|(Visitors, Eric Nguyen passed away on September 9, 2007
at the age of twenty-nine. We have left his biography entry as it
appeared the day he passed. However, we've also added a page
containing many pictures of his family and notes from his wife and children
that they asked to be posted. The family page is here.)
Academics: I'm a graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a B.S. in meteorology. I chose OU because it is the number one institution for meteorology and is geared toward those that want the strong physics background, as well as those that are wanting to attend graduate school. My senior year, I was a student research assistant at NASA Langley Research Center, where I worked with LASE data obtained during the IHOP Project. I worked on the Convective Initiation Team, to show how LASE data could be a diagnostic tool towards forecasting the initiation of deep moist convection. I'm a member of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) which has some excellent journals that I'm able to get online. I also have my ham radio license for communication when observing storms (KD5HPZ).
Photography: I purchased an SLR camera my freshman year of high school. In winter of 1999 I got another camera with a lot more manual capabilities (Canon A2E with a Tameron II 28-200 & Sigma 19mm lens). I shot with 35mm slide film when storm observing, often times shooting with Fuji Provia or Kodak Elite 100. However, I entered the digital age of photography when I purchased a 2.1mp Sony digital camera. I mainly shot stills of hail and miscellaneous stuff since the resolution wasn't very good. Since I pretty much shoot images to post online, and since I occasionally had my slides returned scratched or lost, I decided to go full time digital. I purchased a Canon D60 with a 17-40mm Canon "L" lens to shoot 6.1 mega-pixel high resolution images. I quickly fell in love with the camera and found myself shooting much more then I normally would since each shot is free. It's really nice to not have to worry about running out of film, as each card holds 140 images in raw format. I love taking photo's of nature and especially the atmosphere, and I think digital is probably the best method of doing so. My photos have been in numerous magazines, calendars, text books, online government articles, etc. I love to show my photos to the rest of the world through this website and I typically share them online with .edu or .gov sites such as the National Weather Service or University websites. I don't shoot video, and I haven't since 2003. I've never been good at shooting stills and video at the same time, and I find photography much more rewarding. I mainly shoot photos during the storm observing season and rarely outside of that time frame. With work and family, I find little time to shoot photos outside of storm season. As of 2007, I'm shooting with a Canon 30d with the same Canon 17-40m "L" lens. This is an 8.3mp DSLR that has additional noise reduction and extra features that are nice to have.
Storm Observing: I began storm observing in 1994, and did a lousy job of it. It wasn't until 1996 when I had more time and money to go out farther. I slowly began getting better at finding the right storms and forecasting the right area. I often times chased alone with nothing more then a map, a scanner, and a camera. Doing so allowed me to quickly learn many lessons on my own, which may be important rather then relying on others. In this hobby, experience is the best lesson! If your making your own decisions and forecasts, you'll typically learn a lot. The area I normally chase is highlighted in bright yellow, see figure. Like most, I'll crawl out of boundaries if things look too good to be true. Basically my domain is east of the Rockies, north of I-20 in Central Texas, and west of the heavy tree line from Southeast Oklahoma to Eastern Minnesota. My ideal spot is an area with decent roads and no trees at all, which you can find most often in the plains. I average about 15,000 to 20,000 miles, sometimes much more on certain years. Some days are over a thousand miles all together, so mileage certainly adds up fast! I love observing storms in the northern plains in June when events shift northward. Nebraska to North Dakota is much more interesting after spending a month down in Texas - Kansas. Many of my most memorable storm days are the ones that don't involve tornadoes. Instead, slow moving gorgeous supercells, preferably on the high plains where traffic from locals is minimized. My ultimate goal on each individual storm day is to have fun, learn more, see something interesting, and capture it on film. I'm basically a storm structure person more then anything, so I only shoot stills with a wide angle lens. I also call in every significant observation that I'm able to witness to help out the National Weather Service and local law enforcement. I will often remain in the hail core to observe the maximum size, measure it, and report it. I usually report hail over golf ball size, tornadoes, etc, and provide a picture to the NWS office that evening for their verification. That includes severe wind events which I measure and log using an anemometer mounted 3 meters above the surface. Observing storms is a very safe hobby if you know what you are doing, i.e., you have experience. I recommend anyone new at this to start the first few years with someone experienced. There are several people out there that are willing to take out new people, however, new people have many months of learning ahead of them if they want any help from others. Such as knowledge on thermodynamics/dynamics as it applies to forecasting, physical concepts of severe storms, chase strategy, etc. The more storms you see, the more you learn! Safety is also a number one priority, and Chuck Doswell has written a good paper on this subject: Storm Chasing with Safety, Courtesy, and Responsibility.