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The big Stormchasing Trip of 2011

It’s Monday morning and if you are reading this, it’s likely I just posted it before boarding a plane for Denver, Colorado as I am off on my 2nd Annual Stormchasing super-duper adventure.

This could lead to two things: 1) I am way too busy to post any blogs until maybe Friday and perhaps not even then…or 2) I will see some amazing stuff and will be unable to control myself and HAVE to post something.

Last year I did this for basically a single day. Flew into Denver at night, drove to Nebraska, crashed at some hotel and then chased that late afternoon, stayed over night and drove back to Denver and flew home. All told, it was around 900 miles driven and no tornadoes or supercells that I really wanted to see.

THIS year…I am planning on three days chasing.  Land in Denver again, but at 8:45am this time. Driving to the Nebraska-South Dakota border and chasing some big storms this afternoon. I’ll then start heading south to the plain states of Kansas and Oklahoma. Not sure how Tuesday looks yet, so I’m hoping to get lucky along the way. That night I may meet-up with an awesome stormchasing photographer named Shane Kirk and shoot some lightning with him. The next day is supposed to be a huge outbreak of severe weather all the way from north Texas to Kansas. That’s the money day. Then I come home first thing Thursday morning.

I can’t even begin to explain my excitement for this. I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night. My brain wouldn’t shut off. I’m writing this blog post Sunday evening and I’m curious how this night is going to go (update: I slept).

The miles I’ll rack up on this trip is probably going to be mind-boggling.

Needless to say, I’m hoping to get a lot of great shots this trip. It’s so unpredictable though…you have to get lucky and be in the right place at the right time. I’m all geared up…two camera bodies, tripod, a lightning trigger, two shutter releases, Flip HD camera, lenses, laptop, GPS, AC converter and weather band radio.

The unique thing about a trip like this…I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have a general idea of where I’ll be today, but that could change. I could end up anywhere. I could see anything. Or nothing.

It’s just so awesome:)

Oh yeah…the image above was shot during last year’s trip and I’ve posted it before. I love the photo, but it’s a bit overprocessed for my current tastes. The fact is…with that amazing backlit-sunset happening, it would have been very, very tough to shoot this scene without HDR.  So much dynamic range.

So wish me luck…still haven’t seen an actual tornado in person, so I hope to end that this trip. And if I do, my buddy Bryan Cox is going to regret not going for the rest of his life!

Storm chasing in May

(NOTE, all photos in this post are those of Shane Kirk)

It’s almost like Disneyland or maybe your 21st birthday, or something you’ve always wanted to do but it’s still a month away and you feel like you’re going to explode from what feel like an eternity to wait.

That’s sort of what is going on inside of me right now. All I see are storm photos flooding in from the weather this week in the midwest all the way to the east coast. And all we have here are sunny skies!

I have big plans this summer. The biggest is chasing the monsoon here in Arizona, but that’s another blog post for another time.

The more immediate event is storm chasing next month somewhere in the midwest with my friend Andy and perhaps a few more people.

I can’t even tell you how excited I am. The idea of chasing storms and lightning is so much fun for me NOW living here in Arizona, but to go to where the monster storms are, the real weather…the supercells and wall clouds and tornadoes and hail and endless strikes of lightning…oh man.

Shane Kirk

We’re not sure when we’re going yet. The forecasts are good sometimes 7-14 days out, so we’ll be looking in early May to see when the weather looks to be the best. Then we’ll fly out to a good city, drive all day, stay in crappy motels, process photos and then hit the pavement again the next day.

Four days of storm chasing fun! And don’t worry, while I may be nowhere close to a weatherman (although I pretend to be), Andy knows his stuff plus we may have an actual meteorologist with us anyways.

The plan is to keep up with all the real storm chasers are headed, like Reed Timmer over at Tornado Videos or Dick McGowan, another Facebook friend of mine.

My other friend Shane Kirk from Kansas may meet up with us too. He’s the guy who is probably responsible for inspiring me to get out and photograph lightning. He takes brilliant shots, not only of the strikes themselves, but of monster storm clouds. The photos to the right are all his work.

Shane Kirk

One of the storms he calls the best he’s ever seen is also to the right…the spaceshape shaped, circular looking stormcell. Amazing looking…simple amazing. More shots of this incredible storm are right here.

I urge you to check out more of his work, it’s absolutely amazing and some of the best stuff out there when it comes to storm chasers. He’s also quite skilled and nature photography.

So that’s the big plan for May. I will be Twitpic crazy I’m sure…and try to post a couple of the best shots every night. Although I’m sure we’ll be plenty exhausted from non-stop driving and adrenaline rushes from what will hopefully be some powerful storms.

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