Wow, I really let this thing go over the summer. There just wasn't much to talk about! As much as it seems the opposite, I have been busy with my camera, I have just been sharing the quick tidbits on the twitter feed more than actually writing up posts here.
I have been trying to work a little more with the portrait/people photography. My very photogenic friend Melanie and I chugged some red bull and frolicked in a field a couple of weeks ago, and that set can be found here.
It looks like a stormy couple of days across the country, but I will be sitting much of it out. I do think there is a shot at a tornado somewhere from se Colorado into the TX Panhandle this afternoon, and same goes for Oklahoma and Kansas tomorrow. I will be enjoying the warm weather back in Illinois on Saturday hoping for maybe a stray lightning bolt or two while having a drink with some friends.
I haven't updated this thing for a while, but it seems this will be a summer of drought conditions so there really has been little to share. This weekend was spent back in DeKalb as I acted as the on-site meteorologist for the Bike MS charity ride, which hosts 2500 cyclists camping out in tents during the night, and riding the country roads during the day. My job was simply to scare off any rain drops, which was really hard to want to do in a summer like this. It was a pleasure working with that crew for the second summer in a row. I could get used to that whole being paid to forecast the weather deal.
Anyway, I'm just going to go through my recent photos and throw up anything that I haven't posted from the last several weeks. There isn't much.
I sat around most of yesterday hoping for thunderstorms to pop during the afternoon. I kept watching storms further to the west near the Mississippi River, but nothing was going on down here. Eventually the sun set, and I figured I was hosed for another day. I saw an outflow boundary surging toward Champaign from the earlier storms up north and to the west. I had the night free hoping that I'd be shooting thunderstorms, so I just decided to grab the camera and head out and shoot some more boring night sky time lapses. I wondered if perhaps the outflow boundary would be something kind of neat to watch on a time lapse as it scooted over Champaign, but figured I was just getting out of town to relax for a bit.
The second that I started shooting the time lapse, this happened.
Pretty depressing convective setup for mid-May, but I'm not too good for anything. It was a warm one during the afternoon with temperatures in the middle to upper 80s, but surface dew points were relatively meager for mid-May, sitting in the middle 50s. This got us about 1500 j/kg of mixed layer cape, combined with absolutely no wind shear. Not even weak shear, there really was essentially zero flow for these storms to work with. I sat at home until things began to pop about 10 miles outside of town, grabbed my brother and headed out to take some photos locally.
I went to one of my usual spots south of Urbana (which would have been a fantastic spot to view the Champaign area tornado from a couple of weeks ago). Stuff just really did not look very fun at all and my camera remained in my bag for quite some time. Eventually I noticed a good updraft going up to our south, which did eventually become a substantial cell as it progressed northward slowly toward us. I figured why bother moving and just let it overtake us. Just before reaching us, the updraft of the storm collapsed, kicking up some dust on the leading edge of the outflow as it raced toward us. The core finally overtook us with some sub-severe hailstones and some gusty winds, also below severe limits. Even so, it was fun to ride out a core.
I noticed two outflow boundaries were going to collide on the west side of the county. This was the only time during the entire outing that I bothered to move the car. I drove us about 10 miles west to where these boundaries would collide, and set up shot. I shot a little time lapse of the two boundaries, but unfortunately I was a little bit late on the actual collision.
The coolest thing happened when the boundaries did meet though. While standing out there watching the boundaries overhead, a little cluster of intense dust devils began to kick up about 50 yards in front of us in a bare farm field. These things became intense enough that you could actually hear them in the field in front of us. Looking up, there were a couple of little 'swirls' in the base of the cu. We were likely almost in the right spot at the right time for a landspout tornado, but it never quite rooted itself. It eventually moved over a field with much less dirt and debris and we lost the circulation.
The rest of the evening was spent in this very spot on the side of some road in flat Champaign County. Eventually the boundary collision led to more numerous thunderstorms in the area, and it became a lightning effort. Called it quits around 9:30 as the cluster of storms congealed into a big rainy blob, making it about 4 hours out in the same little spot.
Here's the time lapse from Sunday... really didn't have it setup early enough, and unfortunately didn't have the storms erupting out of frame following the collision.
I went up to the lakehouse in Wisconsin for a couple of days last weekend, and after catching up on some much needed sleep the first night, I spent the next two nights shooting star trails and sleeping out in the tent. I could not have asked for better weather, with barely a cloud seen and daytime temperatures in the middle 70s. At night the stars were vibrant, and temperatures cooled into the 50s.
Late on updates again, but got a great show from the sky on the 15th. With temperatures in the middle 80s and dew points all the way down in the middle 40s (I think DeKalb was even 85/38 at one point around 2 PM) I didn't expect much. With a so much dry air present in the lower part of the sounding I figured some dry downbursts would be possible, but I didn't expect much convection to be present. Went out with Heather Brinkmann and was treated to an amazing show as high based convection reflected the light from the setting sun creating a sky filled with vivid colors. It wasn't long before one of the brightest double rainbows I have seen popped up in the middle of the scene. We drove around the south of DeKalb and photographed another cluster of storms that erupted just after sunset.
Looking at a chance for more disorganized thunderstorms this evening, likely blocking out what would be a partial solar eclipse.
Flickr set from earlier Tuesday.
I'm way behind on posts, but I'll get an update going on the most recent happenings. Been extremely busy with academia lately, trying to get this whole meteorologist thing finalized.
Sunday afternoon I was scheduled to shoot engagement photos of my friend Morgan and her fiance Kyle. As the time approached, thunderstorms began erupting all around the area, potentially threatening our shoot. We were scheduled to get together around 5 or 6 PM, so around 3 I decided to head out to the area we would be taking the photos, and just play around with the storms until they were ready for me. There was nothing to see at all, as one would expect with high instability but no wind shear to speak of, aside from the aid of a couple of boundaries floating around the area. I got a phone call from Morgan letting me know they were ready when I was, so I began heading back that direction. It was on my way that I noticed some runaway outflow that had long since outrun it's parent thunderstorm that was kicking up a huge plume of dust. The dust plume was right in my path, and I actually got a text from Morgan wondering what was going on as they were right in the thick of things at that moment. I drove directly for the outflow and was soon in the midst of a pretty fun little Illinois dust storm. I actually wound up getting slammed by a tight circulation as a gustnado spun up and moved right over me, kicking up field debris and tossing my camera/tripod as I was rolling video.
As I have been busy, it has been slow going on getting through any photos, but I figured I would share a sample of what I have at this point.
And, here's a link to some of the dusty video from Sunday evening.
Got a phone call from Chris Allington (intotherfd.com) and moments after I said 'hello' I realized why he was calling me. I wasn't home and did not have the camera gear on me but a quick run home and a short jaunt north of DeKalb and I was ready to go. Shot mostly TL of the green arc that remained stationary on the horizon for almost an hour. I did manage to grab a shot of the aurora and an iridium flare to the northeast!
Blog of Northern Illinois University Meteorology undergraduate and storm chaser Andrew Pritchard. Supplement to the PrairieStormImagery.Com site. Meteorological musings, and non-related discussion generally focused on the beautiful imagery the Earth's atmosphere provides.