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!"

November 3, 2008

November 2008 update …on life :)

Filed under: Misc,Photography — Mike U @ 7:39 pm

Okay, time to get people caught up in the amazing wonders that is the life of Mike Umscheid and Underthemeso.com.

1.  Career move.  For those who didn’t already know, I was selected Lead Forecaster here at Dodge City, which is a pretty good promotion (responsibility wise and, of course, $$ wise).  What this basically means is that I will be here in Dodge City for the foreseeable future.  The ultimate goal of mine is to become a Science and Operations Officer at some point, but this is a 5-10 year time frame goal.

2.  SLS Conference and Greensburg.  I recently attended my first AMS Severe Local Storms Conference in Savannah, GA.  This was an excellent conference with an opportunity to learn quite a bit from the research community.  There is a lot of numerical modeling/simulation studies going on right now.  Wow.  Everything from simulation of observed supercells on 1 km grids to simulating corner flow regions of tornadoes on 10 to 50 m grids to very interesting simulations of tornado "debris swirl" patterns.  With increased computing technology, simulations of supercells and tornadoes will continue to become more  complex with better physics, microphysical processes, etc.  

I had been working feverishly on a conference paper with Les Lemon over the past couple of months on the "extremes" of the Greensburg storm.  This paper is online on the AMS conference website. It’s a 19-page paper that is really not all that far off from being ready for peer-reviewed publication submission.  Here is the URL… http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/141811.pdf

3.  Photography.  Several Sundays back (the beginning of October), I gave a presentation on storm chasing and photography to the Consortium of College and University Media Centers annual conference which just so happened to be held in Lawrence, KS this year.  I gave about an hour presentation/slide show to the group.  I was surprised by the number of folks in the audience who had actually seen a tornado — more than half the room rose their hands.  At any rate, it was great to share my photography with a bunch of people who had probably never seen these kinds of storms even in picture before.  Later on that week, I gave a shorter version of this presentation at the Central Kansas Photography Club in Great Bend.  I met some more great people here, and I want to thank Jim Glynn for sharing with me all his incredible wildlife images as well as buying me dinner and the invitation to speak.  

4.  Speaking of Photography…  I haven’t done a whole lot of "field work" recently.  I did do a sunrise/early morning shoot at Big Basin the morning of October 24.  Interspersed in this post are a couple of images from that shoot.  The herd of bison that roam Big Basin Preserve offered some close-up shots as they straddled the rocky road on my way out.   The late afternoon/evening of Sat, Nov. 1 I went out to Quivira, but had disappointing results.  Crane numbers are not all that high (yet), and no Whoopers were to be found, despite there being sightings apparently earlier in the week prompting the signs throughout the refuge and notice on the QNWR website.  I don’t even have any images worth uploading I had such poor luck.  I wasn’t really in the "spirit" of landscape photography that evening either given the absence of clouds to help accentuate landscapes.  Perhaps this upcoming Saturday, Sunday, or Monday morning I’ll head out there for a morning shoot.  




September 27, 2008

Busy times!

Filed under: Misc — Mike U @ 2:59 am

I haven’t posted much on my blog lately.  This is largely due to the fact that I haven’t gone out and photographed much of anything recently due to distractions from various projects and such outside of photography.  A few weeks ago I gave a presentation in Hays, KS at the 12th High Plains Conference on the 23 May 2008 KS tornado outbreak.  The remainder of this month has been pretty busy for me as well with the start of bowling season (Tuesday and Wednesday nights), working shift (duh!), and finding that extra bit of time on days off working on a Severe Local Storms Conference paper on the Greensburg tornado with Les Lemon.  The deadline for submitting our manuscript is 20 October, and we have a ton of material to try to cram into a 3 MB-size PDF paper.  It’s 27 September now and we still have quite a bit of work to do.  It should prove to be an interesting read — which will lay the foundation, we hope, to a much more thorough paper we plan to submit to the refereed literature sometime in the future.  

It has been a very quiet late summer/early autumn severe weather wise.  As a matter of fact, even if there is a decent severe weather event around here between now and the end of October, I doubt I’ll find time to chase.  The end of October, for that matter, I will be in Savannah, GA (Sunday 26th to Friday 31st) for the SLS Conference.  Related to photography, I will be giving two presentations on my storm photography during the week of 5 October.  On Sunday the 5th, I will be in Lawrence, KS giving a morning hour-long presentation at the Consortium of College and University Media Centers 2008 Annual Conference.  On Thursday the 9th, I’ll be giving an evening presentation on my photography at the Central Kansas Photography Club in Great Bend at 7:30pm.  

What else?  Oh yeah, there are a couple of Lead Forecaster jobs available that I’m interested in.  I’ve already been interviewed for one (the vacancy here in Dodge City) with a selection expected in days,  and if I am unfortunate to not get that job, then I have my eyes set on another vacancy that opened up north of here.  Quite a bit north of here.  :)    So stay tuned.  

Since I did not shoot a single click of the shutter during the month of September, the October photo of the month will be a favorite from the past.   I’ll upload that in a couple days.  I probably won’t be out shooting much in October either, but in November, I hope to make up for it with fall migration peaking at Quivira NWR.

March 24, 2008

Late March update: A potpourri of stuff

Filed under: Misc,UTM Updates — Mike U @ 7:08 am

Greensburg talks

My "Greensburg tour" is going pretty well up to this point.  Venues I’ve spoken at include Wichita, Aurora CO, Lawrence KS, Colleyville TX, Pratt KS, and Hampton VA.  The Colleyville, TX talk was the TESSA National Storm Conference that is held every year in early March.  It was good to meet new faces and see friends I haven’t seen in awhile.  The Al Moller tribute and dinner was awesome, and I am glad I was there for it.  Two days after I got back from Texas, I flew out to Virginia, as I was invited to speak at the Virginia Emergency Management Conference.  They were interested in having a meteorological perspective on the event to go along with the emergency management side of things.  Matt Mercer, the southwest KS regional coordinator for KS Homeland Security spoke about the Greensburg event from that perspective; he’s also from Dodge City.  Two more talks left:  Lincoln, NE "Central Plains Severe Weather Symposium" the weekend of March 29-30 and the following weekend April 4-5 I will be at Valparaiso, IN for the Great Lakes Meteorology Conference.  I will also be taking part, to some degree, in Greensburg anniversary festivities the weekend of May 3-4th.

Utah-Colorado trip pics

I am about halfway done processing and uploading pics from my Utah-Colorado trip a little over a month ago.  If you’ve been a regular to my website, you’ll notice some changes, which I’ll discuss a little bit more about below.   Visit the "Moab 2008" link you see at the top.  I hope to get the rest of the albums uploaded by the beginning of April, depending on the amount of free time I have.

Lightroom "Flash" albums & new "Collections" page

All new recently-shot images have been processed and uploaded through Adobe Lightroom.  I’ve done this since about November, with the idea of hopefully getting a lot of images added faster.  I’m using a very generic Joomla CMS template, and I’m fairly satisfied with the organization.  I will not be deleting any albums from my current "Gallery", but many of the albums will eventually become "hidden", only accessed through the Collections front-end.  "Gallery" will still exist, it will just evolve into my portfolio of high-end images only, with the plan to set up some sort of online print ordering interface within "Gallery".  At least this is how I envision it for now.  I’ll try to keep everyone posted.  

Storm chase trip?

I put in for some time off at the latter part of June, although I’m not sure if I’ll get it or not — so it is still up in the air whether I’ll be taking a 2008 chase trip.  If I do, I’ll probably tag along with either Jay Antle or Vince Miller again, we’ll see.  I finally got a new Jotto Desk for my vehicle, so it will be a lot easier for me to have a chase partner in my Jeep, although I’ll primarily chase solo throughout the year except probably during my chase trip, if I take one. 

December 3, 2007

Definition of “Mizzou”

Filed under: Misc — Mike U @ 5:39 am

This has nothing to do with storm chasing or photography, but times as a Jayhawker are really good right now… 


"They expect me to come home with my tail between my legs, but I won’tdo it. I’d sooner get Mizzou’d out here in the middle of nowhere thanlose face in front of my friends and family again."
"Whoa, whoa. What’d you just say?"
"I said I don’t wanna lose face in front of my friends and family."
"No, before that."
"I- I said I’d sooner get Mizzou’d out here in the middle of nowhere."
"Mizzou’d? What the hell is that?"
"You know, Mizzou’d, uh… to be up a creek without a paddle, to- tohave the whole world in the palm of your hand and then blow it, youknow. It’s a figure of speech."


=  =   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   3  ,    2  0  0  8    =  = 

March 19, 2007

Arizona & Royals Spring Training [2]

Filed under: Misc — Mike U @ 8:50 am

Gordon, Rock Chalk, and more Heat!  The short trip to Arizona has come to a conclusion.  I’m sitting at our departure gate with Jon, David, and Lori getting ready to head to Denver for our connection back to Kansas City.  It was certianly a fun, but short trip.  On Saturday, we watched the Royals practice in the late morning, which was the best opportunity to get closer to the players.  I was able to get some good photos at practice with my 80-400mm lens.  After practice we headed to the game which was at 1pm.  Gil Meche pitched — his first couple innings were alright before he got shelled in the 4th.  Saturday evening we met up with friends of Lori (David’s wife) who live in the Tempe area.  We hung out around Mill & University, the "hotspot" so-to-speak for college nightlife.  Anyway, on Sunday (yesterday), we tried to get both Royals baseball and KU basketball in despite both playing at the same time.  The Royals were playing the Giants in Scottsdale, and the plan was to catch about 3 innings of the ball game before high-tailing it to a nearby bar to watch KU vs. Kentucky.  A bar called the "Upper Deck" in Scottsdale is a KU alumni watch party location, but since it was packed we found another location in Scottsdale to watch the game.  KU won, Alex Gordon hit a homerun towards the beginning of the ball game (which I got a great photo of, see below!), so it was quite the good day yesterday.  More record heat in Phoenix on Saturday — 2nd straight day of 99°F for a high.  The temperatures will be returning to more normal readings in the 70s later this week after we’re gone… of course!

The Alex Gordon homerun swing.  Alex drove a line-drive over the right field fence against the Giants in the 2nd inning on March 18th. 

March 17, 2007

Arizona & Royals Spring Training [1]

Filed under: Misc — Mike U @ 8:44 am

High Heat and Billy Butler.  I’m out in Arizona this weekend with friends from home (Overland Park) watching spring training baseball… our team the Royals (no jokes or I’ll slap you).  Anyway, after a big giant cluster F&%( fiasco with our flight out here (pushed back because of over-booking), we arrived in Phoenix Friday morning.  The Royals played the Mariners in Peoria, however it was mainly the "junior varsity" Royals team out there, since the "A" team usually doesn’t travel and play away game.  Billy Butler was in the lineup though, and if you haven’t heard of him before… well he will likely be a household name in a few years with the Royals.  He had two smash doubles and two walks, despite the loss.  That was really the only bright spot in yesterday’s game.  Oh my god it was hot… the high yesterday was 99°F!!  That was good enough for a record, indeed, and was one degree away from tying the all-time March record in Phoenix of 100 degrees.  A far cry from the frosty lower 30s we had in KC in the early morning before our flight.

Billy Butler standing on third with Matt Tupman at the plate, as Mariners' pitcher delivers to the plate.

February 24, 2006

Signs of Spring

Filed under: Misc,UTM Updates — Mike U @ 12:30 pm

It’s funny actually, because we really didn’t have much of a winter. Winter actually occurred in two different "bursts" if you will — Early December was a fairly cold outbreak and then just last week was another short-lived burst of arctic cold. Funny timing too, as the brunt of the cold air hit the high plains during the main day of the National Storm Chaser Convention on Saturday 2/18. Saturday morning Denver reached -15°F which was a record for the date. I pretty much stayed in the convention hotel from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening. Anyway, more details on the convention later on. I have some photos from the convention posted in the Gallery, but I haven’t written captions yet. I’ll probably get to that tonight.

It’s another 3-day weekend for me; this afternoon (Friday 24th) I’ll head out to Quivira for some bird photography. It’ll be interesting to see how many cranes and other migrants have made up to Central KS so far. It’s been really cold the past couple of weeks, but now that it’s finally warming up nicely with a good southwest wind… I bet the past couple of days birds have really been moving. I’ll see what I can find. There should be at least some sandhills. Sunday I’ll be bowling in a scratch tournament in Great Bend and I’ll also use that as an excuse to get out and shoot more in the morning before the tourney as well as after… since both Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira are just pretty much right there near Great Bend.

November 23, 2005

My pre-Thanksgiving Weekend

Filed under: Misc — Mike U @ 10:46 am

We had our annual Fall chaser party this past weekend in Lawrence at my chase partner Jay Antle’s place. It went very well with about 20 people showing up. The highlight moment of the party was probably the moment I managed to lock myself in Jay’s bathroom when I somehow broke the damn door knob off. Let’s just say I was the only one NOT laughing.. ;-)

Ahhh but it was very much fun, with a ton of great video and BBQ. My very good friend Marcie from Texas came up for it, and it was good to spend some time with her in Lawrence for a couple days since we only get a chance to see each other but once or twice a year, if that. It was a 4 and a half day weekend for me, which was much needed after a hectic past couple of months with projects at work trying to complete my 2005 storm chase highlights DVD (which will be available on my website in about a week!). I came back to Overland Park Sunday morning after Marcie left to go back to TX…and went out to eat with my parents and my brother and his girlfriend who was in town (she goes to school in NY as a photography major).

Every weekend I visit bro-yo and I have to settle things on the lanes… and this weekend was no different.. I got to meet some of his bowling pals who are also good scratch bowlers. It seemed like old times, cuz I saw an old neighborhood friend I had not seen in a long damn time from the junior high school days. We all grew up with the same interest in bowling some 10 or 11 years ago (see "Twelfth Frame" May 2005 blog entry).

On Monday I went over to Lee’s Summit to see Chieeefy (Evan Bookbinder), and his wife and adorable 1 year old son Jake. The absolute cutest 1 year old kid, oh my goodness… He kept giving me the stare down, it was rather intimidating… quite the observer type, like myself :) Chieeefy and I went out for some wings, fish, and chips…which has become a tradition of sorts…to talk shop and storm chasing, and somehow getting my butt back to Kansas City. I clearly didn’t plan my Monday well, because right after I left Lee’s Summitt, I met up with my folks again , with my brother and his girlfriend as well as my older brother and sister… for dollar taco night at Tequila Harry’s which has also become sort of a growing tradition. I’m a huge mexican eater… and I thoroughly dissapointed myself and the rest of my family when I could only devour one… yes ONE taco… after gorging myself at lunch 3 hours prior. I was not happy. :)

I decided to stick around town Monday night since KU basketball was on. I went over to Jon’s house for the game and got to see my good H.S. buds as well as Jon’s brother Jason and his girlfriend. It was quite the pinball game, the Arizona-KU game, and we came out on the short end of the stick… cuz we be YOUNG. very very YOUNG. And we certainly looked it. It will be interesting to watch the evolution of KU Basketball over the course of this season and in the years to come. So thus the 4-day weekend came to an end back to Dodge I came Tuesday morning. Now it’s time to put my focus on this Pleasant Hill NWS vacancy bid….

April 30, 2005

KC this weekend..

Filed under: Misc,UTM Updates — storm300 @ 10:13 am

I have today and Sunday off, so decided to drive to KC to visit the fam, since I probably won’t come to KC Mother’s Day weekend. On the way to KC last evening, I decided to drive through the Flint Hills and do a little photography. The Flints are just beautiful right now, with the new short grass growing after March burning. The hills were definitely alive. I’ve got a low-res photo posted below, and I’ll submit more on my gallery page over the next few days. My favorite area in the Flints is a small area along the border of Chase and Greenwood County about 25 miles SSW of Emporia where "Texaco Hill" is located if you look on a detailed map (i.e., Delorme StreetAtlas). -Mu

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