With all the driving during my chase, I’m way behind on posting photos, but I have a new video online. You can click through to the May 18 report to see photos and now video of the chase culminating in two tornadoes west of Larned, Kansas, near Rozel. Or check out the video right here:
Read the full report and see the photos here.
You can tell it’s been a dull storm-chasing season for Tornado Alley, at least so far. Storm chasers on social media are posting a lot of “from the vault” and computer-model-related posts and not much in the way of recent storms.
In the last year – May 2012 to April 2013 – there have been just seven reported tornado-related deaths in the United States, Harold Brooks reports on NOAA’s U.S. Severe Weather Blog. That’s the lowest 12-month number since 1899.
What’s good for the public in terms of gentle weather is pretty dull for weather fanatics – who would prefer to see tornadoes in unpopulated areas – but Italy is picking up the slack. Several tornadoes struck in the Emilia-Romagna region in northern Italy on May 3, a date that shall go down in infamy in the States as the anniversary of the deadly 1999 outbreak, including the F5 that devastated Moore, Oklahoma.
Here’s an amazing compilation of the May 3, 2013, Italian tornadoes from YouReporter.It:
I’ll be heading out to Tornado Alley soon, I hope. There will likely be interesting storms there this week, but I’m still waiting for a more active period … or I will take my chance on what comes, perhaps as soon as next week.
The chill has lasted longer than usual this winter here in Florida, but at least we’re not experiencing snowstorm after snowstorm. What we did get was a blast of wind in a squall line Sunday. I drove out to meet it west of Cocoa. It was moving so fast (warned with a motion of 55 mph), I couldn’t reach the area of rotation. I didn’t even have time to set up and get nice photos of the green gust front. But I did get video in my car as it blasted me.
I’ve also posted a video of mostly time-lapses of some of my favorite storms of 2012. It’s a little more moody.
It’s not long now until the May chase! Want to see more stormy images? If you’re on Florida’s Space Coast, get a look at my storm photography on exhibit at Titusville’s Downtown Gallery, 335 S. Washington Ave. (321-268-0122), through April 16. There, you can also pick up copies of my Storm Seekers novels, Funnel Vision and Tornado Pinball – or get them online.
I’m also speaking about storm chasing and signing books at Cocoa Beach Library on April 6 at 2 p.m. The program is free.
Late edit: Just added an event – a book signing the evening of April 6 at Coco’s during Cocoa Village’s gallery walk. Please see the calendar.
First, come out to the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers’ Festival tonight and Saturday. There’s a full slate of fascinating films and other programming planned, from the comedy show tonight to the Florida Filmmakers Matinee Saturday starting at 9 a.m. That’s when you can see my documentary, “Hourglass,” about sand sculptors battling the weather and the clock to prepare for the Art of Sand festival. Get tickets and see the schedule for the event, at The Oaks Premiere Theaters in Melbourne.
Also, at noon on Monday, you can hear me chatting with Seeta Durjan Begui on “Seeta and Friends” on WMEL-AM radio. You can listen online.
Monday evening at 7 p.m., come to a free storm-chasing presentation at the Eau Gallie Library (sponsored by Friends of the Eau Gallie Library). I’ll be talking about the realities of storm chasing, showing video and photos and my short documentary “Chasing Reality,” and signing copies of my novel “Funnel Vision.” That’s the storm-chasing adventure to which I’m writing a sequel right now!
Learn more about upcoming events in my calendar.
Even worse was May 12, 2005, near South Plains, Texas, a day that was at least partially redeemed by the really nice tornado that preceded the assault. I’ve remastered my video and produced a new edit that I’ve uploaded to YouTube (below).
All of my hail encounters helped inform the hail barrage that happens during one of the action sequences in my novel Funnel Vision. I once took shelter in a country airport, for instance, though it was in Colorado, not Kansas. And if you turn up the sound in this video, you’ll understand that visceral, chilling feeling of having your car destroyed while you’re still inside it. Enjoy.
Note: For best quality, roll your cursor over the lower right of the video window, click on the gear symbol, and choose 720p HD.
May 29 of this year was an example of a great storm chase that didn’t include catching a tornado. There was a brief tornado with this storm, but from my position, I didn’t see it. Nonetheless, at one point I was incredibly close to a rotating wall cloud – do I get points for proximity? No, I guess not. But the real crown jewel of this chase was a few minutes of incredible structure on this supercell, which I followed with friends, then on my own, from Canton, Oklahoma, toward the Oklahoma City metro. This newly posted video summarizes the day. Check out the May 29 pictures, some of the best from this year’s trip, or see all the 2012 chase reports.
I’ve added video to the photos I’ve already posted of the May 25, 2012, chase, which led me to a pretty backlit tornado in north-central Kansas. I started the day with Dave Lewison, Scott McPartland, Dayna Vettese, Brad Rousseau, and Simon Eng, but by chase’s end, we were scattered to the winds. We stopped in Great Bend, Kansas, targeting the triple point to the west where warm front and dryline met. We then drifted to Rush Center, where we met lots of chasers, and one tower went up in a hurry. This is the first storm we chased, along with a zillion other chasers, who drove like crazy people through a grid of dirt roads like a pack of rats let loose in a maze.That storm didn’t produce the cheese, but at dark, storms in the line went crazy. Some chasers reported seeing as many as five tornadoes, some at or after dark; makes me feel like a slacker for just finding one. You can see photos and video here, but just for fun, the video is below as well:
I’m still catching up on reports. All the driving is exhausting, and processing photos and video is extremely time-consuming when I don’t have a lot of time right now. You can see the index of 2012 chase photos here.
You know, I really thought this would be one year when I wouldn’t have to cut my storm-chase trip to Tornado Alley short because of my schedule and miss some big event. I thought I’d be chasing by the first week of May and could even go a couple of weeks into June if the pattern remained stupendous. Only it’s stupendous in a totally different way. After really early season events that I couldn’t chase because of other commitments, the pattern has afforded very few storms this month, and I’m still in Florida, playing the waiting game. Chances are, the action could pick up again at the end of this month, or in June, but I have to be back in Florida mid-June for, yes, obligations. Because I just can’t block off two or three months for chasing storms at this point in my life.What’s giving me the mopes? Long-range computer models. There’s an old saying in chasing: Live by the models, die by the models. You can’t rely on them too much. But they’re the next best thing to a crystal ball, so models, along with a feel for climate fluctuations and recurring patterns, and instinct are about all we have to go on. I’ve been obsessing over the GFS and the European models, which still haven’t figured out the end of the month but have been trending toward a ridge, or at least an extreme northern path for the business end of the jet stream in a possibly zonal pattern, with embedded short-wave troughs that may produce weather. Occasionally a GFS run will pull a trough (desirable for storms) out of its goodie bag, but it’s all fiction past a few days. No matter what I say now, this outlook may change in five minutes.
May 12 is what my chaser friends call “the anniversary.” For a small group of us, it marks the anniversary of two big events – the May 12, 2004, Attica, Kansas, tornadoes, one of which destroyed a house less than a half-mile away from us, and the May 12, 2005, tornado and hail barrage near South Plains, Texas. I’ve been pulling choice video from my archive and posting it to my YouTube channel. Today, I’m posting a 10-minute, raw-video cut of the Attica, Kansas, tornadoes. Dave Lewison was in my car, and Pete Ventre was driving Scott McPartland in Scott’s car. The video is amusing for its stressed-out dialogue as we try to avoid baseball-size hail, maintain position without getting too close, and narrowly miss two satellite tornadoes that briefly blocked our escape route. There’s also a sighting of the early TIV, Sean Casey’s Tornado Intercept Vehicle.
Meanwhile … it’s pretty quiet. I’ve done almost all the tinkering my chase gear requires. I’m working on the sequel to my novel “Funnel Vision,” which at least affords the excitement of fictional storm chasing. But it’s May. We should be experiencing the real thing.