My Thoughts on Storm Chasing

Storm 1

A sweet storm I caught last year!

Okay, these aren’t ALL my thoughts on storm chasing, but here’s a few that were brought on by this article that someone posted on Facebook today.

Feel free to check out the article.  It’s a long read, but it’s an interesting one.  I don’t mean interesting good.  I just mean interesting.

http://www.examiner.com/article/storm-chasers-battle-accusations-of-bad-behavior-as-chasertainment-come-of-age

So, I have a TON of thoughts about this article. They are MY thoughts though and don’t reflect the thoughts of anyone else in, or out of, the chase community. I’m sure that not many people will read through all my comments but I feel inclined to put them here anyhow. In defence of the many awesome chasers I know! (Also, I reserve the right to be corrected and to reword at any time!)  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!!

First of all, I have gotten to know many chasers in the past 2 years. Some have the most sophisticated equipment and some have a laptop and their gut. These are all fantastic people. Like a photographer, each has their own style. Some get right into the action and some are happy being a mile away. If you have the right gear to get into the storm, safely, then go for it. If you don’t. Don’t do it. I think this article unfairly paints those who have the technology to get into a storm as sensationalists and thrill-seekers with no scientific desire. The people I know who can, and do, get into these storms are some of the most scientifically geared folks I know. They desire the data. Whether they get it better than those outside the storm, I don’t know. My scientific mind is limited to how to create a volcano in a jar.

Secondly, it doesn’t matter how many chasers do the right thing. How many of them follow the rules. Stay away from the storm. Help in search & rescue and call in warnings. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE IDIOTS! The morons who get out there… Sure, they’ve watched but not SEEN what most chasers do. They are the ones who give chasers a bad name. The ones who drive into the circulation of a storm and then panic because they had no idea what they were getting into! The video, should they survive, would be posted everywhere and people would say ‘They are idiots, but wow what a video!’. Then more and more people head out to get their 15 minutes of fame. This is not the fault of the real storm chasers and spotters. Stop blaming them for the actions of idiots.  This article seems to paint most chasers with a very broad brush.  Ego-maniacs, thrill-seekers and just generally irresponsible people.  Most of the chasers I’ve had the honour of meeting are not those people.  I think the author of this article set out to make chasers look bad.  Which is disappointing because we need chasers out there.  We need them to call into whoever the weather authority is in that area and get the warning out.  If we make chasers look like idiots, why would the public not just say ‘oh, it was called in by one of those ego-maniacs trying to make a name for themselves’.  Then they don’t pay attention.  That is NOT what we need.  When it comes to severe weather, we NEED people to pay attention.  Sometimes it’s a matter of life or death.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some awesome storm structure and a rainbow that rolled by my house a few weeks ago. Thankfully I was able to snap a picture.

While, I found a lot of this article annoying considering the people I know. I agree that chasers need to be careful in what they say and in what they post. This is HUGE! Something that I am still learning. I was commenting to a chaser friend this morning that I feel a bit like a puppy. I’ve just come out of this cage of fear and I can’t help but hop and skip around and take in this amazing vista. Where before I would run for the basement, now I am out on the deck. The storm winds call to me and the dark clouds no longer send me running but instead fill me with adrenalin and excitement. However, I have seen (and know) that these storms can be so deadly. I never want to see a home destroyed, or lives ended. I am still needing to learn to contain my excitement over a good storm and consider those who are affected. I never want to give chasers/enthusiasts/spotters a bad name because of my actions or words.

Lastly, this has just enforced in me that when (I say when because it’s something I want so much) I get out there and begin spotting/chasing, I am going to do it for myself. I will call in anything I see in the hopes that the public will be aware of what is going on and take any action necessary. However, I don’t want or need any publicity. Seems like most of the publicity just makes for crappy rivalries and criticism. It seems selfish to say it… and I’m sure that I’ve fought this statement when it’s been said about other chasers… but I want to do this for me. The beauty and unharnessed power of a storm draws me. If, along the way, my own journey into this draws others out of their fear… awesome.

So, how about you?  What are your thoughts on the article?  If you’re a storm-enthusiast, I’d love to hear what you thought.  If you fear storms, I’d love to know what kind of impression this article left on you about chasers in general.  I’d love to hear from some of you chasers as to how you felt about the article.  Let’s talk about this.

~Sarah

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5 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Storm Chasing

  1. Chris says:

    It may have been the purpose of the original article to paint chasers in a negative light, but I do see the point of the “Chasertainment” moniker that the article brought up. I am just as guilty as the next storm enthusiast of watching those videos and live streams of some of these chasers, and yes, I have been able to see many more intense storms as a result of it.

    However, I don’t stream my chases, and never will. The closest thing to notoriety that I do is have my GPS location on Spotter network if I am in the field. My vehicle is discrete, I don’t want people following me and potentially get into trouble, I post the odd picture, but they are pretty tame compared to most. I do not post forecasts or predictions. If I did, they would probably be wrong on the too conservative side . However, the friends and family I do talk weather with agree that I am pretty accurate most of the time, but all of them know that real meteorologist should be listened to over me. Going off “Chaser Forecasts” will just scare a lot of people. If I did live stream, it would be the most boring thing ever. Last year, I chased on 4 occasions. I did not even get wet.

    My biggest fear is that governments and law enforcement start stepping in to prohibit chasing because of these attention seekers. A lot of good, safe chasers will be swept up in that. If we quit seeing the videos of near death experiences by these bad/inexperienced chasers, I think it would do a lot to quiet the rumblings. As far as the media is concerned, they will show whatever gets people to watch. As far as the public is concerned, they will always flock to the most outrageous. So really we are going to have to get used to it, and focus on educating those watching that it is fricken’ dangerous to mess with these storms.

    • sarahssundry says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Chris. I agree with you in so much of what you said!

      I was chatting with my husband the other night about this (who, sadly, doesn’t share my passion for storms) and he said to me ‘why does it matter what the article said?’ to which I responded with the same concern as you. There will always be idiots out there who go to extremes and get themselves in bad spots. If they die, it seems to call into question the legitimacy of every chaser. If they survive, the video goes viral and then a whole new rash of people go out there and get in trouble. I, like you, don’t want to see governments and laws putting those of us who chase for the love of it and for public awareness on the side-lines in order to TRY to stop irresponsible people.

      It really does fall to the responsible chasers to make sure that their voices are being heard. The voices of reason. Which, as we read in the article, is a tough thing to do since when you get your voice out there, you open yourself up to criticism. We need to make sure that we are not sensationalizing but being real. Even if it’s just to point people to the proper weather channels and to remind them of storm safety. I hope that the public will continue to see the difference between a reasonable and responsible chaser and one who is just out to get those 15 minutes of fame.

      Thanks again, Chris. I really appreciate you joining in on the conversation!

      ~Sarah

    • sarahssundry says:

      P.S. Hope this season treats you better. Not even getting wet sounds pretty discouraging! 🙂

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