5-10-16 SPC Outlook
5-10-16 SPC Outlook

Today was not a chase day…well, not for me anyway. Today was an errand day.

I’m nuts about weather, but on non-chase days I don’t really pay attention to weather websites. This is because when I was lived in Arizona it was depressing to be so far away from everything.

It’s possible I need to rethink this based on my new location.

The day started out buying cat food. From there, I shot west (ok I walked) three doors down to the dentist office and made an appointment. I had broken a small part of a back tooth on our way home from Wray. Colorado on the 7th, and I was STILL happy.

After that it was haircut time. I feel at this point I’ve lost any audience I might have.

I’m sitting there talking to the hairdresser, who has made the unfortunate mistake of asking how my weekend was. She now gets to hear about Wray. Anyone who gets near me for longer than five minutes gets to hear about Wray. I’m giving myself until the end of the week and then I’ll try to stop talking about it.

She finished up and I paid her, then showed her my YouTube video (which I’m 50% proud of, 50% mortified that I screwed up THE DATE, OF ALL THINGS on). She was very sweet, and is one of the “I could never do that, I would be so scared!” types of people I talk to when talking about tornadoes.

My mom, for comparison, is the “You’re crazy! You be careful!” type. That was what was she said when I sent her back to look at my Facebook post.

Anyway, back to the hairdresser. I’m going somewhere with this, I promise.

She asked how I find tornadoes:  “Do you just drive out in the middle of nowhere and see them?”. So I showed her Radarscope on my phone. I noticed a large cell just south of us on the display, moving east, so I looked out the door; it was very cloudy. I had to ask which way we were facing, but I was pretty sure. 1

That storm looked really organized, both on radar and what I could see visually. I paid, left, and decided to grab lunch next door and keep watching it.

After lunch I headed for home, incidentally also heading for the storm. Radarscope updated again and some very clear rotation presented itself on the radar. This was a supercell, and it’s miles from my apartment! I sped past the turnoff to my street and continued into Parker.

Sorry cats, you will be eating later. 2

Moving south into Parker, I saw that the storm had just passed. The streets were covered with hail. It was also still hailing, but just a little. The hail was pretty small and soft.

Snow of the painful variety, just east of Parker, CO. The hail was pretty heavy in downtown Parker as well.

I have a problem at this point; I have to figure out how to get east without being cored, but also without dropping too far south. Route 86 looked tempting, but it puts me miles too far south and it might be difficult to get back into a good position.

I ended up turning east onto Hess Rd, then driving past a very nice neighborhood. I wound my through and finally reconnected to Parker’s Main St. This gave the storm time to move further east. I headed east hit Delbert Rd. My plan was to get to County Line Rd which was a great east option.

Just as I hit Delbert Rd. I started getting battered by hail. This hail was not very small, or soft. I chickened out and ran south a mile or two, then turned around and waited a few minutes before getting back to my plan. I got to County Line Rd. and headed east, got too close again and went south, then east again.

I stopped on the road for awhile and shot some video of the retreating storm. I could see under the rain-free base at this point and there was no real apparent rotation.  This storm wasn’t going to produce any tornadoes, or at least not anytime soon.

So long and thanks for all the hail. Obligatory power lines included in shot.

Onto the video!

One of the things that went wrong at Wray was a lack of understanding of my iPhone’s film application. I use FiLMIC Pro, and it’s pretty decent. It does have two annoying “features” though.

  • It saves movies to its own memory space, not to the iPhone’s Camera Roll. This means I can’t just plug in the phone and download the files directly. I HAVE to use iTunes and download them from the device’s “App” menu. That is annoying and was an issue in Oklahoma on 4-26.
  • Good news, you can tell FiLMIC Pro to just save to the Camera Roll instead! Bad news – it downsamples every video you’ve taken to whatever the iPhone standard is. This process also locks up your phone for awhile; the longer the video the longer you get to wait. It also means that if you’ve been experimenting with 4k video (I have), you now no longer have 4k videos! Isn’t that a surprise!

All of my videos in Wray were shot in 4k. All of them got downsampled, thanks to a stupid preset choice I made a week before.

This was fixed today. I deleted my presets and fixed them. No more Camera Roll, but no video quality loss either. Here’s a couple tests, sped up 12x.

The video above was rendered down to HD (1080p) from 4k. Sony Vegas is yet another thing I’m working on learning.

Here’s the actual 4k video render. It’s a lot shorter because rendering 4k takes FOREVER and I was tired of messing with it for the evening.

I’ll condense the rest of my day. I ended up travelling up and down Kiowa-Bennett Rd. trying to intercept storms moving out from Colorado Springs and having them fizzle. The original storm stayed pretty strong and continued northeast out through Deer Trail, CO. I couldn’t figure out a good way to keep with it using the existing road grid though so I gave it up.

I did, however, find something else that I didn’t know up until this point that I really wanted. More chasers!

When I first started this, I was in full antisocial mode. My general plan was to use Radarscope as a tool to avoid anything resembling a chaser convergence. On big chase days, I might still do that.

Since I met Jean-François Massicotte, Skip Talbot, Cory Pagel, and Darren Lo in El Reno though, a few things hit me.

  • It was really nice to be able to talk about your hobby to someone who understands it.
  • It was really nice to be able to talk about your hobby to someone who is much better at it than you. I might really be able to learn from other chasers.
  • I spend WAY too much time alone.

I ran into three chasers out on the county roads. The first one, Bill Speaks, is a photographer and was out taking pictures of lightning. We spoke briefly, and I continued on down the road and ran right into Tara and Chad Kiehn. I ended up stopping and we all talked about chasing, Wray (they were there too!) and where we planned on going next. Bill drove up about 5 minutes later and he joined the conversation. We probably sat out there for 15-20 minutes. I really enjoyed myself.

The remainder of the chase day involved picking a target and seeing my targeted storm wither away.  Chad and Tara drove by again at one point and we hung out for a little while, waiting for more storms to develop. I drove by Bill again later too but didn’t stop since he looked busy.

I ended up going north into Bennett to chase a promising looking cell moving just north of the KFTG radar, but nothing happened so I headed for home.

I’ve noticed a lot of more seasoned chasers beating themselves up about “bust” days. I may eventually head down that road, but for now as long as I enjoyed the day I don’t really care if I didn’t catch a tornado.

Plus, I’m still riding high about Wray. Have I told you about Wray yet?

Lessons learned:

  • HAIL BAD. STOP IT. I’m never going to sell this car if I keep doing that. So far I’ve escaped unscathed.
  • Check the weather before you leave the house. If conditions look good, bring your stuff! Trying to chase using your cell phone as  navigation, radar, camera, and GPS tracker was a nightmare. I had to constantly baby my phone’s battery charge. Be Prepared: you live in Denver now!
  • Names! I am REALLY bad about learning people’s names when I meet them. I’ve been writing them in my iPhone’s notes when I meet chasers, but I feel like an idiot when I have to ask them to spell their last names three times.
  • I should throw something to drink in the trunk, maybe a flat of water or some Gatorades? I got pretty thirsty later in the day while in the middle of nowhere. However I’d taken my winter emergency water bottle out of the trunk to replace it, and….haven’t. Fix it!

One last thing that made me laugh. When I pulled up to Chad and Tara and introduced myself, they answered it with my last name! I was shocked for a second, then they said they’d seen my location on RadarScope.

I had completely forgotten I’d turned on “Report Location”. Some IT guy I am. Technology!

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