2022-05-02 – Awkward Compatibility

In order to keep up with the latest and greatest technology, I do a different equipment set update each year:

1st year: Computer upgrades
2nd year: communication upgrades
3rd year: photography/videography upgrades

This year, I ended up doing mostly communication upgrades, with a focus on cellular technology. The main driver in this process was the acquisition of sprint buy T-Mobile. A short while after that acquisition, T-Mobile started forcing customers to change equipment, whether they were fully ready to do so or not.

So my planned (computer) and unplanned technology updates for 2012 are as following:

  • New laptop (Dell 5515 touch with Windows 11)
  • Mobile hotspot (T-Mobile MiFi)
  • New phone (Apple iPhone 12 pro)
  • New tablet (Samsung 8 inch android tablet)
  • New vehicle tracker/Wi-Fi (T-Mobile Sync Drive, 2 units).

Upside: save the iPhone, none of the T-Mobile gear cost a nickel — effectively a free upgrade over the next 24 months

Downside: lots of reconfiguration and some compatibility issues between the MiFi and my Wyze cameras. The latter is been particularly annoying. I’ve spent hours and hours trying to solve the problems by downgrading the Wi-Fi security, clearing cache, doing factory reset, and a variety of other things to no avail. All the work I did last season getting a five camera mobile security system running has been totally destroyed by the upgrade process. I am miffed.

This evening I will go through the packing list and make sure I have everything packed and ready to go for the trip. I have had some equipment changes lately, so my 2019 daily checklist will have to be updated. I can pack using the marked up edit copy then print the 2022 version at my local Office Depot. This is all just part of a pre-trip ritual, but sometimes it gets old.

20210507 – Travel Day 1 (Bolingbrook,IL-Springfield,MO)

ROUTE: Bolingbrook, IL – Springfield, MO:

06:00 – wake-up, shower, etc.

07:00-11:00 – work from home, online, that is. (Don’t lots of folks do that now?)

11:00 – Lunch at Charlie’s (Bolingbrook Clow International Airport).
(They have scheduled flights to Canada, so ‘International” is quite real.)

12:12 – Depart Bolingbrook Airport, traveling southwest on I-55S.

14:09 – A brief pit stop in Atlanta, IL. Still good on fuel!

14:22 – Resume southwesterly course on I-55S

15:25 – Oh no. traffic jam!

17:28 – Refuel at St. Clair, MO, just west of Six Flags enough to avoid paying a premium price for gasoline.

2100 – Arrive at Red Roof Inn, Springfield. Check in then eat dinner at Jimm’s Steakhouse and Pub. Had the monstrously generous prime rib dip (like a classic French dip, but using prime rib). Too much food!

2315 – bed time.



2021 Test Drive 1

I took a 90-minute test drive of the chase vehicle and the technology onboard

Here’s a list of issues I’ve found:

      1. The camera mounts easily loosened up. Fortunately, the camera “droop” did no damage to the cameras.

  1. The GPS puck is seen by Franson GPSgate, but it’s output is not seen by GRlevel3 or other applications.
  2. The dashcam needed to be tested beyond seeing it power up and display a video of the road ahead.
  3. The cabling clean-up has yet to begin, but should be a fast task. Last year’s set up is unchanged, except for the mysterious disappearance of the original dashcam micro-USB cable. I replaced it today, but have some disconnected cables dangling.
  4. The rear seat’s Android tablet needs to be re-installed.
  5. Luggage space needs to be reclaimed. It’s full of bric-a-brack at the moment.
  6. The iPhone bracket need to have the stabilizer arm glued into place. It came off in my hand! WTF??
  7. The antenna cluster needs to be road tested. It was ‘indoors’ today. One antenna needs to be glued to its mag-mount.

All this amounts to another weekend afternoon spent with this new ‘to do’ list.

20190510 – T-3: 103 Up then Out

103 Stories Up

Friday 10 May 2019 was a very busy day!

First, drove from the motel in Bolingbrook into the Loop of Chicago. After an unplanned orbit of Lower Wacker Drive, we got into our parking garage and walked to breakfest.  I had a tasty apple-walnut oatmeal and my first-ever (and probably last-ever) keto coffee.

Then, we walked across the street and went up to the 103rd story attractions of the [former] Sears Tower (a/k/a the Willis Tower).

The views were spectacular, but when I stepped out onto The Ledge, I got dizzy and withdrew immediately. My #FearOfHeights kicked in hard.  After a moment of calming down, I backed into my slot in the transparent box so high above the street and we were able to get a few pictures.

Looking out in each of the four compass point directions, we took in the amazing views.  The multiple shades of view on Lake Michigan, looking to the north, was astonishingly beautiful!


Along the Way: Fill-Up Philip

After of hour of “103” time was up, we returned to the car, headed west on Madison Street, and took I-94 and I-55 southwest, departing Chicago.

A few hours later, we stopped at Dwight, Illinois for lunch.  We had a classic American cuisine lunch (burgers, BLT sandwiches, hot soup), then visited the 1950s-vintage gas station across the street.


One Tall Tomb

Next stop was the Lincoln Tomb (the actual final resting place of Abraham Lincoln, his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of his four sons. The route to the monument took us through some pretty unassuming side streets (and I was beginning to the the GPS had misguided us). The tomb is topped off with an imposing obelisk and has many beautiful statues of Lincoln, depicting the various stages of is life from young adult to the final year of his presidency.

Quarter of the Way ‘Round the World

Continuing southwestward, I pulled the van to the shoulder for our ‘mystery stop’.  I must have given half a dozen hints where we were going, what it was about, etc.  We got WAY past twenty questions, but my guests finally figured it out without me telling them outright. Here we are after arriving.

Bee’s Knees

After many more hours of driving, we arrived at our dinner destination in Versailles — pronounced ‘ver-Sails’ — in Missouri.  Thanks to a cable between the van’s CarPlay port and my iPhone acting up, I had to rely on my guests’ phones for navigation. (Excellent job adapting to the situation, gang! I am in your debt.) Fortunately, we never got off the desired route, arriving at around 9pm. We met Kathy’s stepdaughter, Allison, at a local microbrewery and restaurant call The Bee’s Knees.  Other than a brief whiff of the beer, I abstained (as I was driving). On the other hand, I enjoyed a generous portion of the delicious varieties of thin crust pizza. It was a good thing we were driving; I could barely walk after the meal.

One Last Push

In a final push to our goal of Springfield, Missouri, I drove us on MO 5 toward Lebanon, Missouri and I-44.  The winding road, hilly terrain, and stretches of re-paving activy along the way made for a challenging drive, but we arrived safe and sound at Springfield around midnight. Four sleepy travelers went to sleep about 30 minutes later for some very solid and well-earned rest.

22 June 2016 – Wind/Hail/Tornado event

Insomnia woke me around 4 AM, but I drifted back to sleep. A nearby lightning strike woke me around 5 AM. I’m trying to get back to sleep. It is a couple of hours before breakfast in the first (and mesoscale discussion) of the day have already been issued.

The NAM and GFS models are still calling for a big event today:

The current tornado probability [for the day as a whole] looks like this:

Severe wind probabilities for the day are as follows (per the 4 AM models):

And severe hail looks like this, per the same forecast for the day:

Current weather looks like this:

And the tornado parameters at the moment are well below any kind of threat threshold:

I will be watching these carefully as the day unfolds.

The sky was intensely red a moment before I took this picture, but it recalls the old expression “red in the morning, sailors take warning.”
8am – updates to the maps above show little change:

Up to this point, nothings severe reported:

15:10 – Arrived at the Naperville emergency operation center (DOC). Started up the weather computers and radios, in preparation for arrivals about their staff later in the afternoon. Traded in my XL size polo shirt for a new uniform shirt in a medium. (Doing a happy dance on the inside!)

15:35CDT – An axis of steep lapse rates is oozing east from Iowa.

1730 CDT – Looks like a tornado watch is imminent, per mesoscale discussion MD1020.

1810 CDT – tornado watch number 286 is issued. The EOC goes into operational mode.

While the situation could change from the forecast above, I heave a sigh of relief that the primary area of a risk is to the south of the Chicago metro area. Had this been forecast to occur 25 miles further north, the situation could have been very dangerous for the western suburbsand Chicago proper. Once again, we dodge the bullet, it seems.

1834 CDT – A severe thunderstorm warning goes up near Amboy, Illinois. Even at this point, Al Fisher and I spot a strong couple of forming on the base philosophy velocity plot.”Why aren’t they issuing a tornado warning on this,” we ask one another.

A few minutes later, that warning is issued. NWS policy states that once a storm is tornado-warned, it retains that warning until the storm falls apart. This is how the NWS errs on the side of caution.

The good news is that they are able to issue this with a high degree of confidence, as a number of spotters and chasers (the little red dots in the picture below) are already on the storm, As this radar scope pro composite reflectivity/base velocity product shows:

(Photo courtesy of Ethan Mulnix)

This tornado was the first one in a series strewn across northern Illinois. The storm reports (from later in the evening) show the path of the storm pretty clearly:

Chasers like Adam Lucio captured photos and video of other storms (at Marseilles, Illinois and further east). I will add links to those photos as I get a bit more time or the weekend.

(NWS has a preliminary page for this event up already.)




SEASONAL TRAINING: To better appreciate the processes going on in storms and to stay safe, I take classroom training each year


06 Mar 2004
– Wheaton

Advanced Spotter Training (DuPage EMA)
17 Mar 2004
– Plainfield

Basic Spotter Training (BARS,PRL)
03 Apr 2004
– Batavia

FermiLab Weather Seminar (w/Tom Skilling)

To keep the look and feel of supercell storms fresh in my mind
TEMPEST TOURS (commercial tour)
10 days – 4797 chase miles, 8 people
UK flag
Japan  flag
  1. Lead vehicle (8): LEAD: Bill Reid (Westlake Village, CA;KG6FWX),
    DRIVER: Scott Weberpal (Janesville,WI);
    PASSENGERS: Lisa Beal (Bolingbrook, IL;KC9BST), Heather Taluba (NJ),
    Jack Bolo (Burlington, NC)
    , Joel Emilio (S.CA), Dustin Aldridge (S.CA), Samantha McGrath (Bristol, UK)
  2. Part-time lead vehicle (Day 2) (2): Martin Lisius [days ??-??] (Arlington,TX;KC5TQI), Erin Brown (TX)
  3. Media guests (Days3-4) (2): Fuji TV (Mashu, Ken)
  4. Nearby chasers: Blake Naftel, Keith Brown, Kinney Adams, Chris Kridler


27 April 2004
Tuesday Bolingbrook IL -Dallas TX

28 April 2004
Wednesday Bolingbrook IL -Abilene TX
183 TRAVEL: Check-in; meet the team; chase/position
29 April 2004
Thursday Abilene
-Wichita Falls


DAY #01: Making the most of a so-so day
30 April 2004
Friday Wichita Falls
-Temple TX


DAY #02: Mo Wind, Mo Better
01 May 2004
Saturday Temple
TX -Fort Worth TX


DAY #03: An Outside Chance for a Storm
02 May 2004
Sunday Fort Worth
TX -Springfield


DAY #04: Missouri Misery!
03 May 2004
Monday Springfield


DAY #05: Stockton Revisited
04 May 2004
Tuesday Nevada
MO -Altoona


DAY #06: Re-positioning Day
05 May 2004
Wednesday Altoona
IA -Fairmont
MN 558
DAY #07: Capped in Dakota
06 May 2004
MN -Clinton


DAY #08: Curses, capped again!
07 May 2004
Friday Clinton
IA – ?
DAY #09:
08 May 2004
Saturday ?
?? – ?
DAY #10:
09 May 2004 Sunday ? ?? -Arlington TX ??? RETURN FROM FIELD

3 days – 2664 miles, 4 people

UK flag

    1. LEAD:  Scott Weberpal (Janesville,WI); PASSENGERS: Lisa Beal (Bolingbrook, IL;KC9BST), Heather (NJ),
      Samantha (Bristol, UK)
    2. Nearby chasers: Tempest Tours (tour #2; Bill Reid, Chris Gullickson), Jim Leonard, many others





09 May 2004 Sunday Arlington
10 May 2004 Monday Wichita
DAY #01: Limon Mini-Outbreak (coming soon!).
See Scott Weberpal’s photos from Limon for now.
11 May 2004 Tuesday Limon
DAY #02: Bustola!
12 May 2004 Wednesday Norfolk
Kansas City
DAY #03: Attica Attacker
13 May 2004 Thursday Kansas City
512 TRAVEL: Long Road Home
14 May 2004 Friday Bolingbrook IL EPILOGUE

Storms in the ‘hood!


01 March 2004
Monday Bolingbrook

A very early start to the season, with 68mph winds in Huntley, severe hail in DeKalb, and an unconfirmed tornado in south central Wisconsin.
20 April 2004 Tuesday Bolingbrook
Crown Point
Follow-up trip to surgeon! As I was driving away from home, tornado warnings went up. As this happened during our normal ARES net drill, it took me a moment to use NOAA WX radio to confirm this was real. Utica, IL knew it was no drill! See a Utica photo gallery, NWS/LOT’s summary and a related ARRL article for more.


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) GREEN
No-Partner Day (Weather stormy, no partner) RED
Weather Stormy, but not available for chasing PURPLE
BUST DAY – no severe storms where we looked!
Training Day

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