I ‘met’ Notanee first on Twitter. Then at a few of events locally I was able to chat with him more. Notanee has a definite passion for weather and it’s contagious when you talk to him. You’ll see that in his interview below!
Hey Notanee, thanks so much for being willing to chat with me about your chasing! It’s awesome to be able to chat with Canadian chasers!
So, tell me what drew you to storm chasing?
Since my enchantment with the sky since the tornado of 1979 I was drawn to chase the storms because they frequently would miss Regina or a part of it that was extremely interesting would pass through and I would want to pursue it to see what happens. I grew up in Mocassin Flats of Regina and didn’t have a vehicle while growing up. So I biked to the nearest field to get an open view of the storm front. Then I joined the Navy and terribly missed the raging violence of a good prairie storm for a good decade. My only reprieve was to watch Twister in the theatre on the west coast at least thirteen times.
Love that you’ve seen Twister so many times! Do you remember your first tornado?
The first tornado I witnessed was when I was 7 years old living on 12 block McTavish Street in Regina and remembered that I was playing in the front yard in a very warm clear afternoon. When the storm hit in later afternoon, I remember the incredible horizontal rain. Trees bending to unnatural angles, branches ripping, VHF/UHF TV antenneas torn from roof tops, debris flying. We had a windowed front porch and watched the show from it but retreated into the bedrooms after a while, especially when the windows were bowing inwards.
Wow! That would be one heck of an experience! What is your goal when you go out storm chasing?
While chasing in the United States, my goal is to gain experience to be better at spotting, recognizing and learning from models, my forecasts vs others vs NOAA. I also participate in forwarding ground truth through SpotterNetwork and also transmitting video through TVNWeather.com. Photos I take are for my personal reference and also to teach my family and children the respect nature deserves. The United States provides a longer season in which to chase. So It’s a great warm up to chasing here in the Canadian prairies. While chasing in the Canadian Prairies, my goals are more focused as I have personal attachment to my country and province. I push myself alot harder and am challenged and frustrated by the lack of information from Environment Canada. I truly desire to get that ground truth in as expeditiously as possible. Brief, clear and accurate. Leaving out speculation.
What do you feel is the best thing about chasing storms?
There are many things that are close to “the best thing” about chasing storms, but from a personal view, it is scoring a tornado and calling it in successfully to Environment Canada. There are other romantic things about chasing storms, such as the personal escape from the city life so many of us are familiar with. The open road. The open skies. The landscapes. Mood appropriate music (which is a big deal for me as music is close to my heart). Time to think. Then as you approach your target area, you awaken. Data and radar can only get you so far. Then the eyes have to do the rest. Especially when chasing alone. Heavy rain, insane howling winds, escaping hail, dodging congestive traffic and finally getting to the mesocyclone. A particularly satisfying feeling having travelled hundreds of miles to be in the right place at the right time. A winning feeling. After that it’s gravy, the photos, the videos, the memories of soaking in the moments of what mother nature shows you from that point onwards is up to yourself to absorb and learn from.
Where do you like to chase? How far into the US have you chased storms?
I primarily prefer to chase in the open plains if possible. For example, treed and large hills as seen in Missouri can be very difficult to perform proper any spotting. The terrain itself dictates where the roads are and therefore dictates where traffic is funneled. Very difficult to scan the horizon from such a vantage point. The furthest south I believe I’ve travelled for storm chasing was Marshall, Texas. The furthest west I’ve gone is Artesia, New Mexico. The furthest east I’ve gone is Texarkana and ALL points north to the Canadian border. States experienced chases in: ND, SD, MT, MN, NE, IO, KS, MS, NM, AK, OK, TX.
What was the best storm chase you’ve ever been on and what made it so special?
For the moment the best storm chase was the experienc of April 14th, 2012. Greg Johnson and myself had chased on several occasions since May of 2011 and we had been looking forward to 2012. Greg just picked up “Flash” before the orange makeover and we met at his house where Ricky Forbes met us. Both Flash and Ricky were chase virgins, which Greg and I took pleasure in introducing them to the experiences we both knew were forthcoming in the south. We departed and met with Chris Streaks who is from Great Falls, MT in a hotel in North Dakota. What made the April 14th, 2012 chase so special was the fact that the team was on fire. Clear, concise communications between all of us. ESPECIALLY on our first visual contact. Both Greg and I spoke aloud, “WEDGE on the ground” as it was on our right about 6-7 miles distant. For me since I was doing navigation, radar and giving driving recommendations it felt good to keep the team on the EF4 tornado for the next 2 hours. The storm occluded this tornado multiple times. Our team work kept us nipping on the heels of this tornado. Tim Samaras was there, it looked like Vortex was there too, many chasers were onsite, but we dared a few road options which allowed us best access to the twister where there was NO ONE. It felt so good to have such an exclusive experience of that tornado that no one else had. In fact we had beat the traffic because of the road options we took, otherwise we were going to be stuck behind twenty chasers. All of us did the best we could. I even tried to stabilize Chris Streaks DSLR camera on multiple occasions while still focusing on radar and roads. There were only few occasions where I could take my point and shoot camera (which I borrowed from my wife) to take a few shots and a FlipVideo UltraHD camera (which I borrowed from my co-worker Lori-Jo ) to take video. I felt this was the best chase as we all contributed to a very successful tornado interceptive chase and worked as a team. Words really don’t describe it with justice. It is experienced.