Sunday, March 20, 2016

Winter's End

You'd think by way of the weather that Winter was over weeks ago due to the mild spell we've been experiencing but only now is it of course official. March has been very busy which has included ongoing domestic reorganization projects as well as making time to be outside with the elements.

March 4th - While out on a sunset that busted, Ava noticed a very bright and slow moving object. Unsure at first of what it could be as it didn't behave like aircraft, it was later determined to be a latex weather balloon which expand to an enormous size. Upon reaching maximum altitude it popped like they do and was catching end up day light during its free fall descent. It appeared to be traveling SSW so it may have been released from nearby Lincoln (KILX) which is directly upstream.

March 9th - One of my recent projects has been to get rid of stuff including the liquidation of old toys but not before 'playing' with them one more time. This is reverse ring macro looking through a ViewMaster I've had since the early 80's.

Taking a break later that afternoon, spotted some interesting features out ahead of a weak cold front that was passing through the area.

March 10th - Visual satellite looked promising for this day so we took a ride down towards Shelbyville. The intent was to visit the lake but a slow moving train cancelled that option so we backtracked to the Margaret Gusy Pothole Wetlands Nature Preserve.

March 11th - Grown man still playing with frogs...

But that's none of my business!

Thinking that sunset would pop off like the previous evening for bearing near identical conditions on satellite, I went to Shelbyville again only to discover that I was too far east. Afterwards, I headed down to Ramsey Lake State Park to check for Spring Peepers.

March 15th - A big day for severe weather, I ended up in McDonough and later Mason counties on a pair of storms that were of a lesser threat than what occurred in the Macomb, Springfield and Peoria areas.

March 17th - Decided to break away from the domestic projects and go for a healthful walk at Rock Springs Conservation Area. While there a prescribed burn was under way whereby the smoke lent itself to a perfect backdrop for the Blue Bird.

I picked up a 3Pod Mini Tabletop Tripod from Amazon recently so as to virtually get down to eye level of ground creatures for which this 3/4" long Cricket Frog was my first successful test.

Continuing with the walk, I came upon a vernal pool teeming with Western Chorus Frogs. They were singing initially but fell silent with my presence. Quiet patience paid off though as they eventually resumed.

and finally, there was this guy...

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Ten Years Ago, The Six State Supercell

Yesterday, March 12th, marked the ten year anniversary of a remarkable storm to canvas the mid state under the cover of darkness. Hard to believe a decade has passed. So much has changed and yet so much has remained the same. Most everyone has a story or at least knows where they were that night. It was among my most profound personal life experiences. The following was copied from an earlier blog.

With March you never know what you'll get due to the volatile clash of seasonal air masses. For this reason it is one of my favorite months although unlike January and February of this year (2014) it has been quiet by comparison. On the 12th in 2006, March volatility manifest in one of the most intense examples I have personally witnessed as a six state traversing supercell thunderstorm that wreaked havoc across the heart of Central Illinois. Originating in Oklahoma and cycling over an impressive near 800 miles before final dissipation in Michigan (Source), it stands as being the longest tracked supercell on record having even beaten The Great Tri-State Tornado of 1925. Armed with a weather radio and point and shoot camera from out in western Macon county north of Niantic, I was privileged to watch this beast pass through our area. Unsure of what I would go home with other than haunting visuals indelibly burned into my consciousness with the split second flicker of each lightning strike, I was very dismayed by what came off the camera initially. Fortunately there was just enough detail picked up due to the unimpeded full moon soaring high overhead that careful work in Photoshop enabled me to reveal not only structure but also a few tornadoes from what were otherwise scenes of black. If there ever was an event I wish I could revisit with my current knowledge of shooting in low light situations, this would be it. I'm confident that the terrified residents to find themselves in the unfortunate path of this historic storm would however, unanimously object.

Video captures

The storm is pulling away to the northeast, who knows what could be happening under there.

School Road facing west towards Lincoln Memorial Road, the tree top originated from the property in the distance.

SE corner of Kenney and School roads, still in the ground!

NW corner but was lifted and lofted up over to past the NE corner, a survey map of the path can be found HERE.

Later, the cold front and associated squall line would come raging through complete with vivid lightning and additional tornado warnings after midnight.


Monday, February 22, 2016

February Highlights

Greetings, although the month is ongoing with the potential for producing even more surprise opportunities, it's worth sharing what has already come to pass. Despite a few cold spells, conditions have been relatively mild (with even a couple thunderstorm events) and a far cry from what it was this time a few years ago. Winter is not done with us yet though as snow is expected for the last full week of the month.

January 31st - Winter sunrises are among my favorite and I was beginning to think January wouldn't produce however, the last day proved otherwise as a well timed warm front lifting through the region went off at daybreak.

February 1st - Massive flocks of migrating geese were a daily sight.

February 2nd - Marginal risk for severe weather that did not materialize yet produced a few storms of interest along a highly sheared frontal boundary to pass this day. The area of greatest concern was in Southeast Illinois where nothing of significance occurred either. Was still nice to get a taste of spring.

February 5th - Mysterious 'Ice Bells' at Lake Shelbyville. There isn't much information on this phenomena but I believe they are formed by a slow melt process where previous high water ice accretions (or snowfall) congeal into a semi-solid state as bright sunlight alters water molecules despite sub-freezing temperatures. Note the optics in the first as the reflection is 'right reading' thus you can see the sunset horizon within the frozen conglomerate much like viewing through a periscope.

February 6th - More geese...

February 7th - Even more geese! (and a beaver at Weldon Springs, Clinton IL)

February 9th - Snowflakes vs. DVD

February 18th - Another well timed warm front passage only now it was during sundown at Lake Shelbyville

February 20th - Storms at Ramsey Illinois and a TRUE taste of spring for both the sound of thunder as well as frogs beginning to awake!

February 21st - This guy has been hanging out in the bathroom. Rather than kill it, 15 second exposure in complete darkness vs. portable U/V lamp while being light painted with a lazer beam.