Weather Wednesday: Boredom and Excitement

Ricky Rainbow

Great shot by Ricky Forbes!

Hey Everyone!  I’ve been pretty quiet on the weather posts lately as it’s been SOOO incredibly boring up here.  We’ve had a few cracks of thunder and a bit of lightning but, for a storm-enthusiast, it’s getting pretty frustrating.  I think I’m going through storm withdrawal.  Is that a thing?  Storm depression?  Anyhow, though the storms are non-existent up here there are still some great chasers to watch in parts of Canada and the US.  I’m surviving on live stream footage right now.  Ugh.  I sure hope that with all this heat, we see something!  Okay, there’s the boredom part of this post.  Now… on to the excitement.

You’ve heard me talk about them before (and you’ll hear it again), but one of my favourite local chase teams is doing something really exciting!  No, they aren’t taking me out chasing, this is something for everyone!

Team Tornado Hunter are doing a show on CMT!  I got to preview the trailer yesterday and it looks like it’s going to be awesome!!  Check out the trailer here:

This is my second year watching these guys chase and I love it.  Not only do they keep the hours of driving entertaining with their banter, insults and chatting with those of us watching the live feed, they also deliver quality and exciting chase moments.  We had a stormy day here this summer, sadly not near me, and it looked like the guys were out of position.  They were commenting on how it might be a bust day, but then decided to check out a cell that had just appeared on radar.

The chase was on and those of us who were watching settled in for what we hoped would be an amazing show.  Well, we sure weren’t disappointed!  Soon the lightning began, the rain came and suddenly we were hearing ‘Do you hear that?’ as Greg spoke to the guys.  The pulse-pounding, adrenalin-filled moments came when the live feed became intermittent (storms are really good at killing reception) and we were only able to get glimpses of the action.  Rain pounding horizontally across the road, debris blowing, Ricky taking the truck into a ditch as the storm got really intense.  Nothing like spotty data reception to make your watchers want to pull their hair out.  The night ended in the guys stuck in a farmers field, having gotten off track.  At 2 am, those of us still watching began sending out messages to anyone and everyone who might be in the area to get the guys out.  I debated hopping in our 4×4 Blazer and driving out to see what I could do.  They were about 3 hours away at the time and I figured they’d be well out by the time I got there.  It was an awesome day to watch!

Here’s the video of this chase with a surprise that we didn’t get to see on the live feed:

If they have data reception in the area they are chasing, these are the guys to watch!

I’m so excited to see their new series and I know it will be a blast to watch!  Make sure to mark August 18th on your calender and see these guys in action on CMT!

Greg RFD RickyChris Chittick

Are you looking forward to seeing ‘Tornado Hunters’?  

Here’s the link to ‘Tornado Hunters’ on CMT!

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Greg Johnson!  Have a great day, Greg.

~Sarah

Chaser Chat with Sean Schofer ~ Team TVN: Part Two

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Welcome back to part two of my chaser chat with Sean Schofer of TVN.  If you missed part one, you can check it out here!  Let’s get right into it!

We had a bit of a boring season here but it was pretty active in the US.  Overall, how did the 2013 season go for the TVN crew?

“It was like riding a roller coaster from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. We lost friends and mentors. But as far as the data and video we were able to collect I’m really happy with that part. We were able to capture some of the best tornado footage ever taken.”

In May of 2013, the widest tornado in history hit near El Reno, OK.  It was a monster of a tornado and acted in ways that surprised even the most experienced chasers.  Was El Reno the most intense chase you’ve been on, or does another one take first place for you?

“The Bennington, Kansas tornado for me was by far more intense. I think even Reed will tell you Bennington was the strongest tornado he’s ever seen. That being said, the El Reno tornado was extremely powerful also and the widest in recorded history. That tornado did a few things that many chasers never have seen before and caught many off guard. We’re very lucky we didn’t lose more chasers that day.”

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I remember watching and seeing so many of my chaser friends caught off guard by the El Reno tornado.  I wasn’t there chasing but even I had my heart in my throat often during that chase.  I was very worried for everyone down there in that dangerous situation and that worry was well-founded when I heard the next day that Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young had been killed.  That was such a tragic day.

Can you tell me about the first tornado you intercepted in the D3!  I can’t imagine how that must have felt!

“The first tornado I intercepted in Dominator 3 was last summer in Edmond, Ok. We had Reed Timmer, Jim Cantore, Mike Scantlin, and our shooter Chris Whiteneck along with us. I was very nervous but you can’t let the nerves take over. You, as a driver, and the rest of the team have to stay very focused so we don’t make a mistake. The first thing that happened is our ears popped. Then it felt like we were getting run over by a freight train and that we were going to get launched into the air any second. After we intercepted that one, we intercepted another one about an hour later.  Then we had to stop the chase for search and rescue.”

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I love that you guys stop and help out where you can!  I appreciate that the chase comes second when lives are at stake.  What do you like most about the team you chase with?

“I couldn’t hand pick a better team. I’m very lucky to be a part of this team. The guys are always joking around and having a good time. I can’t wait to get back on the road with them.”

I can’t wait to see you back out there chasing!  Winter seems crazy long when you’re waiting for storm season!  Tell me what it’s like chasing with Reed.  Is he always intense on a chase or are there moments of fun?

“Reed’s probably the funniest guy I’ve ever met. He’s always laughing and having fun. Until we’re on a storm that is. Then it’s time to focus and take things seriously.” 

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It’s always fascinating to talk to Reed.  I admit, since I’m new to the storm game, that quite a bit that he says goes right over my head but I am always enthralled with what he has to say.  The guy goes a mile a minute when talking about storms but if I can grasp any of it, I know I could learn so much.  Chatting with Sean yesterday he says “it’s actually scary how smart (Reed) is.

Tell me, Sean, what advice would you give aspiring storm chasers?  Not that I’m asking for myself or anything…

“The first advice I’d give to aspiring storm chasers is to go on a tornado tour with a reputable company. I’d recommend Extreme Tornado Tours. They teach you so much about weather and chasing during the tour. That’s where I would start.”

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I would love to go on a tour with Extreme Tornado Tours!  I’ve met a few of those guys and have watched them chase and would totally go on a tour if I could!  Here’s a few non-storm chasing questions to wrap it up.  What do you do when you’re not chasing storms?

I like to spend a lot of time with my family at our cabin at the lake. We  do a  lot of boating, fishing, quading and snowmobiling out there.  You can find me at a company I own called Restorex. Restorex is a disaster restoration company.  I’m also a firefighter, and I’ve been a firefighter for about 17 years.”

Sean firefighterRestorex Dom

Thanks so much for having this conversation with me, Sean!  I love watching you guys out there in the field and can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for 2014!  Hopefully 2014 is amazing for the TVN team!

Here’s one of Sean’s favourite videos from the 2014 season:

You can find Sean on FacebookTwitter and on Instagram (@seanschofertvn).  Also, find Restorex on their website or on Twitter.

photo (4)Thanks for joining me and Sean for this chat!  I’ve had so much fun chatting with these great chasers.  I have a few more in the works and I hope that you’ll join me in learning more about storm chasing and the people who do it!  You can check out my other Chaser Chats HERE!
~Sarah

Chaser Chat with Sean Schofer: Team TVN~ Part One

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I am thrilled to be able to bring to you the first chaser chat with a TVN team member!  I, like many, am a huge fan of TVN.  Even before my world changed and I went from fearing storms to loving them, I enjoyed watching ‘Storm Chasers’ on Discovery channel and thought that the TVN team was awesome!  Well, since that time, the TVN team is even better!

Let me introduce you to one of TVN’s amazing drivers.  Sean Schofer is pretty new to the TVN crew and has the awesome job of piloting the newest Dominator, the D3.

I’m beyond thrilled that he agreed to be part of my Chaser Chat series!  Last year, Sean began chasing with TVN after being asked by Reed Timmer.  I think Sean is a fantastic match for TVN and they really seem to mesh well together.

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Thanks, Sean, for letting me ask you some questions!  I love that you are a from Saskatchewan and chase with one of the best known chase teams in the US!  Tell me how you wound up driving for Reed.

“I met Reed a few years ago while chasing in the US and soon we became very good friends. I soon realized I had more of a passion for capturing scientific data on tornadoes than taking photos. He asked me to join the team and here I am. What better way to learn more about science than with a Scientist?”

That’s awesome!  It’s great when you can connect a passion with a great team that has the same goal!  Can you tell me about the very first tornado you saw?

“Yes, I remember my first tornado very clearly. We were in Oklahoma and it was dark out already when a tornado touched down. We could only see it when lightning would flash because it was so dark out. I remember seeing it coming right for us and I was a little nervous.  When I asked the guys if they’re ready to go yet, one of them responded with “We’re not going anywhere!” Lol!”

I’m sure I would ask the same thing.  I’ve always thought that night tornadoes would be more scary because it isn’t as easy to see what they are doing.  Tell me a bit about the D3.  What is the coolest thing about driving it?

“I think the coolest thing about driving D3 is it doesn’t matter where we go everybody recognizes the vehicle and wants their picture taken with it.”

Yep, I’m the same way.  I loved getting to see it last summer and getting a picture of you guys with it!

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Reed Timmer, Sean Schofer and Mike Scantlin
I got to hang out with them this summer and snapped this pic. 🙂

What do you find most challenging about driving the D3?

“The most challenging part is deciding which tornadoes we can drive into. Even though D3 was built to go inside bigger and stronger tornadoes we still have to be extremely careful about which ones we drive into.  We are not invincible in it. We can’t make a mistake or it will be our last.”

The D3 is intense but you face some tornadoes that are nothing to mess with for sure.  Besides driving the D3, what other responsibilities are yours?

“Besides driving, I’m also on the science team. When we are stopped and I’m not driving I will send warnings on social media when necessary but Reed does most of that.”

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(I asked Sean later what the science team does.  He explained that they plan which is the best way to get the probe into the tornado. Every situation is totally different and they have a few different methods to do this. It’s extremely difficult to get the probe into a tornado successfully, but they are going to keep doing it until they have what they want.)

Sean, who makes the decisions on what direction you head? Reed seems to do most of the directing but I’m sure that you all play a part.

“Reed is very much a team player. He’s always asking the rest of the team our opinion and sometimes we give it. But overall, we know Reed’s the best at finding tornadoes in the world so he should get final say.”

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Reed really is something else.  A ‘human barometer’.  (And there’s the nerdy ‘Twister’ reference.)  🙂  You’ve been on a ton of chases and I have to ask, what was your favourite to date?

“There are so many but the best chase I’ve ever been on is Bennington, Kansas tornado May 28/13. Watch the ‘Tornado Chasers” episode and you’ll know what I’m talking about. But honestly, it’s much more drastic in person.”

I just watched that episode this week and remember that day from the live stream.  That would have been an intense and unforgettable day for sure! Here’s a preview for the Tornado Chasers Bennington episode.  If you haven’t been watching this series, you’re missing out!  After Storm Chasers was cancelled, the team decided to take their show online!  You can get the episodes here (from both seasons).

Check out Part Two as Sean talks about his first intercept and gives advice to aspiring storm chasers!!

Also, check out my other chaser chats here!

~Sarah

Weather Wednesday

Click the photo to see more awesomeness!

Click to enlarge!  Trust me, you want to!

Photo credit to Greg Johnson (Tornado Hunter).  Look at those amazing clouds!  I could look at this picture all day and still be fascinated by the clouds!  Click here to see more from the awesome Tornado Hunter team: http://www.tornadohunter.ca/tornadohuntermedia/photos

What is your favourite weather phenomenon?  If any of you say snow… I might throw up!  😉

~Sarah

Chat with Chris Chittick of Team Tornado Hunter

Chris Chittick

I’m excited to be able to chat with Chris Chittick.  A man of few word and great skill with a camera.  I first saw Chris on TV a few years ago and really liked his quiet presence and passion for what he does.  This year he teamed up with Team Tornado Hunter and I was thrilled.  He brings a new element to the team and they fit really well together.  This summer I really enjoyed watching the three of them banter back and forth while on chases.  Chris has been one of my favourite chasers for many years and I was honoured to be able to ask him some questions!

Thank you Chris for being willing to chat with me!  Tell us how you got into storm chasing and storm photography?

 I got into storm chasing back in 1998 as a hobby.  I fell in love with it in 2000 when I saw my first tornado in WY.  I didn’t start picking up the video camera until about 2008….I realized I have the photographic eye and have been in love with shooting and editing ever since.
You certainly do have great skill with a camera!  Do you only chase tornadoes or is it all weather you love to chase?
I chase all extreme weather from ice and snow storms to hurricanes to tornadoes.
Well, you’ll certainly get a chance to chase snow in Canada!  Can you tell us about the very first tornado you remember?
First tornado was in 2000 in south-east WY.  It formed over our heads and dropped just to our west close to some hills and I fell in love with it right there.

What made you get behind a camera when storm chasing?

I first picked up the camera in 2008 and shot some things then realized I was really good at framing and just shooting in general.

Did you then take classes on photography or are you self-taught?

I am self taught.  I learnt a lot on the road and being next to Discovery Channel camera operators for 4 years.

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That’s a great way to learn!  What was the most memorable chase you’ve ever been on?

The most memorable chase I have been on was this year May 31, 2013 El Reno.  It was unbelievable.  The sights and sounds and smells.

That was an intense chase to watch, I can only imagine the intensity of being there.  Besides tornadoes, you’ve also filmed hurricanes.  What makes a hurricane so interesting?

Hurricanes are interesting to me because it’s a whole other beast…. new things to worry about, like how am I going to get this shot etc…..It’s basically a really big tornado.

Will you be coming up to chase blizzards in the winter?

I live in Regina now, so yes, I will be chasing blizzards with the team.

How did you wind up riding with Team Tornado Hunter?

I had met Greg a couple of years ago and thought he was a great guy.  I met Ricky last year in the U.S. Plains and couldn’t get enough of him.  So, this winter I left my old team and Greg reached out to me…next thing you know I’m living in Canada.

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I had no idea that you’d moved to Canada!  Hope that you like it up here!  What was the scariest moment you’ve ever had chasing?

The scariest moments I have ever had chasing was in the earlier years when we didn’t know what we were doing out there.

You sure know a lot now!  What advice would you give to aspiring storm chasers/storm photographers?

Go to some spotter training courses and soak up as much knowledge as possible, or go on a tour with a respected tour company and ask lots of questions.

Great advice!  If you couldn’t storm chase, what would you do?

If I couldn’t storm chase I would be a camera operator for TV shows.

Is storm-chasing your full-time job?  What do you do in the off-season?

Storm chasing is my full time job.  In the off season I do speaking engagements and get ready for the next season.

I’m already looking forward to watching you guys chase next year!  What do you like to do when you’re not out chasing?

I like to play golf hang with friends and family and most of all hang with my girlfriend.

Thanks again Chris for taking time to chat with me.  I look forward to watching you and Team Tornado Hunter chase this winter and, most definitely, next summer!

You can follow Chris and his photography on:

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

TORNADO HUNTER WEBSITE

Also, check out my other Chaser Chats with Ricky ForbesCraig Hilts and Sean Schofer!

Chat with Craig Hilts of Prairie Fire Photography: Part Two

craig storm2Seriously, isn’t this photo awesome?!  I love how the cloud is lit from above.  Amazing!  I wish I had seen this one in person!  

Let’s get back to my chat with Craig Hilts and I’ll include a bunch of my favourite photos of his for you to look at.  (You can click on any of them to go to his website!)  You can also find part one of this chat here.

What advice do you have for aspiring storm chasers and storm photographers?

Number one piece of advice is to stay safe; this is not something to be taken lightly or just for the fun of it. Storms can kill or seriously injure people. Understand what your getting into, take a course to be able to properly understand storms and to help you accurately report what your seeing, maybe head out on a few chases with a seasoned expert to help you learn the ropes

I’m hoping to get out with a few seasoned experts next year!  Did you take photography classes or are you self-taught?

I’m completely self-taught, Just a lot of reading and a desire to keep getting better.

You have amazing talent!  I hope I can teach myself half as well as you did.  You sell your prints and have stunning metal prints (that can be found on your website), can you tell us a bit about your amazing metal prints?  What makes a metal print so much more vibrant?

About three years ago I was looking for something different to set my work apart, at that time most people were printing canvas prints and I just didn’t like how my work looked on this medium. I read an article about printing on aluminium and thought I would give it a try, as it was different.  I got my first print and instantly new this was the print medium for me. The metal just brings realism to the image that no other medium does. When I see one of my images printed on metal it is like I’m back in that moment experiencing it all over again.

This is the one I have in metal print!

This is the one I have in metal print!

I sure love my metal print!  Besides summer storms, what is your next favourite thing to photograph?

I think my next favourite thing is to photograph space weather. I just love shooting the aurora really anything that showcases our incredible skies.

You have some amazing aurora shots! If you couldn’t do extreme photography/storm chasing, what would be next on the list of hobbies you would love?

Oh that is a tough question I just love storm chasing and couldn’t imagine not being able to do it, I would think maybe astronomy.

This shot is amazing!  The sun is creeping up on the left side, while the moon hangs out on the right side!

This shot is amazing! The sun is creeping up on the left side, while the moon hangs out on the right side!

That would be a very cool job!  A good storm chaser usually has a great group of people supporting him.  Want to send a shout out to those people/businesses that support your photography career?

The number one shout out goes to my wonderful wife Leanne and two incredible kids Chris and Sarah. They are my biggest supporters without them I just wouldn’t be able to do what I do. The next two are my co-workers Sandra Wik and Stacey Grose. They help me out immensely when I’m out chasing holding down the fort at work. Also, this year I got some great help from Wheatland Machine Shop and Vim Parmar in Swift Current who helped me build an incredible hail guard for my Jeep Chase Vehicle. Finally all of my fans and supporters, people who have bought prints or just given me encouragement along the way. Thank you to all of you.

Stunning shot. Love the contrasts of soft and hard, light and dark!

I’m sure grateful for the people who support you so you can go out and photograph!  I love your photos!  So when you aren’t out chasing, what do you and your family like to do?

We love to travel and go to as many new places as we can.  Both my kids are very active and I try and volunteer my time with their activities.  My daughter is a dancer and my son is into robotics and programming. They keep us pretty busy but I love spending as much time as I can with them.

That’s awesome!  Last question, do you like winter?  (random question, but I’m always curious to see if storm chasers like winter storms too!)

I hate it, ok hate is maybe too strong of a word. Winter is the unfortunate time between chase seasons.

Beautiful winter shot.  Even though he hates winter.  :)

Beautiful winter shot. Even though he hates winter. 🙂

Thank you Craig for being willing to answer some questions!  I look forward to next season and seeing the great shots you get between now and then!

You can follow/support Craig on Twitter, Facebook and on his website.

Thank you to everyone who came to read this chat with Craig.  I hope that you’ll come back as I plan to post more of these in the weeks and months ahead!

Also, check out my Chaser Chat’s HERE!

~Sarah