Monday, April 17, 2006

I'm Back

Very long time between entries- But my storm chase time is approaching fast and I will try from now on to do more frequent posting, even when I am not out chasing.

As most are very aware, this has been a very active early start to tornado season with a lot of significant events- mostly a bit east of "chase alley". When I am not out on my vacation in late May and early June I can sometimes arrange to chase big events by doing what I term a "short notice chase"- chasing on my 3 days off from work. Some of my most successful days have been of this type- May 3, 1999 in OK, May 17 2000 (Brady, NE) and May 5 & 7 2001 (Happy, TX and Mullinville, KS).

I did actually have the opportunity to chase this week- my off days currently are Saturday-Monday. I very nearly flew to Kansas City to chase in SE Nebraska, but due to the costs involved, and my concern about how many tornadic storms would actually occur, I decided at the last minute not to go. Was this wise in hindsight? Well, yes and no. There was only one really good tornado near Beatrice in SE Nebraska, and it was only visible for 5 minutes or so before wrapping in rain. There were other fairly nice supercells in the area with a few brief tornadoes, but it probably fell just short of what I really want to see when I spend the time, money and effort for a short notice chase. However, after reading the chase accounts and seeing the photos, I have a feeling that if I had gone, I would have not been terribly disappointed.

As far as my actual chase vacation this year goes, this year's will be rather different in a significant way- for the first time since I began serious chasing in 1990, it will be the first season that I will not be accompanied by my wife Betsy. She has not lost her passion for storms, but her life has undergone a significant change this past year- she recently quit her 20 year job at The Weather Channel. This has resulted in a significant reduction in our family income, and in her new job at a health food store (part time) she does not have enough time off to go on a two or three week trip. Therefore I will be heading to the Plains alone for the first time on May 20th.

I really do not relish chasing solo, as when I have done it in the past I have found that besides being more nerve-wracking and difficult, it is really rather dangerous because it is very hard to concentrate on driving when you are constantly scanning the skies or reading maps or whatever.

Therefore it looks like that I will end up driving to the Plains in my own vehicle, but I am probably going to hook up with Jim Leonard and Cyclone Tours and ride with them for the first two weeks at least, and after that maybe chase with Jay Antle and Mike Umscheid in June. This will help me save $$, and reduce the overall stress of chasing.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Hi Matt, It's Linda. Looks like Kath and I will head out on May 22. Kath lost her father in Feb. and her Mom (who has cancer) is not doing too well. We will only be out until June 6th because of this. Do you think that we picked a good time? Also do you think the storms will be further north this year? Please email me at Also my mobile is the same as last year. Thanks Matt! We will really miss Betsy!!! Did you know that John will probably be out alone for part of the time?? Linda