Late last March, I got to chase a great squall line event, too. These kinds of Florida storms are good warm-ups for my Tornado Alley trip, when I get to learn all over again how to juggle cameras, radar, navigation and driving while trying to capture the storms of the Great Plains. I expect to head out in May and will be posting regular updates. I’m happy to note that I’m again among several storm chasers with whom Midland is partnering to show off the capabilities of its cameras. New this year is the XTC-400 HD Wearable Video Camera. I’m looking forward to trying it out, hopefully on a mothership supercell! Wide-angle lenses do amazing things to mothership supercells.
In 2013, I saw a lot of extreme weather, most of it packed into less than three weeks during my annual whirlwind tour of Tornado Alley. Yet I still curse myself for not being in better position on some of the storms I saw and for missing others. Such is always the way of the perfectionist; that drive is a blessing and a curse, since perfection is never possible, except, perhaps, in the sweeping curves of a supercell at sunset. I’ll leave perfection to nature and post my imperfections right here.
I’ve been neglecting my blog. I’ve been consumed with several projects, including editing two books – it’s so exciting to work with other writers as an editor. That’s how I started my career in journalism, as a copy editor. It always seemed like something I could do while I wrote other things, and I did, though I eventually became a reporter (and videographer and photographer). I’m also working on the third Storm Seekers novel, Zap Bang.
But in the meantime, I’m scheduling events for 2014. Come see me at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science on Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. I’ll be sharing stories, videos and photographs from my 17 years of chasing storms in Tornado Alley and Florida.
Happy holidays, everyone. (Oh, yeah, and if you need a gift or a good read for that new Kindle or tablet, won’t you consider Funnel Vision and Tornado Pinball?)
The blue moon – the full moon on August 20 – was a magical photographic opportunity for me. I was able to shoot a lightning storm with the full moon overhead, from the beautiful vantage point of Cocoa, Florida, looking east over the Indian River Lagoon. I’ve photographed not-so-great shots of the moon with a thunderstorm before, but nothing like this. Better yet, there were multiple shots, though the one shown here is definitely my favorite.
When I’m on the road during my annual storm-chasing trip in May, I try to post as many reports as I can here and on my Sky Diary site. But thousands of miles of driving and serious sleep deprivation often mean that I skip days and have to finish the reports when I get home – especially for the less momentous chases. This week, I finished up those reports in between Florida storms.
The report I posted today is from May 27, the same day Sean Casey got caught in a tornado with his home-brewed tank. The tornadoes were pretty messy that day, and my friends and I took our chances on more isolated storms in central Kansas that didn’t produce more than pretty structure, lightning and lovely light at sunset. If you’ve ever wondered how a typical chase evolves, my video captures the process pretty well. (By “typical,” I mean a chase with no tornadoes – because not every chase ends with a tornado!) See the page with my May 27 photos and video, or watch the video here:
I also posted an “odds and ends” report consisting of select photos from minor storm days and busts, along with pictures of people, sights and more. With it, I included a video of a dust devil chase on May 22 in the Texas Panhandle. It documents a direct hit. I definitely had dust in my teeth afterward. See the page with all the photos and video, or watch the video here:
See all the 2013 storm reports in this index – as I photograph Florida storms, I’ll add more photos and videos.
With the reports done, I’m looking forward to having more time to invest in writing “Zap Bang” – the upcoming third novel in the Storm Seekers Series.
The beaches have been under siege here in Brevard County for the past couple of days as ominous shelf clouds have swept over the sun-worshipers and surfers, harbingers of downpours and lightning close behind. I’ve caught photos in the past couple of days at Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach. In both places, some folks didn’t seem to be in a hurry to escape the lightning danger, which was high. I take a risk, too, when I stand on the beach to shoot a photo, and I’m well aware of it.
Still need a beach read for this summer? My storm-chasing adventures, “Funnel Vision” and “Tornado Pinball,” are just $2.99 as e-books. They’re also in paperback. Check em out. (You can quite literally check them out of the Brevard libraries, too.)
I stayed ahead of the line from Rockledge to Port Canaveral, stopping to snap photos of the undulating shelf cloud that preceded it. You can see the video and all the photos on my Sky Diary site, or watch the video right here:
I’ve never attempted a stop-motion film before, and that news won’t be a surprise to someone watching “The Chase: a silly storm safari.” It’s primitive, but it’s a fun first try. I just need to cultivate a great deal of patience before I try to shoot another one, given the painstaking frame-by-frame photography in each stop-motion clip.
The film is a combination of short video clips and stop-motion, all shot with my Nikon D7000. I set up the maps and toys, including several miniature storm-chasing vehicles, on our pool table and lit it well. I used shredded cotton balls to make the clouds, and a posterboard for the sky. Check it out:
One of the most impressive storms of my Tornado Alley chase didn’t produce a tornado, though it was tornado-warned. That’s because it was spinning like a top. The May 26, 2013, supercell near Arcadia, Nebraska, was LP, or low-precipitation – not much rain, but amazing structure. It also had one of the best lightning shows I’ve ever seen.I’ve already posted photos, but now I’ve added video to the report. Or you can watch the video above.
I’m easing back into life in Florida, where we’re getting a fair share of thunderstorms, at least for the moment. I look for lightning in the evening, and I caught some last night at Port Canaveral. Here’s a sample, but you can check out all the photos from June 18 here.