Spout Spotting on Lake Michigan

May 1, 2004
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Springfield, IL
www.skip.cc
Seeing that it's been so quiet on the plains for supercells, I've taken to chasing another form of tornado with a season that is peaking right now: waterspouts on the Lake Michigan. Record lake temperatures due to the unusually hot summer have primed the lake for waterspout outbreaks. There have been several already this year and the season is only about half way over. I've made three runs to the lake this year from Springfield, and got pretty lucky on this last trip, capturing three waterspouts, one at pretty close range. We missed the best one in South Haven by only a few minutes though:

Watch video >






The circulation on that first one actually made landfall, the National Weather Service reporting that it crossed I96 south of South Haven. I'll see if I can get Jenn or Jon to post some of their pictures of the spouts as they are better than mine.

The lake provides plenty of other photographic opportunities when there aren't any spouts in progress. Here's a few shots and some time lapsed video from my last couple of trips.








Some time lapse experiments:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzcXzZW457Y
 
Oct 25, 2004
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Tucson, Arizona
What a great "Plan B" option available to you guys that live within stabbing distance of Lake Michigan! As you veteran chasers all know, those of us that chase the plains each spring don't have much to do when our chase days turn into blue sky days. You can go to your motel room and stare at the clock until it's time to eat...or sit around and pout. Trust me....I've done both many times. My chase partner Doren Berge and I have often remarked that a truly mature chaser is one that can "adjust on the fly" when throwing in the towel and declaring a chase a bust....and find cool things to do to make the remainder of the day go by more enjoyably. Perhaps that would be a good topic for a new thread: How do you keep yourself entertained when encountering a BUST CHASE? And BTW...thank you both Skip and Jenn for the great photos of your Lake Michigan afternoon. I really enjoyed those. You guys are so lucky to have a place like that within your sphere of availability.
 
May 1, 2004
3,387
546
21
Springfield, IL
www.skip.cc
How do you keep yourself entertained when encountering a BUST CHASE?
There are so many neat places to see and explore on the Great Plains. Jenn and I were out for a few days in June and went to the Badlands on our couple of down days. I could go back there several more times, and there are places nearby that I didn't even get a chance to see like the Black Hills. The sky and scenery are interesting to shoot even on the down days. Not having a cloud in the sky would seem detrimental to a chase trip, but it made for great night sky photography. A milky way shot from our Badlands trip:




And BTW...thank you both Skip and Jenn for the great photos of your Lake Michigan afternoon. I really enjoyed those. You guys are so lucky to have a place like that within your sphere of availability.
Thanks. Lake Michigan is now a 3+ hour trip for me, and South Haven is 5 hours. I just got into a spout chasing last year, and I wish I had done it years earlier when I still lived near Chicago and the lake was only an hour away instead of 3-5!