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                   Friday, June 12, 2015

Uncooperative 2015 storms; dashcam catches; spiders; close tornado GIF

By DAN ROBINSON
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2015 a tough storm season: You may have noticed the sparsity of blog posts this spring, along with the attendant lack of new images on my social media feeds. This is because despite two high-mileage Plains weather expeditions, two tornadoes and many Midwest chase miles, I have largely struck out with storms so far this season. The biggest Plains tornado days so far have occurred during less-than-obvious patterns when I wasn't out observing, and the more obvious tornado systems have largely busted thanks to weak capping. I'm less inclined to observe storms the less-than-obvious systems due to the fact that one must chase many more of such setups to score. With limited funds every year, I am not inclined to blow all of it observing numerous strings of 2%-5% type tornado risk days just to hope that one of them ends up being the big event of the series. I choose to wait for systems that have ample amounts of all ingredients to maximize my chances of scoring nice tornadoes for my money spent. Not even all of those produce, but enough that I can keep my "cost per tornado" at manageable levels.

In the Midwest, storms have been equally uncooperative this season. Southern Illinois and eastern Missouri have seen a conspicuous lack of severe weather, tornadoes and photogenic lightning, leaving my typical local intercept range high and dry. All of the best events so far have stayed far, far to the north and west. I have sat at my computer many evenings watching an active MCS more than two hours away, while storms moving toward the St. Louis metro fizzle out.

And so, I enter mid-June 2015 without a good 'score' for the season. Since storm observing all depends on the atmosphere, not every season will be good. I cannot complain at all given my successes in recent years. A "down year" every once in a while is inevitable. It's expected and therefore not traumatizing when one happens. It's still certainly annoying to go through. I have one more Great Plains trip possibility on the horizon for next week. After that, my Plains season will be done, and it will be "Midwest summer mode" from then on.

Flurry of dashcam captures: While storm catches have been slim this year, my driving dashcams have had remarkable utility during the past couple of weeks. I've run dashcams in my car since 2007, but never before have I had so many incidents worth saving happen to me in such a short time. The cameras have captured two nearby accidents within a week of one another, plus some other interesting happenings. You can check those video clips out on the Dashcam Files page (the new ones are listed first).

New brown recluse spider video: I sealed up my apartment in 2012 to keep brown recluse spiders from coming inside. The spiders are established in the crawl space of the building, and will enter the living space via the HVAC vents and other openings. Sealing those openings up with screen and silicone was very effective in preventing the spiders from getting inside. Prior to the sealing, I would see a new one about once a week in the garrison of three dozen glue traps I placed around. Afterward, I only encountered one every year and a half - both times in the kitchen after they had come in through the front door (of which I cannot get a good seal). After the original sealing effort, I dumped out every drawer and box I had to ensure there was no established population in the living space - I found none. I have thankfully also captured none in the glue traps since sealing the apartment. The most recent specimen was spotted last week, again after entering under the front door. So, I rented a nice macro lens and put this spider to work, yielding this "part II" of close-up footage.

Brown Recluse Spider

Weak tornado close-up GIF from June 7, 2014: After reviewing some footage from last year, I realized that Youtube's codec was destroying the clarity on my dashcam's capturing of a weak tornado that passed about 20 feet from my car during the June 7, 2014 tornado event in the STL metro. I exported these frames into animated GIFs so that the wind shifts/faintly-condensed vortex through the corn fields could be seen clearly. This tornado had briefly-stout condensation vortices in the field to the left of the car just prior to this, which I missed capturing on camera due to being busy calling the tornado in to the NWS. Unfortunately, the tornado was never entered into storm data or any official report.

Notice the corn acting like wind barbs as the circulation passes, and the dark-colored tree to the far right that reveals the very faint condensation passing in front. This GIF is 12MB in size, so it is linked to this image:

Close weak tornado

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