20190511 – T-2: Oklahoma Bound

This morning I woke up in Springfield, Missouri. Did not need an alarm clock, as one of my Motel neighbors (who I will simply call #MethMom) was shouting over the second floor balcony to her friends that this motel was “no f***ing kind a place for my f***ing kids!”  If memory serves, this is how certain moms in Missouri (and other states in the Midsouth) indicate that there is no pool for the kids. No matter. I am awake now.

After a quick round of dental hygiene (to remove that taste that I can only describe as “Walt and Jesse starting a meth lab in my mouth”) and a quick cuppa tea I was ready to face the day.

After a quick round of dental hygiene (to remove that taste that I can only describe as “Walt and Jesse starting a meth lab in my mouth“) and a quick cuppa tea I was ready to face the day.

I spent a little bit of time in reviewing yesterday’s photos and getting the updates for yesterday‘S blog page started

Today’s weather is gray and drippy day, a fairly common sight after the good storms have passed through the area a few days earlier. A quick look at the SPC outlook seems to indicate that the next few days are going to be for a little bit quiet, weatherwise. So will be playing tourist and various natural wonders instead of chasing. That’s the way it goes.

I checked Facebook and responded Do a post asking about “what equipment do you use when you chase” as follows:

* Kenwood TMD-710GA 2m/440 ham radio
* Radio Shack PRO2067 500-channel scanner
* Radio Shack TRC-519 CB Radio

* HP Pavilion 13×2 laptop/tablet
* Arnova 10-inch Android tablet

* Garmin 18X GPS puck

I also carry a good assortment of cameras/camcorders.

* Nikon D7000 DSLR (plus a lens collection)
* Two GoPro Hero2 cameras (w/3-D frame, various mounts, including the popular suction mount)
* Sony AX-53 4K camcorder (plus zoom and telephoto lenses)

Next stop: Sid’s Diner in El Reno. We arrived about an hour before closing time. I had the King Burger Deluxe, Paul the BLT, and so on. We had a moment of dismay when the British Contingent  realized no beer was available there. We survived, however.

Final tourist stop for the day: the Twistex Crew Memorial. We let Simon try his hand at rural Oklahoma driving  He negotiated gravel roads, muddy ruts, and got us to the memorial in time for some great photos, including shots of a beautiful classic western sunset.

After a quick WalMart stop, we returned to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

(Photos to be added later)


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.

20180511 – CHASE2018- Day 1

11:02 AM – depart office promptly

11:45 AM – Depart from I-355, entering I-55 southbound. Drove through a brief call shower.

12:28 PM – Passed by Dwight, Illinois. Just saw a northbound Amtrak train heading to Chicago. Feels very like in my childhood memory of travel between Rockford and Monmouth, Illinois. The family used to travel US 34. We used to see many trains along that route. (Sorry, no picture, as I am in traffic.)

Traffic has slowed to a crawl. Seems there is some roadwork or a police action of a head up ahead.
“Work zone speed limit 55 mph.” (Actual speed 24, but it has been 10 mph for the last 10 minutes. Do the math!)  And there they are: those people who see the merge signs for the last 2 miles and wait to the last minute to join traffic because they think that the rest of us are stupid and will let them in. And it only takes one generous person to make them right. Now four lanes have become two lanes, one northbound one southbound. The southbound lanes of I-55 or being revealed re-built. (76.3 miles into the trip)

12:49 PM – Left the construction zone at exit 201, Continuing south on I 55. Detour signs indicating the delay was about 13 minutes with results. That feels about right. (Around Pontiac, Illinois)

1:03 PM – South of Pontiac, Illinois. It is wonderfully flat and open near here. This is prime central Illinois chase country. You can see all the way to the Verizon in almost every direction. And the landscape is almost completely free of distractions, except for the occasional microwave, cellular, or radio tower. There are power lines in the distance. A few scattered trees, I’m really not much here. Basically a blank canvas on which to paint a memory. (Tried to take a picture here, it was cut in half the long horizontal. What’s up with that?)  I have moved far enough south that I have left the 60°F weather in Chicago and I’m surrounded by 80°F temperatures.

1:36PM – stopped at rest area south of Bloomington-Normal, to stretch my legs, visit the restroom, and grab a light snack. Leving the Illinois pollination exhibit behind, By-bye busy little bee!

1:48 PM – Departed rest stop. Continuing south to St. Louis

2:02 PM – Passing the NWS weather radar at Lincoln Illinois (KILX).  It is approximately the midpoint between Chicago and St. Louis along interstate 55.

2:24 PM – travel note: 555 mile post 104 is the location of a rest area on the southbound traffic. This is a little closer to the midpoint of the Chicago St. Louis leg of the journey.

3:24 PM – Just outside St. Louis. Traffic has crawled to a near halt due to construction. We are
grinding along and about 20 miles an hour. Looks like the right lane is closed ahead. We are just south of Worden.

3:37 PM – Exited the construction zone. Very lucky to only have two delays in Illinois. On certain past trips I had 50 miles of construction; this time wasn’t so bad.

4:10 PM – Welcome to Missouri. Took I-255 across to I_44 and beyond. Definitely better than going downtown during rush hour. Temperature here is 91°F. It is like summer! I am loving every minute of it.

5:40 PM- fuel/bathroom/food stop at Roll, Missouri.

8:08 PM – Arrived at Motel 6 North, Springfield, Missouri. Feeling tired but very happy. So THIS is what vacation feels like, I had almost forgotten! Unpacked the van then went to sleep (gently). Zzzzzzz.

TODAY’S ROUTE: 499.3 miles as shown below (map courtesy of DeLorme Street Atlas 2014):





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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