About Me

Me in South Dakota in 2012
photo courtesy Jennifer Brindley Ubl
Hi, I'm Skip Talbot. I'm a software developer from the Chicago area, but recently moved to Springfield, IL. I've had a lifelong fascination with storms and tornadoes, and started actively chasing them in 2003 while I was in college. It's since turned into a drug like addiction that I devote huge amounts of time toward.

When I was seven years old, the town of Plainfield was destroyed by an F5 tornado. I was living mere miles from the track at the time, and the tornado was mythical to me, striking without warning and with atomic bomb like damage. I remember hearing talks from veteran forecaster Tom Skilling about how rare such an event was, him interviewing survivors, and even how tornado research scientist and creator of the F scale, Ted Fujita, had said it was the worst tornado damage he had ever seen. The event deeply impacted me at that young age, and since then I have always been fascinated by tornadoes and strangely compelled to witness them.

I took a course at the University of Illinois in forecasting severe weather, but otherwise have no formal meteorology training. I have attended spotter trainings, however, and have learned much of what I know about weather and chasing from other storm chasers and by doing it the hard way: trial and error out in the field. I also have my ham radio license. My callsign is WX9KIP.

During the off season or when I'm not chasing, I'm working on a number of chase related projects including websites, video editing, radar software, and even some robotics that I use while chasing to automate camera positioning.

My chase vehicle is a '10 Town and Country minivan. The space a van offers makes it the perfect chase vehicle as I can take several people with me, hold all my gear, or even camp comfortably in it for several days. I usually do marathon-like runs in the van to the plains and back with my regular chase partner, Jennifer Brindley Ubl, a professional photographer from Milwaukee. We'll chase anywhere from New Mexico to North Dakota and will stay out for days if the weather and our jobs allow.

I also have my private pilot's certificate and have teamed up with a commercial jet pilot and storm chaser, Caleb Elliott, to do some aerial storm chasing in a small Cessna.

Jenn and I are always after our dream shots when chasing on the ground, I've got some new software and hardware projects to test this season, and Caleb and I are still trying to get our first tornado shot from the plane, so this upcoming season and future ones should be exciting.

Shooting the Henryville, IN tornado
photo courtesy Jennifer Brindley Ubl

My chase partner Chad Cowan and I meet legendary meteorologist Tom Skilling in 2007

Jenn and I approaching the Girard, IL tornado
photo courtesy Allan Detrich

Me and chase partners Jennifer Brindley Ubl and Jonathan Williamson at the 2012 National Storm Chasing Convention

Flying solo in 2008

Caleb Elliott, Phil Bates, and I before we embark on an aerial storm chase in 2012

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