Top 10 picture of my 2014 storm chase season.

It was tough but here are top 10 favorite pictures from my chases in 2014.

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May 14 supercell in Mercer County.

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Tornado warned supercell near Goddard State Park in Mercer County

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July 7, 2014 Severe warned multicell storm moves through southern Venango County.  I observed the storm in Allegheny Twp, Butler County.

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May 27. Non severe storm produced lots of cloud to ground lightning.

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June 10. Intercepted a non severe storm moving over the Pamlico Sound on Hatteras Island, NC.

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June 25. Documenting flooding in Butler County.  Route 38 was closed so I had to take Lake Road.  I almost got my car stuck in the mud traveling on that road,lol.

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June 25. Chasing in the mountains of Clearfield County, PA.

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August 21. Non severe storm in Venango County.

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10/21/14 Mesolow intercept at Moraine State Park.

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7/8/14 Tornado warned storm that moved through Mercer County

It’s Been a While Since I Blogged

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Sorry about the absence. I have been busy with work, raising my family, traveling, and of course storm chasing. The 2014 chase season ended and now it’s time to look forward to 2015. Career wise, it’s been off to a great start. Personally, it hasn’t been but I am hoping it gets better. 2014 had some interesting chases.

June 25, 2014, I documented flooding in Oakland Twp in Butler County. After shooting footage for my Youtube channel, “The Midnight Experience,” I was off to central PA to chase some storms. Central PA was under a “slight risk” of severe weather according to the SPC. I arrived at Parker Dam State Park. I prefer chasing in state parks/state game lands because they are public lands and they have awesome vantage points. Storms were moving northeast through PA. What I thought was a promising looking storm actually broke up over the mountains. I checked radar and saw another cell moving through St. Mary’s, PA. I drove north on state route 153. When I arrived at Penfield, PA, that cell fizzled out. I drove to SB Elliot State Park because I saw another nice looking cell moving through. Guess what, it fizzled out. The day wasn’t entirely a bust. I got some practice chasing in the mountains and got my target area right. Chasing in high elevations is very difficult and frustrating at times but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. If you can chase in Clearfield County, PA, I guess you can chase anywhere.

July 7 and 8 were multiday chases. I intercepted 5 storms in northern Butler County. Storm 5 was the storm with the cherry on top. It was severe warned. It was part of a multicell cluster that moved through southern Venango County. After editing pictures/video, I rested up for another day of chasing. The next day, I intercepted a tornado warned storm in Mercer County, PA. The storm was an HP(high precipitation) supercell. Driving up Interstate 79, the sky was looking very ominous. I planned my target area to intercept at Goddard State Park. There were no severe warnings on any of the storms near me. I chose the storm that was moving northeast. It was the southernmost storm. Turns out, I got a tornadic storm. Parked along the dirt roads near Goddard State Park, I saw a wall cloud develop. The winds picked up. Rain was starting to come down in sheets. But there were no warnings on it. Five minutes later, I receive a text message on my phone informing me of an extreme alert. A tornado warning has been issued for Mercer County until 3:30 pm. This storm however did produced an EF-1 tornado west of the town of Mercer. It was a fast moving storm, moving at speeds of nearly 60 mph. By the time the storm got to my location, rain cold air cut off any chance of it producing a tornado. As that storm moved east, another line of storms were forming. They were non severe multicell storms. I watched as that storm moved over Lake Wilheim. Those storms were associated with the cold front that moved through.

August 21 and 22 had semi decent set ups. I intercepted 6 non severe storms on August 21. Nothing too exciting but enough to full fill my chasing. August 22, I got 2 storms up in Venango County. All the storms were non severe.

October 21, I intercepted a mesolow that moved through Butler County. I saw a text book looking shelf cloud at Moraine State Park.

The week of November 17, I was treated to an early season snow. I spent at least 3 days that week at Moraine State Park documenting conditions.

December was a blur to me but I did manage to document high winds at Moraine. December is always a rough month for me because I work retail and we all know how retail can be that time of year.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings chase wise. With extra child care, I will be able to travel greater distances to chase and document severe weather. Good luck to everybody in 2015.

First chases of 2014

As you know, I love to document ALL weather events, thunderstorms, ice jams, wind, snow, etc.  2014 has been a busy year documenting snow and ice.  However, thunderstorms have been off to a slow start.  A cold spring and most of the Great Lakes being covered in ice hampered any chance of severe thunderstorms.  Finally, on May 12, 2014, I got my first chase of the season in.  It looked promising at first.  A line of strong storms were moving across Ohio into PA.  I made a trip up to my favorite vantage points at State Gamelands 95 to document conditions.  Dew points were sufficient at 63 but for some reason, the storms weakened and all I got was moderate rain.  The only decent structure shot I got was a rain cell moving across the Butler/Venango County line. The rain eventually let up and the sun came out.  I was hoping for a rainbow but didn’t get to document one.  My first chase was a bust but at least I got to get out and try out my equipment.  And I got a muddy car,lol.

 

May 14, 2014.  What a day that was.  Warm temps of 77 degrees felt so good with dew points at 63.  Thankfully, I had childcare and was able to chase this amazing setup.  The day started out as a “blue sky bust.”  Storms were raging in Ohio and some even had tornado warnings on them.  Most of Ohio was under a tornado watch. Storms in Ohio moved from south to northeast.  From State Gamelands 95, I could see the towers in Ohio.  I sat at the gamelands for an hour checking radar constantly.  Around 6 pm, I saw some cells forming in Beaver County.  Their trajectory was south to northeast.  I repositioned north into Mercer County.  I intercepted 3 storms that evening.  The first severe storm moved through Grove City, PA.  I positioned myself southeast of the storm along state route 58.  Luckily, I found a place to pull over.  That storm had a triangle shape to it.  High winds were a concern.  

The second storm was severe warned.  I repositioned again along state route 258 in North Liberty, Mercer County.  According to radar, the storm was moving towards “the cross.”  The cross is where Interstate 79 and Interstate 80 meet.  It looks like a cross on the map.  Again, I positioned southeast of the storm.  Beast describes this storm.  60 mph winds and pea size hail were associated with it.  I measure 11 mph winds with my anemometer.  Looking west, I noticed a wall cloud with rotation.  I watched that area closely.  After a few minutes, it dissipated.  One of the best shelf clouds I have ever seen was visible with this supercell storm.  It was amazing watching the storm go by and seeing the sunset at the same time.  This chase provided some of the most photogenic storms of my chasing career.  

Storm number 3 was seen from a distance.  Back in Butler County, I watched as this severe storm moved through Lawrence county.  The amazing thing about this storm was I got to document lightning along with the sunset.  It was such a neat sight to see.  Just as the sunset, I called it a night as storms were fizzling out and it was a school night for my son.   What started out as a disappointing day turned out to be one of my best chases.  

 

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Monday, May 12, 2014.  Here is the rain showers that were moving across the Butler/Venango Co. border.  The sun popping out made a nice contrast.  BTW, here is my chase vehicle/family car.  

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Probably one of the most photogenic storms I ever documented.  I was in perfect position, around 3 to 4 miles away.  

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Storm in HDR.  It was very impressive.  And I didn’t even get wet on this chase,lol.  I try to stay out of heavy rain if possible.

 

“A Very Windy Experience”

The cold temperatures have been lingering, thanks to a large percentage of the Great Lakes being covered in ice.  It is taking forever to warm up.  April 29, 2014, high winds were the story in western/central PA.  Temperature was 55 degrees with a dew point of 42.  It was a rainy morning then skies cleared late afternoon.  The forecasts were calling for thunderstorms but they didn’t pan out.  However, central Ohio got some severe storms around 9 pm.  Too far for me to chase.  Trying not to get blown away, I documented wind and choppy water at Moraine State Park in western PA.  With anemometer in hand, I measured a gust of 20 mph.  Sustained winds were average of 8 mph.  I felt queasy while on the boat dock documenting the wind and water.  After 10 minutes of being rocked, I left the dock and my legs felt like rubber.  Waves crashed onto shore.  Winds caused a small tree to fall on the road.  The tour boat “Nautical Nature” was moving back and forth.

Photography was a lot of fun that day.  With my notes in hand, I was snapping pictures of the scenery, experimenting with shutter speed and apertures.  There were a lot of photogenic opportunities.  Keep in mind that you may have to underexpose the picture so the sky doesn’t look washed out.  This is where it helps to know the settings on your camera.  You have to tweek them to get the right shot.  

 

 

 For the records, this is probably one of the first times my car didn’t dirty while documenting a weather related event.  It’s had it’s share of salt and mud this winter.  I didn’t get any storms that evening like I had hoped for but I am glad I got to document wind and choppy waters.  It was an experience that literally almost blew me down.  At the end of the evening, I was treated to a gorgeous sunset.  

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Waves crash onto the shore.

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“A Long Winter’s Experience”

I hate to remind everybody of winter but I thought since we are out of the woods, I would write about my experiences.  For those who have watched my webisode series “The Midnight Experience,” it seems like every webisode was about winter weather.  Hopefully, I can start documenting storms here soon and spring blossoms.  This winter has been harsh and taken a toll on many.  Schools cancelled due to inclement weather. My son lost most of his Easter break and his school year has been extended thanks to all that wonderful snow.

Despite the hardships this winter caused, I did have fun documenting conditions.  Plus I got to use my early Christmas gift, my Canon DSLR Rebel camera.  I sure got lots of practice photographing snowy conditions.  Santa also brought me new snow tires for my car too. A blast of arctic air came in with 2014. January 7, a “polar vortex” plunged temperatures into the negatives.  -12 was the low that morning with the high that day of 3 degrees.  Later in the month, I took a trip out to Moraine State Park in western PA to document conditions.  I documented rare snow rollers.  In an article on the website Live Science,  “according to the National Weather Service, snow rollers need just the right combination of light, sticky snow, strong (but not too strong winds and cold temperatures to form.”  Conditions were ideal this winter for this rare phenomenon to happen.  I was so thankful to be able to witness it.  Ice was at least a foot thick on Lake Arthur at Moraine State Park.  It did feel odd walking out on the lake.  A group of young men were having a blast playing ice hockey.  At least some people were having a positive experience this winter.

Who would think this would happen in the winter but I did observe thunder and lightning.  6:30 am, February 22, I saw a flash of lightning followed by a clap of thunder.  It happened so fast I didn’t have time get my camera set up. Since I am a trained spotter, I reported it to the National Weather Service.  The only time you report thunder and lightning as a spotter is when there is snow on the ground. The last time I witnessed thunder snow was February 1993. It’s only happened twice in my life.  

Historic ice jams blocked river traffic on the Allegheny River.  The river was frozen for a month.  Giant ice boulders lined the banks of the Allegheny River in East Brady, PA.  On Saturday, February 22, state route 268 in the city of Parker, PA closed due to river flooding.  The ice jams in Parker were national news.  Fortunately, there was a gradual melt of the ice and flooding became less of a concern. 

This winter reminded me of the “Energizer Bunny.”  It just kept going and going.  April 15, aka tax day, I documented a dusting of snow.  The cold weather did not want to give up.  It’s May 2 now and it’s still cold.  My furnace is still firing up.  I am still wearing layers.  Hopefully, next week, there is a warm up.  Image

 

Rare snow rollers rolling around Moraine State Park.

 

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Ice boulders line the banks of the Allegheny River in East Brady, PA.

 

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Historic ice blocks river traffic along the Allegheny in Parker, PA.

 

Snowy, snowy night

11/12/13, in that order,lol, western PA got it’s first measurable snow fall.  I measured around 1″ of the powdery white stuff.  When measuring snow, it is important to collect your data in a wide, open space with no trees or eves hanging over.  A deck or a flat surface works great.  From what I was taught in my Skywarn training in reporting weather, it is crucial to take 5 measurements and average them out.

What gets me that when we get snow, everybody seems to think winter is here.  Technically, winter solstice doesn’t begin until December 21.  So the snow fall we got happened in the season of fall.  It has snowed in the spring before.  I prefer to say when we get snowfall outside of the season of winter, I say winter like.

I hike in ALL kinds of  weather, except for storms, then I am sitting in my Chevy Cobalt at my favorite vantage points chasing them.  Nothing beats hiking in the snow.  I have gotten some of my best photos in the snow.  My camera has a shooting mode for snow.  It works wonders.  Back to hiking.  Nothing beats zipping up my purple parka and putting on my snow boots for a trek through the snow.  I got some awesome pics on 11/12/13 while hiking the walking trail at the college.  The sun was at the right angle and there were some clouds to spice things up.  The contrast was amazing.

Later that evening, I had the opportunity to document a snow squall from the top of my mom’s field.  My parent’s have 45 acres and there are some awesome views from her top field.  Her field is one of the my favorite vantage points when chasing storms.  I can see quite a distance what weather is coming and I can observe the clouds.  Plus, I am practically in my backyard,lol.  There is a farm road leading up to my spot.  If the weather is crappy, I will drive up because I have my camera’s and my phone which I don’t want to get wet.  Sometimes I get stuck in the mud but always manage to get out.  I didn’t get stuck while documenting the snow.  The contrast on the snow squall was amazing.  The sun was setting and the sky was orange.  Gray skies were moving from the northwest.  A quick check on radar meant a snow squall was coming.  Looks can be deceiving.  This system looked like it was going to produce lots of snow but it didn’t.   My car just received a coating.  Snow didn’t even lay on the ground.  Winds howled and snow blew but nothing laid.  The temperature was 28 degrees.  Good thing I drove up because I kept going into my car to get warmed up.  My fingers took a trip to the tropics,lol.  Behind the clouds, the moon kept peeping out.  All in all, it was a successful chase.  I don’t  go to far for winter weather because the road conditions can change in an instant.  I am a firm believer of when the roads are snow or icy, to stay off and let crews do their jobs.  Don’t go out unless you have to.

Fashionably Fall

I love fall and the clothing styles for 2013.  Shopping is not one of my favorite pastimes.  Call me unusual but I hate to shop.  I prefer a trip to the dentist over shopping.  This fall is different.  I actually like trying on clothes because the styles fit me.  I lost a lot of weight in the past year.  First of, I had my birth control Mirena removed and got a tubal. Second, I was in an accident in April.  I only received a few scratches but my aniexty has been through the roof.  Panic attacks bring loss of appetite for me.  What really helps with weight loss is hiking and eating healthy.  Trying on clothes isn’t as depressing as it used to be.

Colored skinny pants are the rage this fall.  They can be dressed up or dressed down.  I have 2 pairs which I wear with my denim blazer and brown knee high boots.  Scarves once again are flowing into the fashion scene.  Over the knee boots top any look this season.  Boots are everywhere.  I love wearing my chunky pink bracelet with my outfits.  It adds a splash of color.

Cardigan sweaters are a must.  I must  have more cardigan sweaters then Mr. Rodgers,lol.  They are so versatile and go with pretty much anything.  My latest find is a pink cardigan which I can wear over a cami or a blouse.  I can’t wait to wear it again.

One doesn’t have to spend a lot of money to dress nice.  Check out clearance racks or even second hand stores to get the latest trends.  If your favorite store offers a rewards program, join it to take advantage of all the perks offered.  Invest in classic pieces such as a black pencil skirt, a denim blazer, wide leg trousers, etc.  I have a beautiful black pencil skirt  I purchased in Feb. 2012.  I did not want to pay $49.99 for it but it was one of the rare times sometime looked nice on me.  Let me just say, I got my money out of it within a few weeks.  Chose pieces you can mix and match.  I don’t have a closet full of clothes but I never seem to be wearing the same thing twice.  I take advantage of my creative juices by changing an outfit slightly by taking away a necklace and replacing it with a scarf for example.

Don’t be embarassed to shop at certain stores because they are uncool.  If the clothes from those uncool stores make you look like a million bucks, by all means, continue to shop there.  Vice versa, clothes from a cool store may make you look like crap.  Fit is so important.  And who cares what people think of where you shop.  I wouldn’t  want to be around people who are that shallow anyway.

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One of my favorite looks for fall.  Look closely and you will see my chunky pink bracelet.

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Wide leg jeans are a classic and fit many body types.  My pink cardigan sweater can be paired with neutral colors, such as black, white, beige, navy.  Any color can be paired with a neutral.