11 April 2013 – Soggy times

It’s been raining three days in a row and sometimes heavily:

Finally, northern Illinois is beginning to emerge from the drought.
It’s the perfect weather for contemplation and handling details for my upcoming storm chase trip. During the off-season, I’ve done lots of reading, ingesting books like Tim Vazquez’s “Weather Radar Handbook” (ORANGE BOOK).


In anticipation of chasing for ten days with famed storm photographer Jim Reed, I read “STORM CHASER: A Photographer’s Journey”.
I had intended to go through it over several days, but read through it in a single sitting (unlike the ORANGE BOOK, which I’ve been nibbling at for weeks). I felt it would be beneficial to read Jim’s book to better understand him and his guiding principals of storm photography.

As it turns out, Jim and I have had interesting parallels in our lives:

Jim Reed Lisa Beal REMARKS
Born Springfield, Illinois Rockford, Illinois Also close to the same age
Raised in Midwest? Yup Yup _
Non-traditional family Raised by single mom One of three adopted children.
Raised by almost-single mom until 10.
(Dad traveled 5-6 days a week.)
We may have watched the Brady Bunch, but we were not members!
1st memorable storm Hurricane Camille
(with mom)
Belvidere, IL tornado
(with dad)
Dominant parent present during first memorable storm experience gave a sense that “everything’s going to be OK” (and it was).
Moved from Midwest to West Coast (California) to East Coast (to New York) Off to the big city!
Returned to Midwest Kansas Illinois Returned after college in both cases
Einstein connection Ja! Ja! God may not play dice with the universe, but he seems to be good at poker.  I remember this during storm chases!
1960s TV connection Gilligan’s Island Gilligan’s Island Theory: the seven characters on
Gilligan’s Island represent the Seven Deadly Sins.  (What would Dawn Wells think of that?)
Dedicated chase vehicle Ford Explorer
(as of 2006)
Chrysler Town&Country
(from 2011-date)
Seen lots of tornadoes 40+ about 30
(I’m re-checking)
Easily half of those I’ve seen were with Tempest Tours. Saw 6 on
10 May 2004 afternoon near Limon, Colorado.
(“Thank you, Dr. Weberpal!”)
Winter photography experience First chapter in the book captures this Several photos from Antarctica used on Oprah for Jerri Nielsen’s appearance. Jim will be supplying 2013 Tempest Tour 2B guests with signed copies of his book during the tour!
Camera collection Nikon-sanctioned photographer Started with Pentax while working for the Antarctic Program OK, Nikon! I’m tired of Pentax stuff being ‘niche gear’ that’s both expensive AND hard to find.

We’ll have plenty to talk about on the trip. I’ll have to remind myself that there will be a dozen people vying for his time, including Jim Reed.

To hear Jim speak about our  trip, check out this YouTube video ( 2:14-):

Extended Interview: Jim Reed, extreme weather photographer (KRCG)


24 July 2012 – Dog days, Drought relief, and Dancing Anemometers

This morning we had a storm with 30-50+ mph winds charge southeast through the western Chicago suburbs.
Here in Bolingbrook, Illinois, we got 0.50 inches (1.3cm) of much needed rain.

I am still in the setup phase of my weather instruments, so the fixed setup (Davis Vantage Pro) and mobile setup (Davis Vantage Vue, used for correlation vs. the fixed unit) are both in the wind shadow of my house. The fixed units anemometer will be relocated to the roof after I get some lightning protection up there.

I measured peak winds of 28 mph, but the roar of the wind in the trees and sound of wind-driven rain is consistent with 45-50 mph wind gusts. A better look at the storm shows the wind and temperature field (just after its passing):


After the brief visit to the 70-degree mark, we’ll soar back near 90, with even warmer temperatures tomorrow. We can expect to touch the century mark again, as we have so many times this year. Back to the dog days of July and August! (Make sure to protect your face with your favorite hat, like Barb and Joe’s dog, Skuttlebutt.)


Special Congratulations to Kelly DeLay

Kelly DeLay, who was part of our expedition, received a WEBBY AWARD for his Clouds365.com web site. Among other things, you can see the two tornadoes we witnessed on our trip:

Tornado - Between Altavista,KS and Council Grove,KS Tornado - S. of Wellington, TX - 30 April 2012
27 April 2012 – near Council Grove, KS30 April 2012 – S. of Wellington, TX
(Click on an image to see a larger version at Clouds365.com)

Kelly also gots props from CNN at http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/01/tech/web/webby-award-winners/index.html?hpt=hp_bn11

01 May 2012 – The Way Home

  • 0700 – wake, shower
  • 0730 – breakfast
  • 0830 – depart Altus, OK; go S to US287
  • ???? – turn onto TX114 for DFW Airport
  • 1230 – say farewells
  • 1600 – leave Dallas on UA3451 for Chicago (ORD) – plane delayed 42 minutes
  • 1915 – Arrive in Chicago
  • 2100 – (approximate) arrive at home, safe and sound

CASUALTIES OF TRAVEL: One pair of leather shoes (sole split) and a dead notebook (hopefully just an ‘old battery’ issue)

30 April 2012 – PRELIMINARY – DAY 10 – The 5% Solution

  • 0700 – wake up; shower
  • 0900 – breakfast
  • Some chaser humor: “portions of west Texas and the Texas panhandle were severely damaged by last night’s storms, as shown on the map below”


  • Sir Richard Pell, Earl of Waffles (no relation to the Earl of Sandwich) posed with one of his famed breakfast creations. “Brilliant!”


  • 1030 – meet at van
  • 20120430-105930.jpg





















    Inverted T feature


    Photos of my logbook entries for the day:

    28 April 2012 – DAY 8 – Slight risk, High Tension

    I am still trying to process the emotions of the day.

    One person in the group has become so selfish, loud, vulgar, and arrogant that I have had waking fantasies of dragging him behind the van as we race into a hailstorm on a gravel road.

    Another lost his wallet (and I feel terrible for him, especially because he is a talented and wonderful person).

    I even feel a little down because my netbook is dead, one of my shoes is held together with duct tape.

    And we did not see any severe storms, I feel disappointed that after tomorrow the tour is done. I fear having nothing to show for the money I spent.

    Photographs of my chase log notes follow:






    Travel: ??? miles

    25 April 2012 – DAY 5 – Fizzle, Fizzle, f’shizzle


    • 0300 – night bathroom run! Gotta avoid caffeine with dinner.
    • 0400 – neighbors making noise So I can’t sleep! Transcribed yesterday’s paper chase log to this blog. Pure hell to enter WordPress entries via Safari!! (I discovered the WordPress app afterwards. This will be easier/saner going forward.)
    • 0900 – Laundry run
    • 1030 – return to hotel ; pack van
    • 1035 – weather briefing: we have a chance for storms that might produce small hail and some lightning in the plains of Eastern Colorado.
    • 1130 – lunch at Kim Lin Chinese Buffet
    • 1230 – Depart La Junta, CO northbound
    • 1315 – stop 2 miles south of Arlington, CO to photograph an old storm shelter
    • 1327 – Arlington, CO – stop at rest area and photograph an outhouse. Yes, it’s a SLOW DAY!
    • 1341 – N on CO59(?); arrive at Eads, CO to watch the sky, data updates, and toss a Frisbee around.
    • 1530 – leave Eads on US287N, heading to an area where storm development has started.
    • 1607 – turn onto northbound CO59
    • 1625 – stop at I-70 for fuel, washroom visits and snacks; continue north to US36W
    • 1707 – pass Cope, CO
    • 1715 – turn north toward Otis,CO
    • 1740 – dinner at Mom’s Restaurant in Otis
    • 1830 – stop west of Otis. Our target storm has fizzled, having run out of moisture.
    • 1900 – return to Otis; after Bill gets us hotel rooms in Yuma, we head to US34E and on to Yuma. On the way, illustrates how super cells look on radar, using a radar image of a southeast moving storm entering Illinois from near Keokuk, IA
    • 1920 – arrive at the Nelson Inn in Yuma. Bill announces we meet at the van at 9 a.m. (MDT) due to a heavy travel day. Tomorrow appears to be our ‘big day’ for our excursion. Updated this blog
    • 2130 – lights out