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Post your 2014 chase stats here!

John Farley

Supporter
With the big Arctic outbreak overrunning the country, it looks like chasing may be pretty much done for 2014, so let's get started posting our chase stats for the year. (If the pattern changes and something does still happen before the end of the year, feel free to update your stats.)

I know 2014 wasn't a great chase year overall, but for me it turned out to be my best ever in terms of the number of tornadoes and tornado days. Now granted I don't chase nearly as many days or miles a season as some of you do, LOL! Anyway, here are my stats. These include only chase days on which there appeared to be a real risk of tornadoes, not local outings purely for lightning, thundersnow, rainbows, or other forms of photogenic but non-severe weather.

CHASE DAYS: 8
CHASE MILES: 3,114
BEST CHASE DAYS: A tie between June 6 east of Trinidad, CO and September 29 west of Chama, NM
WORST CHASE DAY: Probably May 22 in eastern CO, which looked like it had potential but really did not pan out. Didn't help that I started the day in the shop to have a leaky tire repaired.
TORNADO DAYS: 4 (May 11, May 21, June 6, September 29)
TORNADOES: 6 (3 on June 6, 1 each the other three tornado days)
STRONGEST TORNADO: High end EF-1 (Two on June 6 and one on September 29)
DAYS I SAW TORNADOES WITHIN SIGHT OF SNOW-CAPPED PEAKS: 2 (June 6 and September 29)
LARGEST HAIL: 1-inch, on May 11 and September 29
STRONGEST WIND (non-tornadic): Around 60 mph on May 11
GUSTNADOES: Several on May 11 and one on June 7
FUNNEL CLOUDS: Saw a nice one nearly halfway to the ground near Garfield, KS on May 11. Pretty sure it was never down, though.
STATES CHASED IN: KS, CO, NM
OTHER STATES CHASED THROUGH: TX, OK
MOST DESTRUCTIVE TORNADO: West of Chama, NM on September 29 - Destroyed two buildings, badly damaged several others, and downed possibly hundreds of trees.
TIMES STUCK: Zero, but came VERY close on a dirt road near Last Chance, CO
LONGEST CHASE: Kansas, May 11, 1175 miles including getting there and back the day before and day after the active chase.
SHORTEST CHASE: New Mexico September 29, 84 miles.
WORST CHASER JAM: May 21 east of Denver, for miles and miles!

FIRSTS: First tornado in CO (I ended up seeing four in CO this season) and first tornado in NM. Also my first tornado in September, first tornado above 7,000 feet above sea level, and my first tornado west of the Continental Divide (all Sept. 29).
SECONDS: The tornado I saw west of Chama, NM on September 29 was the second tornado on record, ever, in Rio Arriba County, NM.

LESSONS LEARNED:
1. Just because an unpaved road doesn't look too bad, don't assume that it isn't too bad.
2. There is no internet service (at least that I could get) in most of southeastern Colorado.
3. You don't have to go into hailstorms to bust windshields. I had to replace two this year, but neither was related to chasing, just ordinary driving in CO and NM.
4. Watch out for raccoons.
5. You CAN see tornadoes in mountainous areas, if the conditions are right.

All of my chase summaries for this year are posted at:

http://www.johnefarley.com/svrwx2014.htm
 
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2014 was a great year for me in both tornado and lightning chases. All of my best days were Midwest events (in Illinois and Missouri). Also of note is that that I had three chases in Kentucky that *almost* gave me my first tornadoes in that state (one may actually have).

CHASE DAYS: TBD
CHASE MILES: TBD, but at least 6,000 miles
BEST CHASE DAYS: For tornadoes, a tie between June 7 in St. Louis and February 20 in Illinois. For lightning, a tie between Chicago on June 30 and St. Louis on August 27.
WORST CHASE DAY: My worst chase days were the days I didn't chase but could have, June 16-18.
TORNADO DAYS: 6 (February 20, May 10, May 11, June 3, June 7, October 13)
TORNADOES: 10 (3 in the Plains, 7 in the Midwest)
STRONGEST TORNADO: The Marshall, MO wedge on May 10 was the most intense tornado I saw this year, but it only received an EF-1 rating due to being in rural areas.
LARGEST HAIL: 2-inch hail in the DIA storm on May 21 cracked my windshield.
STRONGEST WIND (non-tornadic): Likely in excess of 65mph RFD winds northwest of a rain-wrapped tornado near Seward, Nebraska on May 11.
GUSTNADOES: Several on May 11
STATES CHASED: KS, CO, NE, MO, IL, IA, KY, WV, IN
MOST DESTRUCTIVE TORNADO: Likely was Marshall, MO on May 11.
TIMES STUCK: None, thankfully
LONGEST CHASE: Denver storm on May 21. Drove from STL the day before to make it to DIA just in time to meet the storm.
SHORTEST CHASE: October 13, saw a tornado 1 mile from home.
WORST CHASER JAM: Same as John - May 21 east of Denver

My 2014 chase accounts page is up to date, and has links to photos and videos in the event pages:

http://stormhighway.com/chasing/2014.php

My tornadoes page is also up-to-date with the 2014 events listed first:

http://stormhighway.com/tornadoes.php
 
No *confirmed* tornadoes captured on pics/video for my group this year (chased May 18-27), but we were on good/excellent structure almost every day. Got a video of what was probably a gustnado in TX that may have started off as a tornado given its initial position in the storm. The highlight of the trip for me was the back-to-back supercells in Wyoming on May 18 and then in Nebraska on May 19. Granted, I would have traded all of that for June 16-18 given the opportunity. Oddly enough, we never drove in KS or OK this year!

Chase days: 10
Miles Driven: 6,600 (approximate)
States seen: 16 + DC (we drive out from MD each year).
A slightly more detailed summary: http://www.ustornadoes.com/2014/07/10/chasecation-2014-summary/
Daily logs posted throughout the trip: http://www.ustornadoes.com/?s=chasecation+2014

Ian Livingston took our GPS data and hotel+gas logs and made a nice travel summary map of our trip:

Chasecation-2014-Map.gif


As far as chasing on the East Coast this year, well... got in a few tornado warnings and saw interesting structure on a couple of days, but that was it out of the ~5 chases I went on this year.
 
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I thought 2013 was a bad year for me, then 2014 happened. Pretty much struck out in every way, shape, and form this year. Now I know how people felt when 2005 and 2006 happened.

2014 statistics
  • Chases: 6 (fewest chases of any year)
  • Miles: 2673
  • Tornadoes: 0 (no funnel clouds either, first year ever of absolutely no tornadoes)
  • Blue sky cap busts: 2
  • States chased in: TX, OK, KS, NE
  • Best day: May 10 (actually saw two supercells without having to race around. Missed the one tornado and best structure of the day, though.)
Notables:
-I did see a number of marginal or moderately structured supercells. Nothing too thrilling, though. Most days I had only marginal shear to deal with.
-I actually saw a rotating wall cloud briefly near Waurika, OK on May 8. Had to ditch my spot early, though, out of fear of getting trapped under it by traffic.

This year just flat out sucked for me. I was pretty much on my own all year so I just didn't have the motivation to drive 700 miles away for a 5% with barely 40 kts of shear expected. Pretty much every event was marginal at best, and most events were plagued with traffic issues, at least in Oklahoma. The traffic is just ridiculous anymore. I didn't even enjoy being out there half the time; I had to focus so much on navigating the two-lane parking lots that I missed a lot of the show.

I honestly kinda feel like I'm losing the zest for chasing given how badly it's been for me over the past two seasons and the fact that I'm balls deep in my PhD work and trying to establish myself as a professional. The events this year just couldn't top my priority list and I have too many other issues calling for my attention. Mother Nature better start putting on some shows reasonably close to me soon or I'll probably just stop chasing altogether.
 
2014 was my worst season ever. Zero tornadoes, which will make it my first shut out in 18 years of chasing. I set personal records in 6 of the 7 annual stats I keep, but all are the bad kind; fewest chases in a year, fewest total miles driven, (but, curiously, the highest average chase distance), fewest tornadoes and tornado days (none will do that), and, naturally, my all-time worst success ratio. 2011-2013 was fairly lean, but I had no idea how bad this year would be. Oh well, I guess it can't get much worse going forward; not like I'll see minus tornadoes next year.

CHASES: 6*
MILES: 4,361*
AVERAGE CHASE DISTANCE: 727 miles+
TORNADO DAYS: 0*
TORNADOES: 0*
SUCCESS RATIO: N/A*
STATES CHASED: KS,NE,OK,TX

*career low
+career high
 
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I don't have all the stats, but I did get to see the April 27 Pleasanton tornado, north of Ft. Scott, Ks. We got pretty close to it, and heard the 'waterfall' sound. That was my highlight. I am still kicking myself for missing the Pilger event. (Left Topeka too late).
 
2014 was a totally irredeemable piece of turd for me. Other than September 1st, I didn't get close to sniffing a tornado all season and chased at least 4 setups where the moisture just never materialized. A more in-depth look at each chase with photos is located over on my blog: http://thunderingskies.blogspot.com/2014/11/wrap-up-chase-season-2014.html

Stat Line
Chases: 8
Busts: 4
Mileage: 2498 miles (a serious drop-off from the past two seasons)
Largest Hail: 1.75" (Golf ball, March 15)
Highest Wind: 50 mph (Inflow, September 1st)
Tornadoes: A big fat 0
States Chased In: OK, TX, KS, KY, OH, IN
Longest Chase: 748 miles (March 15)

Moisture and off-timed dynamics just ruined this year for me. Got really lucky out of the gates on March 15 and got a weakly supercellular storm with some big hail north of Coleman, TX but it all went downhill from there. Busted consecutively on April 1 and April 2 then didn't chase the only day with tubes on the 3rd. Chased the moisture starved "structurefest" on April 23 across the western OK prairie into N TX. Busted hard April 26 because I bit on yet another day where dews mixed down to mid-50s and the Cu struggled. Was back east from mid-May onwards and chased a greenish squall line on May 21 in Central IN. Didn't chase again until the mountain clusterf**k on July 27 down in eastern OH/KY and got split by both areas of storms that day. Last chase of the year on September 1st was the only good day for me with the large, tornadic supercell initiating just west of 35 across the OK/KS state line and putting out some great structure. Road options screwed me out of the tornadoes just at dusk.

Conclusion: I ended up somewhere between SPS and LAW four, count em, four times out of the eight times I chased this year. Didn't even get to chase the TX PH once which really depresses me now that the first mega-polar air intrusion is already here. Really not sad to see this season end and hoping for a wet winter across the southern Plains with less stupidly timed troughs so 2015 doesn't suck so much.

Chase Map 2014:
94BCNb2.jpg
 
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I would consider this my first year ever chasing with the correct amount of knowledge, and definitely my first year with a good car and a mobile hot-spot. I still haven't made a trip to OK or KS for the dryline supercells that I dream of and have yet to experience...hoping 2015 has better classic dryline setups. I believe we saw a low contrast tornado http://www.stormtrack.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=8395&d=1398828691 on April 27th during the cold core set up in Nebraska. On May 11th, I saw what looked to be a huge meso scraping the ground on that huge HP in Nebraska http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=y...&v=JZZmtUD5Tf4 In the video you can see the huge RFD cut with power flashes, and other chasers' videos have been calling that a wedge tornado in there. Maybe someone could tell me if I should count it. But on June 17th, after missing the chase of a lifetime the day before, I KNOW I got to witness this beauty... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb7U-NtmivQ&list=UU6y9a4qglg0OHbnoftc3l4Q Still the best day of my life so far, but my goodness am I still an amateur. If I could have that day over again, I would have calmed down a bit and sat in my position for longer with a tripod camera instead of settling for iphone video. My friends actual camera was filming, but that video is nothing special either. Pretty sad for how close we pulled up to that basically stationary beauty. One thing that I seem to learn every season though, is that I still have so much to learn...as I missed easy tornado opportunities on days where I thought it wasn't worth chasing, like that gorgeous Traer, Iowa day... still not sure how storms did what they did on that day... or days where I wasn't in the correct spot. August 24th we picked the perfect target area, but raced north towards towers going up only to have new towers explode and produce an hour later, exactly where we targeted.
 
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Chases: 4
Blue sky busts: 0
Tornadoes: 5 (all on 6/16)
Largest hail seen: 2.75"

Lessons learned:
1) Always bring my big clunky film cameras with because the one time you don't, will be the one time you want to get shots of two EF-4s on the ground at the same time
2) Meso handoffs can be fast and cover several miles, so be careful when punching cores. We assumed we would intercept the Stanton tornado from a safe distance in a little town by the name of Pilger. A few minutes later we realized that would not be a good strategy for obvious reasons.

Spent a lot of time at work and with my toddler, so I didn't get out much.
 
Chase days: 14
Tornadoes: 0
Nicely defined funnels: 3
States chased: OK,KS,TX,NE,WY,CO
Convergence chases: 1 (east of Denver with the rest of you guys)
Luckiest catch: Caught a very nice backlit funnel in near Chugwater, Wyoming on 5/31.
Biggest disappointment: Not chasing the Pilger event.

Lessons learned: 1. Nebraska can be cruel. I chased three different days there this year and came up empty, and the one I didn't chase produced the Pilger twins.
2. When a sign says bridge out ahead, it means the bridge is out. (East of Wellington, TX on 4/23)
3. GRLevel3 can be wrong. (Nebraska 6/03)
4. Don't let go of your camera and tripod for more than a few seconds. My 7D hit the dirt more than a few times this year and I have to totally replace the tripod.
 
I thought 2013 was a bad year for me, then 2014 happened. Pretty much struck out in every way, shape, and form this year. Now I know how people felt when 2005 and 2006 happened.

2014 statistics
  • Chases: 6 (fewest chases of any year)
  • Miles: 2673
  • Tornadoes: 0 (no funnel clouds either, first year ever of absolutely no tornadoes)
  • Blue sky cap busts: 2
  • States chased in: TX, OK, KS, NE
  • Best day: May 10 (actually saw two supercells without having to race around. Missed the one tornado and best structure of the day, though.)
Notables:
-I did see a number of marginal or moderately structured supercells. Nothing too thrilling, though. Most days I had only marginal shear to deal with.
-I actually saw a rotating wall cloud briefly near Waurika, OK on May 8. Had to ditch my spot early, though, out of fear of getting trapped under it by traffic.

This year just flat out sucked for me. I was pretty much on my own all year so I just didn't have the motivation to drive 700 miles away for a 5% with barely 40 kts of shear expected. Pretty much every event was marginal at best, and most events were plagued with traffic issues, at least in Oklahoma. The traffic is just ridiculous anymore. I didn't even enjoy being out there half the time; I had to focus so much on navigating the two-lane parking lots that I missed a lot of the show.

I honestly kinda feel like I'm losing the zest for chasing given how badly it's been for me over the past two seasons and the fact that I'm balls deep in my PhD work and trying to establish myself as a professional. The events this year just couldn't top my priority list and I have too many other issues calling for my attention. Mother Nature better start putting on some shows reasonably close to me soon or I'll probably just stop chasing altogether.

How can you live in Oklahoma and not see a single tornado? Tornadoes in Oklahoma are as common as squirrels in Iowa! (joking) :)
 
2014 was by far my most dismal year. Being in school way out east in Pennsylvania, I can really only take a week or so each year to chase until I graduate. The week I took off this year was pretty thoroughly ridged. I didn't even bother leaving home. The biggest headdesk of the year, however, were the two tornadoes that touched down about a 20 minute drive away on my birthday. I was in bed sick.

I'd like to forget this year happened.
 
Selectively chased this year. I sat out a number of projected bigger days for various reasons and looking back I didn't regret it. Maybe 4/28.....

I chased the first three days of April and busted like everyone else. Chased a marginal day in mid-April and squeaked out some severe hail. Returned to the Plains for April 27th and caught my first tornado of the year. Chased around the Chicago area in May and got a wall cloud that moved directly over the southside on 5/11 and a supercell that dropped baseballs and 80 mph winds on May 20th. Finally decided to pull the trigger and chase NE again 6/14 where I documented two night time tornadoes before the feast that was June 16th. Overall it was a decent year for me with ~10 tornadoes and many nice storms. If it were not for work I would have chased June 17th and 18th as well, but the 16th was more than enough to quench my thirst.

7 chases
10 tornadoes
Many thousands of miles traveled
Every tornado I documented in 2014 was in the state of NE.
 
2. When a sign says bridge out ahead, it means the bridge is out. (East of Wellington, TX on 4/23)
That's where you're wrong, sir. I traveled down that highway that same day, and decided to see if the bridge was actually out. Well, it was, the road was closed and everyone was turning back. I noticed a gap and a gravel road to the right. We poked our heads over and found a gravel path with a small bridge over the creek for equipment to drive over. No signs said do not enter so we just went for it.

Anyway, my stats for 2014. Not a stellar year by any means, but I had some good moments.

Chases: Idk, a lot
Tornadoes: 6 (maybe 7)
Tornado days: 3 (or 4) (5/11, 5/26, 6/6, possibly 10/9)
States chased in: TX, OK, KS, NM, CO
Luckiest day: sticking to the south target on May 11, and bailing on the first tornado producing storm to get the second one in line for a 3rd tornado that day.
Biggest disappointment: May 21...not being able to see anything in that storm that was in perfect terrain. And not biting down on the June 16/17 setup.

Lessons learned - 1) My Fusion does horrible in mud
2) Reserving a big table at The Big Texan is easy even on short notice
3) Google maps LIES
4) Punching through the vault at night is not smart, especially with not many road options and chasing solo
5) There's ALWAYS a good central/upper Plains setup in June. Never skip out if you can
 
My 2014 Chase Stats
Chases: 40 (career high)
Miles: 25,546 (career high)
Average Chase Miles: 639
Tornado Days: 7: 2/20 (1), 4/28(1), 5/11(3), 6/13 (1), 6/16 (3), 6/17 (1), 8/23 (1)
Tornadoes: 11
Miles Per Tornado: 2,322
Most Destructive Tornado: EF4 on 6/16
Largest Hail: 2.6 inches on 6/21
Worst Busts: 4/27
Days I Wished I Chased: 5/10, 7/6, 6/18
Windshields Cracked: 1 on 8/31 (already cracked and re-cracked though)
Times Stuck: 1 on 8/23
Speeding Tickets: 0
Firsts:
First February and August tornadoes
First MS Tornado
First OH and AL chases
First multiple concurrent violent tornado intercept (2 EF4s on 6/16)

States Chased (Or Chased Through): IL, WI, MO, IA, MN, OK, KS, NE, SD, CO, WY, TX, AR, NM, MS, AL, IN, OH, TN
Longest trip for single chase: 6/3 at 1,415 miles
Shortest Chase: 9/10 at 123 miles
Furthest Tornado Intercept From Home: 6/13 Aladdin, WY at 1,028 miles
Closest Tornado Intercept From Home: 2/20 Winchester, IL at 47 miles

Misc/Fun Stats:

Most Subway stops in one day: 4 on 6/16
Average Tornado Rating: EF2.2
Nights Camped in Van: 6


2014 was my best chase year since 2010. We had several chases with very intense, memorable, and photogenic tornadoes, most notably on 4/28, 6/16, and 6/17. There were a handful of other tornado days as well, and while not particularly impressive or photogenic events, they included several personal firsts for the time of year and location of intercept. Between jobs, and before starting a family, I decided to really live it up this year and chase as much as possible. Brindley and I chased several stretches where the tornado probabilities were quite low, and while this is reflected in my tornado to chase ratio, bagging a tube every single chase is not why I chase. The plains weather and scenery, friends, and experiences is really why I'm out there, and the tornado is the cherry on top. I also managed to chase excessively without going into debt thanks to a handful of media of sales and driving for COD Trip 5, so a success there. I think I might have at least broken even too, which would be another first for me.

Edit: Wow, I actually forgot a tornado day: 6/13 in Wyoming. I can't keep track of them anymore.

Notes on tornado count: I had several other days that were super close. 6/7 in IL I had a tiny rope funnel that was two thirds condensed, and I originally counted it, but decided to drop it after further review. 6/29 in Iowa we had a nice cone funnel half way down underneath a rapidly rotating wall cloud with classic structure. That's probably the closest I've come to a nice supercellular tornado without it happening. There were a couple funnels on 6/16 which other chasers counted as tornadoes. We couldn't confirm the dust whirls so decided against it, and we also counted the Wakefield satellite tornado as the rope out of Pilger, so we ended that day with a count of 3 while many other chasers were counting 5, 6 or more tornadoes.
 
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CHASE DAYS: 15
CHASE MILES: ~11800
BEST DAY: June 16
WORST DAYS: April 27, May 21, June 3
TORNADO DAYS: 2 (June 16, September 1)
TORNADOES: 6 (5 on June 16, 1 on September 1)
STRONGEST TORNADO: EF-4 on June 16
LARGEST HAIL: Golfballs? on May 10
STATES CHASED: TX, OK, KS, CO, NE, NM
LONGEST CHASE: May 21 (~1500 mi.)

This would've been hands-down my career worst season (of 9 to-date) if I'd sat out Pilger, which I was dangerously close to doing. I've never been anywhere near as down on chasing as I was by late May and early June this year. What an awful March 1-June 15 -- about as bad as it gets, if you consider endless teases and busts to be worse than a year that's just completely dead and allows you stay home without much worry (e.g., 2006). If something could go wrong in pre-Pilger 2014, it did. I think anyone who chased (successfully) any of the June 16-18 period may forget just how brutal this year was before that. And while June 16 was easily a top 5 chase for me, my greedy side can't get over leaving NE that evening instead of staying for one more shot the next day, given I was already so far from home. The Pilger storm was pretty tough to chase solo and keep up, whereas Coleridge would've been as perfect in that regard as it gets. I scored my first September tornado on Labor Day SE of Wichita, and it was probably the flukiest of the 60+ tubes I've bagged. I've long lamented that despite chasing fairly aggressively (15-20 days/year), I never seem to bag the "needle-in-haystack" events like Campo. This was no Campo, but for once I felt like I got a truly lucky break on a tough day, and it's everything I imagined it to be!

One other comment: I would suggest that June 16-18 of this year was the best three-day sequence in recorded chasing history. Each day offered truly spectacular, cyclic storms with large and photogenic tornadoes that were hard to miss if you chased at all. Tough to think of any rivals to that. Definitely some incredible two-day sequences to consider, but any "classic" three-day sequence (say, May 22-24, 2008) I can come up with had at least one day that fell short of epic status. In the case of June 16-18, I think all three could end reasonably up in the top 10 days of this decade.
 
2014 for was a pretty neutral year stat wise, but overall an under performing year for good, quality tornadoes and storms. The obvious exception to this is the Pilger day, which saved my season and gave me something to hold on to so I didnt slip into insanity. The S plains were just....dead, with all the cap busts to start off the year and then a near record quiet season. To be fair though, that region needed a break after 2013.

Chases: 15 (5th place out of 8)
Tornado Days: 4 (tied for 5-6-7th place with 2012 and 2009)
Tornadoes: 15 (3rd place)
States Chased: NE, IA, OK, KS, IL (Fewest of any year)
Largest hail: 1.75" (golfball)

Some random factoids (good and bad)

- Got my first ever speeding ticket on a chase near Beloit, KS for doing 76 in a 60
- All my tornadoes were in Nebraska, and because of this, NE is now the state Ive seen the most tornadoes in.
- The only milestone I achieved this year was the most number of violent tornadoes in a single chase (4 EF-4s on June 16th - Stanton, Pilger 1 and 2, Wakefield.)

Days I wish I would have played differently:

- April 27th, my original target was the KS/MO border which saw the days best tornadoes, but I literally abandoned it at a fork in the road for the "cold core" target in Nebraska, and while the target still got us a tornado, it was nowhere near the photogenic quality as my original target.

- April 28th, I wish I would have done the noob move and chased the high risk, instead of gambling back home. This is purely hindsight though.

- June 14th, I wish I would have sat this day out, and instead chased the 17th and 18th. Missing those 2 days was purely a result of bad logistic planning. I took off work to chase the lesser days before, as well as ran out of money.

Despite a tornado count that lands the season in 3rd place, the only real good tornado day was Pilger. 6 of those tornadoes were barely visible wedges and birdfart gustnado HP hybrids on May 11th I almost wish I didnt have to count. I sat out a lot of marginal days that could have provided some great structure shots, but as much as I love structure, missing it doesnt bother me. Definitely not a great year, but I've had worse. Ill be happy to see it go though, bring on 2015!
 
2014 was a good year for myself. Best days ended up being June 16th and April 28th. Had several nice structure days as well. Personally was one of my best and most enjoyable since I started chasing 5 years ago. Not much for numbers as I would rather let the images speak for themselves. Never got stuck or any speeding tickets, nor did I add any more horrific hotel stories (surprising since I stayed in Arkansas a couple nights...). Only problem I will have is trying to top June 16th, not sure I will beat that one for a while. Here are a few of my favorite images that I shot this year (if they are allowed): Pilger1.jpgStanton1.jpgTupelo MS .jpgWakefield.jpg
 
This year was my second year chasing and was by far better than last year for me.

Chase Days: 11
States: CO, WY, NE, KS, OK, SD, TX
Tornadoes: 4 (One condensation funnel and three land spouts, all in CO) (I also saw plenty of small spin-ups and shear funnels across CO, KS, and NE)
Best Day: May 7th Akron, CO
Worst Day: June 3rd Kearny, NE

Firsts:
My first tornado (May 7th Akron, CO EF-0 rope tornado http://eon-krate32.deviantart.com/art/5-7-2014-Akron-CO-Tornado-452836453 )
Chasing auroras (January 5th Scottsbluff, NE)
Chasing in South Dakota (also first time going to SD)

Lessons learned:
Don't push yourself beyond your limits if you can help it.
Never let the adrenaline rush get the better of you (and lead you to make poor chasing decisions)
Stay away from chaser circuses (June 3rd, NE)
Nebraska is a cruel land of empty promises (chased there on three separate and promising occasions, all busts, though I did not chase the Pilger storm)
Sometimes trusting your gut over real-time reports can mean the difference between a great day or a bust (May 7, Akron)
 
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2014 was a horrible year with zero tornados for me. The days that would have been productive were shot in the butt by being late to the party. I live in Michigan's upper peninsula and by the time my chase partners wiggled their way out of work, got their stuff together and said goodby to their families we were already late. We would leave at night and drive for a few hours before catching a hotel. The next day would involve not being in position for initiation and trying to wiggle our way around storms late to try to get in position while arriving from the wrong side. The times we were actually on time turned out to be busts.
The big lesson learned here is to leave at least a day or two early. It's a lot easier to make adjustments when you're not still hundreds of miles away. Chasing MSC's aren't as much fun.
Did meet a bunch of nice people though!
 
The 2014 season didn’t produce any tornadoes for me but with the exception of the season starting 700+ mile bust from my home to western Oklahoma it did offer up at least one supercell on each chase day so overall it was far from anything I’d consider a failure. It certainly was a year that diverged from the usual chasing haunts, with the exception of that initial bust I never again touched foot in Oklahoma and never saw Kansas, Texas or Colorado either. No, instead of pursuing nature’s fury in those places of preference I found myself again and again in Nebraska and Iowa but not unfortunately on the big play of the year. I’m still kicking myself as I opted to chase Nebraska on the 14th instead of waiting for the system that followed and produced the perhaps once-in-a-lifetime event as well as three day mayhem that could have made the year a truly spectacular one. Of course there’s no telling what I’d have witnessed but I’d like to think that with my experience and with my forecasts nailing the target each day I’d have seen something of significance.

The one thing I improved on the most this year was actually getting to my target area on time. I’ve been notorious in the past with not giving myself enough margin for error and when that error does happen the result can be an epic failure (e.g. Bowdle). No, this year I was positioned in my target well in advance of initiation each day with the exception of 6/14 as I got to the target just in time after having to return home an hour out after realizing I forgot my video camera. How the hell does something like that happen? I can see forgetting something trivial like spare batteries or something of the sort but THE VIDEO CAMERA? Might as well forget the laptop while we’re at it, definitely my bonehead move of the year but I still did make it to the storm on time where on previous years I’d have been totally screwed.

Chase trips: 5

Chase days: 8

Miles: 6,000+

States chased: OK, AR, IL, IA, MN, NE

Tornadoes: 0

Supercells: 8

Bigfoot sightings: 0

Worst place I chased: AR

Place I’ll never chase again: AR (except perhaps the Delta area or maybe if it looks like a really really good set-up and I’m somewhere in the neighborhood already;))

Biggest lesson learned: Don’t give advice to people when you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Source of above learned lesson: It was the morning of June 30, I’d chased the day before in western Iowa and was staying at a Holiday Inn Express just west of Des Moines planning on another day of chasing before heading home. On chase days the first thing I usually do after waking is briefly check the SPC forecast before going about the morning routine and then subsequently settling in to do a thorough check on data and make a forecast. For whatever reason I blew off the obligatory check, showered and headed down for some food in the hotel’s designated breakfast area. There I met two nice elderly ladies who were expressing concern about the possible hazardous weather. I asked them where they were going and I think they said somewhere in Nebraska or perhaps Colorado but either way they were heading west. I told them don’t worry, it’s only 9am and if you leave soon enough you’ll most likely be well past the bad weather when it blows up. Expressing a degree of relief they thanked me and having just finished their breakfast headed out chatting about getting packed up and going. Feeling good about easing their worry I finished my breakfast and then headed up to my room wondering about how late the action might be and how late I might ultimately get home as I had to work the next day. Worst case I’m in western Iowa at 9pm and make it home by 3am, not great but nothing I haven’t done before and well worth the loss of sleep if I see something great. So what a shock it was when I get online and discover that not only will the action be early but it’s already started and there’s a nasty line with embedded supercells just to the west with the worst core areas barreling east on a path right over I-80. My first reaction was oh crap, I better get moving. My second reaction was oh crap, those old ladies are going to be heading right into the teeth of some very bad sh*t! I ultimately had a very harrowing but successful chase, got right into the notch of a beast of a cell before retreating as the circulation passed within a mile and threatened to topple large trees across the road. But if those poor ladies followed my advice they likely got hammered, reports of gorilla hail along I-80 with extensive damage to vehicles and property. I still feel bad and hope that upon seeing the dark black foreboding sky they disregarded my advice as that of an idiot and hunkered down in the hotel for a few more hours until it passed.

Ultimately I’m happy to have been able to get out for another season and witnessing the unbelievable beauty and power of Mother Nature. Even though I didn’t see a single tornado I still had some great times and made memories I’ll never forget. I’m looking forward to 2015 and hoping I’m fortunate enough to be able to appreciate the magnificent storms once again.
 
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Chases: 7
Miles: 7,082
States: 6 (IA/IL/KS/MO/NE/OK)
Tornadoes: 7
Tornado Days: 2
Strongest Tornado: EF-3
Tornadoes By State: NE: 7
Strongest Wind: 70-80MPH
Largest Hail: 1.75"
Days I Should Have Chased, But Stupidly Chose Not To: 6/16, 6/17

Milestones/Firsts...
-All tornadoes seen were in a single state, Nebraska.
 
2014 Chase stats:
Chases: 13
Miles: 8,050
States: Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming
Tornadoes: 2
Tornado days: 2
Strongest tornado: EF 2
Strongest wind: 70 mph
Largest hail: 2.25"

Firsts
-First time wrecking a vehicle during a chase (Not a chase day, just during my chasecation)
-First time accidentally getting in large hail
-First time chasing in Colorado and Wyoming
 
2014 Chase Stats
Chases: 24
Miles: Not even going to think about that
States: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota
Tornadoes: 14
Tornado Days: 7
Strongest Tornado: EF4
Strongest wind: 70
Largest hail: 3.00"
Overall a good year, I was able to chase MUCH more than usual which let to a decent amount of tornadoes, finally saw a South Dakota tornado and a solid Texas tornado.
 
Went out twice. Was part of the big southern Nebraska bust. However, got terrific shots of downbursts hitting the ground in southwest Kansas exploding soil. As those are rarer than tornado photos, I'm happy being 1 for 2.
 
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