Monday, May 29, 2006

A capped day

MAY 28 DAY 2

Today our target was central South Dakota. SPC had a 5% tornado risk. The models were showing a triple point low in North Dakota, and a dryline running from Nebraska to west Texas. CAPES were at around 5000 J/kg, with a lifted index of -8. The winds were also showing a promising setup, with the cold air coming from the northwest and the warm moisture coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. The NAM was also showing a moisture pocket and low CIHN over our target. Now it is us versus the cap.

We had dinner in Sioux Falls at a Subway. The cap still held pretty strong. And boy was it ever hot and windy. Ron and I checked out the models and decided to go west a bit further and wait for the cap to break because there was still a few daylight hours left.

Or… maybe not. The cap left us high and dry today unfortunately. We continued west and the cold front went through central South Dakota around 7pm. The cold front hardly generated any cumulus. We ended up in a town called Chamberlain. Nice scenic view of the river, but we only had to drive 10 mph. 10 mph for pete’s sakes. Locals wave at us. Are we in a damn parade now? So we pulled into a motel to find wifi but found nothing. I said to Ron “There is no such thing as high speed in this town.”. Well so much for that. We decided to call it a day and head back to Sioux Falls to stay for the night to prepare for tomorrow’s potential. Noticed some ACCAS along the cold front on the way back. Oh yeah, and only in South Dakota can you find two young guys with a dead dear in the back of their car.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Our First Day

MAY 27 2006 DAY 1

So far our trip has started off with several “omens”. First it was a Chase Bank sign, then we saw a Chase Street sign, then we saw Chicago’s “Windy City” sign. Next, we realized we would be in good position to intercept a storm. Scott Keddie, Ron Gravelle and I have encountered a supercell near Paw Paw, Illinois at around 5 pm CST. A line of supercells were tracking into the Midwest, and the storm that we were after was the tail end Charlie. It had 50 thousand feet echo tops on it, and was producing 2 inch hail. It also had a meso. The NWS issued a tornado warning for La Salle county. We were in perfect position. We headed north to position ourselves at the back end of the storm. We saw what looked like a developing wall cloud just south of the precip core. Ron pointed to an area between some trees. A small rain wrapped tornado was there. I couldn’t really see it so I will have to watch my videos later to see if the camera picked it up. Scud was also rising off the ground. A classic wall cloud didn’t form, but the area under the meso had some rotation swirls in the base. Then the rear flank downdraft kicked up a dust foot.

Afterwards, we drove into the small town of Paw Paw and encountered 2 inch hail. This is the biggest I have seen so far, and let me tell you it was very loud. It actually did leave some shallow hail dents on the van! The precip core was intense zero visibility. We went through a large puddle. At this point I was afraid of flash flooding and hydroplaning. Unfortunately it seems that Ron had lost one of his stormchasing tours magnets from the deluge.

We stayed in Cedar Rapids, Iowa over night. This was a pretty good start to the trip and we haven’t even started trying to look for stuff yet.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

4 more days to go...

Right now it's the start of May 23rd... and I got 4 more days to go until I leave for my much needed tornado alley chase trip. I got almost everything all packed already, the trip is paid off except for food and other junk. I am excited, can't you tell? I've been wanting to do this for 9 fricking years. Yes, I said 9. Why the heck did it take me so long? Being in school never helped. I didn't have a fulltime job until late 2004. So now I finally got vacation time and money.

Ron Gravelle, Scott Keddie and I will be leaving this dang boring place on May 27th. Our first night will be in St. Louis, then we are headed off to Nebraska. Hopefully we will catch the next trough in time as it goes through. Should be interesting. Chase season is finally making a return after a very boring death ridge. But of course the GFS has been a roller coaster lately, so who knows. Models can say all they want, but Mother Nature has the final word.

I will try my best to post updates of our chases when I get a chance. But for now, it is almost 1 am, I still need to make my lunch and I am working tomorrow. And I know that this is going to be a long short week.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cool Whip rocks, end of story

Recently I've been a fan of Cool Whip... that delicious fluffy white whipped cream topping that comes in a container. We keep ours in the freezer so it stays longer... but once it's opened, it seems like it doesn't last very long. I've topped mango peices, crushed pineapple and coconut. I've even topped ice cream. I've mixed it in salads. It's like a guilty pleasure. Recently I made a Pistachio pudding salad. You gotta try it - it's got a great texture and taste, and is just heavenly.

Pistachio Salad

1 can (14 oz.) crushed pineapple
1 pkg (106 grams) instant pistachio pudding mix
1 500 ml container Cool Whip
1 cup plain yogurt

1. Put pineapple and juice in bowl.
2. Add dry pudding mix. Combine mixture with fork.
3. Stir in yogurt.
4. Gently fold in Cool Whip.
5. Chill for 2 to 3 hours.

I am going to be in Cool Whip withdrawl once I am storm chasing in the plains for 2 weeks!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

So many things happening

You ever get the feeling you are overwhelmed with things in your life, whether it be work related or personal? Well I am. Kinda. Sorta. I think. It's weird. It is almost like a dreamy feeling. Is all this really happening or am I just dreaming? Finally after 9 years, I am heading to tornado alley for the first time with a good friend named Ron Gravelle. It still hasn't sunk into me yet; it is such a weird feeling. This was a big goal of mine... to get an opportunity to chase storms in the plains. The storms there are truly amazing. Mysterious, beautiful and unique in their own way, just the like the people and places of the great plains. Here I am, preparing for my long-awaited 2 week "chasecation" from May 27 to June 10. I need to take the time to give a big thanks to Ron for helping me plan this trip... without him, I probably would not have planned to go this year.

One big barrier that was preventing me from doing this on my own is that I can't drive. Eye problems, crazy drivers and financial issues are the main factors. But my uncle, Dave Szozda, has been very kind to me and has done the driving on our chases. It seems like he enjoys the storms just as much as I do, which is a good thing I guess. Other times, I will hook up with some local friends and head out. Of course I help out wherever I can, to make up for my lack of driving ability.

On to other things, there are major changes undergoing at my workplace. I work in a small sign shop, consisted of myself and 3 other employees. We were having some financial difficulty and thus I was starting to worry about the future of the job that I love. Well just this past week, I find out that my boss is leaving the sign industry and we are getting a new boss/sales guy to get the shop up to par in one year. I am going to miss that guy, he was always a joy to work with. He was the one reason why I enjoyed my job so much. Not many bosses are like him, and I feel that he should know that. Not to say that I am upset because I am not... I'm actually excited for our business' future. Since the new boss started slowly taking over, I have already noticed an improvement. Within the next few weeks, we will be doing some major in-house cleaning and re-organizing. It's good to know that I am guaranteed my job for at least another year, because I already have my Hawaii winter vacation for 2007 planned out :)

Friday, May 19, 2006

I finally have a blog site

Wow, I am finally getting caught up to the internet age. I now own a blog site! I have never considered this in the past, I felt it was pointless to have one. But lately I have seen some interesting blogs, some people are such creative writers. So I decided to cave in and be like everyone else out there, and make a spot to share my ramblings.

My mind is tornadic... just like a tornado, there is always something going on in there. Not that it is a bad thing, but lately I have felt that I have way too much things on my mind, issues relating from work to family to my upcoming travel plans. I need to let it all out and start fresh again, because I am finding it very hard to remember short term stuff. It is like my mind is overloaded with information. I hope this blog site will help me cure this overloaded mind problem, and give you something to read in your spare time, LOL.