Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Misconception of Chasing: Science and Saving Lives

So recently I saw people getting their undies in a knot because I said that anybody who deludes themselves into thinking they're chasing for science or to save lives is full of it.This is a piggyback off of part of my last rant earlier in December. I thought it'd be prudent to get my point across before it turns uglier.

To start off, lets look at the whole "I chase to save lives" deal. I think this quote sums up the mentality of a good 95% of chasers. It comes from a piece by Tim Marshall on chasing pioneer Roger Jensen:
"I will never forget what Roger told me why he photographed storms all of his life: "Gosh, it's for the awe at what you are seeing. I was born loving storms."

That quotation basically sums it up. Like I said in the other post, storm chasing is a selfish pursuit. Spotters are there to "save lives"/report severe weather or something of the like. Chasers are a totally different breed. The goal is to observe convective weather, to photograph it or record it, to just have that experience. No chaser goes out looking to simply report tornadoes, hail, or damaging winds. They may help if they come across damage and many will report severe weather phenomena if they get the chance but its important to remember that it's not the primary objective of a chaser. I've never seen someone say "going out to save lives today". But then again, I don't know everyone in the community so its possible that some people do go out with the sole objective of saving lives (how they do that I'm not quite sure). If you set that as your goal, then more power to you, but this whole belief that chasing is turning sour or someone is doing it wrong  because they're not solely dedicated to saving people is pure BS. 

Now that the first part of the rant is over, lets delve into the second part: chasing for science. This motivation is almost as frequently used as the chasing to save lives version. A lot of the time, newer chasers will say they chase for science to make themselves seem more important or more impressive to the people around them. This may impress the general populace but its a fallacy. Mounting a little weather station on your car does not mean you're chasing for science. It would have to benefit the scientific community by making some new discovery and the likelihood of that happening is less than zero. Field studies such as VORTEX2 and ROTATE were chasing for science. They were gathering data that had actual use in solving some of the more baffling aspects of microscale events in supercells. Unless you're part of one of those government or university field studies, please, for the sake of all of us, stop using  "I chase for science". 

If my post has offended anyone, I apologize right now. Feel free to berate me in the comments section but I'm sticking to my opinion. I'm not necessarily saying I'm right but I think I've made a valid argument. If you're interested on reading more about Roger Jensen follow the link below:


Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Personal Rant

Well the polar air mass in Canada is supposed to start dipping down over most of the central states towards the eastern seaboard:
NAM TMPF forecast valid 00 UTC Sun 11 Dec 2011

Although the winter has been slow to kick off so far it prolly won't stay that way going into next week. Looks like lower 30s during the day and the lower 20s at night. In short, everything I hate about winter.

But life goes on. I'm finishing up my first semester of my senior year in high school. I've only got about 2 months and 3 weeks until the chase season starts again and I need to find a source of income so I can supply not only a trip to the Plains but chasing period. I have more of a shortage of time than an excess of it. Words cannot express how much I want out of high school at this point.

Storm chasing is becoming such an overriding factor in my life that the rest seems just like extra details. One of the other numerous reasons is that people just don't get it. As fun and awesome as storm chasing is, there's not too many people to share my interest with around here. As far as I know I'm the only actual chaser in the city (probably not the only one though). Even though I've shown how much chasing is pivotal in my life my parents still like to make it out like I'm a total n00b and tell people I "wanna be just like the guys on the Discovery Channel". Comical considering I stopped watching that TV show awhile back and have absolutely no desire to emulate what Reed Timmer, Sean Casey and Tim Samaras are like (though I still hold high respect for Tim Samaras and Sean).This is one of the many reasons that I  honestly don't like to talk about chasing with people who aren't also interested in weather. Its pointless, plain and simple. If they show interest, its only fleeting and they immediately associate you with the ones they see on TV with the armored cars barreling down a road at a tornado. Other "chasers" (and I use that term very loosely in this case) my age, seem to believe if they boast about it to enough people, post enough statuses about they're exploits, make fun of people who are scared of storms, and copy what they see on TV and label it as "for the advancement of science and the saving of lives" they will be seen as these demigod figures doing battle with the convective powers that be. Any attention they may garner from this chest bumping fades. I think Dan Robinson had a blog post about this. The truth is NOBODY CARES. The average Joe doesn't care that you've seen 10 tornadoes, he doesn't care how many people you "saved" by chasing and so on. He only cares about the weather for today and tomorrow. Whether it will rain or not, whether it will snow or not, the temperature. That's it. They may show initial interest but its just something cool they've run into and have no real interest in.

As long as I'm ranting, I may as well get one more thing off my chest. If I hear "I chase to save lives" one more time I'm gonna throttle the closest person. Chasing does not save lives no matter what people believe. Chasers may help in the warning process if they get the chance to report something, but we're just that, part of the warning process. Storm chasing isn't a life saving endeavor, it is a selfish pursuit. People chase to get photos or video of a storm or maybe just a romanticized experience with nature. In short, you chase for yourself.

Now that that's over with, 83 days to chase season!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Snowfall

Well folks, Cincinnati got its first snowfall yesterday. A very frigid air mass has finally dipped south  and is putting temps in the 30s and low 40s for the rest of the week. We've finally hit the point of no return where 55+F days are rare. Still have 91 days until March 1st, the start of my chase season with the possibility of more snow coming next week. Heres hoping December goes by quick so it can get that much closer to storm season!

Oh and on a random note, I finally got a new camera. Its a Nikon L105 and its so far proved to be far better than my old, tiny Canon. Really looking forward to storm season now!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Off Season Update

Hey all, finally got over my computer troubles so I'll be posting again. Temps are starting to drop off across the US right now with winter storm warnings across the northern plains. Its still pretty warm here (upper 50s/lower 60s) but it should begin to drop off as a very sharp cold front allows a polar air mass to dip down.

Its kind of amazing how fast this November has gone. It seems like just a week ago it was Halloween and we're barely 5 days away from Thanksgiving. Right now there are 101 days until chase season 2012 begins for me. I'm progressively saving up money in an account to purchase a Canon EOS Rebel T3i for the season. Along with trying to get the new camera, I'm also looking for a job so I can get together funds for my Plains excursion that'll be happening from May 19, the day after I get out of school, to May 31. Its looking like I'll need to get in the range of $2000-$3000 to account for lodging, gas, food, and any emergencies such as car troubles during the trip.

I've got my costs laid out down here:

That comes out to roughly about $2600 plus whatever extra I can scrounge together just in case.

Back onto weather, its shaping up to be a brutal winter like last year right now. Not necessarily sure if there'll be any correlation between the intensity of the winter and the severe storm season, but hopefully 2012 will produce better stuff further west, preferably out of Dixie alley.

I'll post again here in a couple days!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chase Gear Upgrade

Hey everyone, just gonna post some quick info on the weather across the nation right now:
-Large haboob (dust storm) ongoing in the eastern Texas Panhandle off east of Lubbock
-Line of severe thunderstorms along a front with modest dewpoints in south-central Oklahoma (see photo)
-Tropical disturbance off of Key West causing flooding inland as well as bring the threat of waterspouts

Now onto the chase gear upgrade. During the off-season I'm saving up for a variety of new "toys" for lack of a better word. The highest right now is a new camera. I'm aiming to get a Canon EOS Rebel T3i so I'll be able to take better photos that won't turn out as grainy without being processed. I'll have a more comprehensive list coming later in the week.

Here's the storms in Oklahoma:
Base Reflectivity (0.5 degrees) and Storm Relative Velocity (0.5 degrees). KTLX (OKC) radar

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Welcome to My Blog!

Hi all! This is my new blog for the severe off-season. I'll be posting meteorological insights, assorted storm chasing topics, the occasional rant as well as photos throughout the year. So please enjoy!