Sunday, June 2, 2013

I wanted to share a story about Tim Samaras. We were in Iowa at the Des Moines Severe Weather Conference. I had always looked up to Tim thinking he was a great chaser and impressed by the work he had done. I was surprised that he was sitting alone at dinner. (At these conferences people always tend to flock is why at COD conference we have assigned mixed seating:-) I asked him to join us and got to spend the next few hours talking with him. I had known him from chasing and although I had met him a few times in person, knew him mostly from on-line discussions.

He was such a great guy. He was friendly, cordial to my students and spun a great yarn. I thoroughly enjoyed that evening getting to know him. He was a passionate, considerate and encouraging guy. He was humble and patient with everyone. I knew that we shared the passion and love for severe weather. He had a boyish quality when he talked about storms. Something that many of my chase friends share.

I think the last time I really got to talk with him was in Goodland, Kansas after a chase when we stopped at the Pizza Hut for a late night pizza and beer dinner. He had been getting data for a hail storm project he was working on. Usually avoiding the storm, he now got to punch the core on purpose!

Tim was always one to wave and say hi. And I must admit, I will miss the opportunity to meet up with him again. He will be sadly missed.

As chasers, we all do stupid things, and we all make mistakes in judgement. But we also know that the supercell is a whole lot more unpredictable than most will give credit to. When someone of his skill dies, it should make ALL of us stop and worry and rethink what we do. And in this day of in-vehicle radar, maybe take a step back and respect the storms even more. Realizing that chasers are getting a little to casual about getting up-close and personal. In the old days, before GRlevel3, I know that I was a lot more afraid, knowing how little I knew. Now I think I know more than I probably do. And I know a heckuva lot more about storms than most chasers. And i amazes me what some chasers will do.

I hope that Tim's death provides a lesson that all chasers will heed. We are still powerless. The storm ought to be respected and that what we do is dangerous. Foolish behavior has no place on the highways of tornado alley.

And for heaven's sake, chasers ought to think 4 times before they think they know enough to always be safe. And damn it, let's learn more about what is really happening in the storm.  I am sick and tired of too many shows telling the wrong thing about storm structure. And encouraging chasers to go out. This rant will be for another time, but the reality is that some of the reports of a large wedge, not save lives. It was clear on radar that this was a fricking beast of a storm. I knew that bad things were happening. I am not sure that people's lives were saved  because there were visual reports of the storm. People in Oklahoma should know when the NWS says a very dangerous tornado is occurring, they should respect that.

I am rambling because I have so many thoughts going through my brain. I am a chaser but I hate what chasing has become. But I cannot blame people for wanting to see what I see. And I am sorry for the mess much of the media makes with live reports. Tornado voyeurism. And I am very sorry that people die in tornadoes and there really is not much we can do to save everyone one.

And I miss Tim.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March and Snow

Well, it is officially meteorological spring. And I am thinking about weather again. Well spring weather, that is. But here we go...winter hangs around. Another Tuesday snow storm. Great. We are trying to have a meeting with our AMS and talk about Dual Pol radar with Mike Zuranski. (7PM BIC 3504 at College of DuPage. The vent is open to all and free.) Last week, we had to cancel since the school cancelled classes. I know why they did. It was a nice gesture for people who had to travel through the rush hour in pretty decent snow. It really wasn't bad and not that dangerous. And by 10PM the roads were all pretty clear. But now, this Tuesday looks to be a little worse.

The NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch and are indicating possibly 8-10". If we cancelled with 3-4", I guess that means we will cancel with this as the time seems to be similar.Makes me think school should not have been cancelled last week as it will most likely need to be this week.

If we get 8" of snow, it will put us very close to normal on the year for snowfall. Considering we got nothing through most of January, well, let's just say we have had our share recently.

I miss last March. I need to go someplace warm.

Oh, and I have a new blog site with my personal and spiritual ponderings at Life of Paul. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hearing His Voice

After going through my life piece by piece I realize that I was a person of little faith. I had belief. But I didn't really trust. And now that I am trusting in God to lead my will, it doesn't feel any different. I walk and still am unsure of what to do. But underneath it all I have a trust that God really is in control and that He is leading my life. I still do what I do but I know that things will work, or not work, according to His plan. I am just trying to align myself with His, trusting that roadblocks will prevent me from going the wrong way as long as I let go.

Today, feeling particularly in need of guidance I decided to seek out to hear from God. This is different than praying when I usually spend the majority of time talking. Today, I would search out what He has to say. A church might be a good place. So I went to St. James church, where I grew up attending. All the doors were locked. Not sure what this has to say about security, the age in which we live and the openness of a place of worship for the people, but I was sad that the church was not open for me. I am not saying anything except that at first I was thinking "has God abandoned me?" I would not give up. Across the street was the Willowbrook Wildlife Preserve. I would visit there and trust that God had a purpose.

I went to the eagle's cage, the eagle being my favorite bird. A lone bald eagle sat majestically on a high tree, keenly, yet patiently, watching all around. I am amazed by the size and strength of such a magnificent creature. God brought to mind Isaiah 40:31 "but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." I knew in a moment that God was there, but still awaited his message. So I walked into the cool shade of a stream.

Not that it was much of a stream. The drought has dried up much of the river bed. There were two sections of still water: ahead of a small dam and further away from the place where I listened for His voice. I sat as quietly as the water, trying to be patient and trying desperately to hear. I waited but heard nothing. I need to hear Him and to know His will for my life and still I heard nothing. I continued to wait, hoping that He would talk but still I did not hear. The stillness of the setting matched the stillness of my listening. But some flash of light caught my eye. I walked onto the old dried riverbed and went to the light source. a small trickle of water persisted between the two ponds of still water.Despite the dry weather, the water still flowed. It was a trickle but it persistently ran from one to another. The water met the second still water which was quite a bit larger in area and I realized that the water was not still at all. The trickle of water went somewhere, and for miles along the path of the stream, water was moving with quiet reflections on the surface.

I realized that God was telling me that even when things look not to be moving or changing or even making a difference at all, God is still at work - moving and shifting and bringing fresh water to the semi-stagnant lakes. It is not a torrent of change but it is movement. And so I trust that in my life when things feel like there is no movement at all, I know that God is moving and changing. And He never rests nor grows weary. And even when I think I am growing weary, God will lift me up again. I shall walk and not grow faint.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today is a reason why we chase. A day full of excitement. We started out confused as to how the day really would turn out. The northern part of the Texas panhandle was supposed to tp be the best region for severe. Moisture was supposed to return via decent southeast winds.However, storms that went through last night re-enforced a outflow boundary that was  slow to wash out. Additional southeast winds kept upslop clouds in the air for a long time. Some clearing west of the boundary made me think that maybe north was a good thought, but temperature in the 60's and dew points struggling to get out of the 40's soon made me realize that further south might be a better call.

A well-defined outflow boundary was persistent south of Lubbock but north of Midland Texas. There was a persistent cumulus field along that boundary and a sustained theta-e bullseye along it. We traveled south of Lubbock and at Tahoka moved west. Even though the boundary was south, I could tell that moisture and boundary layer destabilization was arcing northwest behind the mesohigh near Lubbock.

Soon, cumulus towers were seen to be pushing up. It was less of a cap situation than a persistent convergence situation. But nature has a way of creating thunderstorms and soon one formed just to our northwest.

We watched the storm develop, initially high-based, but drawing air in. Scud sucking commenced but it became clear that cold air was blowing out. We shot east a little and came across of very well-defined gustnado. As we watched it a few hundred yards away, we saw that it was not doing damage so we decided to drive into it. That was fun. The best circulation was about thirty yards ahead of us. Very cool to watch nature spin.

A little later, we tried to cut north just ahead of the storm to find a road that was paved and crossed a little wet area. As we were traveling north, Ryan attempted to swat a large fly on the windshield with his hat. He missed but the little metal dingy thing hit the windshield and it spidered! We laughed because, I mean really?!?! Breaking the windshield with a baseball cap?!?!

We then laughed and proceeded north. About 200 yards before the turn, hail commenced suddenly. And not just a little...but golf balls and maybe bigger.Of course one of the first stones hit the windshield right where the the spiders hit. Of course it spidered even worse. The windshield needs to be replaced. No one else received damage but we eventually got out of the hail.

Plow winds, gustnadoes, hail, scary was all there!

Then we chased a supercell south of LBB. Chad saw an OFB and thought it might do something. It did. A tornado warning was issued when we were about 14 miles from it. We were unable to see anything with significant inflow dust and the fact that it was dark!

 We all had a great time and were excited and scared and it was intense and fun!

And we had a good chase on trip 1!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fear and Anxiety

You would think after 23 years of storm chasing, I would know one truth: I do not control the weather. But if I knew that truth, I would probably not suffer so much anxiety in letting it be what it is. I need to learn to live each day, try my hardest to understand the patterns, but after all the work I can do, I must let it go.

You would think I would let myself off the hook because I know I cannot control the weather. You would think I would admire and appreciate what it is and just go with it. No. Like the fool I often am, I try to muscle tornadoes out of skies without clouds. And then get mad and depressed because it did not turn out like I wanted to.

If this sounds insane, welcome to my world. I try to muscle great things out of situations where I have no control. In people or situations or anything. As far as I know, only God has control. So I offer up my prayer to Him. But it is not for storms or friendships or anything else. I pray for sanity. I pray for peace. That in all situations I trust in Him.

Of course, I would like a few less storms in my life and a few more on my trip.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

What Happened on Sunday

"And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself."

What happened the morning Jesus was raised from the dead? It was not in daylight because Mary Magdelene saw the stone rolled away "while it was still dark." Something happened in that dark tomb. Now let us be clear that Jesus didn't just "appear" alive. It is clear that by the power of God (the Father) Jesus was raised from the dead. Perhaps there were angels (messengers or servants really) who removed his cloths. Perhaps they brought some clothing. But He didn't just "get up" without doing something inside the cave. His face cloth was not lying with the linens. It was "rolled up." I do not understand why that is in the Bible but it must mean something. Perhaps it is to state the despite the miraculous (and I firmly, without a doubt, believe this miracle) that the earthly events still must take place. As long as we are on this earth, there are things that happen in this world. The cloth was rolled up, the stone was moved, Jesus was dressed in clothing, which was apparently clothing that a gardener would wear. These all tell me that the everyday work of earthly existence co-exists with the miraculous work of God.

God brings me to life, in ways I do not know or understand. I am unaware of the process of how I am brought to life, of how God attends to my earthly needs. But I know that I am alive and it was He who did it. And now the mundane things of life are things that I must partake in.

There is nothing amazing in this blog. And maybe that is because I am not feeling completely alive. And maybe I am still in the cave and it is still dark outside. In my life, maybe this is just the moment that I am first made alive. I am not aware of what is happening in the cave but maybe the first thing I need to do is roll up the cloth that has covered my face.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Dreading Saturday

Most people love Saturday. Its stuck between Friday (still a work day) and Sunday (a day to recover.) If asked a thousand people if Saturday should be longer, I would guess a thousand of them would say yes.

But I hate Saturdays.

Yesterday we celebrated Good Friday, a day we we remember the Passion (suffering) of Jesus who died on the cross. Tomorrow, we celebrate Easter, the day where Jesus was raised by God from the grave. To celebrate the fact that life has conquered death. But what about Saturday?

Imagine the actual Saturday between the day Jesus died and the Resurrection. What was going through his disciples' minds? Now I have heard preachers preach that when we go through times of trouble (Friday) we need to remember SUNDAY'S COMING! But we know the end of the story. The disciples did not know what was happening nor what was coming. To them Friday meant death - death of their friend, their teacher, their Lord. There was no getting around it. There was no hope, no vision of the things to come. Just despair, confusion, anxiety and fear. That Saturday must have been the longest Saturday in history.

If I am truthful, I am living in Saturday. When I talk of things that cause pain and death and suffering (see yesterday's post) I live in Saturday. I feel despair because I do not see how this pain could end. I feel confusion because I do not know how to navigate through the day. I feel anxiety because things are not going as I would like them to go. I feel fear because I do not believe this death I experience will ever be turned back into life. It seems as though my Saturday has been lasting a real long time. I don't know that Sunday is coming. In fact, I feel that Sunday will never come. But that is my lack of faith because I have experienced Sundays in my life before. And I forget. There have been dark times and I have been brought out through them. There have been struggles I thought would never end but they did. And the disciples thought that Jesus was lost to them forever. But He rose back to life. He gave to them a new life as well.

Think of the change in Jesus' followers. On Saturday, they were locked in a room of despair. But on Sunday, they were changed and empowered to change the world. So if you are in Saturday (like me) then I suggest we stick together. Imagine together a life of fullness that might await. Believing in a new life coming is not fantasy. It is a promise made by One who knows what was meant to be. It is made by One who has the power to change the present. It is made by one who knows the pain of Friday, the silence of Saturday and the joy of Sunday yet to come. Let's remind each other of the hope we await.