Wednesday, July 13, 2011

07/13/11 Summer: 2011

Summer has arrived in the local-area and in my
hometown of Kewanee, IL

A few weeks ago before I drove endless miles in search of supercells and tornadoes I visited a local greenhouse nursery (Sunnyfield) near Galva, IL. I wanted to bring out my macro-lens and test out my photography skills to do some "summer" photography. It's not all about chasing and photographing storms. Heck, I'll photograph just about anything if I can find the time to do so. Anyhow, enjoy some of the photos I've posted using my Canon macro-lens below:

I bought this Canon macro-lens (60mm) a few years ago for
winter photography, but over the years I have found several uses

for this lens making it well worth the investment...

Quite possibly my favorite shot!
A colorful shot to say the least...
The fine-detail a macro-lens can bring out is why many
photographers purchase these lenses...

Nature at its best during the late spring/early summer!
More good stuff...just seemed everywhere
I looked provided a great photo-op...

Pick any color and you can find it
at this greenhouse nursery!

Annuals can produce some vivid colors at times...
Cool contrast here...
Pretty cool shot!
Yellow daisies...
Blue-bell is the common-term for this flowing plant...
Crazy assortment of colors!
This local greenhouse nursery really was worth the visit...
(They have just about everything here)
Many of these we have back in my hometown
in our backyard and they get
quite colorful
during the spring and summer...

Spectacular colors!
Yellow, umm...still not my favorite color though!
Now that's some orange...maybe too much!
More and more colors...
Shot of an annual...
Mother Nature confused on what color
she likes quite possibly?!

I'll wrap-up this post with this (spooky) cemetery shot...

I'll be posting more photography posts in the coming months so keep a look out for them. This post actually will be the last for my camera (Canon T1i). It's time for an upgrade! It did do me justice for the last 2-3 years though! With that being said after playing around with a more advanced DSLR at work I thought it was about time to move on to a better DSLR for my photography-needs. So I made the "large" investment and I'll be shooting now with a Canon 7D DSLR for years to come...

Friday, July 8, 2011

06/21/11 Hanna City, IL Supercell

Grungy looking supercell over Hanna City, IL

Tuesday, (June 21) I had to work most of the day in Peoria, IL. Once I got off work at around 5:00pm I noticed thunderstorms erupting along the cold front to my immediate west. I headed west out of Peoria, IL analyzing the situation on the drive. I noticed a thunderstorm becoming more and more interesting on radar and entering a favorable area. This area near Hanna City, IL was characterized by 2,000J/kg of CAPE, 0-6km shear at 40kts, and a moist boundary-layer as well. This storm tried to wrap its precipitation at one point (hook echo) around its updraft. Quickly though this storm became outflow dominate but for just a moment looked interesting. I've added some photos and video below:

First view of the storm outside Peoria, IL
near Hanna City, IL

Supercell shows a brief funnel here (left), but
quickly goes outflow dominate...

And another...
Wide-angle shot as I could feel the outflow
from this storm at this point

Hang-me-downs wrapped in rain (center)...
The storm passes providing some
more photography opportunities

(Canon telephoto-zoom lens 70-300mm)
Convection now northeast of Peoria, IL
Spectacular view near sunset looking
east toward Peoria, IL

I've added a YouTube time-lapse (above)

I'm finally all caught up on posts. I will be posting a summer post in the coming weeks with some photos I've taken this summer that are post worthy. As far as storm chasing goes that pretty much wraps it up for me as far as the Great Plains goes. I still plan on chasing in the IL/IA area this summer, but since the season has calmed down you'll see me chasing locally more than anything...

06/20/11 Nebraska Tornado Magic

Tornado along I-80 near Bradshaw, NE

On Monday, (June 20) it appeared that this may be the "day"! The night before it looked like Iowa may be under the gun for a potential tornado outbreak on this day. That quickly changed though at the storm system slowed down putting Nebraska once again in the cross hairs. I targeted the York, NE area as it seemed this would be the area along and north of the surface low-pressure where winds would back strongly creating an environment favorable for supercells and tornadoes. By midday, this area was becoming quite unstable along the warm front northeast of the surface low. This area featured 4,000J/kg of CAPE, 0-6km shear at 50kts, a moist boundary-layer, decent low-level shear with SRH around 200m2/s2, a supercell composite around 20, and a significant tornado parameter around 3. I could go on and on! By early afternoon, the chase was already on. I headed west on I-80 to intercept a supercell that was producing tornado after tornado from northern KS to south-central Nebraska. Unfortunately, by the time I got close to this supercell it finally dissipated near Kearney, NE. By this time, the atmosphere along the warm front was becoming "uncapped" and supercells began to erupt vigorously. At this point I took the approach to stay along I-80 as these storms were moving pretty fast to the north and northeast. I headed east to intercept a supercell near Kearney, NE. I had to let that storm go and found out it produced a few tornadoes thereafter...grr. I headed east to intercept another supercell near Grand Island, NE where I nearly got pelted by golf-ball size hail. I took some photos and time-lapse of this storm as it tried to drop a funnel at one point. It started to look more ragged so I headed east again not forgetting about my initial target a few miles to my east. Along the way I could tell this supercell was becoming quite dominate as I headed toward Aurora, NE where I got gas watching the supercell funnel at this point. I blasted east along I-80 finding myself watching tornadoes develop along I-80 near Bradshaw, NE. At this moment I observed a nice elephant trunk tornado roping out north of Hampton, NE and the stronger more dominate tornado near Bradshaw, NE just outside York, NE. It was crazy to say the least at this moment! I actually have one photo of both tornadoes occurring at the same time. This ended up being my first multiple tornado day and the first time I've observed two tornadoes occurring at the same time. It was magic! Simple as that! I took a few photos and of course some video at this moment feeling pretty damn good. Not as good as some though that saw double digit tornadoes on this day. I was quite happy though as my target pretty much verified and I executed much better than the day before. My only regret is I wish I was closer for photography purposes, but hey Mother Nature puts down a tornado where she wants and not where you want one. After watching these tornadoes sunset was quickly approaching and the supercells were finally consolidating into an MCS which I wanted to stay in front of as I headed back east into Iowa and into Illinois. It made the drive home that much easier knowing I ended my chasecation like I needed to. Kind of like a story book ending if you ask me! Photos and video from this chase day I've added below:

Hmm...any idea where the warm front is?!
Supercell heading north out of Kearney, NE
Supercell #2 outside Grand Island, NE
trying to funnel (center left)

Wall cloud over Grand Island, NE as the storm
moves off to the north...

Another weird base near Aurora, NE
Supercell #3 had the magic! (wide-angle)
Elephant trunk tornado ropes out (left)
Bradshaw, NE tornado (right)

Crazy shot with two tornadoes occurring at the same time!!!

Click to enlarge...

Another shot as motorists stop to
grab a photo or two on the interstate

Click to enlarge...

Closer view of the elephant trunk tornado (left)...
Click to enlarge...

Wide-angle view...Click to enlarge...
One last shot!
I've added a YouTube time-lapse of the tornado (above)

Well this day for me probably was the most rewarding of the year. You never forget your first multiple tornado day or when you see multiple tornadoes occurring at the same time. That rarely happens and is something you might see every few years if you are lucky! This chase day left me happy to pretty much close out chasing in the Great Plains this season. If interested more I'd recommend you check out Walker Ashley's blog and Victor Gensini's blog as they have detailed chase accounts from this chase day as well. I'll be posting another post soon as I chased the following day as well locally. Until then...

06/19/11 Nebraska Supercell Extravaganza

Supercell along I-80 near Kimball, NE

Sunday, (June 19) I chased once again in western Nebraska as conditions seemed to be coming together for a possible tornado outbreak and severe weather. This chase day looked to be the most "favorable" during my entire chasecation. It's a day I will look back at as I learned quite a bit. After rooming the previous night at a Best Western in Kearney, NE I ended up targeting North Platte, NE on this chase day. A warm front in Nebraska in June usually means trouble folks! I headed west on I-80 to my target arriving there around midday. The atmosphere was quickly loading-up by early afternoon. Along I-80 in western Nebraska the atmosphere was getting rather ripe along the warm front with 3,000J/kg of CAPE present, 0-6km shear nearing 50kts, and rich-low level moisture with dew points around 60°F. Lets also not forget strong low-level shear with SRH 250-300m/s2, a supercell composite around 16, and low LCL's around 1000m. As the atmosphere quickly destabilized throughout the day the stage was set for a severe weather outbreak. I changed my mind on my original target around midday thinking I could get a few supercells and maybe even tornadoes farther west near Sidney, NE before the "cap" broke around the McCook, NE area by evening. I ended up heading west on I-80 chasing a supercell near Kimball, NE (first storm of the day). I chased this storm for most of the afternoon slowly working my way back east along I-80 toward the evening target-area. This supercell was rather photogenic around Kimball, NE as it gained more and more rotation as it worked east. I shot many photos of this slow-moving tornado-warned supercell and took some time-lapse video as well at this moment around 4:00pm. By late-afternoon however I noticed I had to ditch this storm as new convection looked to ignite along the warm front and may hold a little more tornadic promise. I headed east along I-80 reaching North Platte, NE by 6:30pm. I was probably about a hour too far behind as supercells erupted to my southwest near McCook, NE. If only I pulled the trigger a hour earlier! Furthermore, knowing I couldn't get to those storms before sunset I turned my attention to a developing supercell northeast of North Platte, NE that visually was intensifying. It quickly went tornado-warned so I watched this supercell rotate for a bit with a well defined wall cloud and lots of weird motion along the ground. Was there any spin-ups with this storm?! Good question! I really have no idea as it was rather messy below the base. I later gave up on this storm as it weakened and called it a night annoyed that I missed the main show to my southwest. Next time I won't get so "greedy" early-on in the day since those storms I missed produced several tornadoes along the warm front and spectacular structure as well. I shook this one off and went to sleep hoping for better things the next day. I've added photos and video of the two supercells I chased below:

Now that's some deep-moist convection right there...
Along the NE/CO border!
First view of the supercell near Kimball, NE
(pretty crappy at this point)
View from the north-side of the supercell... (mammatus)
Wide-angle view now she's getting
her act together...(wall cloud)
They don't call this area the
Sandhills of Nebraska for nothin'!

Yep, here's the Colorado sign too!
Supercell really getting going now as the wall cloud
is nearly on the ground at this point...
The first of many wide-angle shots of the supercell!
A spinning top here as southeast winds were
gusting to 25mph at this time

Supercell moving over I-80 east of Kimball, NE
Maybe my favorite shot?!
Many other chasers were along this exit off I-80
well including fellow chaser
Brad Goddard
Supercell #2 northeast of North Platte, NE
Wide-angle shot here...
This supercell looked good for about 20min...
(lots of chaotic motion under the base however)
I've added a YouTube time-lapse featuring both supercells (above)

I've added a short YouTube clip of the North Platte, NE
supercell from my GoPro as well (above)

That wraps up this chase day. I really needed a tornado on this day as my chances of seeing a few more tornadoes before the season was over were quickly diminishing! Than again I had no idea what the next day may hold at that point! I'll update with that post shortly. Stay tuned.