The numbers are in for the 2017 tswails.com "Into The Storm" Chase Powered By Dahl Ford and they're pretty impressive. More than 3,300 miles logged. Eleven states traversed. Four super cells documented. One national monument visited. Even better. Friendships formed.
Our band of merry storm chasers included John Miller, Kholby Martin, Jesse Vaniseghem, Scott Haynes, Blaine Hilton, Terry, Ethan Schisler (until a health matter sidelined him), and myself. The majority of the group had never met one another, but by the end of the chase we were sharing jokes, adult beverages, photos (including Blaine's amazing dog with the sweetest face), and family stories. I could write a book on the number of inside jokes we accumulated in six days. I have seriously never laughed so much. (But Terry probably already mentioned that like...30 seconds ago...right Kholby?!)
While we came close (but no cigar) to capturing a tornado, the camaraderie more than made up for that disappointment. So that was the "good". The flip side, of course, is that this year the tornado season has pretty much shut down in the last month. Terry spoke to Professor Victor Gensini, who was leading a chase with students from the College of Dupage. He said it was some of the lowest peak season tornado numbers in the plains "Tornado Alley," that had ever been seen. The ingredients just haven't been there.
As for our group we did manage to latch on to several super cells in New Mexico and Nebraska. The big winner was the cell in North Dakota on Friday. That one delivered. The optics were unforgettable.
The man leading the charge, Kholby Martin, deserves a huge shoutout for his hard work and incredible instinct for finding the best cells to chase. Couldn't have done it without him. Thanks Kholby.
Back at the ranch. The naughty. Our daughter, Eden, was busy terrorizing the young woman who was staying with her this past week. Rebecca Kopelman is a meteorologist at KGAN-TV, a close family friend, and a great gal. Rebecca does the weather for the KGAN morning shows so she goes to bed early and gets up well before the crack of dawn (around 2:00 a.m.). Eden decided this week to take the giant cardboard cutouts of Terry (there are two) and dress them up. The first night the fake Terry was outfitted like a ninja warrior. Eden then taped a butter knife to his hand and placed him the shower after Rebecca had gone to bed. (I promise you she's never seen the movie Psycho!) Well imagine Rebecca's surprise when she discovered "Terry" in the shower! She is a brave girl and there was no screaming. But it did give her quite a jolt.
The cardboard Terrys, dressed in all manner of garb, then continued to show up in odd places the rest of the week. Rebecca said in the mornings she would move "cautiously" from room to room. The two "Terrys" were found in the closet, garage, living room, and porch. The guys simply got around.
I told Rebecca turnabout was fair play.
But she is simply too nice.
Once again we could not have done this chase without the help and support of our good friends from Dahl Ford. K.V. Dahl and his staff have been tremendous to us over the years and we thank them very much for their continued sponsorship. We were cruising around in a luxury Ford Expedition and a Ford Escape. I was in the Escape and that SUV has got lot of muscle!
Storm chasing isn't for everyone. But it has certainly given me a renewed respect for the power of Mother Nature. And the beauty. I am most definitely not a "weather nerd", but for those who have never chased, watching a super cell develop is like standing beside the ocean and realizing how tiny you are and how immense the world surrounding you is. So I am very appreciative to have the opportunity to be a part of something truly special.
I have included photos below from our week and they include pictures from all the storm chasers. Enjoy.
Until next year,