Welcome to my blog! It’s been a while since I posted. Gosh, it’s been a crazy few months. Anyhow, I’m back and I’m here with a new year of Chaser Chats! I got to chat with Ryan Crouse the Yorkton Storm Hunter about his chasing experiences. You can watch Ryan chase on TVNWeather! If you’ve never watched a storm chase on a live stream (something I affectionately refer to as ‘Arm-Chair Chasing’, you’re missing out! It’s a blast!) I love doing these Chaser Chats and especially enjoy the local chasers I get to chat with.
Hey Ryan, thanks for being willing to answer a few questions for me! I’m excited to learn more about how and why you chase!
First of all, what drew you to storms?
Well for me, it started as a little kid. Kids would be outside playing sports and what not and I would be in the house taking notes while listening to the weather report on the local radio station. Ever since I could remember, whenever there was a thunderstorm I would rush to the window and watch in awe. I remember even if it was late after being tucked in to bed, I would creep out and sneak over to the window and just watch the storm in all its glory.
Tell me about your very first tornado!
It was quite a few years ago, I believe I was in grade school. I was assisting my dad as he was building the garage and a storm began to form right over us. I remember the winds picking up to a pretty insane level, my mom and younger bro running into the basement of the house and dad and I, going outside, grabbing a piece of the garage frame and watching. After it passed over, we jumped in the truck and followed it :)
This is a cruel question to ask a chaser but I ask everyone so… what’s your best chase ever?
Well ok, let’s see … I have a “top 5,” but if I had to choose just one I would have to pick the one that “put me on the map” so to speak. July 6, 2013. What an awesome Storm Spotting day!! It began with being in the Yorkton Parade as the Severe Thunderstorm warning was issued. Within seconds of finishing, Chris Flasko (who is one of my 2 drivers), and I bolted out of the parade and headed out towards the Melville area where Owen Parker sent me in a tip of a wild Shelf Cloud that he spotted. We caught up the shelf and got some great shots. From there headed towards Churchbridge and picked up my other crew member Katie Vickers (2nd set of eyes & 2nd photographer). At that point our target was Wroxton bound and then off to the Kamsack direction where we then met up with Owen Parker and decided to work as a unit for the rest of the day.
Kamsack bound was pretty wild! About 15 kms North of Wroxton, we ended up being in a fairly intense placement. We were pretty much in the center of a Rain Wrap and there were 3 other funnels going up and down all at the same time! The wind strength and rain was just insane!! When I called into EC, it was funny as I said we have 2 funnels and I am currently watching a Tornado in front of me, the lady was like what do you see now?
Me: Another Funnel Behind Me!!! lol
As I was getting off the phone Katie began yelling at me to turn around. As I did (now facing the west), not a hundred yards away was another tornado on the ground, coming in our direction!
Not even an hour later, we were asked to join TVNweather.com
I have to say, one of the coolest moments from that day was when all this was going on, I remember feeling absolutely calm (it might be an ADHD thing, as times like Christmas when everyone is rushing, people finally seem to be moving at my speed hahaha). I remember taking a brief moment to just watch. it was really cool, we were in the center and amongst the intense winds, tornados and rain, you could actually see the rain circle, curtain whatever you want to call it. You could see it moving and follow along with it when you moved your head along with the rain. We seen 4 funnels at the same time and place. We seen 3 touch down and possibly a 4rd, but trees were in the way. I know 2 were confirmed, not 100% sure on the 3rd.
What’s the most intense chase you’ve ever been on?
Well, the #1 would be from the answer to the 3rd question, but my 2nd would be May 28, 2014 – Miles City Montana. Notanee Bourassa and myself had quite the adventure on that day! While in the heart of the action in Northern Montana. This beast fought with us for more than 4 hours! It possible dropped 1 Tornado (which we caught) also dropped up to 2 inch hail! I remember on Mobile Treat Net that at one point, the system which we were on was moving over 100 mph, and when I say beast – that is what it was. I remember looking south and seeing the sunset merging with the side of the storm. When looking North, a monster of a Shelf Cloud, which was gaining speed on us. The intensity came from the powerful winds of this storm. There was one moment when we were driving, and if you watch the video back it sounds like rain hitting the vehicle. It wasn’t rain but scattered fragments of dirt, sticks and who knows what else! There was even a moment I had to swerve the vehicle as a billboard sign was sliding across the road and I could see a bigger stick, log or something moving across the road with it and was worried about blowing out the tire! Some short time later, we pulled over to get a few structure shots when all of a sudden there was a loud BOOM behind us, scaring the crap out of the both of us! it was the power lines giving away.
Sounds like it was pretty crazy! What an experience! What is your favorite and least favorite things about chasing?
Well for the best, I would have to say the love of nature and both the sheer power and beauty of a good storm. I believe that there is nothing more peaceful and yet scary powerful, then watching a good severe warned thunderstorm as it forms! The worst, running out of gas :)
I can’t wait to get out there! What are your goals when you go storm chasing? What, if anything, do you hope to see change in your storm chasing years?
Well, first and foremost is to stay safe. Next to that, capture some great photographs and video of nature’s fury. Another important thing for me it to make sure Environment Canada knows what is going on during severe weather events. They tell me they watch my Live Stream, I think that’s great as they then have a ground level view of what “they” are seeing on radar. The changes I hope for are actually in progress right now. Brandon Crane, my mechanic and driver is working on adding some hail protection, armor if you will, to the Storm-Finder (Nissan Pathfinder).
Looking forward to seeing you guys out there! Does one year stand out to you as the best season yet?
2013 was an absolute blast for me. There were some powerful and fun storms as well as I met a lot of great Chasers and Spotters whom have helped me on my way. 2014 was also on the top, mostly from my Texas and Montana adventure.
2014 was so boring here! Glad someone loved it! Ryan, what advice would you give aspiring storm chasers?
The first thing I would say is even though Storm Chasing/Spotting is a hobby (and an expensive one at that), for some like myself, it’s a way of life. From May – August, I eat and breathe storms. I would also say sleep, but that doesn’t really happen much during Storm Season for me. hahaha!
Learn from your mistakes, you ARE going to make them! Learn from the pros and the chasers whom have been doing it for years. I have been fortunate enough to have people like Notanee Bourassa, Braydon Morisseau, Sean Schoffer, Reed Timmer along with others aid and guide me when needed. Listen to what they have to say and respect it.
Another thing would be to do your homework. Study weather. I’m not saying that you have to be a meteorologist, but knowledge can get you out and keep you out of a possible bad situation. Environment Canada does, at times offer CANWARN weather courses – take them. If you go on Google, search SKYWARN training and you will get dozens of free .pdf booklets made from NWS & NOAA. A book that I learned a great deal from was the “Storm Chasing Handbook” written by Tim Vasquez.
Those are great tips! What do you wish would change in the way people think of storm chasers?
That what happens in the movies are real. Storm chasing movies are very far from reality. Another would be that just because one chaser does something questionable doesn’t mean we are all bad.
There’s been a lot of bad publicity but I’ve met a lot of amazing chasers! It’s sad how one bad chaser can destroy so many opinions. Tell me about your chase team!
I have gone out alone, but for the most part I have a team. I am the “Yorkton Storm Hunter” I am in charge of photography, video, the live stream, navigation and watching the weather radar. Brandon Crane is my mechanic and driver. Katie Vickers is the 2nd photographer and another set of eyes. She also is good at telling Brandon and I when we missed our turn lol. Chris Flasko is another driver that helps out when Brandon isn’t available.
Do you have a favorite storm memory? Being asked to live stream as “Yorkton Storm Hunter” on July 23-24, 2014 from within the Dominator 3. The experience was just incredible!
That is totally awesome! I’d love to chase in the Dom 3! What can we expect from the Yorkton Storm Hunter team in 2015? Any exciting changes?
More of the fun stuff! I hope to improve the quality of the stream a little. We touched on it earlier, Brandon Crane is also working on adding hail protection to the Storm-Finder. We are also working on adding a couple more video cameras into the vehicle to have different angles of footage for my highlight videos.
That sounds awesome! If you couldn’t do storm chasing, what would be next on the list of jobs you would love?
Well, I am actually doing them. I love straight out being a photographer but, my other passion is my Paranormal Investigation TV Show, “Knights Of The Dark.” We are currently finished filming season 2 and are working on going through the data, editing and making the episodes. Cheap plug, but the show airs on ACCESS7 TV at 11:30 pm on Friday’s. The website is http://www.knightsofthedark.com. If anyone in Saskatchewan whom reads this, has a story or event that happened to them and wants us to investigate, the email is on the website.
Okay, Ryan, send a shout out to those businesses that support your storm chasing career!
My main Sponsor is HAAS NISSAN from Yorkton Sk.
Precious Therapies Vitamin Store – #14-3 rd Ave N, Yorkton
RhynoPack: Nobody likes a dead smart phone, #StayCharged with Rhynopack!
Last one, Ryan, when you aren’t out chasing (the long cold of winter), what do you like to do?
Well, I stay pretty busy as to when I’m not chasing, I am working on the Ghost Show. When I “DO” find some free time, I do enjoy playing PC games like Diablo III and Half-Life and catching up on my WWE Wrestling. I also help High Impact Wrestling promote their shows when they come to Yorkton. Next to all of that – I like to sit down with my electric guitar and jam to some good heavy metal!
You can find Ryan on his Yorkton Storm Hunter website on Twitter and on Facebook!
Thanks for reading this Chaser Chat! Check out the others here!