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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Looking back at 2007

From a chasing standpoint it was OK. The ratio of decent storm days to bust days was a lot better than 2006 somehow. Had 23 chase days worthy of making it on the website. You guys who know me understand how much it annoys me when people have a running "tornado count". What ever happened to just enjoying the sky without the "I'm more successful than you because" BS? Rant mode off.

4 of the 23 days stick out. Here are my top 4 and why.

#4 The June 7th High Risk day in Wisconsin

Why do I do this to myself every year? Every year I swear I will never return to the land of trees and cheese in pursuit of a 'nader after shooting a couple of tapes of mostly trees each trip. Long story short is I missed three torns by less than 3 miles or 3 minutes. I almost had one drop right on top of me by Tainter Lake near Menominee. Thanks for pointing that out to me Kenny! Played dodge the bullet with the Wisconsin Rapids cell. I don't skirt the hail cores in KS when I know gorilla sized stones are in there. Why do I do it when I'm hauling ass through Stevens Point? I dunno, Wisconsin makes me crazy I guess. This is the first high risk day I have chased in my career where I didn't bag an odd ball tornado very few other people saw.

#3 May 5th High Risk day in South Dakota

Cullen and I couldn't have planned this day any better. A wild set up, good forecasting and good positioning. The Yankton multi vortex was the best of the 5 tornadoes we saw this day. The picture above says it all on why we chase. Simply awesome.

#2 August 10th Slight risk day in North Dakota and South Dakota


Chasing with friends is the best time spent. David Drufke and I have chased together for a couple of years now. He is only one of less than a handful of people I trust with decision making on a chase day, has great forecasting skills, and is one of the most skilled photographers I have ever met. He keeps a low profile and I respect him greatly for that. Anyhow, Cullen, Dave, Dave's girlfriend Kristen and myself made the journey west to the Missouri River and it paid off big time. We managed to view a tornado 52 miles off to our southwest thanks to the combination of topography and a moderately high LCL which kept the storm bases around the max of 1200 m AGL to still get a tornado. BIG THANKS to Scott Olson for helping me figure out the exact location of the tornado in relation to our position using archived radar data along with our GPS log.

The other excitement of the day occurred as we stopped for fuel in Hoven, SD while trying to outrun the cell which produced the 52 mile tornado. No pay at the pump so had to go in to the Prairie Stop store. The girl working the counter asked if we were storm chasers and mentioned she had never seen a tornado in her whole life (maybe 17 or 18 years...lol). Well as the rest of my crew dinged around in the store, I came out and was frozen in my tracks. Just to the west of town a tornado was in progress. I couldn't move for what felt like minutes but was likely just a few seconds. I was already making a contingency plan in my head of how I was going to shoot video of this thing then dive for cover in the store as this thing was about to come bearing down right on us. After a few tense seconds, I felt a gust of cold air from the north and I knew the tornado was doomed. As it approached, it quickly roped out overhead never to be seen again.

What a day.

#1 August 11th Slight risk day in Minnesota


Not every significant chase day is marked by a tornado or even a spectacular storm. Sometimes it is a right of passage. 6 years ago on June 6th of of 2002, Cullen first jumped into a booster seat in the back of our chase vehicle and hit the road with me for the first time. We never saw a tornado that day but the seed was planted which has lead to many, many memories for us to share throughout our remaining years together. He remembers that storm like it was yesterday still. August 11 2007 was such a day. A very patient 4 year old climbed into a booster seat and hit the road with dad asking a gazillion questions about everything. It didn't matter how the next few hours went. My daughter, Cailyn, was making her maiden first real chase with dad.
She had been out a few couple of times in the past close to home but this time it was going to be for real. There would never be a "first chase" ever again. Only the next chase.


In the past year I've seen Minnesota chasers Chris White and Tony Perkins come into their own. I look forward to reading their chase accounts and seeing their awesome photographic works. I've seen Rich Gudmunsen take F5chaser to the next level making it the premiere forum for Minnesota chasers.

On a personal level, my new start began 3 years ago. It was a little rough at the beginning but the kids and I have adjusted and life is good. I've been reminded it is ok to wear your heart on your sleeve sometimes. I've been reminded true friends are few and far between (namely Eric and Carrie Whitehill and Brett and Kim Masters) and to tell them you appreciate them being your friend. I've met some wonderful people who I want to get to know better and invite them into my life and some not so wonderful people who I couldn't care less if I ever cross paths with again. People will still lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead in life, but the good people of the world will still win out in the end.

So as I bring this long winded babble to an end, I want to thank my friends for being there when I needed you, and I graciously accept your thanks for when I could help you. That is what friends do. May 2008 bring you peace and happiness.

Bill

1 comment:

eyestothesky said...

No babble there just a great blog!
I know I have said it to many times before but thank you for letting me in to your life through your words. 2007 was indeed a great year meeting you and Cullen and Peggy and Melanie and Brad and Jenn has been the most rewarding experience beside being a mom I have ever had! Her is too 2008 and more many great adventures!

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