Tornado Hunters Set to Storm CMT

Tornado Hunters is coming

Hey all! It’s been forever since I blogged but life is crazy! I was hoping to have so many things to talk about for storm season here this summer, but it largely failed to develop. We had a few storms but nothing amazing to blog about. Sadly. Waiting nine plus months for storm season and then having hardly anything to show for it… well, it sucks. Oh well. Thankfully, my favorite chase team didn’t have the brutal season I did.

The Tornado Hunters had a very, very busy summer. Greg tells me they did around 100,000 kms for chasing this summer. Doing that in a year would be crazy. Doing that in a summer. These guys are committed to the chase!

The Tornado Hunters consists of Greg Johnson, Ricky Forbes and Chris Chittick. If you talk to any of these guys for even a few minutes, you will see the passion they have for storms and chasing.

Great helment

Greg Johnson

Ricky Forbes

Ricky Forbes

Chris Chittick

Chris Chittick

From the moment that storms start to make an appearance in the US, these guys run full out until the fall. Thankfully, on occasion, there’s a bit of a break in the weather patterns and they are able to make it home for a while. I imagine that makes their families watch the weather pretty close too. Chris just married this summer and was on the road not long after.

I attribute much of the storm enthusiast (wannabe chaser) I am today to Greg’s chasing. I started watching him a few years ago and couldn’t help but be caught up in his passion for storms. I had the opposite passion. If I could go a whole summer without storms back then, I was thrilled. Now, my 180 degree spin leaves me super disappointed after a season like this.

Greg, Ricky and Chris were approached a while back about the possibility of doing a show. Of course, it was a brilliant idea and they went for it. Last year they did a few webisodes and a few pilot episodes. You can check out my review here and find the webisodes here. They were fantastic. A really gritty look at the world of storms and storm chasing. The guys, and Saloon Media, did an awesome job!

Then we waited. I say we because I was anxious waiting as well to see if the powers that be would want a whole season. I shouldn’t have doubted because the pilot was awesome! Thankfully, they fans had spoken and we got what we wanted. The Tornado Hunters were going to have their season premier in the fall of 2015. There was much rejoicing.

Fast forward to now. The summer has come and gone and we missed the live stream the guys used to have available to us, but we knew that some serious work was going into making this show the best storm show out there. I have no doubt that this season will be amazing. Greg, Ricky and Chris have put their heart and soul into this show. Blood (is that an alligator?), sweat and tears (were the wings worth it, Ricky?) went into this season and I hope that you will join the guys as they show us their life in storm chasing. Only 12 days from now, the premier will air on CMT Canada!

Check out the awesome trailer for Tornado Hunters here!

I know that a lot of you from other countries are asking ‘Will I be able to see it?’ and I really hope the answer is yes. I think that it will be available to see online at some point, but you can also contact your local TV providers and ask them to pick up Tornado Hunters for you! You could even beg them. ūüôā I know the guys would love if everyone everywhere who wanted to see it could. So, make those calls today so you can watch Tornado Hunters with us on October 18th!

You can see the pilot episodes on CMT at the following times to prepare for the season premier!

Thursday October 8

Tornado Hunters (Pilot Ep 1) 11pm ET/8pm PT
Tornado Hunters (Pilot Ep 2) 11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT

Friday October 9

Tornado Hunters (Pilot Ep 1) 6pm ET/3pm PT
Tornado Hunters (Pilot Ep 2) 6:30pm ET/3:30pm PT

Sunday October 11

Tornado Hunters (Pilot Ep 1) 10am ET/7am PT
Tornado Hunters (Pilot Ep 2) 10:30pm ET/7:30pm PT

Find Greg on Facebook and Twitter!

Find Ricky on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Find Chris on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Here’s where you can find their website!

Tornado Hunters Banner

~Sarah

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Summer Storm Fun in Canada

Monday July 27 tornado mb

Wow, I’ve been quiet lately. Sorry to all you awesome folks who like seeing me post. Guess the summer got to me and I’ve been out doing things rather than posting. Sadly, the ‘things’ I’ve been doing haven’t involved much storm chasing. I’m in this strange place where I very much want to get out and chase everything that even looks promising (or even those that don’t), but I’m not confident enough to go on my own. I can see me getting out there, getting eager to get close to a storm and then finding myself in terrible position. The kind that people don’t walk away from. Yikes! I like my family too much to be risking a lot. Also, there wasn’t much to chase this year. Not within driving distance at least. I seriously considered how disruptive it would be to uproot my family and take a vacation to Oklahoma for a few months. Abysmal would be the word I would use. I now understand why chasers spend hours and hours and months on the road to chase. Sitting still and waiting for storms to come to you is brutal.

Thankfully, while my season has been terrible, my favorite chase team has been busy. I miss the days they were live streaming but it’s still fun to follow their FB and Twitter sites to get updates. I can’t wait for the season premier of Tornado Hunters on CMT, but I’ll get to that in a moment.

Last week, July 27th, the guys were finally chasing in Canada. I love when they chase in Canada. Not only because I am Canadian, but because these guys are local and it just feels right watching them chase here! Plus, that usually means the storms are near me and the chance goes up that we might get hit with some fun!

Yep, I am hopelessly in over my head with this draw to storms. Often times I wonder, in slow seasons, if it would be easier to just go back to hating storms… but I can’t. I’m addicted.

Back to the story. Last Monday the pros were all seeing some sweet weather patterns setting up. Greg, Ricky and Chris (and their entourage) booked it back up here, from Arizona I believe. The day was slow and the afternoon continued on as though there was nothing much to talk about. A friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of a chaser convergence. Which we had fun with since a chaser convergence in Canada is nothing compared to the ones in the US. He, like them all, was in waiting mode.

Canadian Chaser Convergence by Ryan Crouse

Canadian Chaser Convergence by Ryan Crouse (Yorkton Storm Hunter)

Yep, that’s the Dom 3. Waiting. Everyone waits.

It was worth the wait. Finally the action began and the chaser were off. I spent most of the night following Yorkton Storm Hunter (Ryan Crouse), RAIDEN (Notanee Bourassa) and Nick Schenher live stream. While I didn’t get a chance to see the beast that the storms produced, Greg Johnson, Ricky Forbes and Chris Chittick¬†(the Tornado Hunters) did!

Sweet Wall Cloud

Wall cloud

Since I wasn’t there, maybe next year, I’ll let Ricky describe it.

That moment

“My¬†favorite¬†part of storm chasing is this moment right here. When we get right underneath a massive rotating supercell. A monster chaotic storm over 50,000 ft tall above¬†us yet so eerily calm below, as we watch the clouds start to slowly twist and churn above us. Feeling the rush of the winds blasting into this storm, and then the clouds start to lower. Faster and faster the clouds spin and tighten up, lightning blasting down, torrential rain beside us, and then a huge tornado touches down and its game time.”

Could I be more jealous? Probably not.

Then, as Ricky said, the huge tornado touched down.

MB tornado chittick pic MB tornado July 27 201 MB tornado July 27 2015 tornado tornado MB july 27 2015 July 27 2015 EF2That thing is a BEAST! Wow! It was on the ground for three hours! Three. Hours. That’s only a half hour less than the current record for longest known tornado on the ground, the Tri-State Tornado. Thankfully, though this beast was on the ground for three hours and reached a kilometer wide (I heard) and maybe more at some point, unlike the Tri-State tornado no one was killed in this storm and there was very little damage done. The rating, because of this, was an EF2. The Dom 3 measured the winds on the back of the tornado at 122 MPH. Pretty wild!

Chasers like the Tornado Hunter team, and¬†many others, make it possible to get warnings out early and keep eyes on storms like this so that people in the path can prepare. I’m so grateful for chasers and many people owe their lives to them.

July 27 tornado damagePretty amazing to see the road torn up by that tornado. I can’t imagine the power that was in that storm and in that tornado. I’ve been told it’s not that uncommon for roads to be torn up like this, depending on the age and upkeep of the road. However, I’m still pretty impressed with the damage and the cool shot.

Here’s a sweet video by the Tornado Hunters of the wedge tornado.

http://www.newsflare.com/video/50305/weather-nature/massive-wedge-tornado-in-tilston-mb-canada-clip3

While I miss the live stream these guys used to do, I can’t wait to see the footage of this storm on the new season on Tornado Hunters coming this fall!

If you haven’t heard of Tornado Hunters on CMT Canada, you’re missing out. Last year they did a few webisodes and a couple episodes to feel out the show and I, along with many others, really liked what we saw!

You can find the webisodes here to prepare for the new season!

In my review last year of the pilot of Tornado Hunters, I said: ‘This show is a very clear look into the lives of these guys and the realities of storm chasing as a profession. All the thrills, frustrations, joys, angers, laughs and tornadoes that go along with it.’ I hope, and expect, that the new season will be the same! I can’t wait to see it and I know these guys have been busting their butts in order to give us the best show that they can!

Ricky, Greg and Chris, I can’t¬†wait for the new season of Tornado Hunters! It’s one of the only reason that I am looking forward to fall.

Find team Tornado Hunter on their website, Twitter and Facebook page!

Ricky: Facebook Twitter

Ricky Forbes

Greg: Facebook Twitter

Great helment

Great helmet

Chris: Facebook Twitter

Chris Chittick

Here’s hoping the season isn’t over for me, or for these guys who will continue to chase as long as the season holds out. I wouldn’t be surprised to find them chasing blizzards next!

How about you? Do you love the thrill of a storm chase? Are you, like me, an arm-chair chaser and watching these awesome chasers do what they do? Maybe, like me, you’re hoping to do some chasing of your own. Tell me your story!

~Sarah

Chaser Chat: Ryan Crouse the Yorkton Storm Hunter

Chaser Chats Banner

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.

Ryan C photo

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 ūüôā

Ryan C storm

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.

Ryan C storm 1

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 ūüôā

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).

Ryan C storm 4

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.

Ryan C storm 6

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! Ryan C storm 3

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 Р#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!

Ryan C storm 5

Thanks for reading this Chaser Chat! Check out the others here!

~Sarah

Tornado Hunters Webisodes Review

Another amazing shot while I was away. Photo by Greg Johnson (Tornado Hunter)

Photo by Greg Johnson (Tornado Hunter)

Hey Readers!

I am so sorry it’s been FOREVER since I’ve posted. Life in the summer. You know how that goes. We actually left home this year and escaped for a blissful two weeks! Mountains, ocean views, family, friends, food (so much food), and peaceful locations that almost made me willing to forget home. However, I admit, there was a quiet nagging at the back on my mind. The weather on the trip was beautiful, hot and sunny. The mountains stretched high into the sky and were majestic and beautiful.

Something was missing though.

I realized quickly that I couldn’t see the horizon and I missed it big time. If there were storm clouds brewing, I couldn’t see them. Nothing developed while we were away and, to add insult to injury, more than once I woke to check FB and saw that home had some amazing storms. I was torn. I loved the vacation but I was missing all the good storm action at home.

One of the storms I missed. Photo by Greg Johnson (Tornado Hunter)

One of the storms I missed. Photo by Greg Johnson (Tornado Hunter)

“The best lightning I’ve ever seen in my life.” Said a chaser who’s seen some incredible storms.

Sigh. Thankfully, since I’ve been home, we’ve had some pretty good storms. One of the things that got me through my storm-free vacation was the much anticipated (by me at least) release of the CMT Tornado Hunters webisodes! The day¬†they released, I stayed up late and watched them all.

I’ve reviewed other storm-chaser shows on my blog before. I am, as a friend called me, a storm-enthusiast and love watching the chasers do their thing. I hope one day to be counted among their ranks, but will take it slow and learn what I need to in order to not only keep myself safe but not to be a hazard to anyone else.

CMT Tornado Hunters

These webisodes were unlike anything I’ve seen yet on storm-chasing. I think it might be the most honest and eye-opening storm-chase series yet. Not only do we get to see some of the storms that these guys chase, we also see the realities of the lives that they live. I don’t know if they HAD to go that direction – if the producers forced the issue – but I was surprised to see the difficulties laid bare. I think it’s awesome to see the storms and I know that’s why most people tune into a show like this, but I think that a lot of us are interested in the¬†truth in¬†this passion. Since storm-chasing is growing in popularity, it’s good to see the hazards and potential pit-falls of a life chasing storms.

The webisodes follow Ricky Forbes, Greg Johnson¬†and Chris Chittick as they follow their passion for chasing all over North America. There’s some storms, some fun, some serious moments and a kiss that I never saw coming. (Sorry, Ricky!)

I appreciate Ricky’s narrating, and his honesty in the ‘First Responders‘ webisode. I think ‘The Homefront‘ episode actually hit the hardest. I would consider a few of the guys on this team friends (though they might think, or wish, otherwise) but I found it hard to see the pain in that webisode. It was a real eye-opener for me that you never can tell what’s going on inside someone. We’re all really good at playing the role, when reality can be so different.

Anyhow, there’s my thoughts on the Tornado Hunter webisodes. I’m lucky that these guys are local and I’m able to chat with them on occasion. It sure adds a different dimension to watching this and watching them live when they are chasing. I love ‘arm-chair chasing’ with them.

Check out the trailer for the upcoming Tornado Chasers show on CMT! It gives me chills! I can’t wait for the premier in October!

You can watch the webisodes HERE.

Arm-chair chase with them HERE when they are live streaming.

Find them

On FB: RICKY, GREG, CHRIS

On Twitter: RICKY, GREG, CHRIS

Also, check out my Chaser Chats with Ricky and Chris as well as many others. More to come soon!

I’d love to hear what you thought of the webisodes! Please leave me your comments!

~Sarah

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

Chaser Chat ~ Diva Chasers

I’m excited today to be able to feature some of the female chasers that I’ve gotten to know in the past year or so. ¬†Today I’m chatting with the ‘Diva Chasers’. ¬†I haven’t had a ton of conversation with them before now, but I’m excited to ask some questions and get to better know a few women who chase storms! ¬†Since it’s something that I’d like to do as well. ¬†It feels like the storm-chase community is pretty male-dominated, but perhaps that’s just perception instead of reality. ¬†Perhaps I just know many more men who chase than I do women. ¬†Anyhow, let’s get to those questions.

The Diva’s consist of Chandler Sullivan, Jennifer Stark and Stephanie Michelle.

Chandler Steph Diva Diva Jen

Thanks ladies, for being willing to chat with me about this awesome hobby of yours!

First of all, tell me how you got together!

Chandler:  Me and Jennifer Stark started talking on twitter about storms and storm chasing.  Then one day I texted her and told her we should have just a female chase team. You know how cool that would be??  Then next thing you know we put our dreams to work. Then later on down the road we saw the passion Stephanie had for the Divas so we invited her to join us.

Where did the name come from?

Chandler: One day we were thinking of a names that we could call our selves and¬†the next¬†thing you know I was like ‘what about Diva Chasers?’ We are girls so it¬†works out!¬†That’s when Divas was born and we had something going.

How long have you all be chasing together?

Chandler: Less than a year. In June it will be a year for me and Jen but we¬†haven‚Äôt had¬†the chance to chase with Stephanie because we didn’t start our group in¬†summer so¬†we haven‚Äôt had a spring chase yet. ¬†Every time I go to chase, even¬†without the¬†girls, I always represent Divas.

Stephanie:¬†Only for about a year, I haven’t been on a chase with them yet. This will be our first season together.

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Do you each have individual roles within the group?

Chandler: I am the CoFounder & I kinda play the role of a CEO you could say because I handle our funds because its just easier for one person to do that.  During chasing I am also the driver, because I love to drive.

Stephanie: Chandler is the driver, Jen is the navigator, and I do all the photography and the video shooting and editing.  We all work together as a team.

How did you each start out chasing?

Chandler:¬†I started out in my teens chasing in Arkansas because that’s where I¬†grew up. My¬†first chase I was about 15 years old, maybe 14. After that I loved¬†it so¬†when I got older and moved to Oklahoma I started doing it more and more.¬†While¬†living in Texas I tried going out when storms were around but I hated going alone.

Stephanie:¬†¬†I’ve always been fascinated with weather. My dad chased storms so I got the bug from him. When I was younger my cousin and me would always jump on our bikes and try to chase storms. I love to go out when ever I can.

Jennifer: ¬†I used to be terrified of storms as a kid, but obsessed at the same time. ¬†I did my science fair project in third grade on tornadoes, and from that point on was fascinated but scared of them. ¬†Several years ago, I took my first Skywarn class, and started spotting and chasing pretty much then. ¬†It is kind of addicting ūüôā

Diva 4

I can completely understand how it would be addicting. ¬†I have yet to actually chase but I got out spotting last year and can’t wait for this long winter to end so I can get out again! ¬†Tell me what you love most about chasing.

Chandler: I love the adrenaline rush. I love seeing all the cool clouds. I love seeing a tornado touch down. I love the bonding time and getting to meet other storm chasers. Theres a lot I love about chasing. I also love all the travelling.

Stephanie: I love being out on the open country watching a beautiful storm in the middle go nowhere. There is just something so magical about mother nature.  I feel at peace out there.

Jennifer:¬†¬†Being able to be out in the middle of nowhere, looking into a sky stacked with a massive churning wall cloud, or huge supercell… there really aren’t words to describe how beautiful and mesmerizing it all is. It makes me feel alive, and having the opportunity to share that experience with two of my closest friends just makes it that much better.

Diva storm

I love watching storms as well, they are so amazing!  Jennifer, would you say that chasing is a pretty male-dominated field?

Jennifer: I think that chasing IS a male-dominated field, but the male chasers I know are not at all exclusive, and welcome any chaser, male or female.

I’ve met quite a few men who chase and they’ve all been so nice. ¬†It seems like the storm chase community is pretty friendly, not only to veteran chasers but also to people like me who aspire to chase someday. ¬†Chandler, are there disadvantages to being a female chaser?

Bathrooms are a disadvantage. You will never see me go to the bathroom¬†in the¬†middle of no where Kansas or at a place that looks dirty. That’s one
thing I am¬†very picky about is the bathrooms. But that’s all for me.

ūüôā I could see me having similar issues! ¬†Jennifer, what is the Divas goal when you go out chasing?

My goal when chasing is to see amazing structure, hopefully see a tornado (one that poses no danger to anyone!) and get awesome structure shots. Also, if we encounter any fresh damage, to stop and help as much as possible.

Stephanie, will the Divas chase anything and everything or does the setup have to look awesome before you all will venture out? ¬†(Setup, for those like me who are new to this, means a combination of ingredients in the atmosphere, including temperature, dew points, dry line, mid level moisture, winds, clear skies etc. ¬†A lot of things come into play when people talk about setup.) ¬†There’s a ton to learn. ¬†I’m just starting out. ¬†ūüôā

We will chase every setup. We will stick to more Oklahoma and Kansas this year and possible go further up north. We want to see everything!

Nice! ¬†I’d imagine, in that area, that you will be out often this year. ¬†You guys have some crazy storm action down there in the summer! ¬†Here’s my standard question for all storm chasers. ¬†What advice would you give aspiring chasers?

Chandler:¬†Be safe. ¬†Take Skywarn classes, never do your first chase alone and if you¬†have a¬†question it’s never stupid to ask an experienced chaser. And, no, you won’t¬†always see Reed Timmer! ¬†lol

Stephanie: Take spotter classes and learn has much had possible. Maybe even go on a chase tour.

Jennifer: I say never give up.  Take Skywarn classes, learn as much as you can about storms, and the structure and life cycle stages of storms, not only from what you see on a radar, but what you see visually as well.  Also, meet other chasers.  Twitter is a great place for that!

Diva storm 2

I agree with Jennifer about Twitter. ¬†When I first started getting interested in storms (instead of being terrified of them), Twitter was awesome to connect with storm chasers. ¬†You can see what they do, ask questions and get into the community a bit. ¬†They won’t always answer questions, especially the very busy ones, but usually there is someone there who can help you. ¬†The chaser community have been so welcoming to me. ¬†I am always full of questions! ¬†I went to a storm tweetup at one point and Greg Johnson (aka. Tornado Hunter) was giving a talk. ¬†Near the end, the questions slowed down a bit and the room got quiet. ¬†Greg looked at me and said “Sarah, I find it hard to believe that you don’t have any questions”. ¬†Of course I did. ¬†They’ve all been so helpful to me as I start out on this journey and I encourage anyone who is interested in storms/storm chasing to get on Twitter and chat with them.

Okay, back on track here.  How was 2013 for you all?

Chandler: It was very good for me. I chased the Moore tornado, Shawnee tornado, and some other big ones in the fall. I did not chase El Reno which I am glad I did not.

Stephanie: It was pretty good.  It was an insane and devastating year.

Jennifer: 2013 was epic!! I saw the hugest wall cloud I have ever seen in Wichita, saw a rain wrapped tornado near Shawnee, and chased an epic duststorm/gustnado that had some of the most beautiful structure I have ever witnessed.

Here’s a video of their dust storm chase! ¬†I remember watching this on the live stream and thinking it was one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen!

Are there storm chasers who inspire you and that you look up to?

Chandler: The Twister Sisters. Peggy has chatted with us and I never thought I would ever get the chance to talk with her or better yet become friends with her.

Stephanie: Reed Timmer.  I have followed him for years. He is so passionate and a great guy. Tim Samaras was a genius, he was one of the smartest and safest chasers. Terry Rosema, he is a great photographer..

Jennifer: I look up to Reed Timmer a lot, because he started out as just a guy who loved storms and filmed them. Now, he gets to spend his life doing what he loves.  That is an inspiration to anyone.

What are you looking forward to for the 2014 season?

Chandler: I am looking forward to the team bonding. The tornadoes. And most of all having Divas first storm chase.

Stephanie: Amazing storms in the middle of nowhere.

Jennifer: I am SO ready for the 2014 chase season!!!! I am looking forward to chasing with my team as much as possible.

Some exciting news came as I was working on this chaser chat, the Divas will now be live streaming with TVN!  

Jennifer: We are honoured and so excited!

Congratulations to the Divas on this exciting change for their 2014 chases! ¬†Thank you, Divas, for sitting down with me and chatting about storm chasing! ¬†I love talking about storms with the people who chase them! ¬†ūüôā

You can find the Divas here:

Diva Chasers Facebook

Diva Chasers Blog

@DivaChasers Twitter

Check out my other Chaser Chats HERE and stay tuned as I have a few more great chats on the way!

~Sarah

Chaser Chat with Sean Schofer ~ Team TVN: Part Two

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Welcome back to part two of my chaser chat with Sean Schofer of TVN. ¬†If you missed part one, you can check it out here! ¬†Let’s get right into it!

We had a bit of a boring season here but it was pretty active in the US.  Overall, how did the 2013 season go for the TVN crew?

“It was like riding a roller coaster from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. We lost friends and mentors. But as far as the data and video we were able to collect I‚Äôm really happy with that part. We were able to capture some of the best tornado footage ever taken.”

In May of 2013, the widest tornado in history hit near El Reno, OK.  It was a monster of a tornado and acted in ways that surprised even the most experienced chasers.  Was El Reno the most intense chase you’ve been on, or does another one take first place for you?

“The Bennington, Kansas tornado for me was by far more intense. I think even Reed will tell you Bennington was the strongest tornado he‚Äôs ever seen. That being said, the El Reno tornado was extremely powerful also and the widest in recorded history. That tornado did a few things that many chasers never have seen before and caught many off guard. We‚Äôre very lucky we didn‚Äôt lose more chasers that day.”

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I remember watching and seeing so many of my chaser friends caught off guard by the El Reno tornado. ¬†I wasn’t there chasing but even I had my heart in my throat often during that chase. ¬†I was very worried for everyone down there in that dangerous situation and that worry was well-founded when I heard the next day that Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras and Carl Young had been killed. ¬†That was such a¬†tragic day.

Can you tell me about the first tornado you intercepted in the D3! ¬†I can’t imagine how that must have felt!

“The first tornado I intercepted in Dominator 3 was last summer in Edmond, Ok. We had Reed Timmer, Jim Cantore, Mike Scantlin, and our shooter Chris Whiteneck along with us. I was very nervous but you can‚Äôt let the nerves take over. You, as a driver, and the rest of the team have to stay very focused so we don‚Äôt make a mistake. The first thing that happened is our ears popped. Then it felt like we were getting run over by a freight train and that we were going to get launched into the air any second. After we intercepted that one, we intercepted another one about an hour later. ¬†Then we had to stop the chase for search and rescue.”

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I love that you guys stop and help out where you can!  I appreciate that the chase comes second when lives are at stake.  What do you like most about the team you chase with?

“I couldn‚Äôt hand pick a better team. I‚Äôm very lucky to be a part of this team. The guys are always joking around and having a good time. I can‚Äôt wait to get back on the road with them.”

I can’t wait to see you back out there chasing! ¬†Winter seems crazy long when you’re waiting for storm season! ¬†Tell me what it’s like chasing with Reed. ¬†Is he always intense on a chase or are there moments of fun?

“Reed‚Äôs probably the funniest guy I‚Äôve ever met. He‚Äôs always laughing and having fun. Until we‚Äôre on a storm that is. Then it‚Äôs time to focus and take things seriously.”¬†

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It’s always fascinating to talk to Reed. ¬†I admit, since I’m new to the storm game, that quite a bit that he says goes right over my head but I am always enthralled with what he has to say. ¬†The guy goes a mile a minute when talking about storms but if I can grasp any of it, I know I could learn so much. ¬†Chatting with Sean yesterday he says “it’s actually scary how smart (Reed) is.

Tell me, Sean, what advice would you give aspiring storm chasers? ¬†Not that I’m asking for myself or anything…

“The first advice I‚Äôd give to aspiring storm chasers is to go on a tornado tour with a reputable company. I‚Äôd recommend¬†Extreme Tornado Tours. They teach you so much about weather and chasing during the tour. That‚Äôs where I would start.”

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I would love to go on a tour with Extreme Tornado Tours! ¬†I’ve met a few of those guys and have watched them chase and would totally go on a tour if I could! ¬†Here’s a few non-storm chasing questions to wrap it up. ¬†What do you do when you’re not chasing storms?

I like to spend a lot of time with my family at our cabin at the lake. We ¬†do a ¬†lot of boating, fishing, quading and snowmobiling out there. ¬†You can find me at a company I own called¬†Restorex. Restorex is a disaster restoration company. ¬†I‚Äôm also a firefighter, and I‚Äôve been a firefighter for about 17 years.”

Sean firefighterRestorex Dom

Thanks so much for having this conversation with me, Sean! ¬†I love watching you guys out there in the field and can’t wait to see what you guys have in store for 2014! ¬†Hopefully 2014 is amazing for the TVN team!

Here’s one of Sean’s favourite videos from the 2014 season:

You can find Sean on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram (@seanschofertvn).  Also, find Restorex on their website or on Twitter.

photo (4)Thanks for joining me and Sean for this chat! ¬†I’ve had so much fun chatting with these great chasers. ¬†I have a few more in the works and I hope that you’ll join me in learning more about storm chasing and the people who do it! ¬†You can check out my other Chaser Chats HERE!
~Sarah