May 4-18th – Tornado Alley here we come!!! I’ve been waiting a long time to do this. I had plans to go last year but they fell through. I am very, very, very excited!!!
I will be posting as-it-happens cell phone pictures and updates on twitter https://twitter.com/ryanwunsch – so feel free to follow me there.
I will be live streaming to Youtube when on a good storm with tornado potential. I will post to twitter when we go live, but you can also subscribe to my Youtube channel www.youtube.com/ryanwunsch77 to be sure not to miss out on any action.
Kyle Brittain “The Calgary Weather Guy” https://www.facebook.com/calgarywxguy and www.stormchaserkyle.blogspot.ca/ is a Penn State Weather forecasting student and will be joining me on this trip. I am hoping to learn a lot about forecasting from him.
We are both Sky Warn trained storm spotters for the National Weather Service. We will be reporting what we see on the ground which helps them to put out accurate warnings in a timely fashion.
This will be my storm truck’s first trip to Tornado Alley. Below are some pictures and information about the gear we will be using on this trip.
A – Hail protection for the windshield. This is not so we can get closer to a dangerous storm but rather to give us more escape routes if needed. If we have to drive through the hail to get away from a tornado because of a flooded road that we weren’t expecting, we can do it without losing the windshield.
B -The roof mounted weather station is mostly for dew points and wind speed, but it also looks pretty cool up there.
C- second anemometer
A – laptop mount with attached gps mounted to the roof. I am running GRLEVEL3 for advacned radar, the GPS will show us our location in relation to the storm.
B- Verizon Jetpack, with a roof mounted signal booster – this is a mobile wifi hotspot which allows up to 8 devices in the truck access to mobile data (radar, weather software, social media, live streaming)
C- CB radio with intercom loudspeaker system which can be used to warn locals of impending danger, or to play Deep Purple like Dusty from Twister.
D- Ham radio which can be used to notify emergency crews if cell phone towers go down.
E – A radio scanner to listen to the NWS reports, and any local chatter of interest.
G- Go pro to video and time-lapse the storms
H- a mounted camcorder with a capture card for streaming and recording video,
I -and a secondary live streaming camera.
J -Android tablet mounted on the drivers side, running radarscope with spotter network. It allows the driver see various radar images as well as our location, and the location of other chasers and spotters on the storm – without being distracted. Likewise, the National Weather Service, other spotters and the media can see where we are and contact us for updates if they want to.
K – Lightning detector
L – hand held anemometer
M – portable NOAA weather radio.
N – Weather station display
(not pictured) 5 amp Power inverter for the equipment that requires 120 volts.
4 types of auxiliary lighting, 2 to see better in dark conditions, a roof mounted rotating flashing light as well as a safety hazard flasher along the back to let people know that we are pulled over.
I carry a large home-made trauma first aid kit just incase. Often storm chasers are the first on the scene, I hope I never am in that position but I am prepared to help if it does happens.
An electric cooler. Eating healthy is often the last thing on a storm chasers mind, meals are skipped and gas station junk food is relied on. We plan to buy some healthier meal options (wraps, fruit, veggies) to keep us going for the long days.
Roadside emergency kit
Paper maps! Yes, I said paper maps! Many storm chasers have stories of their GPS leading them to a dead end while a tornado is on the ground. Cell phone coverage can be spotty in the rural areas and cannot be relied on.
3 cameras, 4 lenses, 2 tripods and many fast memory cards. The Canon T3i with EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM will be used for hand held video. I will use the Canon 7d Mark II with the EF 24-70mm f/2.8 II USM lens for lightning, or with the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II for distant tornado’s and any wildlife we encounter (2 grizzly bears fighting in front of a tornado full of rattlesnakes, one bear being struck by lightning, hello National Geographic!!). My trusty Canon 6D with the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM will be my main camera for storm structure, scenery and abandonment shots.
We will have some down days to do some exploring and photography (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota) so if you have any suggestions of places to see, to eat at, or photograph, feel free to leave a comment with your suggestion. (96 oz steaks!!)