Storm Chase USA

 

During the spring seasons of 2015, 2016 and 2017 I have been fortunate enough to be a guest storm chaser on Paul and the Netweather.tv storm chasing team.  The tours operate from the beginning of May until the end of June, covering the expansive American Midwest. They have an amazing track record of landing themselves on productive supercells, where lightning, large hailstones and tornadoes are a common sight throughout the tour. I will once again be joining Netweather and Weather Holidays to chase the 2017 Spring Storms.

 

As of May 2018, my journey through Tornado Alley will be slightly different - chasing in a small team of three. With Adam and Olly as my team-mates, we hope to have a different spin on our usual chase experience. Keep tuned for our adventure... 

 

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Our first solo chase

Posted on 20th May, 2018

Today (Saturday 19th) was the day that we tackled our first chase as a team. The disaterous nature of my hotel booking panned out ok, with the Econolodge in Elk City having a nice diner attached to it where we had our breakfast. We had vouchers for some free food, but Adam and Olly paid extra to have a few more options. I was stuffed after the complimentary pancake.

 

We had settled on the decision to head NE towards the north east of Kansas to the enhanced risk of storms, with a 5% tornado risk in this area. The Storm Prediction Centre had extended the enhanced risk to include our position and also included one for the Texan panhandle. We set off and enjoyed the drive, with Adam aiding with the navigation and Olly trying to settle our data souce. We really are struggling to get it working...  We aimed for Greensburg, Kansas, for a quick take out lunch at the Crazy Mule Food & Brew and to gas up on our journey onwards. I learned a valuable lesson that you shouldn't update a facebook status prior to rechecking your plans, as a quick look at the models and the convective outlook suggested a move towards Wichita to the east. Thankfully we had an eastward option to power on to and took our chances with the new plan. This was also suggested by our friends at See Nature's Fury, who were positioned up North - it was good to have a reinforcement from fellow chasers to give confidence to our new plan. 

 

Updated SPC for 19/5/2018

Updated outlook once we had reached Greensburg, Kansas

 

I was happy to continue the drive and we approached Wichita. We saw a large cell forming to our south, but, with some calculations, we did feel it was out of reach to chase effectively. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to take many images today due to driving. 

 

Storm rising in the distance

Our view from Garden Plain, Kansas, looking towards a storm to our south

 

We stopped to reevaluate options at Garden Plain, just off the 400. One of the small cells we had started to follow started to die off, but new there was a storm coming up from Enid (Oklahoma) to our south, which we could reach if we got going. Again, as we made the decision, See Nature's Fury asked what we were up to and reinfrced our plan by suggesting the same. Olly took over the driving from here and we head towards Wichita to get on to the storm via the I35. We had to look at how to approach this storm carefully, we didn't want to get cored this early on, plus we needed road options to chase it. 

 

Radarscope image of the stormHeading off the severe warned thunderstorm that initiated in Enid

 

Essentially, we wanted to get to the east of the storm and then drop south to get a better view and to essentally chase it. Our aim was to reach Arkansas City and then drop south. Thankfully it worked out well in terms of positioning, but by the time we were in position, it started to die out (not long after heading begind it from Newkirk, we were stumped by muddy dirt roads - with it fast heading to our north east, wedecided it wasn't worth getting stuck in the mud for nothing). 

 

 

 

 

A tired start to the day doesn't usually bode well for anybody. Olly and I awoke around 5am due to jet lag after managing about three hours sleep. We decided that chances may be limited for storms this tour so we planned to attempt the enhanced risk that has been forecast for north-eastern kansas this coming Saturday (19th May 2018).  Our only problem was that we were missing our third member, Adam. 

 

A quick breakfast and trip to Walmart to buy supplies, we hit the road, with Wichita Falls are initial area to focus on, as we knew Adam was going to be chasing a risk in the panhandles. We decided that we would push on to Childress instead, as this would give us a better chance of being closer to picking him up and also allow us to gain a head start on our dash up north afterwards. 

 

Jason driving in the USA

More concentration than cool

 

It was my first time driving in the USA and, with the obligatory first error of being on the wrong side of the road for a few moments I found the driving relatively straight forward. My only drawback was it was the first time I have ever driven an automatic. Lets just say that overuse of the clutch when driving at home may come to an end...and me finding this out also simultaneously taught me that the car can do some impressive emergency stops. Several times. 

 

En-route to Childress, we noted some early initiation coming from the south western points of the Texan panhadle. This was quite impressive to see, with cells developing as we approached them. By 4 pm had reached Childress, we had some mammatus clouds and also spotted our first couple of CGs (Cloud to Ground lightning). We popped into a Loves in Childress to get a bit more prepared for the weather (RainX and also a quick comfort break). Our windshield was already a squished bug cemetary, so we also used the opportunity to clear them off for a better view of the road.

 

Storm forming over Childress

The storm formng just SE of Childress

 

Olly took over driving for the next stretch of our day, running the car along the 287 between Chidress and Newlin. The storm systems started to cause some strong winds, kicking up dry dust and causing a small dust storm. At one point, it made visibility extremely poor (I did capture some video of this and will share it when I can!).  During this time, the CGs picked up and we saw some impressive lightning. Whilst leaving our viewing point in Newlin, we were momentarily held up by a long freight train. Thankfully, as we were not fully chasing today, it dd not set us back too much.

 

We returned towards Childress and wanted to find a decent place to pull over. We found a quiet spot just off of the 287 and had a lovely view to watch the storms to develop and see the occasional CG lightning strike. Unfortunately, one of the rules we discovered that day is...if you hang near a prison taking pictures of anything, you do attrack the attention of the local police - of whom popped over to find out what we were doing. As soon as he found out we were chasers, he jumped straight back in the car and left us to our own devices. 

 

Storm behind the prison in Childress

Large cell forming south east of Childress

 

It seemed that we were watching the wrong direction, as many other storm had formed behind us and were sparking up beautifully. We moved from out position (most likely to the relief of the prison staff!) and head back towards Newlin. We once again stopped off to watch the lightning and occasional blast of dust caused by the storms. 

 

Mammatus in Hedley, Texas

Overhead mammatus in Hedley, Texas. Some took on some rather crude shapes...

 

Continuing on, we noticed some fantastic mammatus clouds forming above us. We pulled over in the small town of Hedley and marvelled at the waves of mammatus clouds that hung above us. As the sun was setting, they were magnificently lit up. I've seen much better examples, but these would make my top 5 list for sure.

 

Sunset in Hedley

The sun setting off in the distance made for picturesque scenes. Having recently purchased a new phone, I thought I would try out the new phone camera on the scenes the sun was creating. Beautiful result and encouraging that the phone will become a useful back up to my normal camera.  The result can be seen above - not bad on full zoom!

 

As we were taking our snapshots of the scenes all around, Adam notified us that he was heading to Shamrock and if we could pick him up from there. We agreed that we could be there at a similar time as he could get there for and we set off once again. We hit the rear of the large storm of which formed the mammatus and it wasn't long before the car was being battered with strong winds and heavy rain. Olly did extremely well in the conditions - and it was our first real taste of having to tackle the severe weather. 

 

In Shamrock, we retrieved Adam, who had just finished his time on Tour 1 of the Neweather Storm Chase USA Tours. Our plan was to hit the enhanced risk in NE Kansas, SE Nebraska/Illinois area. We were miles away from that (7 hours, give or take a half hour) and needed to hit ground. I quickly booked a room (oops on the "quickly") in Elk City, Oklahoma and we darted off on the hour or so journey there. 

 

Upon arriving in Elk City, we were greeted with darkness. It was almost as if the town had been desserted. No sign of life anywhere either. We figured that there must have been a power outage and pulled up to our destination to check things out. The hotel hadn't received our booking and we worried that we couldn't stop. The lovely people at the Motel 6 said they'd help us out and offer us a room at the same price as online. Which would have been great if we had made the reservation with them. Our actual hotel was the Econolodge behind us (when the power came back it was clear that the gigantic MOTEL 6 that was lit up above the hotel - I'll chalk this mistake down to circumstances!

 

Finally checking in to the right hotel, I found out that I had actually booked the hotel for Saturday night and not Sunday. Ooooooooppppps x 2. Thankfully they were kind enough to let us cancel and then let us book for the night. Note to team...never let Jason book hotels whilst chasing. Finally sorted with a room, we cracked open a beer and hit the pillows. We have a long chase planned for Saturday morning, so had better get some sleep. 

 

Until the next update, thanks for reading!

 

Jason

We've Arrived!

Posted on 18th May, 2018

What a day of travel! Our delay with Norwegian lasted a good 4-5 hours and it felt an eternity before we were up in the air and on our way to the USA.  Despite the delay, I have to say I really liked the 787 Dreamliner - large windows, plenty of foot-space and a smooth flight. i also had a space next to me, so unlike the previous outbound flight with British Airways (where I was pretty squashed on the middle seat), this one was much more comfortable.

 

Our flight path was slightly different than expected - taking off and heading north over Scotland, passing Iceland and then going over Greenland, before entering the USA from the North via Canada. With the large windows, we had some great views on the flight - giving us much more than just the standard in-flight entertainment selection. I've included a view of some of the moutains we passed over in Greenland. Coming into the USA, we also were able to see some nice convective towers and storms firing east to the flight path, causing stormy weather in both Missouri and Arkansas.

 

Mountains over greenland

Admiring the mountains in Greenland

 

We landed in the USA a good 5 or so hours after this and it did feel like the trip could have gone on forever. I again failed the initial security checks at Immigration so had to speak to one of the officers. Thankfully it was less of a delay this year and, through some luck, I was the only one in the queue, which meant I cleared Immigration much quicker than most of the others on the flight. 

 

It wasn't long before we made our way to pick up a Hyundai Santa Fe we will be chasing in. It was a good 3 and half hour drive from Austin to our hotel in Dallas and we finally reached our destination just before midnight. The journey seemed to take longer as unfortunately the car fans didn't seem to be working, removing our air-con capabilty - but after some playing with the controls, we soon got it working and cooled off approximately half hour from our destination. Hungry and thirsty our thoughts turned to what options we had and unfortunately resulted in a gas-station takeaway dinner. 

 

Our plans have changed multiple times today - again, we are waiting to know how we are meeting Adam. We were initially going to call it a rest day - we are knackered from the journey here, but with storms due to fire up in Oklahoma today and a now enhanced risk further to our North on Saturday, we've decided we need to make tracks today instead.

 

Activity loop May 18th

Slight risk of storms today...lets hope we can get into position on time!

 

We're just off to have some much needed breakfast (and showers). We shall let you know how we get on - and look forward to Adam joining our team.

 

Until the next post, stay safe and happy chasing!

 

Jason and Oliver

A Delayed Start

Posted on 17th May, 2018

A much early blog post than expected, as Olly and myself sit at Gatwick Airport awaiting updates on our delayed flight to Austin. Awoken in the erly hours by text, our flight has been delayed by 4 hours (although recent update does suggest it will now only be 3 hours and 30 minutes), we enjoyed a slightly lazier start to our day.

 

Our train ride seemed to flow nicely and met a lady who was intrigued by our conversation regarding severe weather and told us to enjoy it, as she makes her way to Antigua. Given some model run throughs, it may appear that she will be more in the fireline for stormy weather than we will over the next week.

 

Olly checking weather modelsOliver checking weather models at the hotel

 

We stayed in the Gatwick Airport Inn, which was a functional stop. It wasn't a bad stay, but far from luxurious - so getting in to the spirit for some of the motels we will stay at in the USA. I didn't sleep too well, partly missing Hannah, but also due to the pre-flight stress I always seem to suffer from. There was also a busy and noisy roundabout outside, so that also affected my sleep. I guess I can catch a few zeds on the plane if needs be!

 

Te view from the Airport Inn at Gatwick

Our view from the hotel - and the busy roundabout!

 

Once up, a quick shuttle ride to the terminal, a few security checks completed, we sat and had some breakfast at the WonderTree restaurant in Gatwick. We were famished by the time we had the opportunity to eat, but thankfully the service was quick and the food was tasty. We are now currently sat awaiting details of our gate number  - thankfully it'll be only another half an hour or so until we know what it is!

 

The sit down has given us a good chance to see what we can expect from the weather. It isn't looking too hopeful for next week, but if we can pick up Adam at a reasonable time and place, there is currently a slight risk of severe weather in north-eastern Kansas/south-eastern Nebraska on Saturday. If we choose to go for it, it looks like it will be a very long drive, but it's what we are in it for. We shall see what our situation is when we meet up with Adam and take it from there...

 

Day 3 Outlook (Saturday 19th May 2018)

Storm Prediction Centre Convective Outlook (Day 3)

 

If our target does seem to be a little out of reach given the circumstances we may just see what forms within the marginal risks (some weather models indicate we may have something to experience within a more reasonable range but again we are limited by time and start location). It may be we just have to leave it and see if there is another chance a little later on. Who knows... We hope to have a better idea tomorrow.

 

Until then, I've a flight to catch! Stay safe!

Jason

 

...the adventure begins TODAY!

Posted on 16th May, 2018

With the few months of planning coming tor fruition, the 2018 storm chase season begins for me TODAY!  I've been quiet on the build up this year as my diary has been dominated by full and complex clinics and by the time I have reached home, my brain probably resembled something similar to scrambled eggs and any remaining energy was spent on spending time with friends and family (and packing). 

 

Sunny weather on the horizon?

Pack for the weather you expect... and hope for some stormy surprises

 

The day is now upon me that I have said farewell to family and friends and will be making the journey to Bristol Parkway this afternoon for the short train journey to London Gatwick, with fellow team member Oliver. I've never really utilised the train network that much in the past, so even getting to the plane will be an adventure. We fly early tomorrow morning with Norwegian and should be in Austin, Texas by mid-afternoon (local time). Our intention is then to pick up the car and make the 3 hour journey over to Dallas, where we will be staying at our home away from home, The Best Western Inn and Suites in Irving. We hope to meet and pick up fellow team member, Adam, within a day or so - depending on where he is with the Netweather tour and where we need to head out to chasing. 

 

The weather is looking a bit better over in Tornado Alley right now, despite a lot of doom and gloom being discussed on social media. I'm forever a pessimist (or so I've been told) and have regularly joked about it being glorious sunshine for two weeks (see my luggage tag above). That said, I go with low expectations and hope to leave with brilliant memories of spectacular scenes of nature. 

 

Building the excitement, I share an embedded video from See Nature's Fury, another chasing group from the UK who I highly recommend. I've had the pleasure of being in their company (last year it was all at once...and quite the experience!) and they have already shared some brilliant photographs and spectacular footage. I woke up yesterday to this video, which shows a very close lightning strike (and the teams' reactions). WARNING: Strong language. 

 

A close strike captured by See Nature's Fury (Credit: See Nature's Fury / YouTube)

 

Hopefully we will see a few strikes this year ourselves, but perhaps not that close!  I hope to update this blog tomorrow once we have reached our hotel room (it'll be the morning on Friday UK time). That said...I'll probably be exhausted and sleep - but will do my best to keep everyone updated! Be sure to follow on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram for the latest updates. 

 

Until then, stay safe and thanks for reading!

 

Jason

Hello again! What a difference a few week make. Last time I wrote it was sub-zero and the poor boiler was working hard to defrost me from the walk in the snow and here we are not too long after sweltering in spell of warm weather. Currently it's 16.5°C at 10:30 am - and it's looking to get warmer. 

 

Sunsets and stormy weather...what more could I want?

Sunsets and stormy weather in Yate. What more could I want?

 

This warmer weather is great - as it usually breaks down into thunderstorms. Yesterday evening proved this - where we had a brilliant light show from one across the UK. Many friends and British chasers alike were sharing their photographs of the spectacular lightning bolts that rained down from the sky and fellow chase Adam took one (as seen below) of some impressive structure as the storm system passed over Wiltshire.

 

Crazy structure in Wiltshire

Crazy storm structure in Wiltshire

Credit: Kindly given permission by Adam Simpkins - Wiltshire Storm Chaser

 

The storm has definitely increased my excitement levels for the upcoming chase season, which is only 3½ weeks away and allowed me to check my photography gear is all together. As it stands...I realised I had lost my shutter release and could do with something to keep the camera dry in the rain (I did make use of an old carrier bag - which did the job well!  So that will have to be bought in the near future.  I managed to capture some great shots of the lightning, even without my shutter realease!

 

Boom, a cloud-ground lightning strike in Yate

Cloud to ground (CG) lightning in Yate last night

 

It's that time again where I frantically make sure I have everything. I have insurance by DogTag (who have been excellent in the past) and my flights booked. Pre-flight hotel and first night's accommodation is also booked ready - and we are staying in an old favourite - the Best Western in Irving, where we hopefully will be able to catch up with the Netweather team as they return from their first tour and to pick up Adam.  If the weather is hot and sunny, I'm hoping to enjoy the pool too!

 

Gotta love the pool...

Enjoying the pool at the Best Western, pre-chasing 2016

 

I have also been spoilt by my fiancée, Hannah, who gave me an action cam for our anniversary. I think it was a fair trade for an engagement ring - so I hope to bring back some great footage on that too. My budget action cam last year didn't cut the mustard for me I'm afraid - as you can see from the latter part of the video below - the quality wasn't there...

 

Hopefully some higher quality footage for the next chase... Well, here is hoping at least!

 

I have also been looking at ways of having mobile internet whilst in the states, with a new EE contract and my 3 contract both offering data in the USA at no additional cost. We hopefully will be having a wifi puck too - just so we can all stay connected - and I can share with you all the action as soon as it happens!  Finally, money money money is the next step to look at - as I want to be able to pay for things...I'm hoping the Post Office can help!

 

That's it for now, but I know I'll be back very soon with daily storm reporting whilst in the USA, so be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram for updates. Until then, safe and happy chasing!

 

Jason

 

 

Beast from the East Meets Storm Emma #2

Posted on 3rd March, 2018

Welcome back to the second part of the cold and snowy town of Yate, albeit a little warmer than it was before (the local weather station is reading the tropical 3.6°C, as opposed to the freezing -4.6°C on Thursday). Thursday night saw blizzard like conditions with the strong winds of Storm Emma mixing with the already cold air brought in from the East. Thankfully, the snow is beginning to thaw, although driving conditions are still a little treacherous (with even the Mall at Cribbs Causeway being shut for the day). No more snow is predicted, but I do think it is going to be another day indoors (although Hannah does keep nagging me to take her to Nando's, so I'll be seeing if they are open later...)

 

The blizzard-like conditions in Yate as the Beast from the East interacted with Storm Emma

The blizzard-like conditions as Storm Emma interacted with the

Beast from the East

 

We awoke yesterday to wintery conditions and a significant amount of snow on the ground, which was enough for us to know it was going to be a snow day. We had noticed the interesting snow drifts in our garden, which had left some areas centrally without snow and others a few feet deep. It is the first time I have seen snow drifts like this. The high winds and blizzard like conditions observed over night also seemed a bit too much for our garden gnome!

 

Snow drifts in the garden, Yate

The snow in our back garden, choosing to ignore the centre of the path, 

drift in the corners (and on the decking) as well as wipe out out gnome!

 

After a lazy start, a bit of breakfast and plenty of warm coffee, we dressed ourselves to battle the cold conditions and took a stroll.  The snow was coming down lightly, but this snow was almost like tiny, hard ice-pellets - not feeling too dissimilar to small hailstones hitting you. Combining this with the strong winds, it did not make for a pleasant walking experience!  The snow was actually much deeper than it first looked and occasionally walking into areas where it has drifted against a slope did cause us to go knee-deep in the stuff at times. 

 

Westerleigh Road viaduct in the snowWesterleigh Road viaduct - quite picturesque in the snow

 

Despite how the weather felt, the snow did make for some brilliant scenery, the Westerleigh Road viaduct looked quite special in these conditions and there were plenty of photo-opportunities. As you can see, the roads were not in great shape - although this road was much better than many of side-roads and streets that we passed.  This is probably due to the presence of the snow plough, the first I've ever seen in this area. The driver kindly let me take a picture! They have done a great job in this awful weather!

 

South Glocuestershire Council snow plough in the snow

 

Our walk took us to Westerleigh Common and the "Road-to-Nowhere", a stretch of dual carriageway that was never completed.  It has been used several times as the setting for road scenes in TV shows (such as the BBC hits Broadchurch and Casualty). We didn't stay out too long due to the temperature and also wanting to return home for a drink. I still had time for a few photographs though!

 

Westerleigh Common in the snow

Westerleigh Common in the snow

 

The snow around here had frozen along the top, causing slight icy conditions. THe snow did make a satisfying crunch as we walked though. There was also a large lack of snowmen and snowball fights - the snow was very powdery and my attempt to throw a snowball at Hannah resulted in a handful of snow powder being blown straight back into my face - not pleasant (although one for instant karma!) Our walk also allowed us to see some fantastic icicles on some structures - the most impressive being on the porch of this house!

 

Incredible icicles in Yate

Awesome icicles on the porch of a house in Yate

 

It wasn't just on houses either - there were some cars that had been abandoned that had some impressive icicles on them too! I think it would take a little more than the car heater to rid this ice in a hurry!

 

Icy car abandoned in Yate

Icicles on a frozen car in Yate

 

Our return home nearly over, we decided to pop into the near by convenience store so I could pick up some beers. In the short time that we were in there, another snow shower came, this time much heavier than the day before.  Rushing back across to our house, I managed to quickly stop off to take a few photographs before warming up with some hot drinks (Rocket-Fuel Coffee for me and a hot chocolate with marshmallows for Hannah). We didn't seem to move from the sofa then until we went to bed. 

 

Sleds, Snow and Wind in Yate

Sleds, heavier snow and wind blowing snow from the rooftops along Shire Way, Yate

 

We woke to snow on the ground this morning, although it is thawing very quickly. No more snow is really expected here and with the temperature a good 9°C warmer than it was Thursday and yesterday, the signs that spring is on its way are beginning to show.  As much as this severe weather event has been interesting to experience, I'll be much happier when the temperatures rise further and hopefully see more of the sun!

 

Until the next weather event...(let's hope there are things to talk about before the end of May...), stay safe  (and keep warm!)

 

Jason

Beast from the East Meets Storm Emma #1

Posted on 1st March, 2018

Greetings from the freezing town of Yate, where my thermometer currently shows the toasty temperature of -4.6°C (and a "Feels Like" of -13°C, due to the wind chill). There is also a mild dusting of snow on the ground from the frequent snow showers. 

 

Netweather Rainfall Radar at 8:40 on March 1st 2018

The cold weather mixes with the cold, giving us some light snow at 8:40 this morning. This is

the calm before the storm.

 

It's been a while again since posting a blog post (something I must have gotten out of the habit of doing) and using the combination of a quieter work diary and the massive weather event that the UK is experiencing to try and make amends! I'm also writing as my girlfriend Hannah is out in work and I'm just hoping she can get back ok before the worst of the weather is expected.

 

The view from my window in Yate, United Kingdom

The view of the dusting outside of my home office today at 8:50 am

 

The UK has had a cold spell, correctly predicted by the Global Forecasting System (of which many forecasters may have initially scoffed at)...but the cold weather from the East has made its way across to the UK. The South East and Northern parts of England have already seen substantial snowfall and, as usual, the snow has failed to make a full appearance here in Bristol. That said, this cold weather is due to meet the low pressure system, known as Storm Emma, this afternoon and further chaos due to the weather is predicted in our area. Unusually, we are under an Amber Warning for snow and ice in this area, which means we need to make preparations for severe weather.  Our warning can be seen below (Credit: The UK Met Office).

 

Amber Warning for South West UK

The Met Office Amber Warning for South West UK where I am based

 

The weather isn't just going to affect our region either, with multiple weather warnings in place across the UK. There are two red warnings also in effect, with central Scotland and even other parts of the South West of England and Wales with the "Take Action" Red Warning in effect. The media will be very interesting to review over the next few days and hopefully people will heed to warnings to minimise loss of life. I include an image from the UK Met Office showing all the warnings in effect.

 

The UK Weather Warnings

All UK Weather Warnings for March 1st 2018

 

 

 

It has also been noted that the weather does like to draw shapes with its varying intensities (it's that or the people who draw the warnings on the map like to get creative!). Scotland has its very own Nessie warning! This is not the only time where us weather geeks have spotted shapes in the forecasts, with the Storm Prediction Centre also drawing odd-shaped areas of danger! 

 

I'm not hugely aware of any wild dinosaurs running around this weekend but I the "Beast from the East" now has form (even if it does lack a face!)

 

So that is the current update on the Beast from the East/Storm Emma - I hope to keep this blog updated with changes - even if nobody reads it - for personal record!

 

Keep warm, stay safe and enjoy the views of the winter wonderland!

 

Jason

 

Planning for Storm Chase USA 2018: Off Tour

Posted on 10th January, 2018

On Friday 5th January, Storm Chase USA 2018: Off Tour was officially discussed and initial plans on dates, times and other details slowly came in to play. Olly and Adam arrived at my house in Yate for an evening of storms - both discussing, watching videos of and sharing stories of the chases we had been on.

 

Despite knowing Olly for a few years and Adam for just over a year, we have not yet chased together.  Both Adam and I have only ever chased on a tour group, but Olly has had some experience of chasing in a small team.  With this in mind, we feel it will be a pretty interesting dynamic this year!

 

Jason, Olly and Adam

2018 Team: (left to right) me, Olly and Adam

 

Prior to the meet up, I finally managed to get around to sourcing a flight. Taking Olly's advice, I booked with Norwegian, which is the first time I have flown with them. From reviews and what I have seen on their website, I am looking forward to seeing how this compares with our tradition flights with British Airways. Last year I wasn't too impressed with either BA flight, with a different plane used for the route, missing half my seat due to another passenger sitting on half of mine and the climate of the plane not to it's usual standards... Norweigian are also much less expensive, already saving me approximately £250 on last year's flights - and near on £350 the current prices now...

 

Our evening consisted of a few beers, pizza and snacks (oh and for Adam, gin...lots of gin!), whilst we discussed driving options, timings, equipment, insurance and a whole host of other bits and bobs. We then entered the world of Netflix and watched a few Tornado Hunters episodes (the Pilger episode with twin EF4 tornadoes looked incredible...)

 

Eventually I changed from Netflix to YouTube and showed the lads the footage from the Dodge City Chase and the Bennington Chase days in 2016, by far the most memorable days in my experiences in the MidWest - both for different reasons!

 

My footage of the Dodge City Chase

 

We hope to have more days like Dodge City! Seeming we are chasing off tour, I do feel we may see more blue sky than storm, but we are giving it a go anyway! We finished off our evening by watching Tornado Titans, who provide excellent videos on storm anatomy and advice regarding storms. We gained a few valuable tips before resorting to random YouTube videos (including Molly Schuyler and her feat of eating three 72oz steaks with trimming in 20 minutes...it has to be seen to be believed...). We ended the meeting and slept soon after.

 

I hope to be posting a little more actively in the upcoming months. I'll be limited by my work life and storms that we see, but hope to capture some really good content to share this year. 

 

Until then, enjoy the above footage!

 

Jason

Storm Talks in November

Posted on 19th December, 2017

The last time we spoke, I was preparing a talk to give at the Rotary Club of Chippenham and Wiltshire Vale.  This was going to be my first talk about the adventures I have been part of during Netweather and Weather Holidays' Storm Chase USA holidays and to be frank, I was very anxious about it.

 

It took place on November 20th at the Angel Hotel in Chippenham. I arrived and sat in the bar awaiting to see if I could find someone from the Rotary Club. I was ridiculously early, but soon enough many members arrived and I was able to set up the slideshow. Unfortunately my laptop is quite ancient now (pre-dating my graduation from university!) and a few last minute alterations were required so that my laptop could handle the presentation.

 

One of the many slides used for the Storm Talk

One of my slides for the Rotary Storm Talk

 

The talk was well received (or so I have been told) and may have inspired a few people to look into chasing the MidWest in the future. It also gave me confidence to work towards the talk to 67th Kingswood/1st Mangotsfield Beavers on the Wednesday of the week.  Now this talk was different - mainly focusing on the different types of weather and the symbols used to indicate the weather. It was also different giving a talk to a much younger audience. Again, I heard it was well received and would be happy to provide this talk to other groups in the future.

 

 

A very close and captivated young audience!

 

Christmas brings a lull in work and the organising of activities storm-related. I meet with Olly and Andy early in the new year - which should provide more excitement for the upcoming storm chase. 

 

Until then, 

 

Jason