July Storm Part 3: Where’s the Tornado?

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Saturday July 24, several waves of severe storm crossed Lake Chautauqua.  At 5pm, a tornado warning was announced. The view from this dock in Jamestown, at the southern end of the lake, was impressive. A huge wall cloud, miles across, blew across the sky to the north.

The picture of the wall cloud below is a panorama, stitched together from 9 frames that I took handheld with my Canon G9. If you click on it, you’ll get a much larger image (hint–click on that image to see it full size–you’ll need to scroll back and forth).  My guess is that the nasty gray knot at the far right is whatever is left of the F2 tornado that crossed the north end of the lake, touching down 10 minutes earlier, 15 miles beyond the sail boat in the far left.  Somewhere in this wall cloud is the remnant of that twister.

From our vantage point on the dock, we had a perfect view of the squall line, watching the wind, rain, and white caps approach from 5 miles away. It hit hard, with strong winds and heavy rain.

A local television station has some impressive video footage of the actual tornado and map from the National Weather Service.

Here’s a statement from the National Weather Service with more details.

Edited video by Jim Grimaldi on YouTube showing the tornado and some of the damage.

If you can’t view my video, here’s a version in Shockwave.

July Storm Part 2: No Way Out

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Driving down Whites Ferry Road on the Maryland side of the ferry, it was clear to us that this was an exceptional storm, which had made a huge amount of damage. We carefully picked our way from side to side of the street to avoid fallen limbs and trees. One large branch fell down in front of us.

Our original plan was to head west towards 15 to look for a place to eat in Frederick, but all the roads were blocked by fallen trees.

We tried 2 different roads towards the west, but couldn’t get through.  We saw a transformer explode.  Finally, we reached a point where Whites Ferry road was blocked, too, so we decided to cut our losses and head back across the ferry.

The Potomac was calm again, but covered with floating leaves and branches. We chatted with some of the other people on the ferry and learned that River Road was partially blocked, but probably still open.

I was concerned that we’d be stuck on the other side of the river. Although there were some trees down, which slowed traffic, the road was open. The traffic light at route 15 was out, but we waited it out, and finally ended up in Leesburg for a late lunch, about an hour and a half after the storm came through.

[an alternative version of the River Road video in Shockwave.]

July Storm Part 1: Flying Canoes

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Kirk had never been to White’s Ferry, so last Sunday, I thought he’d enjoy the short trip across the Potomac on the Jubal Early. I knew that some storms were blowing through, and I’d been watching their progress on my iPhone, I’d lived through a squall and tornado warnings the day before at Chautauqua Lake, but I was still surprised by the ferocity of this thing.

It was very calm when we pulled onto the Jubal Early ferry. The Potomac was almost mirror calm.

The imminent arrival of a storm was clear to anyone looking up and seeing the gust front.  Within a minute or two, all hell had broken loose. The wind hit hard and fast.  Overhead, everything was churning, with sycamore trees writhing in the gale and countless bits of leaf, stick, and stuff not just blowing through the air, but churning in it.  The wind seemed to be blowing every which way at once.

The ferry, which is tied to both banks by heavy steel cables, stayed fairly stable, but the cars were buffeted by the wind. The waves in the Potomac were breaking over the side of the ferry.  A stack of red canoes that had been neatly piled along the bank had been blown all over the place (probably hitting some of the cars waiting to cross from Maryland to Virginia.

Although it continued to rain and blow for awhile, the heaviest winds were gone by the time Kirk drove us off the ferry on the Maryland side.  As you can tell from the video, we were mightily impressed by both the suddenness and the violence of the thing. It would turn out that the storm damage was much worse than we expected.  Sitting in the car in the middle of the river, we had ringside seats when the squall blew through, but it still didn’t prepare us for what we would encounter next.

(If the above video didn’t work, or if it shut off before we completed the crossing, a Shockwave version is available here.)

Gumby Salutes the Flag

Saturday, June 6th, 2009

A typical scene in Fort Myers Beach.  Video by Jay G. Heiser

Music Video:Istanbul in song

Saturday, January 10th, 2009


This represents a couple of experiments. I created this slideshow from pictures I took during a weekend in Istanbul last month, using Adobe Lightroom to process the RAW shots, and ProShow Gold to create the slide show and add music. This version in Photodex’ proprietary .px format, which requires a plug-in (it should download automatically if you need it). The second part of the experiment is that this AV presentation is hosted on my web server, and mashed into my blog, and that it plays right inside this post (with no annoying YouTube logo).

You can view this in full-screen, but native resolution is 640×480. I’ve also uploaded one to the Photodex server, which probably has better Internet connectivity than heiserhollow.net does, and will show at a higher res.

For my parents and co-workers who found it impossible to download Photodex’s plug-in, here’s a version in Shockwave that is less attractive and less reliable, but more likely to function.   If all else fails, or you really want to take some time to look at higher-res 1280×1024 versions, you can view the photos in my photo gallery. Note that you can access a non-animated, non-musical slide show from a link at the bottom of that page.

I’d like to upload more of these–let me know if you have problems, or what you’d rather see. Too big? Too slow? Too small? Too technically difficult?