Wednesday, February 29, 2012

BUST!





Today was a case study in why storm chasing in real life is nothing like storm chasing "as seen on TV". The Tennessee Valley of North Alabama was under a "Moderate Risk" of severe weather and a Tornado Watch was issued which included the following text:
TORNADOES...HAIL TO 1.5 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND
GUSTS TO 70 MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE
AREAS.
I am a huge fan of the Storm Prediction Center. They are amazingly accurate considering what they are expected to do. And this moderate risk may have verified for other parts of the risk area. But for my region here in North Alabama, storm chasers would call it a bust. Not only were there no tornadoes in the Tennessee Valley of North Alabama, there were no severe wind or hail reports. Frankly, I heard of no hail at all. I was in one of the stronger storms and the peak gust I recorded was 25 mph. There were not even any tornado or severe thunderstorm warnings.

I am not complaining. We in Alabama need a break from severe weather. And I am not criticizing the SPC. They are awesome and I continue to rely heavily on their products. I would recommend that everyone do the same.

Today was a case study on why storm chasing is not for adrenaline junkies. Even on the most eventful days, there is much more time spent in "hurry up and wait mode" than in experiencing nature at its worst. I took leave from work at 1:00 and put 130 miles on my vehicle. For what? To see a lot of light rain, a 25 mph wind gust (in the strongest storm in the Tennessee Valley), and a few cloud to ground lightning bolts that I couldn't photograph. Do I regret it? Not really. I actually like weather most folks consider boring. I enjoyed the "company" of my weather friends in the online world. Of course if I knew that literally nothing would have happened in advance, I would have stayed at work and saved my leave. But this goes with the territory. In order to provide this service to the public, you have to be available and especially during days where the experts consider the risk to be elevated. Much more often than not they are correct.

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