Strong Grungy Storms 9/3/15

9/3/15 – This was an interesting day. Elevated storms came through in the early morning associated with a wave of low pressure. The amount of debris clouds leftover from the morning convection limited the severe potential for later in the afternoon. SPC had a general thunderstorm risk across the region. A few storms did go severe warned though, and a few others reached strong criteria. I got into some of the grungy stronger storms which offered up some interesting structure. The clouds were not of supercellular nature, but they exhibited a lot of similar features given the ample moisture, some CAPE, and shear to sustain them. I meandered around Stanton, MI mostly, and stayed in Montcalm County to document what I could of the storms. They weren’t extremely impressive, so I didn’t want to travel very far. Below is a video of the storms, and also a collection of photos, some of which look quite ominous. One of the images is a wedge tornado lookalike. No confirmation of any damage, … Read More…

Summer “Pop Up” Storms 8/10/15

8/10/15 – This was a warm and humid day, and there was some instability around. That usually leads to what’s commonly called “pop up” or “popcorn” convection. These types of pulse showers and storms can be isolated, scattered, or numerous, depending on the given conditions at the time. These were of the isolated variety. A few showers and storms had developed off to the north and northeast, and they produced outflow boundaries which touched off a few more storms as the afternoon and evening progressed. These were quite photogenic, and I ventured out on my bicycle to have a look around. I snapped lots of photos, but picked the best ones, or the most interesting ones for this article. I saw several cumulus and cumulonimbus towers, and was also treated to a beautiful sunset. In one of the sunset photo, you can see a cluster of sunspots on the lower right of the solar disk. I encountered a small Rabbit on the way to the fields, it wasn’t scared of … Read More…

Low Topped Supercells 5/26/15

This was an interesting day. The dynamics were in place for storms to go into a supercellular mode if they developed, but the overall instability was mitigated a bit by cloudiness in the morning, followed by more cloudiness and approaching showers in the afternoon hours. Despite the limited instability, the atmosphere still put on a show with supercells. These supercells were low topped, and some of them didn’t even contain any lightning. I watched one small shower which developed to my south, and moved NNE toward my location. I tracked it up through Greenville, MI and all the way north to just south of Lakeview, MI. I abandoned it after I saw that it wasn’t going to get the job done. During the chase though, it did produce quite a few nice scenes. The initial wall cloud was flat on the bottom, but soon, it began bringing in some scud clouds, and an appendage appeared beneath the wall cloud. Many claim this was a funnel cloud, this was not the … Read More…

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…

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…

What Storm Chasing Means To Me

What Storm Chasing Means To Me To me, storm chasing means experiencing the thrill and excitement of heading out into the unknown. From the fields of Michigan (my home state) to the open plains and everywhere in between. The forecasting, tracking, and positioning is as exciting, as it is stressful. But if you play your cards right, and nature is on your side, the rewards are truly amazing. It’s more than just what you do. It’s how you do it, how you feel. Emotionally, physically, and mentally. My goal is to experience mother nature at her best, or worst in many cases, and share my experiences with the world. No storm is the same. You could intercept 50 storms in a row, and every single one of them would be different in some way. That is part of the magic. It’s never boring, because there is always something new to see. Storms even have their own distinct scents. The smell of rain cooled air, the smell of wet dust. It’s … Read More…

Remembering Andy Gabrielson

Today we remember one of the best storm chasers to ever live. Andy Gabrielson. On February 4, 2012, we lost Andy to a drunk driver who was traveling the wrong way on the highway. This drunk driver hit Andy’s SUV, killing him in the accident. Andy is best remembered for his uncanny ability to always seem to “be there” for what seemed to be every tornado. There could only be one tornado in the whole chase day, and he would find it. Finding tornadoes was Andy’s business, and his storm chasing company name Find The Tornado fit extremely well. We will never forget Andy. His talent and abilities out in the field were something special. From those who knew him personally, they say he was a funny guy, a caring and loving family man, and always hungry for more tornadoes. He is an inspiration to us all. I actually have his storm chasing DVDs. I watched them just last week. Some amazing, amazing stuff. Andy was one of a kind. … Read More…