Lake Effect Snow Whiteouts 1/9/15

1/9/15 – After documenting a powerful winter storm on 1/8/15, I stuck around the next day to document the absolutely crazy lake effect snow conditions that were ongoing. Ground blizzards and whiteouts were the common theme. Most of the time I couldn’t see more than about 50 yards while driving. In many cases, I couldn’t see past the hood! There wasn’t quite as much “natural disaster” type of stuff to get footage of as the day before, but it was still quite impressive. Travel was difficult for everyone, and the windy conditions made the already cold air feel even more brutal. I headed to the lake shore area in and around Muskegon. Visiting places like Pere Marquette Park and the Great Lakes Naval Memorial Museum. At times I couldn’t even see the structures just across the street from them! While on Beach Street Rd., I recorded some video of waves crashing against the lighthouse which was quite surreal to witness. If there had been less ice buildup, the videos would … Read More…


West Michigan Snowstorm 1/8/15

1/8/15 – This was a day that I had been anticipating for about a week. The computer models indicated that there would be a rather potent clipper system swinging through the area in the afternoon/evening. This system would gain lake enhancement, and also produce lake effect snow into the overnight period. Pretty much anywhere along the west Michigan shoreline was going to get smacked, especially the further north you were. I targeted Muskegon, MI for this system. With a new camcorder added to my lineup just a day before the event, I was prepared to head out and document this system to it’s fullest. I drive an F-250, and it has 4WD, so the snow depth and road conditions didn’t concern me much. I was more worried about somebody else being careless and hitting me. The National Weather Service had posted a Winter Storm Warning for the first 2 rows of counties inland of Lake Michigan. Road conditions were really good at the beginning from Greenville, to Cedar Springs, but … Read More…


Supercell Drops Golf Ball Size Hail 4/29/14

4/29/14 – This was a day that I had been watching on the computer models for days. Mainly the NAM. The forecast model runs showed a scenario of a warm front moving through lower Michigan with an associated low pressure. The triple point was fairly close by, so I knew the potential would be there. Most often times when we get a good warm front setup in Michigan, a couple of more dominant cells will fire off and become long track. That is exactly what happened. Earlier in the day there were a few scattered thunderstorms. One went severe warned on the Lake Michigan shoreline, and eventually more storms began to fill in a little better across the rest of the area. One storm went severe warned and had a classic “flying eagle” look on radar, but as it outran the shear and instability, it died. Below are a couple of images of that cell. I chased after it, but knew it would end up dying so I left it … Read More…


Illinois Supercell 4/28/14

4/28/14 – Earlier in the week, I had been asked by my friend Michael if I wanted to pool gas money for a storm chase in Illinois on 4/28/14. You may remember the last time I chased with Michael, we scored big on 5/18/13 and also 5/19/13. After looking at model data, and tossing the idea around, pulling some strings with a few other obligations I had, I decided late the night of the 27th, that I would be on board and ready to roll in the morning on 4/28. I only got about 3-4 hours of broken sleep, but isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? You’d be surprised at how little a storm chaser actually sleeps. After I drove down to the car pool lot, Michael picked me up, then we went and picked up our friend Tony, and Michael’s brother Shawn, and hit the road for Illinois. Initially we were trying to decide between two targets. I was thinking of targeting more up around Peoria, IL, Michael … Read More…


Severe Weather: Supercell, Hail Accumulation, Storm Damage

4/12/14 – Today was a day that had looked halfway decent on the computer models in regards to chances for storms for a few days prior to the event. As the time drew nearer, I began having some higher hopes that we’d see some pretty good storms around here. The WRF-NMM was being the most bullish, showing strong thunderstorms training across lower Michigan. As it would turn out, the WRF-NMM would come to be correct. Sometimes it’s that one, lone computer model that nails a forecast, while all of the others are out to lunch. Slowly but surely, the atmospheric parameters came together to create some great severe weather potential. The SPC had issued a 5% risk for hail and wind. 0% for tornadoes despite the somewhat favorable wind shear values which were conductive to a few rotating updrafts. One of which I was on. There are 3 sets of footage, so be sure to keep scrolling after viewing the first batch of media. Storm #1: The Supercell The first … Read More…


November Squall Line 11/17/13

A rare late season severe weather and tornado outbreak occurred across the Midwest/Great Lakes/Ohio Valley region on November 17, 2013. The SPC issued a rare (for this late in the year) Moderate Risk area, but then upgraded to an even more rare (for this time of the year especially) High Risk area for severe weather. Including tornadoes. A widespread outbreak of severe weather did indeed occur on November 17th. Lucky for us here in Michigan, we escaped the worst of it. But that didn’t mean we were spared completely as a powerful squall line with a few embedded areas of rotation and a few EF-0 tornado touchdowns blasted the area. I positioned myself NNE of Greenville to intercept a more powerful part of the squall line. The area I chose was nearly perfect as I was cored with hail which ranged anywhere from pea size to quarter size. The majority was penny size. At times I found it difficult to see more than a couple hundred feet as the high … Read More…


Severe Thunderstorm, Rainbow, Sunset, and Sky 6/17/13

June 17, 2013 – I was tracking the potential for storms all day long, in hopes that something would either fire along the cold front close enough to my chase range, or survive the trip across Lake Michigan and allow me to get out ahead of it. The latter scenario began to take shape, and I headed out to a favorite spot of mine with fields like that of the central plains. The storm was severe warned primarily for the potential for gusty winds, and some hail. The storm remained a single cell with one parent updraft through the majority of it’s lifetime. It was fairly high based as well, with some decent structure. I was able to obtain some good shots during the storm’s passage, including the fantastic structure (by Michigan’s standards), a vivid rainbow, a nice sunset, and some nice updraft towers, etc. The storm dissipated and sort of became more of a squall line after it moved off to my ESE. I also captured some of the … Read More…


Large Hail and Severe Wind 5/20/13

The first day home after my plains chase weekend, there was a Slight Risk for severe weather posted up for areas of lower Michigan by the SPC (Storm Prediction Center). All of the ingredients were in place for thunderstorm development. It was only a matter of time before storms fired off. I waited until the afternoon hours, and one storm fired up in Muskegon, and it was on from there as an entire line of storms began developing. The line had individual cells embedded within it, and a few of those showed brief rotation as they merged and congealed into an MCS (Mesoscale Convective System). Some of the cells attempted to stay more discrete, but eventually were absorbed into the MCS. It wasn’t long and my target storm became severe warned for severe wind gusts and large hail (radar indicated). I got into position for an intercept. I witnessed a shelf cloud, and also a curious appendage hanging down below one of the individual thunderstorm updrafts within the cell merger. … Read More…


Kansas Tornadoes, Supercells, and Mammatus

May 19, 2013 – After scoring big on May 18, 2013, we started day 2 of our chase a little less frantically. We had some time to position and go over data and surface observations that morning, and also post up a few photos on facebook from the day prior. We knew that it would be another good chase day, but we also knew that storm modes would be different. Faster motion, and storms would congeal into an MCS faster than the day before. So we were prepared for what was in store for the day. We drove a bit further east from where we ended up the day before. The SPC had once again issued a Moderate Risk for the day. We staged in Newton, KS, and had a friend visitor. A Grackle. Then we made our way down to an RC plane park in Wichita, KS to hang out with Michael Phelps for a bit before initiation. Justin Hoyt and Bill Kirkpatrick showed up as well, and we … Read More…


Rozel and Sanford, KS Tornadoes 5/18/13

May 18, 2013 – Earlier in the week, I had been asked if I wanted to accompany my friend Michael Gavan on a storm chasing trip for the weekend. The computer models were in good agreement that there would be severe weather on the weekend of May 18-19. The SPC had put out convective outlooks during the 4-8 day period also. They were talking about the potential for severe weather, including large hail, damaging wind gusts, and of course, tornadoes. After much thought and planning, I accepted Michael’s invitation, and on Friday afternoon, we left Michigan en route to Kansas. We stopped in Springfield, Illinois and stayed overnight for some shuteye, knowing we’d have a marathon drive the next morning to get to our target area. On Saturday morning we made our way through the remainder of Illinois, and into Missouri. We experienced some dense fog on the way there. Less than 1/4 mile visibility in western Illinois. Once we crossed the Mississippi River the fog decreased significantly, and with … Read More…