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                   Thursday, September 11, 2008 - 12:01AM

No Ike expedition; WV weather returns

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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Ike on IR sat at 12:00AM

Even though Ike may be coming into Texas as a high end Category 3 or Cat 4, this is not an expedition for me. Ike is too far away and therefore too expensive to cover. Its close proximity to the greatest concentration of storm observers in the world (Oklahoma) means that Ike will be intensely covered, well past the point of media saturation. Like the car headlights at the end of Field of Dreams, there may be more vehicles driving south on I-45 than evacuees driving north (that's supposed to be a joke). Anyway, with no chance to recover expenses on such a long trip, this would be a purely 'for fun' chase - which is WAY out of my budget. Landfall timing would have me worried on such a long-distance drive - unless Ike slows down some, landfall is currently forecast to be at night. Nighttime hurricane conditions are beyond the capabilities of my FX1 to capture satisfactory HD footage for stock archiving, which would leave me with no means to try to recover costs with future sales.

Now some may accuse me of being too business-minded when it comes to storm observing, but *news flash*: it takes money to be able to observe storms - and lots of it. Even more so today than 2 or 3 years ago - with gas prices tripling, the cost of observing has too. It's interesting sometimes that people will talk all day about how to spend money, but once you talk about making it, you're out of line - polluting the 'purity of the hobby' by introducing commercialism. If you spend the $10,000 or more a year it takes to observe storms everything, you're considered a genuine, hardcore 'dues paying' hero. But to many, that distinction vanishes the moment you complete a business transaction involving the fruits of your efforts. Spending money = good. Making money = bad. Maybe that's part of the reason why debt is so prevalent in the world, I don't know.

For an average non-wealthy person like me, I either make money back on an expedition or I can't go. This is how I've been able to be a 'hardcore observer' during the past 7 years, observing tornado outbreaks, hurricanes and everything else and paying for it with video sales. I choose to do that rather than make lots of 'normal life' sacrifices in order to be able to afford the hobby (don't misunderstand me - I don't disagree with the latter, I just don't choose that path). I want to be able to enjoy storm observing while being able to afford other things in life too. So no video sale prospects = no observing for me. The other choice is to go into debt - for a hurricane or tornado expedition? No thanks! No video sales means I'd need to get a second job somewhere for a couple months to pay it off. I love observing, but not that much.

Being sidelined from Ike is not going to be too bad, as active weather looks to be returning to West Virginia this weekend after a monthlong hiatus. Tuesday's storms were the start of a series of active patterns affecting the central Appalachians that are showing up in the models. I don't expect a lot of lightning photo opportunities, though there may be one or two. Even that is definitely welcome after the 'month off' of boring weather I've been enduring.

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The following comments were posted before this site switched to a new comment system on August 27, 2016:

You have so much talent, when all else fails, offer local photography workshops. I know people with half your ability making fistfuls teaching common folk how to use their digicams and SLR's better.
- Posted by Paul from Decay-tur IL
There ya go Dan....ill second that vote ! Your images speak for themselves.
- Posted by Mick from UK
Thanks guys - I still have a lot to learn, but there are always opportunities out there.
- Posted by Dan R. from Charleston, WV

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