Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Annual Call for SKYWARN Footage

This was a decent severe weather year for most of us --with possibly more nasty weather yet to come. Many of you are now working on/thinking about your highlight reels. I figured now would be a good time to announce my annual "call for SKYWARN video" a little early while you are spending time with the *raw* footage. My free classes would not be possible without the generous contributions of footage from storm chasers, spotters, EM, ham radio, and the media. Each year I search for fresh footage of weather-related phenomena to help get people more excited about attending the training / re-training.

Further, I'm on the look out for never-been-seen footage of unique events such as lightning strikes, accidents, flood rescues (there have been a lot of these lately), tornadoes causing damage, and giant hail. I'm talking about eye-opening video which helps drive the safety points home and maintain interest in a dark crowded room.
Most chaser highlight videos contain a lot of tornado footage. That's good for entertainment and research but not necessarily the best material for spotter training since the majority of what spotters really see (and get confused about) is non-tornadic. Therefore the footage you may be thinking of discarding from your highlight reel often turns out to be the best material for training. So what am I looking for? Well put yourself in the position of a new spotter.

This might be a 14 year old girl or a 50 year man old who's suddenly become interested in severe
weather after a recent close call with a tornado. These are folks who likely have little or no exposure to severe weather training outside of what they've seen on TWC/TLC/NGC. What kinds of things do you think these folks might need to know to operate safely around storms and make meaningful and accurate reports? Now consider the people who have attended several (perhaps dozens) of SKYWARN classes. You know, the folks snoring in the back of the room! What kind of material do you have which might help teach these "old dogs" some new tricks? Ask yourself this. Have you seen spotters make the same bad calls or dumb mistakes over and over and you've said to yourself "what's the matter with these morons?" Most people aren't morons they've just haven't received adequate training and reinforcement. It's the "old dogs", whom many new spotters look up to for training and reassurance, that pass on valuable experience as well as misinformation.

Therefore these folks need to be reached too.
When I look for footage I prefer DVD or mini-dv tapes but being that I work in broadcast TV I have access to all formats of players. I prefer raw, unedited, footage. That means you don't need to clean up the jump cuts, remove swear words, or add cheesy music Please no cheesy music).

It's helpful your footage includes the date, approximate time, location, and (if you can remember) the direction you were looking. I use this information to match up with archival satellite, radar, and surface data to give a more full picture. I am especially interested in events where multiple chasers got footage of the same event from different angles.
For example, I shot some nice footage of tornadoes in Protection, KS this year. Later at Rocky's chaser party I saw some great close-up footage of the same tornado. As I chaser I'd say the close-up footage was the best but as a spotter trainer I'd say both scenes were equally important since not every spotter will be 1/4 mile away or be looking at a back-lit tornado free from obstructions, and facing west. It's the not so obvious stuff like a developing tornado with no condensation funnel that spotters need to know about.

It's the stuff that looks like a tornado but is not that spotters need to know. It's the situations which appear safe but are in fact are very dangerous (like Greensburg at night) that spotters need to know how to deal with.
So if you have any footage of weather phenomena, safety-related issues (good and bad), reporting techniques (good and bad), measurement techniques, and spotter gadgets I sure could use it. As always I provide on-screen credit for people who provide footage. I once included people's names on every shot but this was a real hassle in editing and also proved really distracting to the viewers. When people ask specific questions about whose footage they just saw I provide them with the name of the contributor. It should be noted that I do these classes as Chris Novy, amateur radio operator/EM trainer. My classes are not affiliated with my TV station employer so I encourage you media folks on WX-CHASE to consider contributing station-obtained footage.

News crews often get the best footage of really dangerous people tricks. You have my guarantee that your footage will not appear on my TV station or be part of any weather-related productions outside the immediate scope of my live classroom talks. I've been doing this a long time and have a reputation with the chasing community to keep.
Last year I started sharing (with permission of the contributors) footage with NWS OUN.

I would like to offer this service again--either by 1) offering to make an exact copy of any footage you send me, 2) having interested NWS offices who have seen the footage you provided me with contact you directly for a copy, or 3) by compiling an edited down "SKYWARN essentials" DVD which contains scenes and supporting raw data to be used in NWS SKYWARN training. Such a DVD would contain no narration and no music.

I would probably burn the name
of each contributor on the video since I would not longer be in direct control of the video once it's left my hands and I want your assets to be protected. Here, NWS offices could digitize specific scenes of rain, hail, tornadoes, etc. as *they* require for their own unique training needs. I'm really interested in comments about the DVD idea and whether its release should be only to NWS offices or should also include organized EM and ham radio groups which do their own training. I've been asked about producing a complete training DVD but honestly I feel it's better for people to attend a SKYWARN class, mine or NWS, where they can interact with the instructer and learn from others at the presentation.

It's like saying "here's a book about how to do CPR" instead of encouraging someone to take an actual class.
Thanks again for your support. Please contact me off-list ( if you have footage you are willing to donate and also let me know if and how it can be shared with NWS.

If you think I (or someone else in the group) should put together a "SKYWARN Essentials" raw footage DVD for NWS purposes let's discuss this openly on WX-CHASE. I am willing to reimburse people, if needed, for postage but since I'm not operating under a grant and I don't play the lottery I have no funds for purchasing video.

Again thanks.
Chris Novy.. WA9V Yukon, OK

Maritime Notes:

Here is one for kicks! "
Bad weather conditions are being blamed both for the grounding and delays in getting her refloated" Yeah I would consider a Cat 5 Hurricane bad weather...

Maersk container ship runs aground
Mexican press report grounding of MAERSK DIADEMA

A MAERSK operated container-ship grounded outside the Lazaro Cardenas container terminal in Mexico, reports local press.

The incident happened on Saturday, according to Maersk and press reports. Bad weather conditions are being blamed both for the grounding and delays in getting her refloated.

A customer advisory on the incident, apparently published yesterday, by Maersk appeared to indicate that attempts would be made to refloat her, and it would appear these have so far been unsuccessful

The vessel does not seem to be damaged and power to her refeers is still maintained, according to Maersk

The local press claim that the vessel's grounding was suppressed by port officials initially and that a 'lesser employee' confirmed the story later.

The MAERSK DIADEMA is on charter to Maersk (initially chartered to P&O Nedlloyd before the merger with Maersk) and is actually the CHARLOTTE WULFF built for the German firm of Reederei Hermann Wulff at the Stocznia Gdynia S.A shipyard in 2005.

She was delivered with her Maersk name after being secured to an eight year charter with P&O Nedlloyd.