Tag Archives: 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.

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.

Welcome to the jungle….

After about a decade of turning down chasing in the jungle I finally went on 3/2/2012. I quickly realized why I didn’t go before. It’s not fun and games as the song says. You can’t see squat through the trees. I do think I saw bigfoot, but then again it was only a brief peak through the forest.

It was a great chase don’t get me wrong, I was just not properly prepared and did not have a good strategy in place for dealing with the trees.  I chased the trees in WI but Dixie Alley offers a whole other challenge. The main one being the road network. Every town had a spider web leading out of town, but with 10 years of the grid system I had become spoiled.

Those of you that know the way I chase, know that there is not a road I will not take to get to a storm. With that said we discovered within that spider web the roads were very narrow and full of switchbacks that prevented us from attacking the storm like I am use too. But this chase afforded me an opportunity to learn new things as each chase does, but this was a little different. It wasn’t weather I was learning, it was about a completely different style of chasing. Chasing the Dixie Alley jungle is unique.

This by no means a bust chase. One thing I pride myself on is target and timing. My targets are usually spot on, and as far as timing is concerned, my ADHD prevents me from sitting for any length of time. So I focus on time of initiation to prevent that. Those that chase with me like the many times we just drive right up to tornadoes.This doesn’t happen all the time, but it happens more times than not.

Ok back to this chase. Carl Brakke was my chase partner this trip and our target was Bowling Green, KY. As it turns out it was a great target. One problem, we got there early. If you have been paying attention, this is bad. Our timing was based on storms that would be rolling through KS and MO overnight and early morning with severe potential. Our plan was to intercept these by about the time we hit St. Louis. Which we did. Had a SVR warned hailer roll through right on time. So this was no bust and gave us high hopes for the day.

We arrived in KY about 10am as planned but unfortunately gave me way too much time to make adjustments to the playbook for the day. Storms were fireing in IN and there was no way I would be sitting still with storm in my reach. So off to IN we went, traveling those switchback roads for an intercept. FAILED at the river. I was so damn frustrated it began to cloud my decision making process. I was in such a hurry to score on the trip that it didn’t matter it was only 11:30.

DSCN4196By later afternoon we were intercepting a storm near Sturgis KY, redemption was within our grasp. We cut through town with the tornado sirens blowing like mad and people wandering around not concerned one bit. I’ll save that for later.

We could see a tornado as we made our play just outside of town and the storm was booking at about 50kts (57.6 MPH). So we crushed it to get a better view but that was not happening. So in classic Marcus fashion, I punched in. We could not get close enough. Capture_rainwrapped

Once the rain went horizontal and the trees started laying over I knew well enough to get out of there. The road was only as wide as a driveway and there were cells right behind this one and picking up speed.

Got out of the core but never could catch these storms again. The roads we were on sucked and it appeared the closer we got to catching them the faster they moved.

We bugged south towards Nashville, TN as it was in the crosshairs missing the tornado by about 10 minutes but the storm continued putting down decent hail so we stayed on it.

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Never did produce another tornado but we were satisfied in a great chase. Next time the jungle will not get the best of me.

First chase of the season 1873 miles and a double overnighter. That boys and girls is my kinda chase.

 

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5/30/2011 chase- A Family affair

This chase was the first time my wife has gone on a real chase. Sure we’ve played around with local t-storms after dinner together but never before has she committed to hitting to road and driving until the storms end. Until now!

On this chase I also brought along my neighbors. They moved here a few years ago and seemed to be freaked by any weather so I was stoaked they wanted to come along. They did bring their own vehicle just incase in was too much.

Mike Vetter met up with us in Lake Andes, our target, and hopped in the hot seat.

DSCN1841I could tell by the look in his eye what he wanted to do, go south into Nebraska. I cringed a bit because I had told my wife we would just hug the SD/NE boarder because she had to work at 4:30 am the next morning.

I never chase in the state I tell her I’m chasing. It’s always the next state or 2 away.My excuse is always “But they touch” meaning the states. I think deep down inside she knew we weren’t staying in SD. As we approached the Welcome to Nebraska sign I kept my mouth shut, but she noticed it, and before she could say anything I shouted  “see I told you they touch”.  But so far she was enjoying herself so we continued our play.

Our group arrived in Atkinson, NE  about 30 minutes before the storm and saw the Twistex team repositioning for another intercept. DSCN1851We topped off the tanks and started heading east for an intercept. Right to the south we could see the storm approaching. And boy was it mean. We jockeyed around for a bit to avoid the monster hail core. That was a good plan because that thing was putting down monster grapefruit sized hail and was a great looking storm.

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We decided to make a very aggressive play down a dirt road and got treated to a kickass gustnado that crossed about 100 yrds in front of us! It spun up real quick and was wound pretty tight.

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The word of the night was gustado after gustnado,.

We caught this monster near O’ Neill, NE

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(my wife filming this dirty thing)

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This storm had sick rotation and as it was going linear the stronger cells would break away causing these gustnado swarms. They seemed to be everywhere.

My wife and my neighbors seemed to be excited about our next trip.

5/22/2011 Central Wisconsin

Brent Koops, myself, Forrest Lambert, and Francine Lambert chased out in central WI following storms from Albert Lea, MN and intercepted cells coming out of eastern IA in Lacrosse, WI.

These storms developed ahead a cold front and produced large, hail, damaging winds and tornadoes.

These cells stayed tornado warned for a few hours and we were all over it. Only one problem. Wisconsin is loaded with trees and it made it very difficult to see anything related to the storm. It was difficult to see any storm features much less tornadoes.

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(pretty much the view the entire time)

 

DSCN1812We chased this storm from Lacrosse, WI up through Sparta, where a tornado struck the south side of town. The small tornado first touchdown just southwest of the city, crossed highway 27 near an auto dealership where it tossed a car. The tornado continued east northeast and crossed south water street on the south side of the city. The path continued along and just south of Walrath street before it lifted on the southeast side of town.

Damage was mainly to trees, windows and power lines. There was some minor damage to roof tops and sheds as well. One of the worst hit homes also had a car moved along with windows busted out.

From Sparta we continued on to Tomah where a tornado struck about 4 miles northwest of Tomah near County Road M. The tornado crossed crossed Interstate 94 north of Tomah. DSCN1825It proceeded east northeast through mainly wooded areas and we could see the damage path right through the trees.I was a bit tortured here because of the pine smell from the freshly destroyed trees.

Brent made mention of it right away. The last time we smelled this was 4/11/2011 near Early, IA dancing dangerously close to a tornado at night.DSCN1818

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From Tomah we continued on to the town of Nekoosa where a campground took a direct hit destroying 166 campsites. Fortunately, no one was killed or suffered any life threatening injuries. 

At this point we called the chase and checked in with local law enforcement to offer assistance but was advised all local and county resources were being shifted to the area and we could call the dispatcher and if they needed our help they would call us. I declined feeling at that point our assistance was not needed and we began our return trip to Sioux Falls.

This trip stung a bit because we were on tornadoes but could not get a good view due to the trees but I consider it a good chase and the intercept was successful and we did get on tornadoes. But in fairness to the rules there was no steak dinner. However we did enjoy what I eat for half ass tornado chases.052211201525
(for when you only half score)

The chase ended on a high note. We got out and chased. Intercept strategy was dead on. In the end we logged 920 miles round trip and spent about 14hrs in the car. Many chasers would consider this a bust but I view it as an opportunity to learn from mistakes. In this case a changed strategy for dealing with trees. 

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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