Monday, December 28, 2009

My 2009 Photo Favorites

We've finally reached the end of the year, so it's time for everyone to start compiling their lists of their favorite everythings. I know a few have posted their favorite photos of the year, so I'll be following suit. Personally, I've never been more happy to see a year come to a close. I should be grateful after a successful 2008 season and shut my mouth and take a lemon year but when a season is so bad it's inflicting bodily injuries and taking away beloved vehicles I have to say enough is enough. Some were able to score quite a year, but on my end it's fun to see how many times I said "I'll just wait until tomorrow" and have the previous day go nuts. June 17 2009, for example. I said "this year has been pathetic, and tomorrow looks epic even closer so I'll just sit tight and wait for the bigger closer day". What happened? The Aurora tornado happened the day I sat out, and my car was totaled the next day while chasing the Iowa blue sky bust. Of course that was just one week after getting my car back after the June 1st debacle in southeast Iowa resulting in a $600 car repair. Those who have followed the blog know all the details, so I won't rehash the entire year and will try and focus on a few of the brighter moments in the past year! I've gone through and picked ten of my favorite images, in no particular order.

March 8 2009 - Central Illinois
Following chasing some low topped tornado producers traveling at upwards of 70 mph across central Illinois, a shot of the distant storms and a white barn in rural Champaign County. Note the terrible terrain found in lowly Illinois.

May 25 2009 - Southwest Illinois
In a terrible year, the lesser setups garner more attention. A tropical low ventured it's way slowly northward into the mid-Mississippi Valley region this day, spawning a few minisupercells. Numerous funnel clouds were reported, all of which I managed to avoid. I did score a couple decent structure shots on this storm near Edwardsville. Storm seeding from numerous nearby areas of convection prevented any legitimate tornado attempt.

April 23 2009 - Mc Lean County, Illinois
It's not much of a secret anymore how much I love hanging out at the ever expanding wind farms in the central US. Central Illinois is now home to a few of the largest in the country. On a moisture starved chase day I stopped by at the southwest McLean County wind farm to shoot a few lightning photos with the windmills as a foreground, and captured this shot with a towering cu being lit up slightly by the fading twilight.

May 29 2009 - Southern Champaign County
Another moisture starved setup led to a few isolated mini-supercells. These never posed any severe threat, but were quite photogenic near sunset.

July 5 2009 - Deep Lake, Wisconsin
My favorite place to be in the summer, of course facing away from the lake in this image. Coming home from the July 4th fireworks display in Oxford, I returned to quite a fog show in the valley across from the house.

October 6 2009 - DeKalb County Illinois
On a warm fall day I decided to venture out and check out the new wind farm they were building in southern DeKalb County and snagged this shot near Shabonna Lake State Park.

September 8 2009 - Northern Illinois University campus
Not the best capture of the ISS and Space Shuttle passover, but significant in that it was also my first photographic journey as a student at NIU in DeKalb.

August 19 2009 - Approaching the Rochester, IL tornadic storm.
This might not be much of a significant chasing photo to others, but I've always liked it. I've really enjoyed sharing chases with Tia over the last few years. It started with her simply wanting to spend time with me, but she's admitted to finding things pretty interesting and has learned really fast! She's become quite the navigator and has kept me cool in some insane situations. I've been known to blow a gasket or two, but don't seem to reach that point with her in the passenger seat, even in a year like 2009.

July 25 2009 - Urbana, Illinois
Lightning illuminating the under side of a late night bow echo moving into the Champaign-Urbana metro. The very first "intercept" for the new Mazda6, even though I only drove 1.5 miles!

November 8 2009 - DeKalb County Windfarm
I think we're staring to see a theme here, yeah? Another balmy fall evening, I had to venture out to the wind farm again and snagged this shot at twilight. Probably my favorite shot of the year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merry (late) Christmas!

Well, central Illinois finally got their snow. I'm a little bummed I missed the ice event in DeKalb on the 23rd (caught the early stages before I bailed out down I-39 to CMI) and the whopper snow accumulations that occurred yesterday in northern Illinois but at least I've got a little white stuff to amuse myself with down here finally. Just finishing the observations for WILL in Urbana where I'll be reporting 3.8" for the last 24 hours and a snow depth of 5 inches.

The Christmas holiday went well over here. Since moving up north, I finally get to experience "coming home for the holidays". I managed to pick up a couple new things for the coming storm season. Notably a spiffy new external microphone for my HV30, and some cash for my most exciting new toy in the Sigma 10-20mm lens for the XT. I trust all four of my trusty readers had a fun filled holiday weekend as well!

Saved a few fun images from the massive Christmas storm that I figured I would throw up here. What a massive storm it was, not only in intensity but sheer size.

Water Vapor Imagery:

Infrared Satellite Imagery:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snow Video

Okay, I lied about the video. Here it is, in all it's glory.

Five minutes you'll never get back!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wind and Snow at NIU

Decided to venture out and took a few photos and some video on the Northern Illinois Univ. campus once the winds arrived and some more snow began falling. Took some photos of the suckers walking to their exams in this stuff. Though, who's the bigger sucker, the people who are walking to exams or the guy out there for fun. I'll be the biggest sucker of all tomorrow when I'm walking to my exam and the temperature is oh, -5F or something like that.

Probably won't put up any video, as it's not exciting enough for the time right now as I have studying to do but here are a few photos.

Here's a pretty sweet image from around the time the low passed directly over us here in DeKalb. Barometer at the airport dropped to 28.90". Wonder how many times that has happened.

Crappy Snow Time Lapse

Made a quick time lapse yesterday, though it really doesn't show anything cool. We got about 6 inches, but you can't really tell that in the images. I suppose if you watch the roof next door or something you can see it mount up. Heaviest snow comes from the convective bands that we experienced midway through the video. Rates probably hit 2 inches per hour for a short time.

Kind of a bummer thus far, though I guess a fun first system for the winter. Six inches and 30 mph wind gusts is not really that atypical for this location in December. Surface pressure did hit 28.90" last night, which is pretty impressive. Wonder when the last time that occurred around here. Temperature is still holding at 29F but that won't last. Subzero tonight is the plan, so I guess if I'm going to take any photos of the snow I should do it now.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow Streak / Upcoming Storm

Caught a nice burst of snow on Thursday night (technically very early Friday morning!). Was heading to bed late that night around 2 a.m. and was surprised to peak out the window and see the ground covered in a white coating. I thought the flurries were more or less done with but we were actually experiencing a fairly high snowfall rate at the time, which lasted about an hour. The snowfall showed up on visible satellite images the next morning and showed just how thin the snow band was, and what a direct hit we experienced here in DeKalb.

Crappy cell phone picture of snow covering the east quad on the Northern Illinois Univ. campus.

Looks like a decent system coming in a couple days on Tuesday evening / Wednesday morning. The real threat appears to be blowing snow at this point. DeKalb seems to be bordering on getting pretty close to the rain/snow line with this one as the low pressure track settles in. At this point I'd venture to guess 6 inches of snow is not out of the question here, give or take 6 inches! If we do get a few inches at least, the main issue looks to be the winds on the back side of the system which could take only a couple inches of snow and create a white out situation in a hurry. Temperature will also take a nose-dive into Thursday. Luckily, I will be able to enjoy the mass chaos on Wednesday, but then bail south to Champaign-Urbana on Thursday where there will be no snow cover to deal with! That's about as close to a winter storm perfect world as you can get. I'll enjoy whatever fun mother nature brings, but then be able to avoid driving around a snow covered town for weeks!