New Year's Chase Resolutions For 2019

Warren Faidley

Supporter
May 7, 2006
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Mos Isley Space Port
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It's that time of year when you realize chase season 2019 will be here sooner than later.

So what are you changing for 2019? Equipment, target areas, less gas station bean burritos?

1: Target area: My group is chasing further North and Northeast every year until the drought pattern eases and the traditional, western dryline areas become active.

2: Equipment. I was hoping Lumix would release the rumored 8k, global shutter camera before chase 2019, but it appears there will be another year to wait.

3: Burritos. Never risk eating gas station food, although I've had two serious bouts with food poisoning in Tornado Alley.
 

Todd Lemery

Staff member
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Jun 2, 2014
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I’ve got a few things i’d Like to see me do different in 2019.

1) Less beer and more sleep on chase nights. This one is self explanatory.

2) Get up and get some exercise EVERY day. All that time sitting gets worse for you as you get older.

3) Stick to the target area. No sense throwing all that hard work that I put into a forecast out the window as soon as a cell pops up an hour away.

4) Be flexible. Sometimes the best laid plans need to change and you need to divert from your initial target.

5) Try to find a happy medium between numbers 3 and 4 so I don’t go insane.

6) Try not to talk on my phone as much. Oh wait, that’s my chase partners.

7) Stick to the paved roads as much as possible. I say it every year, but just can’t seem to help myself.

8) Chase Canada. It amazes me that i’ve Never chased there.
 
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Drew Terril

Staff member
Big one is just get out more. I pretty well have most of the equipment ready already that I was planning to add in the offseason and it's been tested and retested. Granted, I'm a bit at the mercy of mother nature since I can't take off work on a moment's notice like some seem to be able to, but I wouldn't think there will be the dearth of opportunities that there were this year either.
 

John Farley

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Apr 1, 2004
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1. ALWAYS look to see if your video camera is actually recording, even if you think you hit the record button.

2. Get gas when you have the chance, even if a) you don't think you could possibly get short of it or b) you know you could get short of it but are about to be overtaken by the storm you are on.

2a. Remember that New Mexico has lots of towns that do not have gas stations. This includes some where you kind of think you saw a gas station on your last chase.

3. If a storm has shown you good stuff, stay with it. It may well show you something even better. And if you leave it, someone will see that stuff.

4. When you are packing for a chase, never forget to pack your sense of humor.

This past season, failing to observe 2 and 3 cost me at least two tornadoes, including Tescott. And failing to observe 1 kept me from getting video of the two closest, best gustnadoes I have ever seen. But hey, at least I saw them.
 

James Gustina

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Mar 9, 2010
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1. Like Todd said, exercise/move around before and after chasing. It really does take a toll on your health sitting for 10+ hours and finishing it off with a Casey's roller and beer.
2. Avoid biting too early in the year on marginal setups along I-35. They're never worth it and waste vacation time.
3. Take more detours before the chase for natural features/historic points on the Plains. I did this a lot more when I first chased on the Plains and I have some new spots I'd like to see should I make it further west onto the High Plains a few more times this upcoming season.
4. Actually prep my car with the Aquapel I have before the season starts instead of completely forgetting about it until we're halfway through spring.
 
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Sep 7, 2013
684
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Strasburg, CO
1) Get out more.
2) Go camping instead of chasing.
3) Spend more time watching live vs through a lens/screen (I say this one every season).
4) Get back to my roots....more lightning, less clouds/spinny/icy things.

Probably a lot more...but mostly I need to make it more interesting again.
 
Jul 5, 2009
1,216
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I recently posted some “lessons learned” type of stuff in the “RIP 2018 chase season” thread, so I guess most of my 2019 resolutions are a spin on those:


1. Continue trying to time my chase trip to the extent possible - for me that’s usually the ability to define a three week window and choose the two better looking weeks out of that window because that’s the max I can be away - but don’t try to be too cute with it to the point where I’ve wasted too much time waiting for a perfect pattern. And once there are only two weeks left in my window, get out there even if it still looks crappy, because plenty of good surprises still happen, like last year’s hat trick in WY, CO and DDC (all of which I missed, even though I was chasing!) You’re not going to see anything at home on your couch. I’m not going to agonize over the long term forecast or any doom and gloom here on ST either.

2. The above is about deciding when I *will*chase, but in 2019 I will try not to get so much anxiety over *if* or when I *can*chase relative to work and family commitments. I and my chase partner already have individual family commitments that will keep us from going out until late May, and my work schedule promises to be particularly hectic which is another variable. Some years I get so nervous that I won’t be able to go at all. I resolve to try not to worry about it for months ahead of time and just take one day at a time. I will try not to obsess over what I am missing earlier in the season, and if for some reason I do have to shorten my trip to a week or so then I will try to be stoic about it.

3. If you are out there for a limited chase vacation, don’t waste any opportunities to chase. Find reasons TO chase, don’t look for reasons NOT to. Don’t let frustration stop you, shake it off and get out on the field for the next play.

4. Trust your gut and don’t allow technical discussions to dissuade you if you have good forecast reasoning of your own. Hard not to defer to the experts but sometimes it’s just a matter of reading between the lines too much, trying to parse every word and seeing something that’s not really there anyway - which leads to the next one...

5. Beware of confirmation bias. Don’t have tunnel vision, focusing on the data that is confirming your instinct, or confirming the area that’s a shorter drive, or confirming an area you’d rather chase in (less crowded, better roads, etc.), or confirming the target you’ve had in mind for the past couple days while ignoring forecast changes.

6. Don’t be overly influenced by what other chasers are doing, i.e. second guessing yourself because you see a couple chasers heading in the opposite direction. It IS a data point to consider why they might be doing so, but don’t give it too much weight, there could be any number of reasons somebody is heading in the opposite direction (including the possibility they don’t know what they’re doing).

7. Don’t get frustrated. Enjoy the moment. Realize that chasing is like baseball, you’re only going to bat 300 and that’s pretty good. Realize that we love it because of the challenge, because so many pieces have to fall perfectly in place and it feels so good when that happens, but that’s only because success is relatively rare, and it wouldn’t be as satisfying otherwise. Failure and frustration is a necessary part of this avocation.
 
My main one is 'Try to get out there'! Each year I think it might be time to call it 'time' for a year or two, as the finances take a hit from travelling over from the UK. But then my yearning to get back onto the Plains kicks back in!

I guess there are some!

1) TRIPOD! Every year I seem to have some scenes on my videos where setting up the tripod would have taken no time at all and give much nicer results! I've got better, but still need to use it more!

2) Dodge City...if the risk is anywhere near SW Kansas, just go to Dodge City! (this is entirely based on May 24th 2016 and May 29th this year - having not seen the tornadoes near Dodge on either day!)

3) Judge the chase day at the end of the day - not part-way in when initial activity doesn't start out as planned. May 27th this year was a case in point - I was quite annoyed when we got to WY and the cells started to die out somewhat - but at least we stuck with it, and got tornadoes a couple of hours later!

4) Say 'Hi' to more chasers! Not whilst in the depths of the chase, of course, as we're all busy - but at other times I feel like I should chat with more chasers out there, as everyone is so friendly!
 

DanWerts

EF0
Feb 8, 2018
11
3
6
Russells Point
Couple minor things on my part.
1. Chase a wider area. I usually stick to a 200 mile range. I think for the 2019 season, I'll open that up a bit.
2. Do more forecasting myself then check against the NWS and SPC to do a fundamental flaw check. I started out just setting up, and then not moving much. Over time I began working developing storms but my chase region (Ohio through Illinois) doesn't get too many tornadoes, so I'm mostly just tracking storms at this point.
3. Lighten my equipment load. Since I'm doing it for pure hobby reasons, I think I can go with just one video camera, one Photo camera, and a tablet/phone plus my usual HAM radio equipment (Already in car and considered part of the default set up on non chasing days). If I decide to do a more personal research route I might toss in a standard sensor pack for getting near storm conditions. but even then, I don't need to load myself down too much.
4. Work more away from the crowds. Opting more for an "Abandon storm when metro areas are involved" unless if I'm tracking a storm that might have the potential to, or is in the process of, producing a tornado.
5. Plan and actually take a trip to the Oklahoma Kansas region. Not so much for chasing though, but instead for my own enjoyment.

Then a few personal changes to chase style:
1. Chase in a more solo style. in 2018, a number of systems I hopped on had small crowds in them. I don't like crowds myself. It's half the reason I left Maryland and returned to the mid west.
2. Actually do more chase planning and learn the local geography better so that when I'm in chase mode, obstacles like rivers and less than well maintained roads are more present in my mind, leading to a more efficient route planning. That way when I'm factoring in say an escape, or even just chase sequence itself, I've long since taken those obstacles into account. This comes mostly from Skip Talbots excellent analysis of the 2013 event, plus a few pinches that other chasers have gotten into.
3. chase a few more marginal days. Half the reason I even chase is just because I love seeing some good storm structure. So as I go out more, I intend to chase a few more regular storms. Just to really get warm and fuzzy with a number of changing structures that one can see. I know that we understand those regular convective storms well. But I wanna really get the structure from under a good working over.

All in all, minor things really. I'm adopting a more conservative chase style.
 
Aug 9, 2012
436
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Galesburg, IL
tornadoguys.com
Basically follow my 2018 strategy of chasing setups I thought was worthy of chasing (using my judgement and forecasting). Yeah sure I missed out on a lot of tornadoes 10-12+ hours a way, but I can only afford those trips 2 or 3 times a year, so I try to make them worthwhile. As far as gear goes, my laptop is almost on its end-game with a low battery life and some screen issues, thinking about buying a new Macbook or getting the Sony Ax700 and using my Ax100 as a dash cam, haven't decided yet.. Also I need to purchase a sturdy tripod. I've been using the old walmart one I got for about 10 years now lol. Then again, maybe I'll stick with what I have to save money and make it do another year lol.
 
Mar 8, 2016
182
280
11
Bloomington, IL
For me, this year was an excellent year to show me just how important it is to work on and maintain your own forecasting skills/abilities vs. depending on SPC outlooks, especially in the mid-range(Looking at you 7/19 and 12/1). As far as new years resolutions go:

1. Continue to study up and practice forecasting.
2. Keep a eye on the mid/long-range, even in seemingly dead times of year.
3. Always prioritize paved roads over gravel and dirt, especially with 30kt+ storm motions. Not doing so cost me a good view of the Tescott EF3.
4. Always keep some sort of offline maps ready for situations without data. This saved me on 12/1 in the I-72 corridor.
5. Never doubt Illinois's ability to do something stupid in the cool season, regardless of the year.;)
 
This year has been the first year where I've felt somewhat solidly about my forecasting skills. Past experiences with several failure (or boom) modes have given me a pretty good knowledge bank. Of course I have plenty (a vast, vast amount) to learn, but I usually walk out the door for a chase with some level of confidence in my target, which I couldn't say as much in previous years.

Things I'm doing differently next year:

Chasing Style...

-staying with a storm unless something SCREAMS to leave it. This cost us the best tornadoes on 12/1. Would've cost me Tescott had I been able to chase. Thought I'd already learned this lesson in the last couple years, but apparently I haven't.

-getting to a storm as soon as possible after initiation unless there's a good reason to hold back. This would be most applicable on days where the target area is small, storm motion won't be crazy fast, and/or for specific types of environments where things are going to be happening fast (think large low-level instability). Some storms are going to be producing tornadoes very quickly after initiation, as happened 7/19 and 12/1 this year. Holding back cost us the first 2 tornadoes on the Pella storm. We learned from our past mistakes for 12/1, and saw each of the first three tornadoes the Havana storm produced, even before the storm had fully matured or was even tornado warned.

-being more generally aware of the environment, and overall becoming a better forecaster. Again, I didn't chase Tescott day, but being aware of inhibition further south could've prevented me from heading that way had I chased. On 7/19, as I was scoffing at the basically nonexistent velocity signature on the developing Pella storm, NWS Des Moines issued a tornado warning. I had no clue why they'd do that. Sure enough, a tornado was confirmed minutes later. They knew what type of setup they were dealing with, as there was a ton of 0-3km CAPE to promote intense vorticity stretching even from what looked like nothing on radar. We, on the other hand, were blindsided. It's not like our chase was ruined in this instance, but it very well could've been had those been the only tornadoes.

-don't hold back chasing eastern Colorado/southeast Wyoming even if the setups don't look textbook great, especially in terms of low level shear. When there's decent moisture working in with upslope winds and good flow aloft, topographical influences will often take care of the rest. One of my bigger regrets this year was not chasing 5/27-28 even when I had nothing going on because near-surface winds looked to be weak.

Equipment...
-upgrading camcorder to Sony AX-100 from AX-53. I'm very satisfied with the 53's quality, but I want more low-light flexibility.

-upgrading camera body to Sony a7RII from a7R. This is half for chasing, half for being a photography enthusiast. Again, love my Mark I, but the difference between the two is huge. I also likely wouldn't upgrade from the Mark II until it gives out.

-continuous GoPro shot from roof of vehicle when things get going on a chase. Probably a GoPro Hero5 Session since they're not too pricey anymore and would suit my needs.
 
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tmesias

EF0
May 15, 2013
11
3
1
Denver, CO
1) when stopped in Oklahoma during a chase for driving while Coloradan, better footage of the stop and when they are holding up that empty ziplock baggie make sure to yell out “best stuff we’ve got right there!”

2)chase more late season northern setups and get something in Canada

3) chase less and sit and watch more.... at this point there seems to be more educational value in watching what does and doesn’t produce.

4) do other things other than just chase for vacation.... a whole week never leaving a beach side hut all inclusive with zero time in a car sounds incredible
 
Jul 5, 2009
1,216
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
Happy New Year everyone! Now that we are past New Year’s Day, we can look forward to chasing “this year” as opposed to “next year.”

As a chase vacationer, I start counting the days until “next year” as soon as I get back home... In that regard, there are two key milestones for me: Thanksgiving, when I am just about halfway to my next mid/late May chase trip; and New Year’s Day, when “next year’s” trip is now “this year’s” trip.

Accordingly, I thought I would bump this thread and see if it generates any more thoughts on resolutions for the coming year!
 
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Lucas McIntyre

Enthusiast
Apr 12, 2018
6
7
1
Manhattan, Kansas
1) Learn when, and when not to try and socialize with other chasers. Mostly, not when they're recording video of one of the best tornadoes of the year.

2) Find somebody else I can chase with. I don't like chasing in my vehicle alone near a tornado on a Moderate Risk day, lots of crazy driving going on and I'd rather somebody who is more patient with others in the driver seat. Also, it's insanely difficult to safely check radar and take pictures while driving.

3) Expand the distance in which I'm willing to drive to chase, especially on weekends. No excuse I couldn't haul somewhere Friday night, get a cheap room or find a country road, and be in position for an out of state/local area event.
 
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Jeff House

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Jun 1, 2008
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Chattanooga, TN
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The following is from a chase vacation perspective, not really applicable for Plains residents.

With El Nino in place, I will be open to jumping on something in late April. I prefer May for all the reasons we normally discuss here. May is also better for standing multi-day troughs.

On the flip side I know I'm not entitled to a May trough. Nature does what nature does.

On the late side, June is typically less obvious and spread out. LY I missed early June action; then, busted mid-June.

Bottom line: Early, late or peak season I should be more decisive. Never was a problem until the last two years. Is is me or the wx patterns?

PS. on the health side, yes try to get some exercise. I also bring a lot of water and sometimes even sports drinks. Might have to pee more, an inconvenience, but it is worth being hydrated. When all else fails guys can just pull over. Remember though, with the wind!
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
Also from a chase vacation perspective, I am going to try to be more flexible this year. Because of work and family commitments (as well as a family commitment that my chase partner has), we will likely have trouble getting a full consecutive two weeks at the climatological peak time. So we are talking about maybe doing two separate one-week trips. One potential approach is to firmly schedule one week during the late-May peak, and let our other week be a “floater,” so IF it looks good earlier in May, before some of the ill-timed family commitments, we will try to get out there. Or if it looks good later, in June, take our second week then.

In the past, I have been able to be somewhat flexible with a two-week trip, shifting it by a week or two based on weather conditions. This year, I won’t have quite as much flexibility, and due to all that is going on at my job it will be hard to be out for two straight weeks. It will be hard to keep the dates uncertain without making it look like the whole trip itself is “optional”; it will be much better to firmly schedule one week like one would schedule a “normal vacation.” And then maybe still get out for an extra week with some time in between, avoiding a long absence from work.

I realize I started out by saying I am going to be more flexible, and then wrote that I will have less flexibility. So I guess what I am trying to say is, because I will have less flexibility overall, I need to approach chasing in a more flexible way; maybe a better word to use for this resolution is to be adaptable. In other words, my situation may not be as conducive to chasing this year, so I need to be mentally flexible, I need to adapt, get over or around the obstacles, and somehow make it work, keeping a positive attitude about it without becoming discouraged or giving up.
 

Jeff House

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Jun 1, 2008
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One advantage of just setting a week, like traditional vacation, is less agonizing over weekly models. Also air fare is a lot better in advance. I'm tired of driving out there. Risk is that nothing comes up in the said week.

My previous post is about being more decisive with the forecast. Perhaps the most decisive action is just book late May now, lol. We actually had a blast in ICT despite the bust. What's the worst that can happen if a bust? Lots of partying with old friends!

My chase partner and I both have conferences mid-May. Unbelievable! We also have stuff right at the start of June. Sounds inflexible. On the other hand, maybe just book May 24-31.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
@Jeff House I think I am arriving at the same conclusion. After my post above, I realized that I have fewer options than I thought and a week in early May is virtually impossible. By the time I work around my son’s b-day, Mother’s Day, my daughters’ play, and my chase partner’s son’s middle school graduation, I can’t even really find a full week prior to May 24. So I think I am going to block out two weeks from May 24 through June 8, but it remains to be seen whether I can actually be away for the full two weeks.

Definitely agree with your point about a set schedule eliminating the stress of agonizing over the models and deciding when to chase, although there will still be some of that if I can only be away for one week and have to choose one of the two. If that happens, I might still be able to do a separate second week in mid or late June, but who knows, activity is inconsistent during that time and other stuff could be on my calendar by then.
 
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Mar 8, 2009
75
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Meadville PA
I retired from the TV station in December, so I hope to chase more west of the Mississipi. Dang hard to get away from the tv station in May, it's sweeps month so its usually all hands on deck and no vacations allowed! Not a problem now.
 
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Jun 16, 2015
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Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
My goal for this year has been to update my photo/video equipment. I finally invested in a good camera for 4K video and higher resolution photos with the Sony a7iii. This means spending less time on my phone and more time behind an actual camera shooting this chase season. I wanted to hold off on any upgrades until I was ready to make a big investment and patience paid off.
 
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May 31, 2011
33
5
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Macomb, MI
I didn't necessarily learn this from the past year but I'm reaffirming it in 2019

1. Don't even bother to chase unless I'm willing to see it through. What do I mean? I missed on the Rochelle, IL EF4 because after chasing IL all day and driving up and down I-39 no less than 4 times passing Rochelle along the way however things just weren't materializing so I did the responsible thing and went home to SE Michigan because I had a really, really important next day at work with a 630am start time. 30 minutes into my 6 hour ride back, my phone is blowing up with messages about "Are you there man!!" Uh.......no. I could have stuck around and just sacrificed myself. I've never been more disappointed in a chase. I felt like Jim Carey when he said "I'm kicking my ass, do you mind!" Weak weak weak

2. Don't give up on a rotating cell or cell that dropped a tornado and is weakening. I'm quick to be dismissive at times and I almost forget that they will recycle. I've missed a handful of additional tornadoes because I think it's over.

3. Don't get tunnel vision. In 2012 I was mesmerized by the Henryville EF4 fully knowing but forgetting that a hook echo was following right behind it that produced a EF2 that followed the exact same path. I very nearly got railroaded by that as I drove to the EF4 damage path.