For those who don't know me, I've chased the Southern Ontario
since 1988 and the US Great Plains since 1992. My first serious
forays into Meteorology came around 1983 with the terrific
"Audubon Field Guide to the Atmosphere" and a lot of patient sky
observation. I then came across the insightful John T. Snow
Scientific American paper (April, 1984) titled "The Tornado"
(which I purchased the day after he plugged it on "Late Night
America" with Dennis Wholey - anyone remember that one?).
followed by having a friend's parents tape the 'original'
1985 PBS NOVA "Tornado" documentary, which was followed by the
1986 Weatherwise magazine Storm Chasing article, which led to
StormTrack Magazine (where I now serve as online Links Editor
and Canadian Severe Weather Events Editor) and Tim Marshall's
original Storm Chase Manual.
While getting my degree in
Economics/Finance (ACS) at night at The University of Western
Ontario (they had no meteorology program and offered squat in
the way of math and physics at night) I took the very good (at
that time) 'Introduction To Meteorology' course which had a
strong lab component focusing on assessing thermodynamic
parameters via the Tephigram (the 'Environment Canada' version
of the Skew T - Log P Diagram). Only at that point did I
feel I had accumulated enough knowledge of severe weather
morphology/life cycle evolution that I dared to venture out
attempt to actually chase (again, only after a combination of
five years of independent and formal study). I continued to
study from that point on (with the kind guidance from some
veteran chasers who pointed me to relevant papers from the
American Meteorological Society's Severe Local Storms Conference
Preprints, Monographs, and Journals - e.g. BAMS, Weather and
Forecasting'), attempting to synthesize the theory
I learned with what I saw in the field, which I strive to do
to this day.
I completed the Mississippi State University
Broadcast Meteorology Program with the fine people of the
Class of 1995, and strive to stay current with (again)
relevant papers from the AMS's Severe Local Storms Conference
Preprints, Monographs, and Journals. At it's core, chasing is
about being the best severe weather forecaster I can be.
The dominant synoptic feature that influenced most of the period
that made up this year's chase was the large and unrelenting
closed low centered AOA the Great Lakes and Lower Ohio
valley. This persistent circulation remained in place until
after I returned home . The Great Plains were in a mean NW flow
pattern throughout the period with limited (i.e. no)
opportunities for significant cyclogenesis (had to settle
quasi-persistent weak sfc lows/inverted trough focused on SW
TX/SE NM). One positive: "sweet spot" 700-500
mb lapse rates were in evidence almost daily! This was also
a season where the outflow boundaries played a frequent
role (both positive and negative) in influencing near term
distribution and nature of deep moist convection (with
deep moist convection being the both the forecast and
observational objective of this excursion).
19 May, 2001 - Started out in Troy IL and missed
the (apparently now confirmed)
Lake Kickapoo/Archer City, TX,
Tornado by less than 10 miles. Click for
summary (unfortunately, no pictures) and details.
20 May, 2001 - E OK - Difficult chase when things got going
and a very frustrating day with detour and road issues - and
my cameras stuck in the trunk for the active chase. Click on the
shot of the multicell complex taken during the 'wait' phase
of the chase for summary, details and an enlargement of this
21 May, 2001 - Down day in the DFW Metroplex, taking care of some
2 meter radio installation adjustments (thanks to the staff at
Circuit City in Irving, TX), a look at the lingering and marked
effects of the Fort Worth Tornado on the downtown skyline (esp.
the Bank One building), and dinner at the terrific Matt's El
Rancho down in Austin. Turned out there was nothing really worth
seeing on the music side in Austin on that Monday night - which is
somewhat unusual, and in contrast to what the ads in the
Austin Chronicle showed to be the case during the prior four days,
where one would have had multiple (and Solomon like) choices each
day (these included: Double Trouble, Guy Forsyth, Willie Nelson,
Delbert McClinton, Gary P. Nunn, The Derailers, Flaco Jimenez,
Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, and Ray Charles, among others).
22 & 23 May, 2001 - Most chaser's down times is spent
in National Parks and similar environs (and I have seen my
share in earlier years: Big Bend NP, Arches NP, Navajo Nation,
Monahans Sand Hills SP, etc.) but with the very cool temps
invading the Southern Plains, and a long Canadian Winter fresh
in memory, the Gulf Coast was the logical choice! Click for
details, comments and images.
24 May, 2001 - Rocksprings, TX - A day that produced some nice sunsets after the
working cells that were somewhat difficult to deal with. Click for
summary, details, and more.
25 May, 2001 - A trip out to Fort Stockton with storms
out of reach. Click for details.
26 May, 2001 - E of LBB - First chance on this trip to really
get on a storm without road, hill and tree issues. Click for
images and details.
27 May, 2001 - The ride down US 283 from the KS border to I-40
is one I'll never forget! Click for details and images.
28 May, 2001 - W of LBB Blue Sky Bust - click for discussion.
29 May, 2001 - Kress - Brief Sum
This storm just couldn't do it! Details, Images and discussion are
on the page for this day - click to access.
30 May, 2001 - SPS - Enjoyable chase.
31 May, 2001 - Down day in OKC - Film developed at Epperson,
Great quality and service! Lunched at Panchos (as seen on "The
King of the Hill" - oh gee, I guess that was the 'Arlen', TX
franchise and not the OKC one - I did notice on this trip that
the Amarillo outlet had closed)! Good Chili Relenos, but it's
no Matt's El Rancho (Austin, TX) or Under the Volcano (London,
ON) - which I consider top Mexican restaurants.
1 June, 2001 - S of Dodge City, Kansas - Back to the DDC
area for the last storms of this trip!
3 June, 2001 - Home, eh! Good trip home (made reasonable time)
and even managed nice lunches in Kansas City at Jim and Jess's
Steakhouse and in Chicago at Connies (my favorite
of the Chicago deep dish genre)!
Again, many thanks to the kind and dedicated staff at SAT,
MAF, & AMA National Weather Service Forecast Offices for
their hospitality and willingness to provide hardcopy map data,
and to those kind folk who provided nowcasting when I was in
the field: Lon Curtis, Al Moller, Brian Curran, and John Moore. I
appreciate their input and insight and in all cases/instances
their willingness to act as guidance and *always* leave the
final forecast and field decisions to me. That approach
allowed me the best to opportunity to utilize assistance
in the field and still build skills and take full
responsibility for where I was and what I saw. I am also
grateful that I got to spend some time with each as they
are also very nice people!
I would also like to thank Bruce Johnson and crew at Oakridge
Shell - having a great team of mechanics behind you is a big
part of successful chasing - Thanks, guys!