Author Archives: vtmet

Countdown…

Under 20 days until the first crew departs for the plains.  A packing list will be sent shortly, and you should begin preparations soon as time will fly toward May 14.  Here is a photo from a past trip to stoke the fire (wall cloud at Union City OK in 2012).   -Dave

unionwallclouda

A Warm Welcome to the 2013 Crew

chasepict

I have been juggling a number of different tasks lately, but am finally getting around to posting the crew members for the severe storms field course/research this spring & summer.  This is the time of the year when I slowly begin to wean myself from winter’s grip and begin looking forward to spring, and of course the storms that come with it.  Looking forward each year also means looking back, and I cannot escape the thoughts of past trips and their members, the vast majority of which still keep in touch even though the roadways in their lives perhaps don’t stretch through the Great Plains anymore.

Those that join me for multiple years generate the memories that resist fading, like photos that have been protected from the harsh rays of the sun.  Each and every trip holds special memories, and not all are from storms.  Quiet times in wide open spaces round out each and every trip for me.  Spectacular sunsets and distant nighttime lightning shows hold tenaciously in my subconscious as well.  The entire experience, from the plains environment, its people, and its storms, draws me back.  Each and every year I feel fortunate knowing that new experiences await me upon my return.  Each year I get to share them with a new supporting cast, and each year I’m glad my roadway still stretches to the wide open space of the Plains.

Welcome to the Great Plains “class” of 2013, I’m looking forward to our time out there.

-Dave

Hard to believe it is here: 2013 crew meeting scheduled for Jan. 28 at 7:00pm in McBryde Hall, room 136.

ilstorm

The initial meeting for the 2013 storm chase is set for 7:00pm  in 136 McBryde Hall on the Virginia Tech campus.  This is a mandatory meeting for anyone interested in joining the 2013 trip to the Great Plains.  If you cannot attend, contact me to make other arrangements.  Everyone that has joined us in the past knows how quickly our departure will approach from this point onward, so it is important that we roll through this in short order.  We hope to have the 2013 crew finalized in the next couple of weeks.  Some of the crew will grab a quick bite to eat at Mike’s Grill on Main Street at 5:30pm and then walk over to McBryde.  Join us if you can.   Severe season is approaching, it’s nearly time to rock-n-roll.   -Dave

Thanks to all for the help with the NWS Open House

The NWS Open House was blessed with an incredible November day:  fair, light winds, and temp’s in the 60’s.  A great turnout and lots of help from the storm chase crew made the day even better.  -Dave

At the WDBJ-7 WeatherFest…

Current crew members alongside future storm chasers at the WDBJ-7 WeatherFest on Friday.  Wow, what an incredible turnout as the Virginia Tech meteorology students explained everything about severe storms to hundreds of k-12 students throughout the day.  -Dave

2013 Storm Chase details & applications

If you are interested in joining the crew in the Great Plains for 2013, please read the information below and on the application very carefully!

Behind the scenes planning is underway for the 2013  storm chase, and we are ready to accept applications for the trip.  There are a couple of major changes in store on the storm chase from this point forward.  We have routinely run two separate trips in the past, but beginning with 2013 they will be combined into one longer time period spent in the plains.   This will not only eliminate disparity in weather patterns between the trips and maximize our potential for storm intercepts, but also will provide us with a better cushion for waiting out periods of quiet weather.   We also plan for a full deployment of the Virginia Tech mobile mesonet for 2013, so each vehicle will be collecting weather data in the near-storm environment for real-time warning information and post-storm research.  Keep in mind that the end result will be a substantially longer time period spent on location in the plains.

You will find the updated application and trip information in the attachment below.  If you are considering applying for a position with the 2013 chase crew, please keep these things in mind:

a) This trip is NOT for everyone…only those with a true passion for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes should apply.  It is a long and arduous journey, and if you are not committed to the study of severe storms, then you may well feel as if YOU should be “committed” by trip’s end!

b) Keep in mind the nature of the trip:  it is an academic exercise…not a vacation.  Every crew member will serve various duties on the trip, and full cooperation is not only desirable, it is mandatory.  When entering a severe weather set-up, everyone must be “dialed in” for efficiency as well as for the safety of the entire crew.

c) Expect some “down time” between storms.  It is impossible to forecast what type of pattern we may see any given year, but most years we do experience a lull in the action which may last for a day or two…or maybe a week.  Patience is a prerequisite for this trip.

d) If you fear storms, please do not apply, and don’t undertake this trip for therapeutic reasons!  The near-storm environment is a volatile place, and most crews have to weather some intense or occasionally even frightening moments during their shifts out there.

So, if  you are certain the storm chase is for you, fill out the application form and either drop it by 101 Major Williams, or send it via e-mail to carrolld@vt.edu.

The actual selection of the 2013 chase crew will be made as soon as the students enrolled in the second semester Severe Weather course are notified (by the end of January).  Applicants will be selected based upon their response to the application question (why do you want to join the chase?), and background coursework in meteorology.  If you lack the background courses, those interested are still encouraged to apply, as the primary prerequisite is a driving passion for severe weather and everyone is given full consideration (the plan is to keep an “at-large” space or two open for non-majors).

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me carrolld@vt.edu,  or stop by 101 Major Williams,  or call 231-5469.  I look forward to meeting this year’s edition of the VT Storm Chasers!

VT Storm Chase Application

-Dave Carroll

Scott County Tornadic Supercell

After a late-night arrival in Wichita KS, we departed eastward through Joplin (still a very sobering sight after last year’s devastating tornado) toward the southeastern corner of Missouri.  Part travel day and part chase, we targeted this region of Missouri because we have seen the region around the bootheel percolate severe thunderstorms in seemingly benign atmospheric environments. As we approached a dinner target of Lambert’s Cafe (home of the famous roll-throwing), cells firing along a boundary stretching from St. Louis southward toward TN began to intensify.  Turning a sit-down dinner into a take-out venture, we watched the storm from Sikeston MO for a time, and then headed out of town in search of a better viewpoint (city lights obscured the view of the storm as nightfall approached).  The storm quickly organized, showing classic observable signatures of rotation with dramatic striations and incredibly intense lightning.  The storm produced a tornado that hit the town of Diehlstadt MO, killing a father and his two sons in their home, and also produced straight-line winds in excess of 100mph.  The photo below shows the storm at the time of the tornado.  We rolled out of town and observed another wall cloud ENE of Sikeston, eerily highlighted by the lights of the city.

Another storm intercept at nightfall, which seemed to be the order of the day on this trip.  Back in Blacksburg now, but will continue to post some picts and info as we review the storm footage and experiences from our time on the chase this year.   -Dave

Waiting in Guymon OK…

We are currently situated in Guymon OK, waiting for storm initiation to occur…most likely to our west or northwest.  With storm movement forecasted to be to the SE, we now play the waiting game and watch the satellite.  Still looking through photos/video of the busy Tuesday we had, and here is a photo taken by Kathryn Prociv from the storm were intercepted and tracked for several hours.  -Dave

Incredible day in Oklahoma.

Just a brief post as we need to set up for another potentially busy day playing tag with storms.  We followed a supercell from its initiation near Canton Lake OK (a gorgeous location that we hope to visit again) toward the western suburbs of Oklahoma City at dusk.  Witnessing spectacular wall clouds, funnels, and amazing lightning shows, along with what appeared to be a nighttime tornado highlighted by lightning.  Will try to post some additional photos/video in a day or so, after what could be another active day today.  In the meantime, here are a couple of picts/video stills:

Wall cloud/funnel near Loyal OK

Spectacular wall cloud at dusk near Union OK

Video grab from Chris White near Union OK at 9:15 pm.  You can read his account here:  http://stormsrus.blogspot.com/2012/05/after-yesterdays-860-mile-journey-from.html

-Dave

Monument Rocks, western Kansas.

Down days aren’t a loss on the storm chase.  Time is typically spent troubleshooting technology issues, catching up on laundry, catching up on a bit of sleep, and visiting places tucked away in the wide open plains.  Monument Rocks is just such a place, standing in stark contrast to the gently rolling plains stretching from horizon to horizon in a remote region of western Kansas.   -Dave