Adam's Storm Chasing Page

I released a BETA of BrainStorm, an Open Source Virtual Chase Partner for Linux. It is totally free and open source, so give it a try!

New! If I'm out chasing, you can follow me on SpotterNetwork. Look for the car icon with callsign KD0GLU:

I started storm chasing in 2005. I started to get interested in weather while studying for my pilot's license in 1998. On one particularly nice spring afternoon while driving home from work I saw a huge twisting column of cumulus cloud over eastern Colorado. I thought to myself, "self, this is clearly a supercell and could drop a tornado. Let's go check it out!" So I set out to see what I could see. I drove north-east on I-76 until I was nearly at Fort Morgan when I spotted a truck with a doppler radar mounted on the back (I later learned these were the DOW - Doppler on Wheels - trucks). I knew I was in the right place. Everything looked perfect... I could feel the intensity in the air. The clouds were swirling, it was spooky green, and you could tell something was going to happen.

I pulled off the interstate and onto a small road and parked. I sat and watched for a few minutes, and that's when the hail started. I jumped in my car and unsure of which way to go, I turned to the North. Well, I should have turned south, because I got pummled by some of the most intense hail I have ever seen. 1-15" in diameter, it came smashing down on my (relatively new) Subaru Forester. The windshield was smashed, the lights were smashed, the hood and roof were dented to hell. The noise was indescribable. And I couldn't get away from it! I kept driving, hoping it would stop, but no luck.

I finally drove out of the maelstrom ("In the cave with the bear" they call it), and made my way home. I was very dissapointed in myself. Not only had I destroyed my almost new car, I clearly made a decision that was uninformed and dangerous. Not knowing which way to go, I turned into the storm and didn't have the sense to turn around. I was lucky that I got away with only some repairable cosmetic damage to the car. I vowed to learn more about it before venturing out again, and to find someone with some experience as a chase partner. It is situations like these that give chasers a bad name, and I didn't want to be the naive newbie who got himself (or someone else) killed just for a chance to see a twister. The real kicker... when I got home I checked the weather reports, which said a tornado had been reported 8 mi NE of Fort Morgan, right where I was, by a trained spotter. Clearly, I needed some training.

Since then, I have taken the National Weather Service's storm spotter beginner and advanced courses. I have upgraded the equipment I carry to include a GPS device for navigation, a laptop with cellular internet access for up-to-date weather access, and a cell phone which alerts me when watches and warnings are issued. I plan to get my technician's radio license and add that to the list of tools I have available to report and track storms. I have also found a chase partner, Paul Robinson, who works for Josh Wurman at the Center for Severe Storm Research, just down the hill from where I work at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Paul has a lot of experience forcasting and chasing storms, and having him along is a great advantage.

Unfortunately, I have not yet seen any actual tornadoes while chasing, but have gotten some cool storm pictures and am learning more and more each time I go out. I am hoping the 2007 season with a strong ENSO winter will prove to be an active chase season and will provide some of my first pictures of a real tornado. For now, here are some other storm pictures I have taken on previous chases.

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Author: Adam Boggs