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                   Monday, June 9, 2008 - 1:42PM

Back to Mountain State life

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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2008 looks like things are coming full circle. I've gone back to full-time status at CIS this month, and the security of a steady paycheck is definately welcome back. While our out-of-state expansion plans are still on track, local business has been good enough to keep us busy here at home, and signs are that may continue for some time. So West Virginia is going to be 'home' again for as far as I can see. My weather video and photo business is running on autopilot now, mainly just handling a few stock footage inquiries every once in a while. With the gas price situation and the 'I-reporters' giving video away for free, driving any appreciable distance to cover storms for profit (or even to break even) is still not economically viable - and probably won't be for a long time, if ever again. Furthermore, my footage library is as complete as it's going to get - there's not much more that I could shoot to round it out. So, any expeditions I embark on from now until the forseeable future will be for the reasons they used to be - my own enjoyment.

Looking at the past week makes me feel pretty good about the way things are changing 'back to the old days', so to speak. I forgot how nice it is to be on a salary - to know that the mortgage and bills are going to be paid every month without my having to scramble to make up a gap if sales are slow. I'll give up a little schedule flexibility to keep that security. CIS continues to be the ideal employer by allowing be to keep my ability to work at home and take off to observe storms whenever necessary. And last week, West Virginia proved itself again that it is still a decent place to be a storm observer, with a regular offering of photogenic events to fulfill my cravings for storms. While it would be nice, I don't need to live in Kansas and see tornadoes every three days to be a satisfied observer. Maybe that means I'm not 'hardcore' or even dedicated as a storm observer anymore, but the reality is it doesn't matter. I'm content where I am, and in my experience, that's one of the best places to be in life.

Speaking of local storms, here are two more full-size crops from the June 3 tower lightning event. The second image shows more upward leaders and what looks like a secondary spark (or maybe just a reflection of the main lightning bolt) a couple of feet below the tower tip. The first image shows the 'bead out' stage of a lightning channel. Notice the diameter of the channel appears smaller and the color is a more saturated orange in the last few feet before connection. The glowing particles off to the right are metal shards blasted off of the tip 'arc welder' style. Many of those metal shards are visible closer to the tip near the lightning channel. The wind was blowing left to right, causing the lightning channels and tower shards to also drift to the right.

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