Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Final Countdown- Anthony Borrego

The two week traveling circus is coming to a close.  The summer has definitely started with a bang.  I have seen sunsets and scenery that cannot be described with words or captured with pictures.  I have seen incredibly powerful storms and learned that you should absolutely never hope to see the storms that have ripped through the plains this week.  The trip has stressed me out, made me laugh, worn me out and given me motivation.  The daily blogs, Facebook updates and twitter posts just gave a little taste of what SWIFT 2013 was about.  Just like the scenery and views we have looked at, this trip cannot be described with words.  It was easily the most beneficial summer training program I have been a part of at the Naval Academy.  I will always have memories of this trip and cannot wait to continue studying the aggressive and dangerous storms mother nature produces.  Always chase in May, look for the hook...... that's all I have to say about that.

-Anthony Borrego

Sierra Parks…over and out!



Sierra Parks…over and out!

Wow, SWIFT is coming to a close and it seems unreal!  I am going to have to go back to normal life soon not revolved around hourly HRRR model updates, mesoscale discussions, and living in a van with 11 other people.  It is nice to think that I will not be sitting for 10+ hours a day, but I will miss SWIFT nonetheless!  This has been an amazing experience, one I will never forget.  I have learned so much in such a short time, about both the weather and the logistics (and pleasing the Queen).  Two tornadoes and countless storms later I feel qualified as an experienced storm chaser.  
 

I could not have asked for a better group of mids to be stuck in a van with, it is amazing how cohesive we became.  Personally I am amazed by the lack of friction there was between us, we were warned about how everyone gets flustered and tension builds in the group.  But it was a pleasure to work with these mids!
 Photo: Typical SWIFT van party

Thanks for everything team SWIFT! And remember to always chase in May!!

-          2/C Sierra Parks




Hank Leslie: Final Blog Post

    I came into SWIFT excited to chase severe weather while having an opportunity to travel across the United States. The internship completely exceeded the expectations I had before beginning it. I realized after the first week of SWIFT that I had learned more than I do in a typical 16 week college course in the classroom. I believe we learned so much because we had no other choice but to learn. When making weather forecasts to target storm locations, we had to interpret various weather models and radars to make theses predictions. And it became necessary to ask questions to understand the tools we were using.

     I cannot say enough about how amazing the SWIFT team was working together. We had a great group of midshipmen who were all able to laugh and have fun together, but were all motivated to learn and do the tasks necessary to run a successful team. Everyone took initiative to help the team out in any way they could. I also want to directly recognize the amazing effort 1/C Chimiak and 1/C Whitt did in leading our internship. They put in many extra hours before and during the internship to assure everything was running the way it should be while having to be accountable for performance of the team.
     Before beginning this trip I was interested in METOC as a service selection, but now I know I want to do it. Learning and observing the atmosphere this trip was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had and the atmosphere is still something I want to keep learning about after being immersed in it for two weeks. The internship in general was also a great learning opportunity professionally and in regards to opportunity. I had a chance to exercise peer leadership and following in the same group. There were many logistical and technical problems we had to troubleshoot that will carry over to our careers in the military. Also, it was amazing to go on a funded internship and see a vast amount of the United States in just two weeks. I have learned so much about parts of the country I have never experienced before and am thankful for it.


    SWIFT was more than I ever hoped for and am glad I had the opportunity to experience possibly the two most exciting weeks of my life. Finally, we had a ton of help along the way from various military members, academy grads, and friends of SWIFT members. These people were documented in our blog throughout the past two weeks and I want to personally thank them for all their help!
 
2/C McGrath Overview

Two weeks, eight storms, and two tornadoes later we are finally leaving the plains and heading back to the academy.  SWIFT has not only been beneficial on an academic level, but it has also contributed greatly to my professional development.  During SWIFT, I was challenged mentally everyday while still having some great times with my new found friends.  SWIFT has easily been the most challenging yet rewarding training that I have experienced so far in my academy career.



Each day the SWIFT team was broken up into two separate groups: weather and logistics.  The weather team was in charge of finding where the storm was going to be that day, and logistics served to provide us with all of the group's road trip needs (hotel, lunch/dinner stops, gas, navigation, ect.).  Previous to SWIFT, everyone in the group had very little experience in forecasting weather which made made the weather team very challenging.  We were practically thrown into the deep end while learning how to forecast, so quick learning was the only option available.  Although the weather team had its difficult moments, the logistics team had many challenges of its own as well.  Every detail of each day had to be planned out in order to make our trip as efficient as possible.  It also proved to be very challenging during chase days when we didn't even know what city we were staying in until an hour before we arrived, so we had to make all the evening plans on short notice. Each group challenged us in different ways every day, and I was able to learn something new from every experience.

SWIFT differs from any other training that I have experienced because it is the first time at the academy where the midshipmen actually controlled the training.  LCDR Woods and Dr. Barrett made sure that the midshipmen were in charge everyday of where we were going, what we were doing, and how we were going to do it. SWIFT was a great opportunity for peer leadership, which is going to be a crucial skill needed in being an officer.  Overall, SWIFT has been one of the best applications of academia and leadership, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is considering it for the future.







SWIFT Coming to a Close...Sadly    
          After finishing up SWIFT I would have to say I had quite a positive experience. I learned much more about severe weather, planning, and developed many new close relationships. My new friends and I created countless memories, both good and bad (but mostly good), as we worked together to predict storms and find places to stay each night. Of course we ran into many challenges and frustrations along the way, but were always able to solve them and laugh about it afterwards.
                As SWIFT winds down I’ve come to realize I’m most proud with our group’s ability to maintain a positive morale. We had very little, if any, dissent within the group. We faced all problems with a good attitude and assisted others when they needed help. Being so close to one another in the van so often really helped to break down any barriers between us and become more comfortable allowing us to create close friendships. While part of me is anxious to return home for the summer another part of me wishes SWIFT would continue because we’re having so much fun.
Photo
                However, SWIFT has not been entirely fun and games. There were quite a few instances in which all of us were unhappy, but at least we were all in the same boat. On some chase days we were quite doubtful we would see any tornadoes, but continued to chase when we all just wanted to call it a day. On days like these we all found ourselves making jokes and finding ways to create a fun and entertaining environment.
                In short, SWIFT was a great experience that I would certainly do again, but it would have to be with the same people.I'm so happy with the friendships I've developed that I couldn't even begin to compare this year's SWIFT experience with another group 

Savannah Stafford - the Last Post.

On the road again, on the road again. Yesterday, we reached 5000 miles of driving, and we keep driving on. I can't believe that the internship is almost over and we are headed back to Annapolis. I have had so much fun and learned an incredible amount! Among seeing two tornadoes (that thankfully only took out a few trees), visiting several weather facilities, and chasing for eight days total, the team definitely bonded. We all got along really well; it was a diverse group of people that definitely meshed well! SWIFT challenged my leadership and started to build my real-time weather experiences. When people say that experience is the best learning tool, I can attest that it truly is. What I have learned and gained from SWIFT could not have been taught in a classroom or in a movie and I have definitely grown through this internship.


The first few days of the trip were difficult to get the hang of, but once we did, both the weather and logistic teams crushed.  My favorite part of chasing was the feeling I had when we hit our target pretty spot on. It was rewarding to know that we took our weather and logistic knowledge and found a storm by working together. We observed a lot of really amazing storms on this trip! My favorite storm was probably our very first; we did not expect any hail at all, and then it happened. We core punched it. I definitely have a greater appreciation for the power and unpredictability of storms. Even when we made a forecast, the storms we were chasing somehow surprised us. My understanding of the destruction of tornadoes has increased tremendously; seeing the photos from all of the deadly tornadoes on this trip and driving through Joplin struck my heart.


Another fun part was using the maps for navigation. On the chase, we had to read state maps and try our hardest not to break Rasmussen's rule about not driving on dirt roads (we broke that rule a few times.......). Driving those back roads made the state more incredible and beautiful. I definitely embraced the Wild West while on this trip!


Now as we head back, we prepare for our Annapolis arrival. A movie or two will be made, some jokes said, and there will be a lot more laughing with the team before we split up for different summer training. I want to personally thank every person that gave us a tour, fed us, and cheered us on. It's been real, it's been fun!

LAST CHASE DAY: Touring Texas



May 21, 2013 blog
LAST CHASE DAY BLOG!!!!
We began our adventure in Gainesville, Texas at the Comfort Inn.  After a splendid breakfast and beautiful weather brief we hit the dusty trail through the Texan terrain.  The cold front moving air over Texas showed promise of squall line thunderstorms.  We set out for the southern end of the storms, traveling further and further away from home (aka mother B).  We tested the vans limits today by holding off on gas for as long as possible to try and catch our storms.  We enjoyed a quick lunch at the local gas station and hopped right back in the van.  After a short 4 and a half hour drive we quickly saw the possibility of tornadoes quickly diminish.  We stopped again at a gas station to empty our bladders and test our luck.  We each got a $1 scratch away lotto ticket and hot hands Jackie Chimiak won $17! We couldn’t live with the regret of not pushing our luck so Brian went in to get more tickets.  Jackie won again with a $5 ticket!  However our fearless firstie blew it with both the $10 scratch away ticket.  Next our radars lead us to a new location; being the only storm in 100 miles naturally we follow it. 
                The storm had close to 0% chance of producing a tornado very early, but that did not stop team SWIFT! We followed the storm for a few more hours before it was decided to give up on it and head home.  Home for this night was Texarkana, TX.  We stopped for dinner at another gas station, but it had decent BBQ.  The SWIFT van then got to travel through the busy streets of Dallas… without any traffic! Five hours later we managed to arrive at our Hampton Inn hotel, ending our final chase day. 
 photo.jpg
 
                The last chase day was definitely anticlimactic for Command SWIFT.  It was one of those days where we spent about 13 hours in the van to end up only 2 hours to the east of where we started.  But those status clouds sure did look grey!  Regardless of frustration, just being in the van with this team was worth it.  Personally feel extremely blessed to have this opportunity on this internship.  Not to mention how great it was bonding with the other mids on this team.  In reality it has only been 11 days since the beginning of SWIFT, but I feel like we have been together for months.  Trying to think back to the first day seems like a lifetime ago.  I am so lucky to get to spend time and get to know these mids more.  They have helped me learn so much about the atmosphere that surrounds us.  More importantly they have been a blast to be around!  I am excited for the journey home and the future adventures that await us.  I know I will miss everyone; luckily we won’t be apart for too long!
 photo.jpg
 
Thanks for everything team SWIFT!
-2/C Parks

Ian Lowry Final Blog Post

Well, the time finally came, we are on the road back to Annapolis! What a crazy two weeks. Not only did we see two tornado's, but we met some incredible people and had some experiences that I know I will never forget. From the official STEM visits to riding in a firetruck at Captain Burnett's house, each day brought something new and exciting. Perhaps what I will remember most about SWIFT is the importance of teamwork. Riding in a van with 12 people, each with differing opinions, creates an interesting group dynamic when it comes to making decisions. Whether it be what hotel to book, what exit to get off at or even what to eat for lunch. We all realized quickly that in order for SWIFT to be a success we needed to work together and compromise for the sake of the group. Overall, we came together very well and were a well-oiled-machine by the end.

 

Apart from the logistical aspect of SWIFT, the storm chasing itself was both exciting and challenging. Each morning, we would pick a target area and "roll the dice" and hope that our storm would be there. It usually was, but the difficulty was not finding the storms. Rather, the difficulty was finding the storms that had all of the extremely specific parameters to produce tornado's. If one factor is out of line, tornado formation is then impossible.

 

The trip started with us all bursting at the seams to look at a tornado, and it ended that way--with one caveat. Near the end of the trip, a devastating tornado ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, killing scores of people. The SWIFT team was only 25 miles from the scene and watched on radar as the monster F-4 tornado leveled the neighborhood. It was difficult for the SWIFT team to hear about this, but as we learn to be better forecasters hopefully one day we will develop new systems and warnings to help minimize loss of life from a tornado in the future. Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the storm.

 

Until next time, this is Ian Lowry signing out. Thanks for keeping it real SWIFT.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

1/C Chimiak: 2013 SWIFT overview


1/C Chimiak: 2013 SWIFT overview 

The SWIFT internship has been one of the most challenging yet extremely rewarding evolution's I have done during my three years at the Academy. I applied for SWIFT 3/C year and did not receive a spot on the team. This year I applied again and was granted the opportunity to be part of the team along with being chosen as one of the team leaders.


I got a lot more out of SWIFT than I could have ever imagined. Before departing Annapolis on May 10, 2013 I envisioned a trip to simply "view" weather. A major part of SWIFT was viewing weather however getting the hands on experiences with the weather models like SPC and HRRR allowed for myself and the other midshipmen to learn how to predict severe weather and understand the complications that go into forecasting. Learning how to use these models allowed myself and the other midshipmen to accurately pick target cities to chase in. Once arriving to these target cities with the help of radar and visuals within the clouds I learned a great deal about where tornadoes form, hail occurs and where the "core" of the storm is located.  With that being said, I also learned that models are not always correct. When chasing for tornadoes I found the models looked far more promising than what the atmosphere showed. This led to frustration at times but I had to keep an optimistic outlook and remind myself I was dealing with nature.


A major part of the SWIFT trip was logistics. Logistics included tasks such as packing the van, gassing up the van, finding hotels, finding food and navigating to storm locations. This was a stressful task at times especially when a chase ended late at night. Logistics taught me how to delegate my work to my team members. There was not a chance of me completing every task alone. I had four other midshipmen on my team. I tasked two of them with food and hotels, one with multimedia uploads and the other with van/equipment maintenance. This allowed me to focus on navigating us to target locations and it left me as a "filter" between midshipmen and officer/professor.


SWIFT also taught me about keeping my team motivated while accomplishing the mission at hand. Lucky for me, the other firstie and the eight 2/C with me all got along and no one had negative attitudes. Sometimes one of us including myself would become flustered and therefore have sarcastic comments but we kept each other in check. The rising 2/C were motivated midshipman and they stepped up to the plate without hesitating. Many willingly took on task without being asked. For example, 2/C Borrego took on the responsibility of the Go-pro's. He charged them, moved them into position and made awesome videos that the SWIFT team and STEAM program will now have for the future. Having 1/C Whitt working with me was a blessing. Not being a tech savvy individual (I was the only one on the trip without a smart phone), Whitt helped me out tremendously with van prep and computer trouble shooting. It was nice having another firstie on board to bounce ideas off of as well. 


Overall SWIFT was the best internship and military training I have ever experienced at the Academy. I was able to practice my leadership skills along with doing in field work with my major. I was given the opportunity to work with LCDR Woods and Dr. Barrett who are well educated oceanography faculty members. LCDR Woods military background and Dr. Barrett created an efficient work environment. Every evening Whitt and myself did debriefs with the two faculty members. Some day we received praise about a job well done while other were more serious. Either way, there advice went along way and I can carry these lessons with me out into the fleet.

-Jackie Chimiak 

Wrap up of my SWIFT experience! Kaitlyn South


                Hey everyone! My experience with SWIFT was much more incredible than expected. I learned more about forecasting, initiation of storms, and chasing storms than I had ever anticipated. My repertoire of meteorological words has increased exponentially (and so has my photo album of gorgeous sunsets and picturesque clouds). Material that I had learned in my Basic Atmospheric Processes class was certainly re-learned and solidified throughout SWIFT. I learned all about CAPE, bulk shear, helicity, composite reflectivity, squall lines, fronts, and how these all affect the initiation of thunderstorms and tornadoes. The weather briefs that once seemed a daunting chore at the beginning of SWIFT, became a speedy and fun task by the end.  

               Each day of SWIFT had a different person leading both the logistics team and the weather team. When I was the weather leader, I learned the difficulties of chasing storms first hand, helping to make decisions about where to go in order to stay ahead of the storm.When I was the logistics leader, I learned all about the importance of delegating tasks effectively, remaining patient, and staying flexible when nearly all plans fall through and you end up eating dinner at a Sonic at 10:00 pm. I learned that when situations don’t go as planned (or tornadoes don’t go as forecasted) the best remedy is optimism. Optimism keeps morale and camaraderie high. The combination of optimism and flexibility cannot be understated.

                Before this trip, I was interested in going METOC SWO, but now I can say that I feel passionate about going METOC SWO. SWIFT was a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to any Oceanography major even remotely interested in meteorology. 

1/C Whitt SWIFT 2013 Overview

I don't even know where to begin on how to describe the experience of SWIFT.  There were so many lessons learned and a wealth of knowledge absorbed. There were days of complete frustration, adrenaline pumps, smooth days, extremely stressful days.  I can honestly say every day here I learned something new about myself or my team.  I joined this group a little over a month ago and I now feel like these ten people and two instructors are some of my best friends. Sure we have had our differences here and there, but being the mature soon to be Naval Officers we are, we have overcome the hard times leading to a mission accomplishment. I am so thankful for this opportunity, it really allowed me to take what was taught to me in the classroom and apply it to a real world scenario. Even days we thought we did everything right we didn't see the storm we were expecting and it only taught us to be patient with ourselves, learn from our failures, and to realize even the best performances don't always give the best results.  I would highly recommend this training to any rising First or Second Class.  It is a true test of leadership and your ability to function with a diverse group of personalities. Some of the things I saw during SWIFT were simply awesome and some were horrifying.  The first two tornadoes we saw left me in amazement at what our atmosphere was capable of. The second day we were chasing in Oklahoma was horrifying, I thank the good Lord above that we weren't in Moore, OK when the storm hit and that my shipmates and I are going home to our families safely. The storm hit that town hard and the images I saw of the elementary schools that were demolished really struck a nerve. But I kept my emotions in check, if I lost it I knew my team would soon follow.

I was  so proud to see the team come together over two weeks. We started as a complete group of strangers in the same major and over the time we spent together we learned to play to each others strengths and get the jobs required of us done in an efficient manner.  If anyone reading this wishes to know more about my experiences please feel free to look me up on Facebook or send me an email. I wish everyone reading and the SWIFT Team of 2013 fair winds and following seas.

Very respectfully,

MIDN 1/C Joshua Davis Whitt

A Swing and a Miss, May 20


“No time for breakfast, we leave now if we want to see the storm!” Those were the words from our fearless leader, JD Whitt as we prepared to leave the hotel this morning. The morning outlook was extremely promising. Isolated super cells showed up all over the models, each with the capability of producing some serious tornados. Storm chaser extraordinaire, Savannah Stafford, took the reins in the hot seat, guiding Dr. Barrett and LCDR Woods to our target area. Our pilgrimage across Oklahoma to the storms was highlighted with rolling fields, cattle and the occasional hay bail. Jackie Chimiak led the charge on the logistics end, navigating Oklahoma’s highway network with the poise of a Russian ballet dancer. We stopped at Billy Sim’s barbecue for lunch, much to the displeasure of the vegetarian in the goup, Kate. She nearly devoured an entire rack of ribs before thinking the better of it, deciding to get her chlorophyll fix at Walmart instead. Team moral was improved as Hank #cashmoney Leslie provided jokes and entertainment, possibly still hyped up from the 5 hour energies he took the previous day. After we gassed up, we were off to catch some isolated super-cells that were developing in Southern Oklahoma. DJ Savannah, assisted by DJ Bor-A-Go, provided beats for the van to rock out to as we tracked down our storms. Dr. Barrett’s stormy sense was on par as he sniffed out and successfully located our storm on the METAR; operation tornado wrangler was now in full effect. We found a nice observation point next to an old barn and watched a few wall clouds develop, but none produced the twisters that SWIFT is all about. We then decided to pursue a different storm that was indicating a tornado on radar! Adrenaline began to rush as we thought that this could be “the big one.”  On a more serious note, it was about this time we found out about the tornado that tore through Moore Oklahoma, killing dozens of people and leaving hundreds without their homes. It left a very somber feeling in the van, as we were chasing storms similar this one. It took a minute for everyone to take a step back and realize that our mission is to forecast and observe severe weather, for the betterment of science. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the Oklahoma City tornado. At the end of the day, we didn't find any tornados.  Some nice wall clouds appeared, but they just didn't quite materialize. We are going to head down to Southern Texas today, the air and conditions there are quite favorable for tornadic storms. Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

19 May 2013 Nader Day


19 May  2013
It’s a new day here in Hays, Kansas.  After a pep-talk from our 1/C Midshipmen to their teams’, morale is up and, according to the models, this could be the best weather SWIFT 2013 has seen thus far.  Beginning of the day our target area is Wichita, Kansas.  After our morning weather brief, the van getting packed, some handy man work, and a continental breakfast, the team is flying down the highway jamming to our favorite tunes. The plains are beautiful this morning.


                After a quick lunch stop at Taco Bell and a gas station in Hayesville, KS we are back on the road chasing them naders. We are en route to Winfield which is our new target area in hopes of seeing the coveted nader. Nader being Tornado.
After entering chase mode and chasing for almost two hours we finally saw a Tornado touch down 10 miles northwest of South Haven.  Morale was high that our chase had finally paid off and everyone was in the mood to go for gold so we continue our chase. After following the storm south and counting on tail end Charlie, the team continues to hope for a two-in-one day.
Photo: Tornado #2, 10 miles NW of South Haven, Kansas
Our Nader From 19 May 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

So Close But No Cigar


After the weather brief at 8:30 am, we left our hotel in North Platte, NE and traveled on down south to Colby, Kansas. In Colby, we ate at a local burger and shake joint called J&B Meat Market, and the folk more inclined to vegetarianism ate at Subway.On the outskirts of Colby, our GoPro expert, Anthony Borrego, began directing and filming our very own SWIFT commercial (coming soon, get excited). Once the cumulus clouds started forming, we officially entered storm mode.

In storm mode, we first traveled to Menlo, Kansas to monitor the forming storm. From Menlo, we then went to Dexford, Kansas where we witnessed rotational funnel clouds and precipitation. At this point, the storm became a cluster of storms. In Dexford, two rotating funnel clouds came down a little way but ended up not forming into anything tornadic.

While monitoring the clouds in Dexford, we ran into a hail storm where we were able to measure and call in hail. With 1.25 inch hail, we definitely ended up getting core-punched. Once we drove our way out of the core-punching hail storm, we were able to witness a couple of huge rotating funnel clouds close to the ground, transpiring right at magic hour.  
Now we are headed to dinner and lodging in Hays, Kansas. After many almost tornadoes today, we're all rather excited to start chasing again tomorrow. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cornhuskers and Cows: Give Me Nebraska

Today was another difficult forecasting day. After a longer than usual brief, the SWIFT team departed from North Platte, Nebraska. Several times throughout the trip, the target city was changed. Eventually the team decided to go to Valentine, Nebraska. On the way, the team passed a whole lot of cows, fields, open sky, and a mighty beautiful lake. 



The team made it to Valentine, Nebraska where they set up for several hours to watch storm progression. In between storms, the team made some equine friends and were entertained by tumble weeds.
One storm dissipated but another two formed into beautiful storms. Hank Leslie did the cubic shuffle as his rain dance, but other parameters didn't pull through for tornadoes. However, the team did observe a bow echo, which is a storm that resembles the shape of a bow. Several funnel clouds attempted to form but also dissipated. After photographing the storm, the team departed to eat at Frosty's in Valentine. The team met a Malamute dog and some nice Nebraskans. The team is currently en route to North Platte to set up for a hopefully big day tomorrow.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Welcome to Kansas!


After yesterday’s full day of chasing storms outside of Decatur, Texas (and seeing our very first tornado!) we ended up driving back to Norman, Oklahoma to put us in a better position for chasing today. We began the day early with “wheels-up” at 7:00 am, just six hours after we had arrived.

We spent most of the day driving, monitoring the weather in Kansas and Nebraska, and working out logistics plans for food, gas, and lodging. We arrived in Dodge City, Kansas around 1:00 pm and ate at Central Station, a bar and grill recommended by the locals.

When we finished lunch, we headed to Colby, Kansas where we officially initiated storm mode, pulled out our hail helmets, and got our cameras ready.
Photo

The weather and logistics team located a storm 6 miles north of Page City, Kansas. With the spectacular visibility that only the Great Plains can provide, we were able to see precipitation, a large shelf cloud, a few gustnados, cloud rotation, and lightning.
Photo: Storm chasing in Kansas!

Though we weren’t sure we would actually witness a storm today, given the low CAPE and moderate shear, we remained semper optimistic and ended up chasing a storm and doing a little core-punching. Another success for team SWIFT

Now we are headed to North Platte, Nebraska to put us in good storm chasing position for tomorrow. Goodbye Kansas, hello Nebraska. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Although we didn’t end up doing any core-punching today, it turned out to be the most exciting day yet. We did, after all, end up seeing our first tornado ever! We were kind of hoping for something a little more powerful and possibly a little more destructive (I’m talking trees and cows flyin’ through the air), but ultimately today could not have gone better. Logistics team started strong with key power players Anthony Borrego and Savannah Stafford establishing an initial plan that allowed us to enjoy the beautiful Lake Arrowhead State Park before heading north to find some tornadoes. Sierra Parks and Kota Raymond, after running into some cell coverage issues, were able to book a solid place to call it a night, while JD held the team morale together with constant direction and distance update. The weather team’s hot seater, Hank Leslie, also made his debut today pointing out critical areas of interest for us to pursue. Ian Lowery provided the weather team with timely updates and persistent updates on areas of precipitation and storm warnings. Jackie Chimiak, Kate South, and Brian McGrath also assisted with the weather team’s success providing Hank with stress relief and comfort to keep him from losing control, as well as SPC and HRRR updates. Dr. Barrett and LCDR Woods delivered yet another stellar performance with approaching-professional driving skills, and PhD level knowledge of everything meteorology. 
Photo: Tornado!! 5 N of Decatur TX at 7:35 pm 15 May 2013

Photo: Officially in storm mode! Tornado threats, some ACDC, and good healthy competition. Hang onto your hail helmets, usnaSWIFT is live in North Texas!
                Team SWIFT would like to make a special shout out to Roy Borrego for his amazing support and special interest. Sir, if we could have you out here on the team with us we absolutely would. We greatly appreciate your exceedingly above average passion for SWIFT’s Facebook page and making incredibly supportive comments that keep our spirits high and Anthony’s embarrassment to a maximum. Without you we wouldn’t have perfect songs like Thunderstruck to play on repeat. We appreciate your service, sir.
                We ended up finishing the day with a great steak from Cow Camp Steakhouse. Short and sweet: Today is gettin’ chalked up in the win column without a doubt.
SWIFT out…

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Day 5: The First Chase

Today was our first official storm chasing day. After having a rough start this morning due to the “Swirl” drinks at the Mont Restaurant in Norman, OK, the team got it together after the SPC brief. The weather team briefed us on the way to Oklahoma City where we would pick up a new Drone and get lunch at the local chick-fila with USNA grad Mr. Novak. Our target area was decided to be Northern Texas. There was clear indication of a storm coming from the southwest and it would arrive in Seymour, Texas around 8 pm. The team departed Oklahoma City around 1300 to Witchita Falls Texas (3 hours) where we would access the weather situation again. Once we arrived we decided to travel another hour south to Seymour Texas to view the thunderstorms. Before departing the logistics team prepped the van for the first time with Windex and Rain-ex. The team also re-organized the van that way when getting out of the van nothing would get lost and kicked out.

On the way to Seymour, the team made 2 stops to view the thunderstorm developing off in the distance. From there, we traveled another hour south to Gutherie in order to be in the potential hail. Once arriving in Gutherie, the team was able to take lightning photos and we were able to drive through hail. Brian, our brave SWIFT member volunteered to go outside during the hail storms to collect hail. After a few minutes, Brian came back in the van soaking wet with a couple .25 inch hail and Ian Lowry made the first report to NOAA. At this point, the sun was about 20 minutes from being set. The team accessed the situation and decided it was time to head back to Witchita (where our hotel at the Comfort Inns is). On the way to Witchita, logistics struggled to find food. All the towns between Witchita and Gutherie are extremely small with little to no food joints. Luckily the team found a Sonic that stays open till 10 pm. The 12 man team rolled into Sonic 15 minutes before closing. Logistics made sure to call ahead in order to pre-order and speed up the process.


Overall, the 5th day of SWIFT went well. Both Logistics and Weather worked non-stop from the departure in Norman, OK at 1000 to the arrival in Witchita, TX at 2300. Both teams had to overcome a dysfunctional Wi-Fi connection. The team predicted on seeing a storm today but no one expected the degree of this storm. There was hail, high winds and flooding along with amazing cloud formations. The moral on the SWIFT team is extremely high right now. We are determined to see a tornado and with how well today went, I am confident we will see that and much more.


-Jackie Chimiak

The adventures of the SWIFT team did not simply end after our stay at the adult Disney World
that is Captain Burnett’s house.  We drove for roughly two hours to cross the Oklahoma state line to
arrive at the Craig’s resident in Tulsa. We had an excellent dinner Sunday evening at the Craig’s home
who were kind enough to invite us for dinner on Mother’s Day!  They cooked us an authentic Tulsa BBQ
meal, which was delicious!  After dinner we headed to Broken Arrow, OK to spend the night at another
Embassy Suit…we are spoiled!
After a night of team bonding in the hot tub and hangin’ in the luxurious Embassy Suite, the
SWIFT team woke early to shape the minds of the youth.   We broke up into three groups to tackle
grades 7-12 at the Union education system in Broken Arrow Oklahoma. The kids were a blast; it was
awesome to get to lead STEM activities to groups of kids who are on the track for success!



After STEM activities, we visited Boom-A-Rang Diner in Chandler, Oklahoma. We all had a taste
of fried pickles with ranch, delicious burgers, and fried catfish. Talk about yummy!
From there we headed to Norman and toured the Radar Observation Center. We climbed to the
top of the radar tower. Some faired the heights better than others! Then we visited the north side of Oklahoma University and toured the National Weather Center. We saw some tricked out storm chasing
vans… Ideas are definitely brewing for next year.



After the tours, we went to Professor Barrett’s old stomping ground, The Mont. We had
delicious food and great company, the best formula for a great dinner! Now we are on the road again, let’s go storm chasing!
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Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Chronicles of SWIFT Day 3

       Our morning kicked off at the Comfort Suites in Rolla, Missouri. After a powerful weather brief led by 2/C Raymond, our logistics team, lead by 2/C McGrath, got us underway to starting a very eventful day. We drove for about 4 hours until we reached retired Captain Burnett at his home in Ritchey, Missouri. His hospitality was above and beyond any of our groups wildest expectations. Each midshipman had the opportunity to fly in CAPT Burnett's personal airplane and even take the stick! (And get a quick PT session in, of course)

Furthermore, we drove his personal fire trucks, go carts, and golf carts around the property causing a ton of havoc and fun! There was a beautiful creek running by an old mill that we were able to kayak and enjoy. CAPT Burnett provided a delicious cookout of burgers and dogs along with some very delicious cake for desert. The SWIFT team's reaction to the "Burnett Experience" was comparable to a child's first time at Disney World as we were all in amazement at everything CAPT Burnett's home had to offer.

Finally, we departed from CAPT Burnett's to set off for our night's stay in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We had the opportunity to pass through Joplin, Missouri and assess the extent of the damage that still remains from the F-5 tornado that struck the city in 2011. Fortunately, the city has made an amazing recovery from the immense damage that resulted from the tornado. Finally, the SWIFT team would like to wish a special Happy Mother's Day!