24 April 2012 – Fred Astaire without Shoes?

Yesterday morning, my netbook computer charged up (by outward appearances), but when I tried to use it, it would not power up.

Last night, it did not even light up when I attached the AC adapter. As it stands, I will be without my computer for the remaining 8 days of my chase trip. As a career computer professional, I find it very trying to be without a computer; as a storm chaser (who needs constant data updates), I feel like Fred Astaire trying to dance with no shoes!

I can use hotel lobby computers and my iPhone to update my blog (as I am doing right now). I can probably improvise a solution for getting my photos into those blog entries, but will be hard pressed to incorporate my forecasts and nowcasts into the blog ‘in the moment.’

23 April 2012 – DAY 3 – Playing Tourist

[All times are MOUNTAIN time (MDT) unless noted otherwise]

  • 0700 – wake; shower; dress; get breakfast; pack bags

  • 1030 – load van; briefing

  • 1100 – head west

  • 1154 – On the road to Taos (US 64 West), we stopped for some photos for 10 minutes. A ranger stopped to tell us we needed to pay $5 (even though it was obvious the 8 people with cameras and no tents were stopping for photos, not to set up camp. “Bureaucrat!” I though as he drove off. (To save further grief and aggravation, we drove off shortly thereafter. No $40 from us!)

  • 1213 – I took more photos of the landscape to our south. I see snow on the mountains and in scattered patches on the ground. Hopefully, we do not have any on the roads ahead.

  • 1229 – We stop for a few photos of a few mountain storms brewing. Typically these fizzle as they reach the flatlands (especially when the dew points are in the 40s there).

  • 1245 – continue to just east of Eagle’s Nest; photo opp for mountain lake with snow-capped Rockies as a backdrop. Breathtaking!

  • 1250 – At the Eagle’s Nest convenience store, we stop for washrooms, food, fuel

  • 1305 – continue to Taos; per GPS, our route crests at 9058 feet above sea level then descends into town.

  • 1412 – After a 15 minute stroll, we have lunch at Ricky’s (based on a recommendation by some friendly, local workmen). “It’s a keeper” $14 plus tip for a hearty New Mexican combination plate and an iced tea.

  • 1538 – depart east on US 64 until NM 505. We stop to observe several storms rolling off the Sangre de Cristo range (one NW, one S of us). Both are photogenic non-severe storms that fizzle as they reach the moisture-starved plain of NE NM.

  • 2100 – we check in to the Sands Motel (again); 5 minutes later several of us pile in the van for star gazing

  • 2127 – then 5 in our group take a stargazing side trip to 7 mi E of Yankee.

22 April 2012 – DAY 2 – Positioning Day (Lubbock, TX-Raton, NM)


  • 1030CDT – Meet at the van; depart for New Mexico
  • 1pm-ish? – Stop for lunch

  • 1724CDT – Stopped at the north end of the Cap Rock escarpment
    (overlooking I-10) to photograph a windfarm until

  • 1846MDT – Continued through Mesquero to Raton, stopping about
    10 minutes for photos of the plains to our east.

  • 1909MDT – Stopped for sunset photo until 1909.
    (I can’t wait until I have some way to post my
    photos; see my 04/24 morning entry for ‘why’)

341 miles

21 April 2012 – DAY 1 – Positioning Day (Arlington,TX-Lubbock,TX)

0700 – Check email; pack
0800 – Return rental car
1000 – Return to hotel via courtesy shuttle; breakfast
Saw Bill, Rob, and Martin talking business
1100 – Introduction and greetings. I soon acquire two new
jobs: MiFi diagnostic technician and [informal]
translater for our guests from Portugal and Spain.
I am reminded of my small Spanish vocabulary. Still,
we become fast friends and manage to communicate.
1200 – We depart for the Texas Panhandle, to position our
group for slim chance to see storms tomorrow.
1600 – stop at Albany, TX; we watch the last30 minutes of a local classic car competition
1630-1700 – we stroll around town and photos of its 1883 courthouse and other local attractions.
1730 – we stop at the Beehive Saloon for root beers and a dinner of standard Texas fare.
???? – we head west toward Lubbock.
???? – We stop to photograph the first of many wonderful
western sunsets
???? – We arrive at the Days Inn, Lubbock, TX

Travel: 331 miles

TRAVEL – 20 April 2012

  • 0300 – Rise and shine
  • 0330 – Off to the airport, thanks to help from my friend and neighbor, Stuart.
  • 0400 – Change my 9pm flight to a 7 am flight. Now I’ll have time to explore Arlington, Dallas, and the rest of the civilized world of Texas.
  • 0700 – Flight delayed 30 minutes, due to weather (How ironic!)
  • 1000 – Arrive in Dallas. Grab my bags, get a rental car, go to the hotel.
  • 1200 – Lunch at Mariano’s, home of the first frozen margarita machine. Its owner Mariano Martinez has been honored by the Smithsonian Museum for his invention, an adaptation of a common Slurpee machine into the mainstay margarita factory of restaurants across the nation.  Mariano is credited with doing more to sell tequila-based drinks than anyone else on the planet.
  • 1430 – Check in. Take a nap
  • 1800– Wake up.  I apparently have been battling acid reflux (a by-product of pigging out at Mariano’s).  I feel like my meal returned to visit the back of my throat for several hours as I napped.  No wonder all those painting of guys taking a siesta show them leaning against a building versus laying down. Oy! Lesson learned!Also, it looks like the others have not arrived yet (or are not interested in getting together for dinner).  Such is life!
  • 2145 – After venturing out to Fry’s Electronics and a visit to the Sonic drive-in  (for a banana milk shake to soothe the savage stomach). I’m turning in for the night.  I’m not very optimistic about our chances for sever weather for the next view days.  I wonder how we’ll pass the time.

PROLOGUE – 19 April 2012

Wow! I hate packing at the last minute.

I hate the thought that some piece of gear will not be working and I’d have to repair or replace it in the last 48 hours before departure. The lion’s share of my technological toys are specialized enough that a last minute replacement would mean a lot of stress, potentially going out-of-town for the replacements, and unexpected expense.

Odd as this may sound, I’m much more afraid of not being able to record a good storm than of the storm itself; I respect the weather, but fear making the mistake of waiting too long to check my equipment before the trip.

Work has been busy and a bit stressful. I’m very relieved to get out of there for 10 days, even though lots of work will be waiting for me when I return.

Now that all is in order, I can finally relax, just in time for a 6-hour nap before I head to the airport.

An Introduction for my fellow Tempest Tourists

Hi, all-

I’m not always the last to chime in, but this time I am!

My name is Lisa Beal. and this will be my ninth excursion with Tempest Tours. (Yes, Bill, you got it right!)

I have been interested in weather since I was very young. My interest in severe weather was bolstered by a terrible event in my life, the Belvidere, Illinois tornado (http://www.tornadoproject.com/toptens/topten2.htm#belvidere) in 1967. Our first day of the tour marks the 45th anniversary of that day. I’ve never chased on April 21st before, so it will be a new experience. Since that day, I’ve seen many tornadoes. Last May I saw #28 (with Tempest Tours, who else?) and hope to see more. In addition to chasing with Tempest, I spot severe weather for my community in the Chicago area and chase in Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana as weather and work permit. I regard myself as a techno-chaser, balancing my time between the road and roadside weather observations and reporting with my many gadgets.

When I’m not ‘under the thunder’ with friends, I work as a career computer professional. I’m originally from America’s Midwest, but have lived all over the U.S. I even spent three years living and working in Antarctica, including a 13-month stay at the South Pole. (My adventures are not limited to the sky, right?)

A side note for our Spanish-speaking friends:

Yo estudiaba español en escuela secundaria y en la universidad para cinco años. ¡Se me olvidó casi todos!
Durante mi trabajo con la programa antártica vivia para seis meses en Chile, he tenido suficiente práctica para recordar mucho.
¡Espero que se vea muchas tormentas, granizos gigantes, tornados magníficos, nubes hermosas y puestas de sol inolvidables!

I look forward to meeting you all on Friday!

¡Hasta luego! / Til then!
Lisa Beal


NOTE: Video of tornado #27  is HERE on YouTube