Friday, February 26, 2010

More moonlight fun!

Well, the skies finally cleared with a bright moon again, so I headed back out to do some star trails with a moonlit snow covered foreground. I wasn't feeling very creative and didn't know where to start as far as where I wanted my shots to be taken. I just headed towards Shabonna Lake where I could find something other than a bare corn field and set up shop. I managed to get a couple shots that I liked. I wussed out in the cold weather though, so the star trails aren't as long as I was hoping. It's a bone chilling cold out there though.

A car came by when taking the bottom shot and when I went to guard my camera I bumped the stupid tripod, which is why it's slightly off in parts. If skies cooperate I'll likely head out some more this weekend.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

August 19 2009 Rain Wrapped Tornado

Surprisingly, even though it was probably my best tornado intercept in all of 2009, frustrating as it even was I never actually made a legitimate account for the page with video captures and a narrative. So, my project for today was to take care of that. Every day that was deserving of an account from 2009 now has one, here.

The summary with photos, video captures and some radar images can be found here.

We're still stuck in this boring winter pattern that we've been in for the last couple months, so there is nothing to update meteorology wise. I'm more or less ready to go once mother nature decides the battle of the air masses shall begin. I don't care to speculate how early that will be. That said, and this could be the desperation left in my system after a long winter, and even longer 2009 chase season, but I get the feeling that it's going to be like a rubber band snapping once the pattern does revert back to a stormy one. I don't know when that will finally happen, but it makes me bank on an active late March and April in this area. When was the last legit tornado day in April in the midwest? 1996? I can't think of anything after that. I'm pretty sure Iowa has had it's share, but how many chasers did it screw over on those days? I bagged a couple tornadoes in April 2006, but one of those was in Indiana and the other was in central IL, but at about 2:30 in the morning. That's a peculiar enough story in itself, since they were both in the same 24 hour period. Bag a tornado at 2:30 am, go to bed, and then see another tornado in another state that afternoon on the same day. Anyway. Again, it could just be personal emotions following the last year, but once winter starts losing it's grip, I'd expect a fairly "Lion"-esque arrival from spring. Don't take my word though. Just look at my snow totals for the last couple of winter storms to see why listening to me these days isn't advised.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter Remains

Well, I was just laughing at the misfortune of those back downstate who looked to get slammed by some nice snow accumulations this Sunday. Soon as I laugh, the models shift the storm 100 miles north, and we here in northern Illinois now look to be at ground zero. Things are not looking so funny anymore right around Sunday night and during the day Monday. The storm is still a couple days out, but I have to say that if the last couple runs verify we are in trouble up here. This one has the best potential I've seen all winter to really dump some white stuff across the region. One last hurrah? Hopefully.

One thing is for sure, if we get a long duration under a deformation band with as much QPF as it's forecast to dump over the area Sunday and Monday, things will be moving slow for a while. Forecasting totals would be silly now with such an erratic trend in the models, but this one has 12" potential written all over it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I feel kind of lame for some reason, but I've created a Twitter account for the website. I've resisted doing so for a long time simply because there is no real additional benefit in having one solely for a social networking purpose when one already has a Facebook account.

That said, I've been persuaded on the benefits from a storm chasing / website updating stand point, so a PrairiestormMedia twitter page has been created. I'm not sure how much use it will get in the next couple weeks, but I suppose I could see myself using it more once the weather action picks up. It will probably get the most frequent use during storm chases, whether it be forecast or location updates. I'll still rely on this blog a lot for my forecasting insights, as I simply just really like writing it all out both for my own benefit and whoever else for whatever reason feels compelled to follow my iffy forecasts! It won't replace the blog at all, but I guess will stand as it's intended purpose - frequent minimal text updates. I still intend to frequently update my blog during chases as well, occasionally uploading photos from my cell phone, so I guess pick your favorite source.

This is really longer than it needed to be. The twitter page can be found here:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The ground, moved!

As if the snow was not enough, an earthquake was added to the mix early this morning for northern Illinois. A 3.8 quake shook the ground, almost directly where I sit here in DeKalb. Being sick, I was in a Nyquil induced nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, fever, best sleep you ever got during an earthquake medicine, sleep. I did wake up to the tremblor, however I did pass it off as a violent snow plow. I remember thinking "okay, these snow plows are just getting ridiculous" and dozing back off. I did vaguely recollect back to the 2008 quake we felt in central IL, but passed it off. Certainly Illinois would not be home to 2 quakes in 3 years. Then I woke up to text messages on my phone confirming that distant thought.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thanks Snow!

Well, I'm feeling much better today. Vitamin A. When you're feeling crappy, high doses of Vitamin A and Vitamin C will do the trick. I'm avoiding the outdoors today due to the snow, which as I expected has been somewhat of a let down. Looks like even my totals will be too high for what we'll end up with here. That said, it's still snowing so I should just shut my mouth. Per radar trends it's looking like Lake County, IL will win locally.

Anyway. As I was saying, I've spent the majority of the day indoors working on more much needed website updates. With heavy snow falling currently, storm chasing seems like a distant memory. However, we're less than 3 weeks away from what I generally call the beginning of the storm chasing season. Nothing is really "fun" to chase until April 15th, but after a long winter stuck indoors I'm never one to turn away a chance at bagging a needle in the haystack and give chase to some fast moving supercells in March, as usually happens a couple times in the midwest. It's generally a good idea to be ready to go around March 1st, in my opinion. So, that's what I'm shooting for. I don't have any technological updates going on gear-wise, so I'll be set to go when the first event approaches, be it early March or it waits til April. Since I renovated the website early in 2008, I left a lot of things in temporary statuses, and never got back to changing that. So my mission this winter has been to get everything up to par once the season starts. Today's updates include:

A new page for time lapse videography. I've really taken a liking to creating time lapse videos of severe weather, so this will be the site where I'll be posting all past and future videos of that type. You can view that here: WX in Motion

I've also spent a lot of time working on new photo galleries. For example this one, Supercells and Tornadoes was finished up today. I've created several new galleries, including winter weather, and a gallery featuring photos of storm chasers that I've taken while in the field. Perhaps you're featured? It's slim pickins right now, but I'll be adding more over time.

I've updated the gear and equipment page as well. Nothing new is really added, but I changed some of the photos to actually include photos of my own gear, rather than store images. You can check that out here.

Let's see. I tweaked a couple other things cosmetically, but those will likely go un-noticed. If you haven't recently, go on over to the main PrairiestormMedia.Com page and let me know if you've got any better ideas.

There are areas that I'm still working on, such as updating all the old chase logs. I had been dragging my feet moving everything from the crappy geocities server to the new one since 2008. Well, that cost me, as I was unaware that geocities was doing away with it's entire service, so I lost everything from 2001-2007. I've got 2004 and 2007 mostly updated, but the rest of those years still need to be done. That will likely be what I focus most on before things get going this spring. I'm not re-writing all the logs, because there is no way that I'll remember all the details. But I'll at least get video captures from the more important dates on there. I had no idea what was going on back then anyway, so I really don't need to revisit my actions during those chases back in the early part of the decade. We'll save that for myself in private when I watch those old tapes!

That should about do it for today's update. I've been going at this for several hours today, and it's time for some food and a night of college basketball. College basketball and March Madness keep me entertained as we transition into severe weather season and baseball season. I long for listening to the Cubs on WGN 720 while driving out to the target area on a moderate risk day in June, but for now an exciting end to the college hoops season will do. Illinois' has somehow found them in the race for the Big Ten Conference, so things could be interesting down the road.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Obligatory Winter Storm Post

Well, with such a big winter storm taking aim on the midwest this week, I felt it right of me to at least mention such a thing. Not sure how much I agree with the heavier amounts down south, but we'll see how that plays out. If I had to guess, I'd say that central Illinois gets their heaviest snows early in the morning before being dry-slotted somewhere around mid-day. I'm calling for about 4-6 inches around the Champaign area. Further north will obviously see higher totals as we get into the trowel region tomorrow morning and thru the day. Northern Illinois will likely see it's heaviest action tomorrow morning from around 6 AM to 2 PM. Things may taper off a bit around then before picking back up for a few hours during the evening. Here in DeKalb we will be a bit far west to pick up much from the lake enhancement of Lake Michigan, however some enhancement of the back side of the trowel region may be realized here. I'm calling for a solid 8.5-9 inches here in DeKalb, with higher amounts to the east. The Milwaukee area may be among the hardest hit areas.

Water vapor shows the northern low pressure center moving into Iowa presently, while another trough develops to the south. I hate winter weather forecasting, but overall I think central Illinois may be a bit overhyped on this one, but that remains to be seen. Northern Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin are under the gun for much higher totals, potentially cresting a foot near the Lake, but with predominantly 7-11 inch readings everywhere else. Peoria to Champaign, I'll give 4-6 inches.

For now I'm battling a cold that I picked up yesterday. As luck would have it, I had two exams this morning to battle through with a stuffy nose and foggy head. Loads of Vitamins A and C, with plenty of rest once I got home this afternoon and hopefully I'll be bouncing back tomorrow. I guess it doesn't matter as Tuesday's are pretty free for me, and I'll be spending much of the day staring out the window watching my snow totals be wrong.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I'm a sucker for the moonlight that a full, or nearly full moon casts out in the open. Was making my way back from Champaign to DeKalb tonight, and could not resist a detour upon returning to the DeKalb area, which of course took me right through my favorite spot. Only took a couple photos, and of those I'm only keeping one. It's not my favorite, but there's something about it that I really like.