As in the other sections,
you can click on the glossary image wherever you see it, and the glossary
will open in another window. Just close that window when you are ready
this module, you will learn a few basics of being a storm chaser.
This is very basic! It is planned to add a great deal more to this
area when the time and material becomes available. (If you are a
successful storm chaser, please email
me if you would like to contribute to this area.)
area presumes a thorough knowledge about storm structure. That is
a minimum amount of knowledge necessary for storm chasing! If you
haven't been through some SKYWARN classes, or the online SKYWARN
MODULES we have here, please go and read them now. BASIC
SKYWARN MODULE, ADVANCED
SKYWARN MODULE. In addition, before embarking on a chase of
your own, please get some spotting/chasing experience with an experienced
SKYWARN spotter or storm chaser. You can get in touch with your
local SKYWARN group through your local National Weather Service.
Also, for your first chase season at least, find an experienced
storm chaser to go with.
are many resources available online about storm chasing or related
topics. You will find links embedded throughout this module to some
of these. You might notice that some experienced weather chasers
are not particularly welcoming to newcomers to the hobby. This "cold
shoulder" response is multifactorial, but undoubtedly stems from
a feeling that newcomers enter the hobby on a whim without researching
the realities of chasing.
ideas on the part of inexperienced chasers about the safety of chasing,
or the benign appearance of tornadoes based on Hollywood's dramatic
(but not necessarily accurate) portrayals of these storms, leave
experienced chasers unclear on newcomers' motivations, intentions,
and degree of knowledge about the risks and realities of chasing.
Unlike the movie TWISTER where a pickup truck withstands an F2/F3
tornado without damage, the realities of tornadoes are that they
are deadly, powerful, and often random (and, given the wide expanses
of land potentially prone to storm development, tornadic events
are EXTRAORDINARILY RARE).
module is an attempt at keeping you from falling into the following
- taking a risk by
chasing severe weather which power you may not fully appreciate.
- tending not to have
communications equipment which could help issue warnings for
people in the path of the storm, and thus are not helping to
save lives and property but being more akin to a "gawker" at
the scene of an accident.
- not realizing that
chasing is not just hopping in a vehicle when a tornado watch
or warning is issued (which can be potentially life-threatening!),
but usually begins up to 24 hours in-advance of SPC watches
and NWS warnings, and can require greater than 12 or more hours'
worth of driving to see even one severe weather event (which
may not include a tornado).
- not realizing that
most chasers spend hundreds of "off-season" hours studying basic
weather forecasting, learning about severe storm models/tornadogenesis,
and reading or discussing with others every aspect of severe
weather they can absorb.
- seeming uninterested
in understanding the unique conditions required to form a tornado--a
situation which places you at increased risk for getting injured
or killed on a chase. Furthermore, a lack of understanding about
weather terminology often leads to inaccurate reports to the
NWS and law enforcement, hampering efforts at relaying accurate,
reliable storm information.
- frequently misidentify
storm structures and features leading to inappropriate warnings
which can potentially foster public lassitude about NWS weather
alerts (potentially resulting in lost lives).
are many ways to overcome being in one of the above categories,
and fortunately, many of them are available on the Internet to everyone.
need to realize that successful chases are rare. The average length
of a tornado chase can be between 200 to 500 miles. There are those
have chased storms that have taken them much further. The possibility
of most experienced chasers seeing a tornado is less than 10%. As
a chaser, you will sacrifice a lot of time, money, and miles in
this hobby, and you should realize the amount of the miles, wear,
and tear that your vehicle will endure on the plains. Many car rental
places, as well as auto leases have mileage restrictions, and storm
chasing will rapidly fill that if you are not careful. Likewise,
increased distance means increased maintenance and other costs.
In order to see more than one tornado a year, inexperienced chasers
seldom realize the toll that chasing will take on their pocketbooks
and cars. Some chasers may offset a small amount of chasing expense
with the sale of videos or photos, or riders, but most will lose
more than they gain, financially, by chasing.
chasing requires preparation, knowledge, equipment, and time. Not
only will most of your chases end without seeing a tornado, but
you will take a measured, calculated risk each time you pursue a
tornado. You risk lightning, flooding, the tornado itself, vehicle
damage, and financial expenses in order to see maybe a handful of
tornadoes each year. Likewise, you will chance encountering destruction,
human suffering, and sometimes death. It is critical for you to
understand the severity of tornadic thunderstorms, and that the
role of the chaser is specialized and relegated to trained individuals
who are aware of the risks involved.
like all chasers--experienced and inexperience--for the opportunity
to see nature as it bares its mighty power in a display which is
offered little justice on photos or video. Tornadoes are simply
indescribably beautiful and amazing...They rival some of the greatest
natural wonders known to man. If you wish to witness these rare
events, you must prepare yourself adequately. Just as you cannot
hope to play an instrument, play a sport, or drive a car without
any education, you must also invest time and money into this hobby
so that you may increase your success and decrease your risks.
also weigh the fact that tornadoes do maim and kill people, and
also destroy their material possessions: how you help these individuals
is up to you. You can donate your time, cleaning service, or money to help those who have been affected by tornadoes. I personally don't see how anyone could witness this
without rendering aid if there are no emergency services near by
So you realize that storm chasing is not like TWISTER. You realize
it will take a lot of time, money and dedication, and that it may
be quite some time before you actually see a tornado. So what do
I do now? Well, let get some more information.........