Yearly Archives: 2009

CHASE2009 SEASON SUMMARY

CHASE2009 Season Summary

To be updated frequently, I hope!


CHASE 2009
DAILY
JOURNAL

SEASONAL TRAINING : To better appreciate the processes going on in storms and to stay safe, I take classroom training each year
DATE DAY START END MILES REMARKS
14 Mar 2009 Saturday Bolingbrook IL Wheaton IL 28 (RT) DuPage County EMS Advanced Spotter Training
23 Apr 2009 Saturday Bolingbrook IL Batavia IL 78 (RT) Annual FermiLab/WGN9 Severe Storm Seminar
(Via Romeoville to pick up friends)

CHASE #1:

[Flag-USA] [Flag-UK]
TEMPEST TOURS (commercial tour) 6 days – 3400 (est.) chase miles, 20 people

  1. Lead vehicle: T1 (8): LEAD: Bill Reid (Westlake Village, CA;KG6FWX), DRIVER: Chad Cowan (CA)
  2. Rental vehicle #1 (6): CO-LEAD: Kinney Adams (WI)
  3. Rental vehicle #2 (6): DRIVER: Rob Petitt (OR)
  4. Media vehicle (2): xxx

GUESTS:
Lisa Beal (Bolingbrook, IL; KC9BST), Joanna Barnes, Susan Becker, Carol Duncan, Susan Raab, Joyce Bulgrin, Anthony M. Raab (WI), Rob Grill (CA), Leisa Luis-Grill (CA), David Yamada (CA), Cathy Randall (IL), Robert Randall (IL), Barbara DePietro (OH), Hannah DePietro (OH), Stacy Williams (OR), Jenna,Kirstie (UK)

ALSO:
Photo Tour: Brian Morganti (Bernville,PA; KB3HOA)

DATE DAY START END MILES REMARKS
21-22 May 2009 Thursday-Friday Bolingbrook IL (fly) PROLOGUE #1
23 May 3009 Saturday Oklahoma City OK Hays KS ___ DAY #1: Off to Kansas (Positioning Day)
24 May 2009 Sunday Hays KS Ft. Morgan CO ___ DAY #2: Potty Animals
25 May 2009 Monday Ft. Morgan CO Abilene TX ___ DAY #3: Southward
26 May 2009 Tuesday Abilene TX Shamrock TX ___ DAY #4: Across the “Bridge of Doom”
27 May 2009 Wednesday Shamrock TX Del Rio TX ___ DAY #5: Road to (Del) Rio
28 May 2009 Thursday Del Rio TX Junction TX ___ DAY #6 Border & Bubbles Day
29 May 2009 Friday Junction TX Chickasaw OK ___ DAY #7: Ascending Mount Scott
30 May 2009 Saturday Chickasaw OK Bolingbrook IL ___ The Long Road Home
31 May 2009 Sunday Bolingbrook IL EPILOGUE

CHASE #2: Weekend Chase Opportunity – 2 days – 1132 (est.) chase miles, solo
DATE DAY START END MILES REMARKS
06 June 2009 Saturday Bolingbrook IL Beatrice NE 588 Late lightning show. Hail to 2 in. size nearby.
07 June 2009 Sunday Beatrice NE Bolingbrook IL 544 I woke in the midst of a MOD RISK blob, but had to return for work the next day. Another 2 hours of time in Iowa could have put me on tornadic storms there. Darn!

1-DAY CHASES/SPOTTING: Short trips, when the stormy weather is closeto home
CHASE #3: Weekday Chase Opportunity – 1 day – ____ (est.) chase miles, solo
DATE DAY START END MILES REMARKS
19 June 2009 Friday Bolingbrook IL _________ __ ___ (RT) A day off work to chase solo in/near Illinois on a MOD RISK day. Nice!


COLOR CODE
Plan was to not chase GRAY
Planned Chase Day (future) YELLOW
Available to chase; no weather (“blue-skied”) BLUE
Chase Day (have partner and stormy weather) LIGHT GREEN
Solo Chase Day (Weather stormy, no partner) DARK GREEN
Weather Stormy, but not available for chasing PURPLE
BUST DAY – no tornadoes where we looked! ORANGE
Training Day WHITE

Sunday, 21 June 2009 – Back to Iowa

To quote the DAY 1 SPC convective outlook:

...IA/NW IL AND VICINITY...
   WEAK ELEVATED CONVECTION NOW OVER IA/NE NEB SHOULD CONTINUE
   GENERALLY NE INTO THE UPR MS VLY TODAY AS LEAD PORTION OF CNTRL HI
   PLNS IMPULSE CONTINUES NEWD.  CONVECTION ON THE SRN FRINGE OF THIS
   ACTIVITY MAY BECOME SFC-BASED AND DEVELOP MORE E OR ESE INTO PARTS
   OF IL/IND AS SFC HEATING DESTABILIZES AXIS OF MODEST LOW LVL WAA ON
   NRN FRINGE OF UPR RIDGE.  WHILE AMPLE INSTABILITY WILL EXIST FOR
   STRONG/POSSIBLY LOCALLY SVR STORMS...MODEST SHEAR SHOULD LIMIT
   OVERALL SVR THREAT.

   IN WAKE OF MORNING ACTIVITY...SFC HEATING AND UVV ASSOCIATED WITH
   MAIN LOBE OF HI PLNS DISTURBANCE SHOULD FOSTER SFC-BASED STORM
   DEVELOPMENT ACROSS IA/SRN MN AND PERHAPS NW MO BY EARLY AFTN...ALONG
   AND SW OF WEAK WARM FRONT.  MID LVL LAPSE RATES WILL REMAIN
   COMPARATIVELY WEAK.  BUT COMBINATION OF RICH MOISTURE /PW UP TO 2
   INCHES/...MODERATE DESTABILIZATION...AND 30 KT DEEP WLY SHEAR WILL
   SUPPORT SUSTAINED STORMS/SUPERCELLS WITH DMGG WIND AND POSSIBLY
   HAIL.  MORE SIGNIFICANTLY...BACKED/SELY LOW-LVL FLOW AND LOW LCLS
   NEAR WARM FRONT WILL BE FAVORABLE FOR TORNADOES...ESPECIALLY OVER
   NRN/ERN IA AND ADJACENT PARTS OF IL LATER THIS AFTN AND EVE.

   FARTHER SW...BOTH SHEAR AND INSTABILITY SHOULD DIMINISH WITH SW
   EXTENT INTO NRN/ERN KS...WHERE SVR WEATHER LIKELY WILL BE MORE
   LIMITED.

Based on ETA models, I am targeting a late afternoon (4-7pm) target of Waterloo, IA. I can depart immediately after church, arriving around 4:30pm in the target zone, returning via I-380/80/55 or via US20/I-90/I-355.

  • 1217 – dpt Romeoville,IL for IA via I-80. Rain and construction slow traffic to 55mph for 50% of Lasalle-Moline stretch.
  • ____ – enter IA via I-280 (as I-80 Miss R bridge is closed)
  • 1500ax – stop at I-80 Truck Stop (Walcott, IA). Signs all around say “The World’s Largest Truckstop” and I believe it. THIS PLACE IS HUGE! I make a quick washroom/snack break. Upon returning to the van, I consulted Mesoscale Discussion 1259 after my ham radio’s APRS display indicated the MD was active. Looks like the area I picked will have warnings. Time to get moving!
  • 1703 – I pull off the road to grab a quick bite to eat. I spot a Sonic drive-in and give in to my love for their famed cherry limeade. As my order arrives, a tornado warning goes up 70 miles to my west. Time to eat and run. [I also should have fueled up the van. Read on!]
  • 1830 – I roll west on US20 to Buckeye, where I spot two storms with interesting lowerings that might soon be (or recently have been) wall clouds. I sit and watch until a dark precip core approaches. I run west a few miles, catching only a few minutes of moderate rain on the NE side of the core. I let it pass, as radar shows several storms lined up.
  • 1854 – I double back east and spot a growing chaser convergence (always a hopeful sign)! I stop briefly to watch the storm and see a well-defined clear slot to the ENE. Moving a few miles east (to the Steamboat Rock, IA exit), the sky shows a classic pre-tornado setup: rain-free base, an incipient RFD to the northwest (evidenced by dusty inflow), a sharply defined clear slot, and increasing rotation just east of the clear slot.
  • 1859 – Tornado! It only lasts 30 seconds (and the view is partly obscured by trees), but I get it on video. This moment is a tiny personal milestone: my first tornado on an unassisted solo chase: no nowcast buddy, no partner … all my decisions, for better or worse. The storm still shows plenty of signs it could produce another tornado, so I move 5 miles east for another look.
  • 1910 – Oh my GOD! I look at the fuel gauge and see it reads 1/8 tank. I move further east on US20 to Dike, IA in hopes their gas station is open, has power, etc. Fortunately, it is, so i quickly fill the tank. As the pump clicks off at the end of the fill, the tornado sirens sound! Crap! I grab my receipt, get back in van, start it up, start the cameras and charge back through town, looking 360-degrees around to make sure a tornado has not dropped nearby. The folks in these little towns are very self-sufficient and see lots of storms, so this is almost certainly not a false alarm. As i return to US20, I see a wide conical lowering about 1/2 a mile south of the highway, but it shows no rotation. [ed. – The next day, I check the storm reports: the very real tornado (at 0048Z) had damaged a house 5 miles NW of Dike … definitely good cause to sound the alarm.]
  • 1955 – With a full tank and the daylight running out, I decide to head home. On the east of Waterloo, I miss the turn for I-380 and end up on US20. I detour to SR150 south, to re-acquire I-380. Along the way I get a real good look at the storms with tornado reports west of I-380 and south of I-80 (by Kolona and Marengo). The supercell directly to my south is tall, has hard-nosed features, a health anvil, and (II think) an overshooting top (though lower clouds partially obscure my view of that top). Now is the time to get ahead of these storms and get back to Illinois.
  • 2100 – I cross the Mississippi, back into Illinois. My fleeting glance of the river is breathtaking: the reds, oranges, pinks, and purples of the fading sunlight turn the water into a vibrant splash of color.
  • 0030 – I return home and go to bed, satisfied with the day. though very tired.

ROUTE:

Friday, 19 June 2009 – MOD RISK on my doorstep

SUMMARY:

Morning wind/rain storms NW of Rockford – detour to Belvidere Tornado Memorial
Afternoon/evening wind/rain storms between Bloomington, Peoria, and Havana
No hail, no tornadoes, but got good clouds photos

TRAVELOGUE: (Right click on any photo and select VIEW IMAGE, for a closer look at any photo)

  • 0715 – depart Bolingbrook, taking I-55/80
  • Abandoning storms north of Rockford, IL0814 – Fuel up van, grab a sandwich at Morris (R Place) – random encounter w/Mike, a former Red Lobster mgr at Bolingbrook – decide to detour toward Rockford/Freeport on I-39, based on radar of strong storm. I hope to see some strong winds in action, perhaps catch a bit of hail, and get video of the storm in action. Little chance these morning storms will produce a tornado. A storm over the Chicago suburb of Algonquin, IL gets tornado-warned, based on radar, for a brief while about this same time.
  • 1041 – abandon storms, as my cell connection froze: I was using old radar data! Updated radar shows my storms are far to the east already. Drat!KLOT radar at 1017CDTI traverse N side of Rockford to I-39/I-90 southbound.
  • 1110 – take US20 exit – go to Belvidere to see the 1967 Belvidere Tornado memorial (at BHS), as no storms look interesting in the area. I heard about the memorial from a fellow attendee at the DuPage EMA Severe weather seminar back in mid-March. I promised myself I’d visit the memorial when I had and chance (and here it is).
  • 1130 – take photos of the memorial; stop to reflect on that day (1967/04/21) and how it got me started chasing:6/19 photo
    A walk around the memorial, in photos:6/19 photo 6/19 photo
  • 6/19 photo 6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo
  • 1150 – take I-90 toward Chicago – encounter weather-related (and accident-related) backups, and snap off a few photos of the storms approaching Chicago. I see some daytime lightning along the way, but am too busy driving to try to get lightning photos.(I did run the video, so maybe I got lucky during filming — who knows?).6/19 photo6/19 photo
  • 1320 – Lunch at Burger king, Rt53, Bolingbrook – resolve camera problem (had accidentally rotated mode dial to MANUAL … luck to have any salvageable Belvidere pix)
  • 1330 – take I-55 SB toward Bloomington/ Peoria
  • 1447 – stop at ODell to refuel, look at building Cu towers to my east
  • 1532 – exit I-55 near Chenoa – stop to take pictures, evaluate potential target storms [ed. – in retrospect, I probably should have ventured east into Indiana, perhaps following the storm I spotted at Odell. This demonstrates my need to cultivate a bit more patience!] KILX radar 1512CDT6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photoRadar shows storms heading my way, so I hang out in the area. This time, I verify that the weather radio agrees with the radar (to avoid the mistake I made with morning storms).
  • 1639 – stop at Anchor, IL for some photos. My primary data source is weather radio, as I have no cell signal (or current radar, as a result — already reminded of the ‘stale radar’ lesson earlier today!). I wander to Towanda, but miss my turn to re-enter I-55. Re-enter a few exits south of there via a circuitous route. Ain’t GPS wonderful!6/19 photo 6/19 photo 6/19 photo
  • 1800 (approx) – I crawl through a cluster of HP storms (and construction).West of Peoria, I opt for westbound US24, hoping to reach storms approaching from Missouri. The storms between I-57 and I-65 (in Indiana) look better than what I see ahead, but they are out of reach at this point. North of Havana, I take some pictures of the marshes near the Spoon-Illinois River confluence:6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo
  • 1905 – grab a sandwich at Havana after crossing Illinois River – photo approaching storm outflow feature. I hang out for photos in the area.6/19 photo 6/19 photo

    Down the road a piece, I see the leading edge of the gust front of the storm:

    6/19 photo 6/19 photo
    6/19 photo 6/19 photo 6/19 photo

    By now I realize my error in not staying further east, as the NE Missouri storms that looked interesting earlier on radar have fallen into a bow echo. Sigh. Tornado warning boxes go up to my east and south, too far to be reached.

    KILX radar at 1919CDT

    I decide to drive home, taking photos of anything interesting. The daylight fades.

COST: about $102.13 as follows:

  • Motel: $0
  • Fuel: $81.13 = $46.30 (Morris)+$34.83 (Odell) – started at 1/4 tank at home, ended the same
  • Meals: about $20 = $5(Morris)+$9(Bolingbrook)+$7(Havana)

OTHER PHOTOS:

Around Belvidere:

6/19 photo6/19 photo

East of Cehnoa:

6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo

West of Anchor:

6/19 photo

North of Havana:

6/19 photo6/19 photo6/19 photo

Sunday, 31 May 2009 – Raw Travel Notes

23MAY09 – OKC – Hays, KS (Positiion for tomorrow)

1400C – dpt – Wingate Inn, OKC
—-C – via I-35 to OK-KS line
—-C – through Wichita, KS (I-35/I-135)
—-C – via Salina, KS
—-C – end – Hays, KS – dinner: Whiskey Inn

24MAY09 – Hays, KS – via storm – Fort Morgan, CO

1000C – load vans; Wx briefing
—-C – dpt – Hays, KS
1627C – lv Pine Bluffs, WY
1635C – stop for cloud base
—-C – stop at Scottsbluff, NE
end – Fort Morgan, CO

note: FRED freq=457+ MHz (FRED is the radio transmitter on the rear of a freight train)

25MAY09 Fort Morgan, CO – via storms – Shamrock, TX

0910M – dpt Ft Morgan, CO
—– – N on I-76
—– – S on CO SR71 (“last gas for 75 miles”)
—– – S on US287 – Eads, CO to OK line
—– – via Lautz,TX
—– – E on FM1573 twd McKibben,TX
—– – via US 83 thru Canadian, TX (storm to SE)
—– – FM277 twd Allison
—– – back N to canadian
—– – S to Shamrock, TX
—– – END: Shamrock Inn, Shamrock, TX

26MAY09 Shamrock, TX – via storms – Abilene, TX

1000C – briefing
1030C – fuel stop, dpt Shamrock, TX
1129C – S on FM1642
1152C – “Bridge of Doom” – photo stop, bee swarm
1254C – Quanah, TX
—-C – US287 to Vernon, TX
1409C – dpt Vernon, TX
1510C – fuel stop – dpt (5 mi W of Wichita Falls)
1600C – US 287 at Bowie, TX
—– – Stop at Chico. park.
1740C – S on FM51 (Weatherford,TX)
1800C – Pea-sized hail
1821C – FM51 to I-20 east
1834C – Quick stop (I-20 @ Aledo exit) then back 2 exits
1940C – I-20 west
2300C – END: Abilene, TX

27MAY09: Abilene-Del Rio TX

(need to transcribe my annotated paper map)

28MAY09: Del Rio, TX – Junction, TX

1000C – load vans
1030C – briefing – dpt DRT Days Inn
1055C – S on US277 – WalMart run (re-supply) – 30 min
1150C – detour to DRT border crossing – photo opp
1255C – lunch (Hot Pit BBQ) – dpt N on US 277
—-C – Border patrol inspection – detained while 2 UK tourists locate passports
—-C – stop @ I-10 – go crazy snapping wildlife/flora photos and blowing bubbles
—-C – ar Junction, TX (the winds and heavy rain arrive shortly after we do)

29MAY09: Junction, TX – Chickasaw (“CHICK-a-shay”), OK

1030C – load vans; WX briefing
—-C – dpt Junction, TX
—-C – detour to Mt. Scott – photo opp. at sunset
—-C – ar Chickcasaw, OK

30MAY09: Chickasaw, OK – OKC – rtn home

—-C: dpt Chickasaw, OK
—-C: ar Wingate Inn, OKC – unload and say goodbyes
—-C: rtn rental vans
—-C: wash T1 van
—-C: get lunch while oil is changed for T1 van
—-C: ar OKC (Will Rogers Intl. Airport) – say final goodbyes
—-C: change to earlier, direct flight
1700C: dpt OKC
1900C: Ar Chicago (IL) O’Hare Intl. Airport
1930C: eat dinner with my ride, John N.
2300C: sleep in my own bed for the first time in 8 days

Sunday, 31 May 2009 – Home Again

I am home again, trying to prepare myself for work tomorrow. It will be quite an adjustment waking up in the same place two nights in a row.

I am sorting out my emotions today:

  • my pragmatic side says “Get back to business as usual”
  • my adventurous side says “One week was not enough. Do more soon!”
  • my spoiled side says “What? No tornado?”
  • my stoic side says “That’s how it goes. Accept it gracefully.”
  • my intellectual side says “Learn from the experience. Get better with weather.”
  • my conciliatory side says “It was an uncooperative pattern. Be happy for any storms at all”

I obviously have a lot of sorting to do!

(More later! This entry is incomplete.)

Saturday, 30 May 2009 – The Long Road Home

RAW NOTES:

30MAY09: Chickasaw, OK – OKC – rtn home

—-C: dpt Chickasaw, OK
—-C: ar Wingate Inn, OKC – unload and say goodbyes
—-C: rtn rental vans
—-C: wash T1 van
—-C: get lunch while oil is changed for T1 van
—-C: ar OKC (Will Rogers Intl. Airport) – say final goodbyes
—-C: change to earlier, direct flight
1700C: dpt OKC
1900C: Ar Chicago (IL) O’Hare Intl. Airport
1930C: eat dinner with my ride, John N.
2300C: sleep in my own bed for the first time in 8 days

Thursday, 28 May 2009 – Border & Bubbles Day

RAW NOTES:

28MAY09: Del Rio, TX – Junction, TX

1000C – load vans
1030C – briefing – dpt DRT Days Inn
1055C – S on US277 – WalMart run (re-supply) – 30 min
1150C – detour to DRT border crossing – photo opp
1255C – lunch (Hot Pit BBQ) – dpt N on US 277
—-C – Border patrol inspection – detained while 2 UK tourists locate passports
—-C – stop @ I-10 – go crazy snapping wildlife/flora photos and blowing bubbles
—-C – ar Junction, TX (the winds and heavy rain arrive shortly after we do)

Sunday, 24 May 2009 – Potty Animals

Today, we may have set a record for the Most Restroom Stops on a Mediocre Chase Day. I cannot recall when we last had 6-8 stops on a day with storms. What’s sad is that is may have been one of our best opportunities to see storms during the entire week.

The atmosphere is in a June/July pattern, with the 500mb winds WAY up in Canada:

500mb winds on 24 May 2009

What we’d REALLY like is to see these storm-supportive winds (those cheerful yellow and orange bands in the map) over the U.S. heartland.  The promise of chaseable storms is zero to microscopic. Bummer!

The cause is  two-fold:

  1. the strong westerly 500 mb winds (needed to make storm top shear) are not in our chase realm. What storms do form rain on themselves instead of in front of the main updraft. Picture dancing on your own feet and you will see why such storms are short-lived.
  2. the low pressure focused over southeast Arkansas is steering northerly winds into Texas, effectively chasing away much-needed moisture for our storms.

So we chase in the Nebraska panhandle, where the higher altitude does not demand CAPE values exceeding 1500 J/kg.

NAVIGATIONAL NOTES: 24 MAY 09
TIME DAY’S
MILEAGE
LOCATION REMARKS
1000C ___ Hays,KS load vans; Wx briefing
—-C ___ dpt – Hays, KS
1627C ___ lv Pine Bluffs, WY
1635C ___ stop for cloud base
—-C ___ stop at Scottsbluff, NE
end ___ Fort Morgan, CO motel; dinner:McDonald’s

note: FRED freq=457+ MHz (FRED is the radio transmitter on the rear of a freight train)

Saturday, 23 May 2009 – Off to Kansas (Positioning Day)

  1. 1100CDT  –   0.0 mi – Oklahoma City, OK (OKC) – Pre-departure safety and weather briefing
  2. 1200CDT? –   0.0 mi – Lv OKC. Head north on I-35 – Positioning Day
  3. ____CDT  – ___._ mi – OK-KS border, I-35 – To Salina, KS via Wichita (I-35,I-35)
  4. ____CDT –  ___._ mi – Salina, KS, I-135 – head W on I-70
  5. ____CDT –  ___._ mi – Victoria, KS – Photo opp: pioneer town; large, historic cathedral
  6. ____CDT –  ___._ mi – Hays,KS – Hotel:Days Inn; Dinner:Whiskey Inn
  7. 2130-2300 CDT –  ___._ mi – Days Inn, Hays, KS – Work on blog. Continue expanding tools menu development

xxxx