High Plains Drifter

disclaimer:  "The meteorological views/forecast thinking expressed are those solely of the author of this blog
and do not necessarily represent those of official National Weather Service forecast products,
therefore read and enjoy at your own risk and edification!"

February 24, 2008

Colorado-Utah trip, Feb 2008 (back home)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 7:05 pm

I got back home from my vacation earlier on today about Noon or so.  I had to drive through a little dense fog between Salina and Great Bend… but as I continued towards home, the fog rapidly lifted, skies cleared, and the temperature shot up rapidly to the lower 50s — a nice little welcome home.  The other "nice little welcome home" was a refrigerator full of rotten food.  My damn fridge went on the fritz while I was out of town.  I hope to get it fixed tomorrow.  Other than that, nothing much to report — this will be the last post of this trip.  I’ll post again when I get some of the initial photography albums uploaded from Utah.  It might take a little while though :(   although I’ll try to work on them as fast as I can. 

February 23, 2008

CO-UT Trip, Feb 2008 (Day 10)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 8:07 pm

Today is the 23rd, and the friggin snow has stopped me here in Salina.  I should have checked the weather closer before I left Lawrence — I could have just stayed there.  But nope, was anxious to get home and along the way, I had run into the snow near Junction City.  In short time, the snow was coming down fast and furious — rapidly collecting on the interstate.  Prevailing speed had slowed to 35-40mph on the interstate, and by the time I reached Salina, I was exhausted from the tight-gripped, white-knuckler.  It was snowing hard.  A quick 2-3" had accumulated by the time I reached Salina, and I said enough was enough and decided to pack it in for the night — I’m just flat tired, even though the back edge of the snow is not that far away.  So here I am at the Super 8 along I-70… I’ll get up early in the morning and resume my trek back home to Dodge.  

The Douglas County EM Severe Weather Symposium went quite well.  Speakers were myself, Jennifer Stark (the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at Topeka), Jon Davies, and Chris Novy.  At the end of the symposium was a roundtable discussion centered around topics such as the new Storm-based warnings by the National Weather Service and other topics such as "tornado emergencies".  It’s always great to have a discussion like this among the spotter community (the audience), National Weather Service meteorlogists like myself, and on-camera meteorologists from the local media.  Several representatives from the Topeka and Kansas City market were there including Joe Lauria and Bryan Busby.  I’ll make another brief post tomorrow when I get home in the morning and perhaps add another couple images from the Utah trip. 

CO-UT Trip, Feb 2008 (Day 9)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 12:24 am

Will be making this real quick since it is pretty late.  I am in Lawrence, KS tonight after driving another ~ 4.5hr day from Kearney, NE.  Didn’t do any photography today.  I got into Lawrence shortly before 4pm, took an hour nap, then went out with some meteorology friends for the rest of the night.  Tomorrow will be getting up quite early for the Severe Weather Symposium here in Lawrence.  The symposium will come to an end around 1:00pm or so, then after a late luncheon I will probably make my way back to Dodge City.  I will probably make just one more post after this when I get back! 

February 21, 2008

CO-UT Trip, Feb 2008 (Day 8)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 10:25 pm

Drive along I-80.  This was a long driving day from Rawlins, WY to Kearney, NE.  The segment of drive from Rawlins to Laramie was interesting and scenic with all the snow cover and drifting.  The snow fences really showed drifting on the downwind side very well.  Some of the drifts were well over 10 feet deep.  I stood next to a large drift and a snow fence for a size comparison.  Pretty neat stuff!  I-80 in Wyoming west of Cheyenne this time of year is just a pretty cool drive :)   Tomorrow I will drive to Lawrence, KS arriving sometime in the late afternoon or early evening.  Saturday is the Douglas County advanced storm spotter seminar which I am taking part in — giving a presentation on the Greensburg tornado.  That’s all for now, more later!

February 20, 2008

CO-UT Trip, Feb 2008 (Day 7)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 11:50 pm

The last day in Moab area  Due to the expected snow coming across the southwestern part of the country, I decided to cut the duration of my time in Moab short a day.  It was not until I got one last early morning shoot in, though.  I shot the highly photographed Dead Horse Point State Park area.  Despite no sunrise with clouds from the approaching storm, the light was still pretty good, and the overcast actually prevented harsh shadows.  The rather dark grey-blue overcast also provided a different "feel".  I thought some of the images came out well, even the red color.  What a beautiful area.  I finally left Moab around 10:30 a.m. and set off northeast towards Rifle, CO then north along Colorado Highway 13.  The entire stretch of this highway was dry… despite the fact that 15 to 25" of snowpack exist almost the entire drive!  Craig, CO definitely had quite a bit of snow on the ground with some very large drifts.  I did stop briefly near Hamilton, CO to photograph a little bit when the filtered sunshine cast a nice light and shadows on the snow cover.  I arrived in Rawlins, WY about 6:30 p.m.  Tomorrow’s plan is to drive east on I-80 to either North Platte or Kearney, a solid 6 to 6.5hr drive.  Friday’s drive will also be about the same, as I hope to arrive in Lawrence, KS by late afternoon ~4pm or so.

February 19, 2008

CO-UT Trip, Feb 2008 (Day 6)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 11:55 pm

Mesa Arch morning (Canyonlands NP), Arches NP afternoon/evening

Day2 of photography in Arches and Canyonlands was another success.  Theday began with a morning shoot at Mesa Arch, another classic and iconiclandscape photography location within Canyonlands NP. "The shot" isalways immediately after sunrise as the warm early morning sunlightstrikes beneath the underbelly of the arch illuminataing it in a fieryred hue.  This morning, however, this fiery red color only lasted verybriefly as there were nuisance high cirrus (some of it rather thick andopaque) right in the way.  There was only one other photographer therefor the sunrise shoot, which is pretty good for this location.  Theother photographer that was there with me mentioned that this is thequietest of the 3 trips he had made (in terms of number ofphotographers).  This allowed for freedom of movement around the archfor different compositions.  After that, the good light faded, and Idrove to Grand View Point at Canyonlands just to the south of MesaArch.  What a view indeed!  I’ll likely be heading to Canyonlands fortomorrow morning sunrise (actually probably Dead Horse Point State Parkright near there).  For the late morning and the middle part of theday, I came back to the motel room and slept for a couple hours thengrabbed lunch at Zax pizza place on Main Street.  After that, I headedinto Arches for late afternoon/evening photography.  The lion’s shareof time was spent around Balanced Rock area where there is a fantasticview of the distant "Windows" section against the distant snowy LaSalMountains.  Overall a good day with a few truly nice keepers for sure.

Thereis a storm coming.  This has thrown a wrench into thingsunfortunately.  I will not be staying in Moab through Thursday morningfor I do not want to drive back through the Colorado Rockies amidst abunch of snow on my originally planned "driving through Colorado" dayThursday.  The storm will be taking a rather southern route, thus havebeen thinking all afternoon how to play this one.  Initially, I thoughtI would just drive back to Dodge tomorrow, arriving late Wednesdaynight.  After giving this some thought, have decided I don’t want tohead back to Dodge yet.  I’m on vacation and for me vacation meansstaying away from Dodge.  Thus, the new plan is this:  After sunriseshoot (depending on cloud cover) in either Canyondlands area or Arches,I will leave the area and head in a general northeast direction.  Ithink I will head up into far southern Wyoming (I-80 corridor) and justtake a leisurely trip east for the next couple of days before arrivingin Lawrence, KS on Friday afternoon.  By doing this, I will stay awayfrom the weather, even though it will likely be quite cold.  I can dealwith the cold, but I don’t like driving in the weather, and rushingback to beat the weather to Southwest Kansas.  Sooo.. I think tomorrownight I may just settle into the Rawlins, WY area on I-80.  ThenThursday, would take a leisure drive through the rest of easternWyoming into southwestern Nebraska… shacking up along I-80 in theNorth Platte or Kearney areas.

CO-UT Trip, Feb 2008 (Day 5)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 12:42 am

Colorado Nat’l Monument to Arches Nat’l Park

I’m very tired after a long day, so I’ll make this brief.  I arrived in Moab around 11:30 or so after leaving Fruita, CO during the mid-morning hours.  I photographed sunrise scenes at Colorado Nat’l Monument up until shortly after sunrise with some success.  I drove along Hwy 128, which is highly scenic red canyon terrain along the Colorado River, on the way to Moab/Arches.  At Arches, did an initial drive through the park, stopping at a few of the pullovers and overlooks, including some arches.  About 2 hours prior to sunset, I started my way towards Delicate Arch, the iconic arch of Utah and the Southwest.  There is a 3-mile round trip hike which is fairly strenuous, especially carrying my heavy photography pack.  The trail goes over large slickrock, fairly steep in some spots.  Leading up to the arch itself, the trail is in shadow, and was very icy and slick.  This wasn’t fun to walk over for sure… especially being fairly elevated.  Nevertheless, I got to the final destination, and it was worth the hassle on the ice.  Just prior to sunset, Delicate Arch glows a reddish hue against a polarized blue sky and the La Sal Mountains to the southeast.  By the time I got back to the car, it was getting dark.  I wasn’t finished though!  The moon is near-full right now, and I stayed in the park until about 8:30pm photographing some awesome scenes around the "Windows" section of Arches.  North and South Window in the bright moonlight was just awesome.  I was able to pull off some memorable long-exposures.  This little shoot itself in the moonlight after dark made the trip!  Attached to this blog is one of those images showing both North and South Window against the full moonlight.  I am in Moab now for the next 3 nights.  Tomorrow’s plan is much the same, spent photographing around Arches.  More tomorrow night!

February 18, 2008

CO-UT Trip, Feb 2008 (Day 4)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 12:56 am

Img1 Greetings from Fruita, CO just west of Grand Junction.  Today was quite a long day centered on driving mainly as I trekked across the mountains of Colorado on I-70 from Aurora after my early morning photography presentation at the National Storm Chaser Convention.  The presentation was well-received — thanks to all for the compliments!  I will try to make the PowerPoint presentation available on Underthemeso.com pretty soon.  Given my upcoming hectic schedule, it might take awhile though.  At any rate, back to the vacation at hand here… I got into the Fruita-Grand Junction area around 3:30pm MST and immediately checked in to my motel and set off for the Colorado National Monument.  I spent the late afternoon to sunset hours up there stopping off at a few of the overlooks on the "rim drive".  About midway through my shoot, my battery started dying in one of my cameras, and it wasn’t until that point that I realized I had forgotten to pack my DSLR battery chargers.  D’oh!!  Never fear though, I do have 3 of the EN-EL3 batteries and 3 of the EN-EL3e batteries, so I should have enough "juice" for the trip.  I’m not shooting birds so my frame counts won’t be rediculous like if I was at Bosque del Apache or Quivira or something where battery life would go down quicker.  Grand Junction is bigger than I though, so I stopped by the Best Buy there before heading to the brewpub and picked up a generic Nikon battery charger.  I hope it works.  I think it is.  I ate at the Rockslide Brewery.  I had their Pale Ale, which was only okay.  Not exactly outstanding, but more or less run of the mill.  Their fish and chips, however, were fantastic — Beer batter dipped Salmon.  Yum!!  Up early tomorrow morning for sunrise shoot at Colorado Monument again and then off to Moab for Arches and Canyonlands.  More tomorrow night.

EDIT 12:20am MST:  Added a photo!

February 17, 2008

CO-UT Trip, Feb 2008 (Day 3)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 12:25 am

Saturday was the main day of the convention, and it went pretty well.  I did my talk on the Greensburg tornado at 9:00am which was rather well-received.  There were some interesting talks today, including Tim Samaras’ fantastic high time-resolution lightning imagery.  At 15,000 frames per second, you can pick out some of the stepped leader processes that happen on such short time scales that ordinary 1/30s time resolution video just cannot even come close to capturing.  Tim now has this incredible ultra-high temporal resolution camera that will shoot a staggering 500,000 to 1 million frames per second!  In order to shoot at such frame rates, the camera is a monstrosity which has to be hauled in a trailer and has its own processing equipment dedicated to imager.  Tim mentioned that it’s the only ultra-high frame rate digital camera of its kind in the world.  Some amazing never before seen images are yet to be captured… hopefully with this incredible camera.  Other interesting and even entertaining speakers included Tim Marshall,  Jon Davies, Howie Bluestein, among others.  

Tomorrow, I have a talk scheduled at 8:00am on digital photography techniques.  After that, sometime around 10:00am or so, I’ll begin heading west on I-70 towards Colorado National Monument and Grand Junction.  I’ll post again tomorrow evening at that location! 

February 16, 2008

CO-UT Trip, Feb 2008 (Day 2)

Filed under: CO-UT Trip Feb2008 — Mike U @ 1:39 am

Not going to write much here as its getting late and have had some connection issues here at the hotel where the conference is at.  I drove up Hwy 285 today over the Kenosha Pass which is about 50 miles southwest of Denver.  Upon crossing the pass, you come across vast open, flat terrain (South Park), which is quite scenic given the amount of snow cover.  I did spend about a half hour photographing in an area a few miles east of Jefferson.  Unfortunately, I don’t have time to post a photo since it’s so late.  I got back to Denver and met my friend Michelle during the late afternoon and early evening.  Also met up with Evan Bookbinder for dinner as well with Michelle.  Afterwards, went back to the hotel and spent time meeting with other chasers (Rocky, Vince Miller, etc.) for most of the rest of the evening.  Tomorrow is the main convention day with the bulk of the talks, including mine on Greensburg at 9am (originally scheduled for 2:30 but was bumped up due to Greg Forbes not being able to make it).  More later!  -Mike 

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