Okay, without further ado… let’s get back to our chat with Ricky! (If you missed Part One, click here to check it out!)
Ricky, are there times where you make decisions as the driver that it’s time to move locations (ex. If the storm is getting close)?
Those always are group decisions. We all have goals when out in the field, but there are limits as we all have families and want to make it home safe.
Tell us, what to you is the best and worst thing about chasing?
Best thing is that moment, that edge of experience, when you are beside that tornado seeing it’s powerful beauty and capturing that elusive shot we have travelled thousands of kilometres to find.
Ha, I don’t know if anything registers as the worst thing about storm chasing but the dry spells can hurt – driving thousands upon thousands of kilometres, week after week to have storms not produce hurts. Luckily those don’t come too often and don’t last too long.
What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you on a storm chase?
I would have to say it was seeing that 2 ton Grain Truck flying through the air while inside the El Reno tornado, definitely was a once in a lifetime experience.
That would be surreal! What advice would you give aspiring storm chasers?
First off, just start interacting with other chasers via social media. It’s a small community and everybody is very friendly – just happy to have another face out on the chase! Ask a lot of questions and do lots of research to stay safe. A storm is an amazing sight but can get dangerous very fast, know your approach before you go. Also team up! Either invite friends to come or join others – it is safer to work as a team and makes for more fun in the downtimes.
Are ‘chase crowds’ a problem in Canada? Have you faced scary/frustrating situations with ‘chase crowds’? How do new chaser/spotters avoid becoming part of the problem?
In Canada there is next to no “chase crowds” or “chaser convergence” which is awesome. In the states, primarily the heart of tornado alley, we come to crowds with hundreds of cars. They can be very dangerous situations and we do our best to avoid these convergences.
To avoid being apart of the problem I guess would be to also stay away from convergences.
This is a tough question but do you have a favourite photo from any of your chase days?
That’s like asking someone to pick their favourite child! Just joking around but that is a tough one. There are so many factors and emotions tied to each photograph on what it took to get that shot. If I had to pick I would have to say it was the Great Bend tornado as it crossed the road right in front of us. I feel that picture tells a story of how close we are and the effort it takes to get that shot that nobody else is getting.
Team Tornado Hunter is a pretty awesome group! Tell us what you like most about the guys you chase with? What are some of their best qualities?
Do I have to lie? Ha, just kidding. These guys are my best friends and I wouldn’t choose anyone else to chase with. We have many laughs and lots of fun. Don’t get me wrong we definitely have our bickers but who doesn’t when you spend this much time together?!
Greg is a solid dude through and through that is out to be the best of his practice and I really admire that. He is an amazing photographer that has a knack for always getting the shot and it’s cool to be apart of that process. Besides snapping shots Greg is a great father, friend, public speaker, and more. It is definitely a treat to be in his presence.
Chittick is the man. He is a storm chasing vet that is out there to capture the biggest and baddest storms and he is relentless in that chase. He has an awesome demeanour about him that is second to none when we get into the storms and he is a great friend to have on the road.
What, if anything, do you wish would change in the way people think of storm chasers?
You know I think people have a pretty accurate view of what we are out there to do. We are out to first inform the public via live reports and our live feed. Second we are there to document these storms. We are always received very well by the public.
Has this been a disappointing storm year for you, at least locally, or are you still pretty pleased with how it’s going? (there’s my optimism refusing to accept it may be done)
Ha, this is another tough one! It was a slower year for storms for sure. They started a month late, missing April, and there were quite a bit fewer than last year – accounting for both the States and Canada. That said we had a great year, caught some amazing storms, had some amazing experiences and there’s always next year!
Some people don’t know that chasing isn’t your full-time job, even in the summer. Can you tell us a bit about Danger Dynamite?
Sure! Another one of my passions is being a computer geek. When I’m not chasing I am glued to a computer screen Monday to Friday doing graphic design and coding websites. It is definitely a change from the desk to tornadoes but website design allows me to pursue my adventurous lifestyle so I maintain it for now!
You have some pretty awesome hobbies, can you tell us a bit about what you do in your free time?
If it’s not tornadoes or websites I do my best to expose myself to as many adventures and travels as I can. For my summer free time you can find me paddle boarding, white water kayaking, rock climbing, downhill mountain biking, sky diving, hiking, running and more. Then the winter is generally snowboarding, skiing, big mountain ski-dooing, and anything else that gets the adrenaline going. I really enjoy pushing the limits and always make that a regular part of my life.
You can check out a first-hand account of one of Ricky’s adventures here!
Besides storm chasing, what would you consider your next most extreme hobby?
I’m not too sure what compares to storm chasing. Fear factor wise I’d say the next contenders are sky-diving, rock climbing, and big mountain ski-dooing.
How many hours, in an average season, would you say that you log on the road?
I’m not too sure. I can tell you that last year we put on 90,000 km and this year so far we have done about 40,000 km. But we are only driving about half the time so many hours on the road!
Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions Ricky! I love getting to know more about storm chasing and on the great people who spend their summers chasing amazing storms!
Your most welcome! Thanks for the questions!
I hope that you enjoyed this chat with Ricky and will come back for the others!! UPDATE: Check out my other ‘Chaser Chats’ HERE!
You can find Ricky here: