Armchair Stormchasing has Arrived...


Anyone who was using SWIFT WX yesterday saw several chasers gear-up and head for the storms using the new position tracking feature in v2.5:

Fred Williams became the focal point of the day as we all watched him approach... then intercept a tornadic storm north of Oklahoma City. Take a look:

His chase report follows...


-----Original Message-----
From: Fred & Annette Williams [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 12:09 AM
To: 'Rory Groves'
Subject: RE: Today's Chase

Hi Rory,

Yes, that would be me! I am very happy to report that SwiftWx v 2.5 performed flawlessly for me today. Every part did exactly what it was supposed to do and never let me down.

I am really enjoying using the GPS tracking/positioning feature. I have SwiftWx v 2.5 loaded on both my laptop AND my home computer, and my wife likes being able to know where I am in real time. She called me on my cell phone and told me, "You can run, but you can't hide!"

I have been seeing a few other SwiftWx users while running about.
There are some in the OKC area and I have to laugh... I thought another "Swifter" was following me, trying to "catch up" while I was traveling south yesterday on I-35. I zoomed in, to try and better judge how close this person was getting to me, when I suddenly figured out that while I am using the GPS function (showing me the green GPS icon) my blue GPS icon that everyone else sees was who was following me! I laughed when I finally figured that one out.

Yes, I did get very close to tornados today. I was following a storm that had formed rotating wall clouds several times but always seemed to fall apart instead of forming a funnel. As it out ran me in northeast Oklahoma, I figured out that I could catch it again by running north into Kansas and heading east on highway 166 and then running back south into Oklahoma.

As I made it to Chetopa Kansas, Swift showed a Meso with TVS just south of town. I was already trying to get closer to that cell and thought I had seen the wallcloud forming again, but being northwest of the cell, it was rain wrapped and I could not be sure.

As I turned south on 59 in Chetopa, Emergency vehicles started passing me. I allowed them to pass and followed, as I was already going that way. A semi tractor and trailer had been hit by the tornado about three minutes before I got there, just one mile north of the Oklahoma border. I was the third vehicle to arrive, however within the next 20 seconds. As I started shooting video, they waved me past and I noticed that there was a tornadic damage path at least 200 to 300 yards wide, right there. Many trees had been snapped off or uprooted and the fences had lots of debris from metal roof panels that had been blown through the area.

I was able to shoot more video, but was waved out of the area by the law enforcement officers, and was not able to get more video, but my ABC station did run some of that video.

I would not have been able to follow that storm cell by just using the NWS radar from the Skywarn website ( and SwiftWx v 2.5 put me right in the sweet spot without placing me in danger.

I am very happy with SwiftWx v 2.5 and am more than happy to tell everyone I know how well it's working for me. My storm chasing partner wants SwiftWx v 2.5 too now. I told him it's affordable to buy outright or even just subscribe with the new monthly fee. I told him he could download the free 2 week trial to try it out too.

Most of the time, he's running with me, in the same vehicle and we have two laptops going at the same time. One is for video management and the other for weather and navigation, but every once in a while, we're running in separate vehicles. Having the same weather program would be nice and with the GPS tracking feature, we could see where each other are located on the same storm from different vantage points.

I love SwiftWx v 2.5 so much better than v 2.1 or v 2.3 and I'm not having many problems at all with v 2.5. Each day, I am learning new tricks to "tweak" 2.5 to just how I like the display showing. I like the nightvision mode and have reduced the opacity of the risk assessment areas and watch and warnings boxes.

If I get a good chance in the next few days, maybe I can set up my chase vehicle, with my SwiftWx stickers I made, and shoot some digital pictures and send them to you.

Please keep me in mind again when you are ready to test future versions as they continue to come out, but I'm so happy with v 2.5, I'm not sure how much more I need!


Fred Williams
Storm Chaser for KTUL - 8 ABC Tulsa Oklahoma