From cradle point WiFi routers, to Cell boosters, we have a ton of equipment to keep us and YOU connected while tornado chasing! And while many tornado tour guides are still using 4GLTE (and there is nothing wrong with it), we are not limited to using just 4G on tour. We have FULL 5G capability and that includes our WiFi network for you to use! And with our special hardware and equipment paired with the 5G networks, we have the ability to run the GR AE2 data program previously mentioned. We still employ our satellite systems including our Inmarsat and WX XM connection, but now we use them for emergency purposes only.
Having radar technology allows us to see what a storm is doing with very fine detail! But the real trick is knowing how to interpret the data and what we are seeing. This is also a part of what we teach you during your storm chasing vacation. This is just example of how we interact with you and give all of our tour guests true one on one attention by answering your questions by educating you on the radar products. Before you pick a tour company to take that thrilling chasing adventure, there a few questions you should ask them regarding radar products prior to booking:
1. What is NROT and how is it used?
2. What is Spectrum Width and what is the numerical base reference for use in likely tornado formation?
3. Define a TBSS (Three Body Scatter Spike) when the radar is located east of the of the supercell or storm if interest?
4. What is the numeric threshold for detecting horizontal or oblong particles when viewing the Correlation Coefficient product?
If they can't answer these simple questions, then we HIGHLY encourage you to find another tour company to go with. These elementary questions are just a little of what is taught in any basic Radar meteorology course and what is learned in college. And if that storm tour guide or owner can't answer these basic questions, you might be risking your life based on their lack of education and experience!
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all of our technology that we have or use on our storm chasing tours. But it will hopefully give you an idea of just some of our storm chasing technology and equipment. If you are interested in going on tour with us, please CONTACT us - we'd love to chat. Or if you are ready to book your tour, check out our TOUR SCHEDULEto find a tour that fits your schedule. You can also learn more about our tours by visiting ABOUT OUR TOURS.
WHAT WE USE OR HAVE ACCESS TO: RADAR
OTHER TECHNOLOGY WE USE
We also use what's called Gibson Ridge radar products. They are software based Windows platform products that have access to Level II radar data. Having access to Level II radar is critical because the raw data is not smoothed. Thus, providing a little more pixel resolution than a Level III feed with a ton more features. Unlike most other tour companies, we do use GR AE2. GR AE2 is also a Gibson Ridge product, but it's the Analyst version. Think of it as Level II radar on massive steroids. Using AE2, we can actually complete cross-section observations of a supercell. We can also complete a full Volumetric "slice" of the supercell and actually see if it is producing a tornado!. The tornadic supercell below is from the Pilger, Nebraska tornado event and produced two violent EF-4 tornado at simultaneously. Completing a Volumetric "slice" we are able to see both EF-4 tornadoes in 3D! Another feature of AE2 is being able to see NROT ( NROT stands for Normalized Rotation) in detecting tornadoes. Calculations of the max NROT values Vr (kts) can be critical to actually seeing tornado formation as can be seen in the side by side comparisons with the Volumetric "slice"
We also utilize RadarScope Level II data as our main go to operational product for its ease of use. We have Tier 2 subscriptions and Private data feeds, which is the highest subscription you can purchase. Having radar on our watch or literally in our hands on the iPhone gives us the ability to ALWAYS be "plugged in" to the weather 24/7. This means that even if we are in our motel rooms or sitting down for dinner during your tour, we are always aware of what the weather is doing! We have the radar product on all of our iPhones, Apple Watch's, iPads, and even our laptops. Staying weather aware is priority during all of our storm chasing tours which helps to keep us safe. We stay weather aware!
Some tour operators claim that they used the same Internet satellite communication hardware employed on the Doppler-on-Wheels (DOW) trucks. This is just a play on words and is a lie! What they really mean is that they use a product called Baron's Mobile Threat Net which the DOW trucks used as an addition to their C and X band radar. That tour operator DID NOT have access to the DOW radar or data. Nor were they associated with, or take part in either VORTEX or any of the field research. The Baron mobile radar product was available to anyone willing to pay the equipment and subscription fee. We used the Baron product for a short while but the limitations of the radar product outweighed the price. The Threat Net satellite technology was notorious in taking many minutes to update and refresh, costing valuable time. When you are on a storm chasing tour, time is very valuable when severe weather is ongoing. Since then the XMWX (XM) platform has increased their quality. In fact, we still have our XM radio ID and have the availability to use the newer Baron product while on tour if we loose data.
Additionally, some have claimed to use a "private weather server" with what's called GEMPAK for generating model data to use while on a tornado chasing tour. GEMPAK which stand for (GEneral Meteorology PAcKage) is an analysis, display, and product generation package for meteorological data that ANYONE can download. GEMPAK is an open source software package, and can, in theory, be adopted by anyone who is good at coding. It is NOT private and was originally developed by NCEP for use by the National Centers (SPC, TPC, AWC, HPC, OPC, SWPC) in producing operational forecast and analysis products. UCAR's Unidata Program Center was supporting new releases in operation and non-operational versions of GEMPAK for use in research and education. The problem is, that as of March 2021, the Unidata Program Center transitioned away from in-house support of GEMPAK. Meaning nobody supports it any longer. And while it was a good addition to assist with data, GEMPAK was only available as a pre-built binary for 64-bit Linux systems such as: (Red Hat, CentOS, Fedora Core), which required a source code "tarball" for building on other platform and systems. There are no "different versions" - you simply tailor the product to fit your needs so to speak. As meteorologists and storm researchers, we have used GEMPAK religiously for our weather jobs, and for our research. It is NOT an end to end or turnkey product that would be used on a storm chasing vacation. If you are a "coder" and you'd like to learn more about GEMPAK or it's associated non support, check out the Unidata website here: Unidata/GEMPACK. If a storm tour company is touting that they use GEMPACK with a different version - they simply are not being honest. So, be careful if you sign up with a storm tours company that is not honest. If they aren't honest about the technology they have, they are not going to be honest with you about the storm chasing tour.
Our technology includes radar and data with true private commercial feeds. And we pay a lot of money for those commercial private radar and data feeds. We are the only storm chasing adventure tour company that has a real time X-band Doppler radar, and we use all the latest storm chasing technology on tour. NO OTHER TOUR COMPANY HAS THIS LATEST TECHNOLOGY AND EQUIPMENT! This is NOT marine radar and we are not Master Boat Captains. Being a boat caption is not our expertise. Our areas of expertise are meteorology, weather and radar, storm chasing and electrical engineering (what a storm chasing tour guide should be good at and have expertise in). In addition to being a meteorologist, owner, Lanny Dean, holds a major as a BSEE (Bachelors of Science Electrical Engineering) as well as holding the original FCC GROL (General Operators Telephone License) WITH the radar endorsement! Lanny is also an Amateur Radio Operator holding a General Class license issued by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) with a call sign of KD5CDU. He received his first "HAM" radio license of NOVICE in 1996 when you had to know and test for the CW portion of the exam. He then tested and passed the Technician portion and then upgraded to the General Class having to send and receive CW (Continuous Wave) proficiently at 13 wpm as part of the exam. Lanny also holds an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) sUAS Commercial Pilots license. He has utilized some of these tools during severe weather research and during the weather tours. To learn what past tour guests think about us and the equipment we use, check out the Extreme Chase Tours TESTIMONIALS page.
STORM CHASING COMMUNICATIONS
As mentioned, we are Amateur Radio Operators, so we still very much utilize our "ham" radios. Especially for emergency communications.
All TOUR VEHICLES have at least one HAM radio installed and you'll often hear us possibly talking to a net control operator giving live weather reports! Would you like to learn more about HAM radio? It's a very cool hobby that can be very rewarding especially during severe weather. Check out QRZ to learn more about becoming a Ham radio operator today!
While some tour companies don't use this product while on tour, there is a good reason. GR AE2 is a resource hog and many tour operators simply don't have the bandwidth capability or hardware.. However, this is a segway into our next technology feature:
STORM CHASING TECHNOLOGY
Having all the technology in the world is nice, but it doesn't help you run a storm chasing tour if you don't know how to interpret the data. And having radar technology or just being able to look radar doesn't make you a meteorologist or guarantee a tornado. Just the same, relying only on radar when in close proximity to a tornado while on tour can spell big trouble as it doesn't guarantee that you wont possibly be impacted if you don't know what you are looking at. Radar meteorology takes years of understanding, repeated course study and a very keen eye. Each year all of the Extreme Chase Tours guides and drivers are required to take a mandatory formal refresher course of the current WSR-88D suit and NEXRAD radar products. Because it's not good enough just to have the radar, you've got to know how to read it. Radar data can sometimes be 4-5 minutes old, so you've got to be able to anticipate what that storm is likely going to do. Knowing and anticipating can only come from years of experience and education. We've got that experience and education.
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