Many of you probably know from various conversations or eavesdroppings that when Spring time rolls around, my attention (ADHD) shifts towards any and all things severe weather. THis has been the case for about as long as I can remember, ever since I was probably 7 or 8 years old. My first indoctrination into Reality TV was watching non-stop coverage of a severe weather outbreak, glued to the TV watching Jim Flowers (then with Channel 7 in Omaha) pointing out the peculiarities of a particular red blob on his radar screen. I daydreamed incessantly about having a TV monitor installed in the wall of our dining room, hard-wired into the bowels of the Channel 7 Weather Center, showing nothing but live radar.
Flash to present day: I'm still the little kid at heart when it comes to severe weather. Only these days, when time and work provides, you'll find me within a half-day's driving distance of home, trying to find some of nature's best. As the late storm chaser Eric Nguyen said, "In storm chasing, you have the chance to see a pageant of power and elegant form unfold before your eyes, even in the absence of the ultimate: a tornado." I've had the opportunity to see some absolutely amazing and humbling scenes while out roaming the Plains. I've also met some great people, as well. One of which is someone who's work you've probably seen over the past few years, although you may not know it.
Mike Hollingshead is one of the most humble men I know. The only attention he seeks is from his parents' dogs. Okay, that's not entirely fair, as he has been self-employed since 2004, living life as a full-time storm chaser. He makes his living from video and still photography, mainly of severe and extreme Miswest weather, of which he is in a very small but exclusive class of the very best. So good, in fact, his work was pirated and misrepresented dozens of times as being Hurricane Katrina Ccoming ashore, extreme African weather, and I believe one 4-H boy in Michigan won a county fair photo contest with one of his pictures (that's no shit!). He partnered with the late Eric Nguyen and has co-authored what I consider the best book (photography or otherwise) on storm chasing, titled, Adventures in Tornado Alley: The Storm Chasers.
While I very much try to downplay my little hobby of storm chasing when it comes up in casual conversation, once engaged, I tend to proceed to bore people to tears about what it's all about. But if you're at all curious about what it's really like....the endless miles of driving (usually all for nothing), the intensity of being up close to something very dangerous (only if you don't know what you're looking at), and the sheer beauty of what happens when warm air collides with cold...... If you want to know what storm chasing really is, buy this book.
And if you read this, H, I especially enjoyed the May 10, 2005 chase account. ;) One of my all-time favorites, as well.