Saturday, July 24, 2010

2010 Chase Stats and Top Ten Storm Photos of 2010...

2010 was my second year storm chasing. I feel I really accomplished a lot this year. I did several successful chases out on my own, experienced my first tornado, and networked with some storm chasers/photographers. Here are my chasing statistics for 2010.
2010 Chase Stats:

# of Chases: 18
States Chased in: TX, OK
Chase Dates: 1/20, 1/23, 3/8, 3/19, 3/24*, 4/22, 5/9*, 5/10, 5/11*, 5/16, 5/19,
5/31* 6/2, 6/13, 6/24*, 6/27, 7/5, 7/12. (*indicates a bust day)

# of Busts: 5
# of tornadoes: 2 (4/22)
Highest Wind Gust: 65mph RFD (4/22, 5/19)
Largest Hail Size: Golf-ball 1.75in
Most Successful Chase: 4/22
Most Photogenic Chase: 4/22 and 7/12

Season Firsts: 1) My first photogenic tornado. 2) My first time to chase in
Oklahoma. 3) My first time to get cored.

Things I learned: 1) It is very difficult to outrun a supercell that is moving over
65Kts, if you’re not careful you can get caught in the core. 2)
Always check and make sure you have everything. On the
last chase (7/12) I had a blowout just 1½ miles from my
house. I did not even have my spare tire in the trunk!

The Top Ten Storm Photos of 2010

Another year and another season has come and gone. Despite 2010's late start I came back with some great photographs. Narrowing down to the top ten was very difficult. Several factors effect how I chose the top ten. Composition, exposure, storm structure are just a few. But ultimately, it is how I react when I first see the scene. Whichever images best convey my thoughts and emotions I experience, end up as top picks. This year there were 15 and I had to cut 5. This was an unforgettable chase season and I can only hope that 2011 can match the enthusiasm and excitement of 2010. Here's to the '10 chase season and kudos to all the people who helped me grow this year.

#10 Roll Cloud: Jacksboro, TX

This photo was captured after a thunderstorm’s updraft collapsed. I was driving towards Jacksboro when just outside the city limits I see an inflow band-like cloud to my north. As I got closer (and in a more visible area) I noticed that it was a roll cloud. Roll clouds are most often associated with outflow dominant storms. The storm I was chasing collapsed and a roll cloud formed along the cold pool. Although these clouds are completely harmless, there is a foreboding appearance to them.

#9 Ground Scraper: Watonga, OK

I don’t think I have ever seen a wall cloud/meso structure this low to the ground. This was during the High Risk 5/19 chase day in northern OK. A significant severe weather outbreak was expected to happen on this day. Although there were several tornado reports we did not observe any. Chaser convergence on this storm was insane. There had to be at least 100 vehicles on this single storm—most of which belonged to Vortex 2. Instead of hoping to see a one minute view of a rain wrapped tornado we opted to chase the structure instead. This photo is just proof that I don’t need to see a tornado to have a good storm chase.

#8 The Collapse: Crowell, TX

One night I was bored and headed down to Middle Lake in Iowa Park. I wanted to try a “painting with light” technique on some landscapes. A cold front was forecast to move through our area and there was a slight chance of thunderstorms. I noticed some storms pop up on radar to my west, they did not look too impressive, but I thought it might be a good opportunity for lightning photography. I beat the storms to Vernon and head south on 183. The storms were moving east/southeast and I was able to watch this supercell collapse right in front of me. This is one of the last structure shots before the storm died out. Its outflow, however, acted as a catalyst to an approaching thunderstorm. When it latched on to this boundary it became severe. There were reports of it dropping golf-ball sized hail.

#7 TEXAS: Henrietta, TX

This image was captured on 5/10. Supercells were expected to break out once again over northwest TX and Oklahoma. I attempted to intercept a cell near Waurika, OK. The only difficulty with these storms was their motion. Storms moving at 65kts are very difficult to chase. I underestimated how fast they were moving and ended up getting caught in the core trying to outrun them. After that I chose to abandon those storms. On my way back home I can see a few cells pop up on radar, so I go after them. This was captured just outside Henrietta. I was very fortunate to see this symbol from the road and the light couldn’t have been better.

#6 Lightning: Crowell, TX

Lightning has always been a fascinating subject to me. It is completely unpredictable, challenging, and rewarding. While I do enjoy lightning photography, for whatever reason I ended up coming short this year. Its not that I didn’t try, I was just unlucky. I had gone through the entire chase season without any lightning photographs. During the 6/2/10 chase in Crowell, TX I was fortunate enough to capture a daytime lightning photograph. Not only was this captured in beautiful light, but it also had several elements that made the photograph work. A field of hay bales, anti-cyclonic updraft, a perfectly positioned CG strike. This photo is proof that patience is a virtue.

#5 There's A Lava Lamp in the Sky: McLean, TX

The best time of day to photograph is known as the “Golden Hour” This is the time when the sun is low to the horizon and a beautiful golden light is cast across everything in the scene. This is no exception when it comes to storm chasing. The low angle of the sun produces dramatic shadows and textures. This photo is of an updraft base near McLean, TX from the 7/5/10 chase. The sun had just hit the horizon and bathed the base in an incredible red/gold light. It resembles something that would be found in a lava lamp. The whole experience was surreal.

#4 The Beast: Putnam, OK

One of the things I enjoy most about storm chasing is the connection with nature. Being right there and witnessing the power and majesty of these storms, makes me feel so insignificant. This was one of my recent chases (7/12/10) near Putnam, OK. This was an incredible thunderstorm. I was out taking this photograph and I remember hearing a beast-like roar as the storm approached. I was so enthralled by the structure I didn’t notice the advancing core. I stood in awe as the “Beast” swallowed me whole.

#3 Observer: Arapaho, OK

This was from the same day as #4 the 7/12/10 storm. After I got out of the core and I saw this amazing structure. We met up with several other chasers around the area. The man in the photo is storm chaser Brendon Lindsey: This photo receives the #3 placement because it demonstrates the connection a storm chaser has with nature. You can see Brendon staring intently through his camera’s viewfinder, capturing the beauty of the storm.

#2 White Wall Cloud and White Funnel: Watonga, OK

This is from the same storm as #9 during the 5/19/10 High Risk chase day. We pulled over to shoot this amazing scene. A newly developed mesocyclone formed right in front of us. We watched as the wall cloud slowly tightened up and formed a spectacular white funnel. I still can’t believe it never touched down. That was the closest thing to a tornado we saw the entire day. Shortly after this photo was taken the RFD (rear flank downdraft) destroys the funnel and eventually the wall cloud. It makes me wonder what would have happened if it stayed organized just a little longer.

#1 Rope Out: Goodnight, TX

Here it is! We have come to the last photo on the Top Ten Storm Photos of 2010. It was very difficult to pick all the other’s, but this particular one is the clear winner. The Goodnight, TX tornado was my first real tornado. The tornado was on the ground for 22minutes and best of all it hardly caused any damage. I always hope that if I do experience a tornado, that it is out in a field without any damage to life or property. We were very fortunate to see this tornado through its entire life cycle. The image here is captured during the roping stage. It went from a classic stove pipe to a snake rope out. There is something about this photo that is almost peaceful. The curves of the tree and the road play on the curves of the tornado. S, C, and Z curves have a calming effect on an image. I believe this is why the tornado appears just as fragile as the tree. This is by far my favorite photograph of 2010.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

07/12/10 Incredible Chase Day in NW OK!...

SPC Day 1 Outlook.

Tornado graphic. They retracted the 5%/2% area in northern OK.

Hail graphic.

High wind graphic.

Since I have lost my job with Metro Photo I have been feeling a little down. There is always one thing that can cheer me up--a good storm chase. The 7/12/10 chase was no exception. Ended up in north west OK and intercepted beautiful supercells. Just an incredible chase day!

Thanks for the support!


NWS in Norman: Graphicast for forecast area. They retract the slight risk for the lower half of OK and western north TX.


Severe thunderstorms were expected to break out in northern OK. A stationary front was progged to slowly drift south from KS into northern OK. A combination of 70+ dewpoints and daytime heating yielded high instability (3500 J/kg) making the atmosphere very unstable. HRRR models were showing precipitation breaking out over Cheyenne, OK. That would be my target area. I left Wichita Falls around 2:00 and head west on 287. In Vernon I shifted to the north riding along US highway 283.

On the road for nearly 2 hours and some towers start to show up on radar. I am still 30 miles away from my target.

On my way to Cheyenne, OK. A cu field forming and some towers starting to build.

Storms start to break out around 4:20. I've almost reached my target, but now I need to move NE.

SPC issues a mesocscale discussion for my target area around 4:40pm. "Severe thunderstorm watch possible".

Cumulus towers starting to build. The storm on the right is the storm I want to chase.

Mini LP (low precipitation) structure on this storm.

Heading west on SR 33 I see my storm struggle to organize. I needed to pull over and capture it with the windmill.

The storms were forming a visible mesocyclone, but the velocity scans don't show much rotation.

My storm is look unorganized on radar, and a better cell explodes to my west.

Here is the cell to my east and you can also see the anvil from the cell to my west.

I am now between two supercells in Vici, OK. To my east I see a developing wall cloud. To my west a rain/hail core and developing mesocyclone.

Storm to my east, beautiful wall cloud and tail cloud forming now.

This wall cloud was rotating rapidly and actually produced a small (very short lived) funnel.

The cell to my west catches up to me and I see a very convincing lowering under the wall cloud (which I am currently under in this photo).

This storm is starting to show some rotation.

This lowering had some insane rotation. I believe it was a developing tornado. It is about 200 yards from my location!

This cell is catching up to me and I don't want to be in the core. I find a route that takes me south.

The only problem is there are no routes east until I get down to SR 47.

I pull over to shoot this structure. You can see the main updraft on the left side, the wall cloud in the center with a beaver tail inflow band, the dark core to the left, and the anvil in the upper portion.

At this time radar showed the storm had developed an overshooting top and peaked at 62.5kft!

Hook back up on US 183 and just wait for the storm to approach me.

It appears the storm is trying to split.

North of Putnam, OK. Looks like another inflow band moving into another mesocyclone.

Radar shows four areas with mesocyclones.

Even a few couplets show up in the velocity scans now. This storm was going nuts!

It gets a little more organized and I watch as the storm puts on a show for me.

Awesome structure on this storm!

Close up of the storm's wall cloud. Some serious rising motion with rapid left-right movement.

I was lucky to capture this brief funnel cloud a few seconds later it dissipated.

I really need to get south before I get cored, but I just can't...

I am just too mesmerized by this phenomenal structure! The storm has transitioned to an HP (high precipitation) supercell. Its about this time I meet up with James Langford ( fellow photographer/storm chaser.

Apparently we weren't the only one. There were several chasers out on this storm. Very high winds were reported about this time. With one report estimated at 80mph. You can see the downburst winds stirring up dust and precip just to the right of the mesocyclone in this picture. Judging by how quickly the dust was approaching I estimated at least 70mph.

We heard from someone there was a radio report of a rain wrapped tornado. There were no confirmed reports on the SPC's reports page.

The best part about this storm, was that it was movoing parallel to 183. We could get as close as we needed and move south the whole time.

Closer up view of the mesocyclone. A small needle funnel spin up out of the cloud. Again, you can see more dust/precip getting stirred up from the downburst.

The storm starts to split. The sun is setting and we don't really want to chase an HP supercell in the dark. This is the mesocyclone to the west.

New mesocyclone form to our NE. We decide to call it a day and head back home.

I head south on 183 to connect into Vernon, then from there back on 287 to Wichita Falls.

I drove nearly 500 miles today, and my tire blows out the last 1.5 miles! LOL! Oh well, that is how it happens. Better than it blowing out while chasing those HP supercells, right?

Wow! Another memorable chase day in OK. A spectacular display of supercells on a marginal set up chase day. It doesn't get much better than that! Summer return to us this week. The NWS has already issued a Heat Advisory until thursday afternoon. For more info on heat safety visit the OUN website.

About Me

My photo
I am 25 years old and I have been a photographer for 11 years now. I love nothing more than taking my camera out on a photo shoot with me. I mainly focus on nature photography.That is where my passion is. I love looking at all of God's wonderful creations and capturing them in the photographic medium. I have won awards and have received special recognition for my photography. It is my calling and my passion!