The yearly ritual of preparing for the season...
Lets be honest, it has been a long and cold winter here in Wisconsin. Some parts of the state got alot of snow and some parts of the state barely got any. Im not even sure of the total amount we got here in west-central Wisconsin, but we got plenty of it. And winter isn't ready to be done yet either even though we are officially in meteorological spring.
Needless to say, I am done with winter!
With the coming of spring and it's lovely warm weather, I begin to shift gears towards storm chasing. My last official chase was late last summer on July 25th chasing down a tornado-warned supercell on the southern fringes of the Twin-cities metro in eastern Minnesota. It produced a nice big wall cloud and a brief funnel. I was late to the show, but either way, I accomplished the mission and got there. Kinda a neat way to end a chase season.
As a chaser, its difficult to really know when the season is finished, or when it really begins. Especially here in the upper-midwest. Sometimes, we get some decent convective systems that barrel through as late as early November. And sometimes we get potent systems as early as March.
Long-range forecasting will sometimes suggest a few months ahead of time that severe weather season will be done for and we can dance our way into autumn. But, then we end up scoring a few bonus chases right, or after when the leaves begin to change. Not so much last season. It seemed like after July 25th, the chase season was done for me. And it was.
So what do I do for rest of the year?
Some guys and gals live for weather and storm chasing. It is a year round thing for them. I, on the other hand, dabble in other forms of recreation like bow hunting and ice fishing when severe weather season ends. It keeps me sane and prevents me from getting burned out on one thing.
With every season, I have to prepare myself for whatever I am planning on doing during the duration of the season at hand.
When it comes to storm chasing, I begin to think about what I need to do to make a successful chase season. I usually begin to prepare right now in late winter and early spring.
First thing on my mind is getting my car into top shape. It should be a top priority at all times of the year but since I will spending alot of time out on the roads than any other time of the year, its probably a good idea to make sure my ride is NOT going to take a dump on me in the middle of a chase. Safety rings a bell!
Things like oil changes, changing out tires, checking the battery, and topping off essential fluids is a definite priority.
I also need to get all my cameras ready. I have 5 different cameras that I use for various purposes. One is used for time-lapsing, one is used for still shots, one is used for video clips, one is used for continuous recording, and one is a back-up just in case if one or all of my cameras decide to quit on me. I rarely use all 5 at once, but they are all there if I need to use them.
Oh, and all of the bazillion charging cords, plug-ins, and memory cards that need to be found and sifted through as well.
I will admit, some of my cameras have batteries in them I haven't re-charged since last summer.
A few other things I need to do is un-bury a few things out of my garage like my Ram laptop mount, CB radio antenna, and my tool box. I also need to clean out my car as a fine layer of dust has called my dash board home in the last 5 months, and lets not forget all the sand and dirt I drug onto the interior floor. I think some of us can relate.
Lastly, I have to get my mind back into "storm mode". I usually attend a local Skywarn storm spotting class every spring to sharpen my mind on a few things. Storm chasing for me isn't a yearly thing, so there is alot of knowledge that tends to get put on the back-burner. I also dig up some information online and re-read a few publications about severe weather I have sitting in my book shelf. Its a good thing!
Just like the title of this article, preparing for severe weather season is a yearly ritual for me. Some chasers go about it like I do. I have had a few years in the past where I waited until it was too late and missed some awesome opportunities because of it. In my opinion, if you want to chase storms the correct and safest way, then you have to be ready in a short notice to get out there and get it done. - Joe
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