Wednesday, June 30, 2010


The Canute Strom Chasing team is seeking a dedicated intern for the remainder of the season. For more information on the opening, visit:



Monday, June 28, 2010

Signing off!

I went to see my doctor today, and it looks like I’m not going to be able to finish up my internship this season. I was feeling pretty down about the whole thing all morning, but then I realized that even though I broke my leg, I’m pretty lucky to have had such a great month. Ever since I was little I wanted to get up close and personal with a tornado, and I never thought that I’d get to. But I GOT to, and more than once even.

Then, later a package arrived:

Now, if anything could cheer me up – it’s a visit from an old friend! It looks like my luck is going to change for the better.

Thank you for reading, and for all the great comments! The team is looking for a new recruit, so make sure to check in tomorrow for details.

Stay Twisty!


Friday, June 25, 2010


Ok – I super broke my leg yesterday. I don’t really recommend it. Let me breakdown what happened for you.

9 AM (Four hours to “the incident.”)
I wake up and head downstairs to have breakfast. My leg has no idea what’s in store for it today. It’s just hanging out in my shoe, having a grand old time. Poor, sweet, stupid leg – it really has no clue what’s coming. Debbie and I go over the weather information for the morning. She’s been having some trouble getting accurate readings lately with all of the broken equipment, and this morning is no exception. Debbie isn’t comfortable sending me out into the field alone, she tells me to check in with Scott.

10 AM (Three hours to “the incident”)
I drop by Scott’s office, he pulls up his weather feed and decides that I’ll be fine out in the field, he marks a few places on my map. I pack up Frosty’s cameras and take off.

10:30 AM (Two and a half hours to “the incident”)
I get a little lost. Normally when I’ve got somewhere to go I’ve got Frosty with me (although his directions can be a little less than helpful sometimes – he’s the kind of guy who will tell you you’re going the wrong way, but then offers no follow up information about what the right way could be.) but this time I was on my own. Since I can’t drive and look at a map at the same time, and because the GPS unit was being really weird I decided to stop by Ma ‘n Pa’s for directions.

11 AM (Two hours to “the incident”)
Pa gives me some tips on how to get to the spots Scott marked on my map. Pa’s a little strange about giving me directions to the storm. I don’t think he approves of people heading into stormy weather, which makes sense to me now.

11:30 AM (One and a half hours to “the incident”)
I may have spent some time playing the arcade game at Pa’s place. I also may have set the high score. 

12 PM (One hour to “the incident”)
I arrive at my first location. The storm is really starting to get bad.

That bad. That’s noon up there!

I start shooting pictures. The wind is so over-the-top-crazy at the top of the hill that I head for lower ground so I can keep the camera steady. I’m starting to really get into taking pictures. I’m following the movement of the storm and looking for a good vantage point to take a few shots. Things are going pretty great.

12:55 (Roughly five minutes to “the incident.”)

It starts to hail. Then it starts to Hail. Then it starts to HAIL! I decide to run back to the car. Just then a piece of hail the size of baseball crashes down less than a foot away. I decide that this is no time for casual running - this is the time for full-out-crazy-arm-flail-running. So I do that.

12:57 (Roughly two minutes to “the incident”)
There’s the car! I jump in – but it won’t start. The car is broken! It’s a car tragedy! I can’t get the windows back up – hail is flying into the car. There’s an old barn across the field from where I am - I decide to make a break for it.

12:58:48 (2 seconds to “the incident.”)
There’s the barn! I’m running really fast now – I’m at the top of the hill, seconds away from the barn. Things are looking good. I take a step and slip -

12:58:50 (The Incident!)
I’m airborne. I have just enough time to think “I am almost certain that this is going to be its own special kind of bad.” I land on my leg in just the wrong way, and suddenly I couldn’t care less about the hail.

After a few solid minutes of self-pity, and feeling a little jealous of my friends who have “boring” internships, I crawl over to the car and call the homestead for help. In a few minutes Debbie is there, and I’m off to the hospital.

I’m going home tonight to get some rest the weekend, and we’ll be deciding if I’ll be able to return to the homestead this season Monday.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Pete was injured while out in the field this afternoon, and has been taken to the hospital for observation. He asked me to update his blog to let you know that he’s okay – and will be filling you in on the details soon.

Thank you,


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Maybe I need to think about something else! I’ve been spending so much time every single day obsessing about storms and tornados that I think it’s starting to make me a little crazy. Last night I had a stress dream about a tornado that was so bizarre I thought I’d tell you about it here.

In my dream, the team and I were chasing down a huge tornado – but this time, instead of logging a bunch of data – I actually caught the tornado.

Suddenly everyone was really worried – we had caught this huge tornado, but we had no idea what do with it. Do we take it to the homestead and tie it up in back? Will we have to feed it? What if it gets loose? Will it invite its friends over?

We tried to set it free again, but it just followed us around like a lost puppy. It was equally cute and terrifying.

I asked the rest of the team if they’ve had any stress dreams about tornados and, it turns out that everyone has. Frosty’s was my favorite - he once had a dream where he forgot to study for a test and a tornado gave him an F on an exam.

Speaking of Frosty, he’s been pretty pleased with my photos lately. We’re expecting a pretty big system to move through the area tomorrow, and he wants me out in the field. He’s given me some of his good equipment and wants me to really “get into the middle of things.” I’m really excited, I hope I get some good shots tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


When I was at Ma ‘n Pa’s store this morning to restock the chase vehicles, and I ran into a few members of another chase team. I’ll be honest, it was totally weird. We’ve been so busy chasing storms lately that I’ve forgotten about the Green Skies competition. With all that money up for grabs *cough*enough to hire a certain intern permanently*cough* it’s no surprise that there’d be a lot of teams trying to get in on the action.

I don’t think I’ve said much about the Green Skies competition – basically the team that gets the best results this season receives a huge grant to establish a state of the art storm tracking and chasing facility. Our team is a favorite to win, but Scott is quick to remind everyone that the prize isn’t won until every storm is tracked and logged.

The team I met today is headed by a woman named Brooke. She seemed pretty nice, but she was definitely trying to pry information out of me about what our team was up to – lucky for the Canute team, I don’t actually have any clue about what’s going on, ever :P

When I got back to the homestead, I told Scott about running into Brooke. He seemed pretty irritated, but happy that I didn’t give away any of our secrets. He told me that next time someone tries to get any secret information out of me, I should throw them a “bum lead” He made me practice my misinformation skills.

SCOTT: Ok. I’m the other team leader. “So, where’re you headed this week?”

ME: Maine.

SCOTT: No. It has to make sense.

ME: Ok.

SCOTT: So where’re you going this week?

ME: Few hundred miles north.

SCOTT: No. that’s what we’re actually doing.

ME: Few hundred miles south?

SCOTT: There’s a system there as well. So no.

This is the first time I’ve had any difficulty being wrong about something.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Weekend Statistics

Equipment Problems: Blown fuses in the Doppler, Patch cords chewed by mice, fifty mm lens scratched by hail, anemometer lost (possibly at the Coney-opolis), communication equipment failure

Hours of driving logged: 19

Hours of sleep logged: Six (all weekend!)

Best quote of the weekend: Frosty “It looks like it’s dancing and also destroying a barn!”

Reoccurring Accident of the weekend: Scott driving off with coffee on the roof of his car. (three times)

Chase air guitar solos: Four (that I saw – possibly more)

Most embarrassing moment: Reviewing the tapes and hearing the really dopey things we say when we see a tornado – an excerpt:

“ME: Wow!


SCOTT: Man, that’s a twister alright!

DEBBIE: Uh-huh!

ME: Wow!

CHASE: That one means business!

ME: Tornado!”

Parking tickets received: 3

Confirmed Tornados Spotted: 4

That’s right, four. We saw so many tornadoes this weekend that we had to give them nicknames to keep them straight (if you were curious, they were - Barn Stormer, Lefty, Haily, and Slowpoke.) I finally got to see what it’s like when the chase season is in full swing – and now I need to sleep for a thousand years (and then enter a million numbers into a spreadsheet.)

Until tomorrow,

Stay Twisty!

Friday, June 18, 2010


The storm season is officially in high gear, and things are starting to get crazy. I was supposed to work with Chase on finishing up some of the equipment today, but there’s just been no time. I woke this morning to the sound of sirens – a storm system that was supposed to be No Big Deal ended up gaining some serious momentum, by the time it reached us it was pretty fierce. It seems a little strange that we’d be caught off guard by such a big storm, but with some of the equipment problems we’ve been having this week – I guess it’s not that surprising.

Chasing down storms is one thing, but waking up to find yourself in the middle of huge storm is something else. It’s actually really really scary – the best way to keep yourself safe in a storm is to have enough information to anticipate what’s going to happen next. When you don’t have any information though, that’s when it gets scary. You don’t know if you should run, or seek shelter…you don’t know if you have time to get out and warn everyone else. I guess that’s why we’re here chasing down these storms.

Scott always likes to remind us that we’re not here for fun, we’re here to find a way to give people the advance notice they need to stay safe when dangerous storms sweep across the state. This morning, sitting down in the shelter as the storm raged outside, was a pretty good reminder of how dangerous things can be. When the storm blew past we surveyed the damage. There weren’t any confirmed touchdowns from the system, but the wind damage and the lightning strikes really battered the homestead and the town.

Scott says that over the next few days we’re in for a run of the most severe storms that he’s ever tracked. I hope I’m ready. With all of the running around, and preparation, and goofing off, it’s easy to forget that this is some dangerous work.
Wish me luck this weekend, I’ll let you know what happens.

Stay Twisty!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Ok, I like cheesy jokes - I can’t help making cheesy jokes (maybe I could lure the mice away from the homestead with my jokes…see! That just happened. I can’t help it, honest!)

Today I was tagging along with Frosty as he went into town to pick up some new battery packs for his cameras, and since there wasn’t a ton of work to do back on the homestead – it seemed like the perfect time to get out and shoot some pictures – Frosty says that even though he’s a storm photographer, he likes to go out and work in good weather too because “Cameras hate just sitting around in a bag.” Which I guess is another thing that cameras and I have in common.

When I started as an intern here, I noticed that there aren’t that many good jokes about tornados or storms. Isn’t that crazy? It seems like there would be millions of them. I’ve been working on some new storm jokes, and I’ll be honest – it’s not going so well. All I have so far is one punch line:

And then the tornado says “that’s not my house!”

During the drive I was trying out some new storm jokes on Frosty – and they just weren’t working. Eventually he had enough. He made me a deal – If I can go the rest of the day without making a single joke he’ll treat the whole team to ice cream at Dr. Wafflecones tomorrow.

I really like Dr. Wafflecone’s ice cream, it’s maybe the best in the country and definitely the best in the state (they have CRAZY flavors: Spicy Strawberry, Banana Cotton Candy, and Quintuple Chocolate twist, to name a few). But the rest of the day with no jokes? I don’t know if I can do it.

I’ve got ten hours to go, but it might as well be ten years. Everywhere I look I see a hilarious thing that I’m dying to make a joke about…but ice cream is so delicious…it’s…so hard choose…I don’t know If I can go on…I’m so cold…

If you know of any good storm jokes (or can make one up) to help me through the day, post them in the comments and I might be able to last until tomorrow…

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


It was no big deal! I saw a mouse in the kitchen and said, “Good morning, Debbie. How’s the weather look today? By the way I’ve noticed that this old house may have a mouse problem.”

Debbie agreed, but we both decided that it was no big deal, and that we should think of a humane way to remove the mouse (or mice) and then think of a nice safe place to relocate the mouse or mice to.

“That’s a capital idea!” I exclaimed confidently, “Let me have a quick go at drafting a quick relocation and rescue plan.”

“I have absolute faith in your plan,” Debbie said, “we’re ever so lucky to have you here, intern Pete.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” I said “Now, I believe that Leonardo di ser Piero da vinci had a basic set of plans in mind for such a thing, and with a few modifications I might be able to cobble together a quite capable device with the materials at hand…if it doesn’t prove beyond my abilities.”

“You’re too modest,” Debbie said “I’m sure your plans will be top notch!”

Then, I set about my task, which I flawlessly completed.*

*Ok here’s what really happened.

Debbie said “Hey, is that a mouse?”

And I tried to run away and knocked over the kitchen table, and then ran into the wall.

But I prefer to remember my version of events.

I’m not actually that afraid of mice, I was just caught a little off guard. I took some time trying to come up with way to relocate the mice without hurting them, but so far my best idea politely asking them to leave. If anyone has any tips they’re always appreciated.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Frosty called me down to the basement the yesterday and said

“Hey Pete, I got a really good picture of you at the chase, come check it out.”

When I got downstairs, he gave me the drawing you see above.

“It really captures the way you like to run away from danger.”

And after a solid five minutes of teasing, Frosty told me that I actually did a pretty good job at my first chase. Apparently they’ve had a few interns who jumped on the first available bus home after their first storm experience. Then he told me that since I’ve shown that I can handle myself out in stormy weather, he wants me out taking pictures every chance I can get, and if they’re good enough he’ll put them with his collection and give me a co-credit – how cool is that! I’m trying to convince Frosty to let me post some of his pictures on my blog, but he’s really strange about it. I guess people are willing to pay a lot of money for good storm footage, but only if it’s never been seen before - so I guess that’s why he’s so protective of his work. But I’ll keep bugging him about it, maybe he’ll cave.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Since I always love those “previously on” synopsis things at the start of television shows – and since this entry is a continuation of last week’s blog – let’s do one of those previously on things...(!!!)

Announcer voice:

Pete runs away from a rampaging twister:
PETE: We’ll never make it! Why is it so mad?!

Frosty looks at a computer monitor – these numbers are off the charts! He looks at the rest of the team.
FROSTY: We’re through the looking glass here, people!

Debbie and Scott argue as the storm rages
SCOTT: We’ve got to cut them off at the pass!
DEBBIE: The twisters will never fall for that…they’re just too smart!

CHASE: Hate to ruin all y’alls party but, we got us some unexpected company.
Over Chases shoulder a SECOND twister touches down.



So, where were we? Oh yeah –

I was busy putting the field Doppler through the warm-up sequence when I heard Chase yell.

“Hey kid! Look out!” And just then, it started to HAIL.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a hail storm, but if you’d like to simulate the experience it’s pretty easy to do. All you need is twenty thousand ice cubes and twenty thousand friends to throw them at you in all at once and – ta-da! Instant hailstorm!

Needless to say – I did some low-grade panicking once the hail started to come down. I think I must have gotten a little disoriented when I was dodging the hail, because next thing I knew, Scott was pulling me toward the chase truck.

Once we were inside, the hail was absolutely pounding down, and the wind was rocking the truck so much that I thought it was going to tip over at any second – and then all of a sudden...

It stopped.

We stepped out of the truck, and that’s when I saw the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Across the fields, the clouds started to reach down from the sky, and a huge funnel started to form right in front of us. Watching the tornado take shape was weirdly peaceful, and we all couldn’t help but stop and watch – but then the reality of the situation hit us – tornado! Tornado! Tornado!*

* (Tornado! Tornado! TORNADO!)

We scrambled into action, breaking out the equipment that we had to cover up when the hail came on. Scott was shouting out orders fast and furious, but it was almost impossible to hear him over the wind. In a minute we had everything set up again – the twister was tearing through the field, right where Scott had predicted it would go, but then, it turned and started heading directly toward us.

There really isn’t a good phrase for describing the feeling of having a tornado heading directly for you, so I’ll make one up. It was…TerriblAwesoFrightnaciously bad. I’ll be honest, I really wanted to run away. In fact I’m pretty sure I said:

“Hey everybody, let’s run away now.”

But Scott just checked his anemometer, shook his head and just said “Wait for it…” The twister was getting closer, and CLOSER. We were goners!

But then, at the last possible second, the winds shifted and the funnel cloud changed course just ever so slightly – we were no longer in its path...but we weren’t out of the woods yet. The storm was close enough now that flying debris started reaching our observation post, everyone finally agreed that it was time to evacuate.

Five minutes later we regrouped a half mile down the road. Everybody was chattering about storm data captures, and pictures, and Fujita estimates, but all I could think was –

“That was a tornado, and I WAS THERE.”

Friday, June 11, 2010


Let me tell you how it went down (because it was amazingly awesome.)

At 3:45 am Chase woke me up by yelling “Come on y’all, right quick, get into the truck.”

Then at 3:50 he woke me up again. (Pete’s like their sleep. That is a fact that has been proven by science.)
A few minutes later we were all in our respective chase vehicles, tearing toward the storm. All of the things that have gone wrong so far, all of the equipment that’s been broken, all of the bickering and “loud verbal disagreements.” That the team has, all of that went away as we were closing in on the front that Frosty had nicknamed the “internminator.”*

*Intern Terminator. Frosty told me “Don’t be offended. I like you. You’re a nice guy, but the data leads me to believe that this storm system carries a pretty strong grudge against interns.”

Now, in my time, I’ve seen thunderstorms that seemed to come straight out of Hollywood, but I’ve never seen anything like this storm. The clouds in the sky were boiling and the lightning was bright and constant enough that you could have read a book. “Catchin’ a strom” as Chase calls it, means being able to be at the right place at the right time, and this time we were – there was no doubt about that.

Debbie and Scott gave each other a look that meant “this is the place.” We all pulled to the side of the road, pulled out the equipment and got to work. I was busy putting the field Doppler through the warm-up sequence when I heard Chase yell.
“Hey kid! Look out!”

(Debbie’s calling me now, so I’ll tell you the rest soon!)

Stay twisty –

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The time? Let me check the bananas clock: it’s about bananas thirty.

This is how Debbie makes having a healthy snack a convenient part of her morning: It makes sense!

Debbie took me on a trip back to the Canute meteorology department campus the other day to help her dig through Scott’s office for a backup computer tower. Two of the team’s computers have met unfortunate ends this last week. The first computer died of what we all assume was natural causes, the screen went blue and it started to smoke a little – then it started to smoke a lot – and THEN it officially caught on fire.

I maintain that there are two awesome things that a computer can do:
1. Work perfectly
2. Catch on fire

The second computer to go down was one of Canute’s laptops. According to Scott, the computer is “going to be just fine as soon as it spends some time under a hair dryer” I think this is really unlikely, since he spilled an entire of thermos of coffee in it. He wanted us to sneak the coffee-laptop back into the computer lab, and switch it for one that has had either no coffee or significantly less coffee dumped into it recently – but Debbie told him that since he’s the one in charge, he’s going to have to be the one to pull off all present and future computer heists.

I’ve only been on the homestead for a little bit, but it feels like forever since I’ve been on campus. I didn’t really have any time to visit friends, but we did have enough time grab a sandwich at The Great Chewdini’s. If you’re on the Canute campus and you’ve never been to Chewdini’s I highly recommend a visit. It’s magic themed sandwich shop and everything there is really good, but I like it because you have to know the lingo to get what you want.

I Ordered “The Unlucky Emperor in a straightjacket” and a side of “Manacles, buried alive.”*

Soon enough, it was back to the homestead to attend to the work that had piled up in our absence.

*Other, less fun restaurants would call this a Caesar wrap with cheesy onion rings.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

You’re listening to KCAR: Delivering the hits from the front seat to the back seat!

Today we went on a long drive to catch a storm system that was supposed to develop into a really monumental storm, but by the time we got there it had dissolved into a long gray stretch of scattered showers, so we grabbed a quick vending machine “lunch” and turned the chase vehicles back toward the homestead.

To be a storm chaser, you have to be ready to log a lot of driving time. Spending six hours in a cramped space together is a test of any friendship, and an even bigger test of coworkership. The latest point of contention has been music. It seems that none of us can agree on what to listen to in the car.

I present to you the Canute Chase Team’s Music Preferences:
ME: I like lot of things, but extra bonus points go to any song that makes me want to bust out the patented Henenger family dance moves. They’re ugly, but they get the job done*.
*Not sure exactly what the job is, but I think it must involve jumpkicks and moonwalking.

DEBBIE: Dreary acoustic music by people with Scottish accents. Every song seems to be about being shy. Don’t call it boring unless you want to listen to a very detailed lecture about the lack of subtlety in pop music.

CHASE: Southern rock. Chase gets really into it when one of his songs comes on the radio – he always yells “OH here we GO!” right before the guitar solo. And then during the solo he yells out “SEE, I TOLD YOU! THAT IS THIS SONG IS AWESOME!”

SCOTT: Scott says his favorite music is “the peaceful sound of my own thoughts.” But…when I was working on his computer, he left his music library open and he’s got a SERIOUS thing for 80s ballads. (BUSTED!)

FROSTY: He’s got really bizarre tastes actually – when he plugs in his mp3 player you never know what’s coming next: A jangly country song about horses with broken hearts? A song that sounds like it was composed by Swedish robots? Minimalist music by keyboardists who claim to come from the future? You name it – if it’s weird, Frosty likes it.

As you might have already figured out – we’re not a group that shares the car radio well. To stem fighting Scott has decided that we each get to be in charge of the music (or lack thereof) for an hour at a time on the long trips. To keep himself entertained the other day, Frosty started pretending to be a DJ during his hour, and it caught on (even Scott’s on board.)We’ve all been practicing our radio voices and putting together our most fun playlists…So…ahem…let me clear my throat…

From the front seat studios of KCAR FM this is DJ Pete wishing you all safe travels, and helpin’ you keep it loud as you chase those clouds – Comin’ at you right now we’ve got a crackin’ tune to dodge hail by, crank it up and until next time, stay twisty!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My Favorite Scott Note in a While…

I’ll admit…I’m the one who took the marker.

Scott’s notes might be one of my favorite things about my internship. At first, my feelings were a little hurt by the tone of the notes since they’re a bit…direct.

Por Ejemplo:
“Intern Pete, do a better job entering data. The letter F is not, and never will be, a number.”
But, that changed once I started finding some of the other notes that Scott writes for the team.

Here are just a few:
“Debbie, I tried to eat some cereal at the kitchen table, but I noticed that you have turned the table, which is supposed to be a breakfast and dinner place for EVERYONE into your own personal office without stopping to think of how the rest of us would eat food. I had to wander around eating my cereal like a caveman. A little consideration would be much appreciated!”

“Chase, Couldn’t help but notice that you have missed two storms because you were nowhere to be found when we took off. Great job! Keep it up and see what happens!”


I was under the impression that he was maybe just not very nice, but then I found a reminder note he wrote to himself.
“Hey idiot! Turn in your semester grades on time for once. I mean, is it that hard for you to do?”
I think that’s just how he writes notes.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The mood is tense!

An excerpt from a conversation I overheard today:
SCOTT: The outlet in the basement is dead.
FROSTY: I’m very sorry to hear about that. Do you want to talk about it?
SCOTT: (a solid five seconds of GLARING) No. I want you to do something about it.
FROSTY: You got it.

Here’s what frosty did about it:

Things here have been a little tense the last few days. Significant weather patterns are starting to develop, so the team needs to be ready to move at a second’s notice. It seems like this is usually a stressful time of the season, but according to Chase it’s been a little rougher than usual because things keep disappearing. Without equipment, you’re no longer a chase team – you’re just a bunch of people, looking at clouds.

That will probably look less impressive on my resume:
Summer Internship Experience: I looked at some clouds.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The simplest answer: just hit it a little.

Last night we were all hanging around the homestead. The weather’s been behaving suspiciously well, and we haven’t had much to do. For the first time in my internship, we were all bored. Scott decided that he wanted to watch the season finale of Attorney General. So, we all gathered around the antique television, and fired it up. And by “fired it up” I mainly mean “sat there while it did not work even a little bit.”

“Intern Pete.” Scott said, “See if you can fix the tv.”

I tried to explain to Scott that unless you’ve…learned how to fix a TV at some point, the chances of you fixing a TV are pretty slim. He agreed, and then said, “How about you give it a shot anyway.”

I got some tools from Chase’s workbench ( honestly I didn’t really pay attention to what I grabbed since if you have no clue what you’re doing all tools are equally useless) and got to work. I spent a few minutes trying to open the backing until Chase got sick of waiting. He walked over and gave the television a firm thump – instantly it turned on.

“Don’t overfancy things,” Chase said “Sometimes the simplest answer works the best.”

Frosty and Debbie seemed very amused. We watched the series finale of Attorney/General, which may be the worst show ever made, ever. In the finale, the main character is forced to finally choose between being an Attorney, or being a four star general. Here’s a shocker, he chooses both. BOOOO! But, it did have a great scene where a speedboat crashes into the courthouse during jury deliberations. Then the lawyers petitioned for a change of venue and it got SUPER boring again.

Finally, mercifully, the local news came on. The forecast called for bad weather on the horizon. Maybe we’ll get out of the living room and out into the fields soon!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I love Candy

The local store around here is run by a guy who just goes by “Pa.” Now, when someone demands that you just call him “Pa.” there are two things that you can rest assured about:

1. He is old.
2. He is going to have a lot of candy.

Old people really have a lot of things figured out, chiefly candy. You think you know candy? You’re WRONG. You don’t know the first thing about candy.

Now to be fair, I thought I knew a lot about candy until spending a little time a Ma ‘N Pa’s country store.

If I didn’t spend such a large part of my day carrying around heavy equipment for Scott, I’d probably have already gained twenty five pounds from the candy selection at Pa’s. If you’re ever in the area I highly recommend dropping in.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Data: It’s what’s for dinner…and breakfast…and lunch…and snacktime…and also you probably have some in your pocket.

So, after a storm you take home more than memories and pictures. You take home data. A lot of data. You’d be impressed by the amount of data. By the look of the pages I’ve got piling up here, you’d think that storm systems were made entirely out of numbers…which would make watching the weather forecast sort of weird.

“Off to our southwest we have a low pressure system of 3s and 4s sweeping across the planes, which hopefully will leave us with another perfect weekend of sunny 7s with a slight chance of 1s. Keep your umbrellas ready Monday because there is going to be one huge 9 coming into the area, might make the morning commute a little tough.”

I’m starting to think of each raindrop as a set of numbers that I will eventually have to log into a spreadsheet. This is the kind of thought that crazy people have. Maybe it’s time to step away from the keyboard and take a walk. Over to Ma ‘n Pa’s…

Tuesday, June 1, 2010




*Not really. Also my caps lock key is FINE.

Ever since I was in the fourth grade and my teacher read us Stormy Jones’ Twisted Twister Summer Adventure, I’ve wanted to go out on a real storm chase – and today I DID.

We didn’t see any twisters, but we saw a really huge supercell formation, and the data looks like conditions are ripe for more big systems during the next few weeks.
I can’t tell you how fun it was. I mean, I really can’t, Debbie’s calling me right now.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Have I told you about Chase? He’s a little quiet, but a lot of fun. He’s hard to track down these last few days, but when I do find him he always seems to rope me into some sort of something repair.

I’ve never been much of a mechanic, I’ve got nothing against machinery, but on the timeline of people’s interactions with machinery, I’m…well, let’s just go to that timeline:

People who make machines > People who fix machines > People who use machines properly > People who are pretty good at turning machines on and off > People who get frustrated by machines > People who occasionally break machines > People who almost always break machines > People that machines are actually afraid of > PETE (that’s me) > People who have never ever used machines > People from dystopian future novels who are tasked with destroying all machines to prevent a mechanical uprising.

So, I’m not exactly a natural mechanic, but Chase couldn’t care less. Every time he sees me he throws me a wrench and makes me fix something. Yesterday he had me fixing weather balloon circuitry.

Fixing weather balloon circuitry. Me.

It was pretty cool.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Good news! I have one confirmed reader! Bad news to follow.

…it’s Scott, who has told me in no uncertain terms that I should not be making fun of his keyboard, or any of his items on the internet.

So…not surprisingly my day began with a lecture and some keyboard cleaning time. Then things got way more interesting. Scott took me out for a driving lesson. Now, I already know how to drive – but Scott was teaching me storm driving. It was pretty crazy.

First, he made me practice loading the storm gear into the chase truck until I could get the whole process down to under a minute. Here’s a fun fact about storm gear. It is HEAVY and, if given its druthers, would really rather honestly stay put, thank you very much. But after a lot of tries I got it all in the truck.

Then he made me practice driving quickly in reverse. I cannot tell you how much I hated that. It is the hardest, most dangerous thing ever, ever. Don’t believe me? Turn your keyboard around and try to type a sentence as fast as possible. Now for bonus points, do that fifty times in a row while a grumpy scientist is yelling at you.

In the end though, Scott gave me a D. Which he said is bad, but not as bad as Chase, and NOWHERE near as good as Debbie (B+).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Scott, it’s time we have a talk about the state of your keyboard.

...Is what I’d say if I were WAAAAAY braver. "This is the one time where having a loose cannon around is a good thing." Today Scott had me working on setting up a spreadsheet to track the barometric pressure readings on the hours leading up to tornado touchdowns that have been confirmed by that Canute team. From the massive stockpile of data I’m working through, it looks like everyone here has really had a LOT of storm experience. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to the data once I enter it all in, but I am sure of one thing:

Scott’s keyboard is really, really, reaaaaaally gross.

I don’t think he has ever tried cleaning it. It’s so bad in that thing that I’m pretty sure a weird civilization is thriving down there – if I were to flip the keyboard over and give it a shake I think I’d find evidence that whatever is living in there has started making rudimentary clay pots and simple rock based weaponry. Forget storms, I should just study the archeological significance of stuff I found in Scott’s gross keyboard.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I’ve lost Cap’n Duckbeard Pegwing. I should not be in charge of the Canute Chasers Official Good Luck Charm, maybe.

Cap’n you’ll be missed. I salute you for your 26 brave hours of service.
Scott was NOT pleased to hear of the development, apparently he’s pretty superstitious. The Canute Chasers Official Good Luck Charm has only gotten lost once before, and from what I’ve heard, that was a very bad year for everyone on the team. I asked Scott what happened that year, and all he said was “You don’t find that duck, and I’m sure you’ll find out soon enough.”

Feel free to post your thoughts, favorite memories, or if possible, the location of, Cap’n Duckbeard, below.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Every Team Needs A Mascot

According to Debbie, the weather is about to stop being polite, and start getting real around here. Those were her exact words, and that is why I like Debbie. That means it’s time for the Annual Choosing and Naming the chase team’s mascot. Since storms have the potential to be dangerous (when you choose to seek the opposite of shelter during recommended shelter seeking times.) it never hurts to have a little good luck on your side. Today it was my job to go find a proper mascot (well, that and a bunch of other less exciting things like making sure all of the file names match on the storm data…word of warning to files names the world over GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER, STAT.) and I think I did a pretty good job of it. After scouring the homestead, I found the perfect mascot.

I’ve named him: The Dreaded Cap’n Duckbeard Pegwing. From this day forward, he’ll be our Canute Chasers Official Good Luck Charm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Do the shutterbug!

You know in the movies – the guy with the green jacket with all the pockets who is running down the street with an old, sturdy looking SLR Camera, dodging explosions and taking Pulitzer prize winning photos while also jumping out of a bunch of helicopters? That is totally what I was like today. Except I don’t have the jacket – and nothing exploded – and there were no helicopters - and the Pulitzer people haven’t called yet.

Frosty took me out to shoot some film of cloud formations around the homestead. Here’s a fun fact about clouds – they’re REALLY far away from the ground. Now, this may seem like common sense to you, my very clever readers, but it wasn’t until I pointed a camera up at the sky that I realized how really, really, really far away they are.

So, next time you look at the sky and see a cloud, think about the number 25,000. 25,000 feet – that’s about five miles. Some clouds are five MILES away .Think about that. Five miles is REALLY far away. Now imagine taking a picture of something that’s five miles away. Pretty crazy, right? So…keep that in mind when I mention that not a single one of my pictures turned out.

Frown Emoticon!

But Frosty said it was a good start, tomorrow he’s going to teach me the names of all of the clouds, which seems it will take a looooong time.

This cloud is named Gerald McIntire. One down. MILLIONS to go.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


This blog thing is new to me, so sorry I didn't update yesterday, but I'm here today! 

Salad with chopsticks? When you’re a stormchaser, you have to learn how to adapt under pressure!

This week has been a very special kind of busy. Scott has been wrapping up his classes for the semester, so I’ve been getting most of my marching orders from Debbie. Debbie, who told me in no uncertain terms that if I post her picture on my blog I’ll be given an involuntary Viking funeral, is pretty great (except for that whole promising to push me out to sea in a flaming boat thing). She and Scott seem like they’ve worked together for a while – they work together really well and have this bizarre shorthand I don’t understand. Listening to the two of them talk is just confusing – it’s like they hate nouns. Por Ejamplo:

Scott: Debbie where’s my (makes a circular gesture) you know…

Debbie: Upper shelf, next to the thing –

Scott: No, not that, the (same circular gesture, but more frustrated) that…with the –

Debbie: Oh, yeah. That. Pete broke that.

On a…related note. I broke some equipment. I advise against doing this during your internship.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


One of the features of the Funnel Cloud Café: a sandwich eating a pickle. It makes sense!

We officially move into the homestead tomorrow, and Scott’s been leaving me progressively more confusing lists of last minute necessities for the season. Here’s a sample:

- 2 - 5 spare tubes (the good kind, not the ones I hate) for the Doppler.
- 2 Big things of salt – the road kind not the people kind
- Will there be dogs? I don’t know. Get a little dog food.
- Magazines and books. And by magazines I mean interesting things for us to read when the power goes off, not TV Guide like the last guy got. That made no sense at all. Don’t do that.

And that is what dealing with Prof Varnell is like in a nutshell. He’s the only person I’ve ever seen write a stream of consciousness to do list. Tomorrow I might finally get to meet some of the rest of the team!

- Pete

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Am the Intern!

Alright, so I went to the wrong office, what of it?! We’ve all been there before. Right?
Ok, maybe I’m the only one. When you have my kind of luck (bad, for our new readers) it’s always best to try to show up about half an hour early whenever you have an important appointment. If you factor a little disaster time into an important day, you’ll pretty much always use it. At least I do.

Like today for example: I showed up at Scott’s office ready for the interview. I spent some small talk time with the people in the lobby and prepped for the interview. I read a magazine and practiced my thoughtful nods for the interview (seriously, it’s hard to pull off a good thoughtful nod under pressure.)
Finally, I got called into the professor’s office. I started my spiel, explained why I’d make a great addition to his team. I told him about the biggest storm I’ve been in. I told him what I thought about lighting. I told him about my favorite types of clouds.

Suddenly, I noticed that he looked confused. Really confused. And THEN I noticed the nameplate on his desk did NOT say Professor Scott Varnell, Head of Meteorology. Instead it said, Professor Scott Varnon, Math Department. I was in. The. Wrong. Office. I looked at my watch, I had five minutes to make it to the other Scott’s office – wherever that was.
I wasn’t sure what to say to the other prof. so I did what anyone would do in this situation – I stood up, said “Oh no!” and ran away.

I made it to Prof. Varnell’s office – way late. As my luck would have it Prof Varnell had taken the day off. A woman named Debbie handed me this note:

For those who have trouble reading the writing, it reads “Dear Intern Candidate, if you can read this and can drive – you are now the intern. You won’t be paid. S.V.”
I’d like to point out that I did not crumble it up and pour coffee on it, it came that way.
Something tells me this internship is going to be AWESOME!
- Pete