a minuet or two the hail started coming down. Pretty good stuff too 1.5”. I took off out of there to get out of the core while chatting with Tony Barlow from Keloland all the while hoping I didn’t lose another windshield.DSCF4801DSCF4807

After the storm passed I headed back for home grabbing some shots along the way.

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YoWindow Weather Forecast Software

Found this really cool weather software called yowindow.
YoWindow reflects the weather in a landscape.
It works like looking out of your window. That simple! But you can look into the future. Winking smile

Now you can see the weather without ever looking at numbers. Or you can display your numbers. The free version shows 3 days of forecast weather and the ultimate version $9.99 has up to 9 days. I thought it was cool enough to buy it after I added my own picture so I did. Now I’ve got a 9 day look at the weather anywhere. Forecast comes from the National Weather Service and the location of the sun, moon, moon phase, sunrise and sunset times correspond to the actual values for the place you choose.

The look of the landscape changes considerably depending on the season. YoWindow selects the most appropriate season for the given date at the place you choose (we use weather history). Scroll through the year using the calendar – and you will see how seasons change.

Occasionally, you may notice interesting objects in the skies like a plane or a shooting star.

 
With a little photo editing you can add your own image like this one I shot from this season:

This software is fantastic and fun it features:

  • Full featured weather station for Windows and Mac OS
  • Real cloud coverage, rain/snow, mist, grass swings to the wind, Sun, Moon, mist, thunderstorms…
  • You can scroll the time! You can look at the weather hour by hour, minute by minute.  yowindow3_preview2
  • Turn any picture into YoWindow landscape
  • Temperature on desktop – near the system clock
  • Plug in your Personal Weather Station

 

YoWindow.com Forecast by NWS

Check it out yowindow.com

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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.