Cyclone Road


Saturday, June 26, 2004

I saw Michael Moore's documentary this afternoon. Moore distorts some facts, uses blatant emotional appeal, and presents President Bush and other members of the cabinet in unflattering ways to make his point. But he also makes a very powerful case that things in this administration have not always been what they seemed.

Moore presents data that is already public record, but which has never been asssembled into a coherent narrative. It is a striking, poignant, and incredibly important film. If you feel like you're not getting the whole story these last few years, this documentary offers powerful evidence that your feeling was correct.

Apparently, a lot of people feel the same way. Farenheit 911 is shattering box office records for documentaries. Yesterday, when my friends and I initially planned to see it, the movie was sold out for the whole day and had been for hours. So we bought tickets for today's matinee, and, arriving thirty minutes early, found the auditorium already packed.

Here's one piece of information that will disturb (I hope) people on either side of the poitical fence: only 1 member of Congress (both House and Senate) out of 535 members, has a son or daughter serving in Iraq.

One member of Congress out of five-hundred thirty five.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Approximately 25 tornadoes in five states (OK, KS, CO, NE, TX) on eight tornado days.

27-March (4 in OK)
12-May (7 in KS)
16-May (2 in NE)
20-May (1 in CO)
21-May (1 in NE)
22-May (2 in NE)
29-May (7 in KS)
1-Jun (1 in TX)

I still haven't looked at most of my video. With my other project going full steam and a serious deadline approaching, reports and imagery will probably wait until winter.

We weren't very good on May 24th, but as time passes I feel better and better about it. Our decision-making was sound, just had bad luck. Did a lot better on the 29th, though our north Kansas tornadoes weren't nearly as photogenic as Harper County. May 12 was the highlight for me personally, a front row seat at every tornado, racing one across the highway, and general tornadoesque frolicking all around. My last chase was June 1 when my truck suffered major hail damage in northwest Texas. So I missed some big days, but you can't chase them all. I'm always grateful for the time I'm able to spend in the plains.

I agree with MikeU that the tornado count is becoming less meaningful for me. On both May 12 and 29, I filed reports saying I saw X tornadoes, only to see later damage surveys count X+Y, bascially increasing the number I had used for the same events. Considering that the definition of a tornado has become a matter of personal preference anyway--and there's nothing wrong with that--I think 'tornado days' and imagery have eclipsed these numbers for me.

Most importantly, the season was incredibly fun. Some catch phrases from 'ought four':

"Better call Doug!"

"Tomorrow is always better" [man did this turn out to be true or what??]

"Save as many as you can" [from Day After Tomorrow previews]

and last but not least,

"What county are we in?" [an inside joke that won't make sense until people see my May 12 video]

So, what else is there to say? I can't wait for October!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I chased a storm in extreme eastern Illinois near Paris that was RITOR'd for a while, then another between Danville, IL and Crawfordsville, IN that also rated a tornado warning. Neither storm was visually impressive, though the first had a well-defined lowering late in its life.

The second storm produced a non-tornadic needle funnel and a persistent area of rotation before becoming disorganized.

Obviously I'm back in Indiana and have been for some time. Haven't updated the blog because when I quit chasing, I really quit. Over the course of the late summer and winter I'll begin compiling my reports and post full photographic results for all my chases during May along with anything else I see this month or in the Fall season.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

I'm waiting in the lobby of the Denton Best Western for A1 Auto Glass to arrive and fix the the truck. I'm hoping the seal around the moonroof will hold tight and I won't have to return to Indiana immediately for the balance of the repairs, but it looks like my visits in Texas will be cut short.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I observed a possible tornado near Brazos, Texas around 9:30 PM on a small supercell that trailed behind the line of much larger and more menacing storms, one of which had earlier smashed my windshield and moonroof with baseball and softball sized hailstones.

BEFORE 6:00 PM east of Windthorst, Texas

IMPACT 6:00 PM east of Windthorst, Texas

Big Hail 6:00 PM east of Windthorst, Texas

Possible tornado near Brazos, Texas 9:30 PM

I started the day in Denton intending to pay visits and conduct some business when I ran into Neal Rasmussen at an intersection. As I'd written in my web log, I felt like my chase season was over and it was time to get serious about work and my move from Indiana. But the combination of Neal and the Tornado Watch convinced me that there would be little harm in roaming out west for a brief 'gentleman's chase.' I was wrong.

Neal and I targetted a supercell that formed in Archer County and quickly dominated the other small cells around it. Neal was convinced these storms would be more isolated than the southern activity and best utilize the strong southeasterly surface flow and developing low level jet. He stopped for timelapse and I continued toward the base, turning east at Windthorst at the same time as the net controller for Wichita County mentioned the storm rapidly intensifying with a 71 VIL. This should have been sufficient warning, but I wanted to flank the storm.

I pressed on, thinking the storm was still moving due east as it had been moments before. But the rapid intensification coincided--as it often does--with a right turn, and this storm turned hard. I would estimate a 60 degree turn to the south-southeast was how the storm caught me in the worst hail core of my life, with large stones battering the windshield, pounding craters into the glass and spraying shards over the inside of the truck and me. At the same time, stones that sounded like bricks dropped from an overpass slammed into the moonroof glass, shattering it completely then grinding the pieces to dust with repeated hits. Of all the unsettling sounds, the continual sound of shattering glass inches from my head was the most chilling. I've chased with moonroofs on vehicles for several years and never taken a scratch. The glass is very strong, but nothing on my truck was strong enough tonight.

At last I escaped the hail core from hell by diving west then south, and when I recovered my wits and downloaded another radar image, it seemed the only sensible choice was to keep chasing. I headed for Jacksboro and observed several large wall clouds on the southern side of the storm. I was amazed that no tornado warnings had been issued by that point as storm had an obvious hook on radar, strong velocity values, according to my friends with radar access, and wall clouds that nearly scraped the ground. I tried unsuccessfully to find the Jack County Skywarn.

I took shelter under a fast food restaurant's awning in Mineral Wells around 8:45 PM, then raced south of town to stay out of the precip and hail of another storm coming from the northwest. I looked in the rearview mirror and was amazed to find a large cone hanging from this updraft---the night's smallest supercell----which had a flying eagle radar signature while it produced the funnel. I'm anxious to see if damage surveys demonstrate if this feature was on the ground. It took me a few minutes to pull over and set up my camera, and in the thirty seconds before I started filming, the lowering had lifted.

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