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                   Wednesday, February 21, 2007 - 2:51PM

First storm chase of 2007

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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A 4-hour round trip to Wytheville, Virginia early this morning (between 1AM and 5AM) to intercept a line of strong thunderstorms officially ushered in my 2007 storm season. Technically, my 'chase' season is year-round, as winter brings with it its fair share of weather events to cover. Nonetheless, the spring-summer storm season will always remain the 'classic' storm season and the one I enjoy the most. It's getting an early start this year, as I usually don't start seeing lightning until mid to late March. My Wytheville expedition was not successful - the storms weakened considerably as I arrived. But, we may get a few more chances this weekend - with prospects of severe weather in the Plains and midwest then thunderstorms and flooding possible here by Monday.

The falling ice footage project is running into some difficulty. Unexpected cloud cover has been keeping temperatures fairly low (in the 40s) while blocking out the surface-warming power of direct sunlight. The result is an extremely slow rate of ice melting that makes video documentation prohibitively time-intensive. It's just taking too much time for the ice to melt and fall. The current melting rates mean I'd have to set the cameras up on location and stay all day to capture one or two major ice falls. With other projects on the burner now, I don't have the time resources to allocate to that. If we could get clear skies and temps up into the 50s, the melting rates would accelerate and make a 1 or 2 hour location shoot sufficient to capture several good falls. We might get that Thursday or Friday, but by then most of the ice formations may have already collapsed. At last check, about half of the formations have already fallen in the past two days.

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