Weather Wednesday: Arm-Chair Chasing

Amazing storm structure from Craig Hilts

Amazing storm structure from Craig Hilts

I am so excited to be able to start talking about storm season again. We didn’t have a terrible winter but it always feels SO long to someone who is dying for summer storms!

The last few weeks has seen a return to arm-chair chasing for me and many other storm enthusiasts. Looking forward to even more live stream viewing as the season heats up!

Live streams? If you’ve never heard of them, you’re missing out and I’m here to let you in on one of the coolest things I’ve discovered in the last few years. Arm-chair chasing. Love storms but don’t have any in your area? Spend six months without them and almost physically crave a storm? Live streams are the thing for you!

Sometimes when you are watching TV you get the weather guys and gals breaking into your favorite show because of severe weather. They often have footage — someone following the tornado so you get to see it up close and know where the beast is and where it’s headed. This footage often comes from a chaser and a lot of chasers have live streams. Where you can watch, chat with others and with some you actually get to interact with them. The ones you get to interact with are my faves. I love when people can ask questions and get answers. It’s a huge community of storm-enthusiasts, wanna-be chasers (I’m in both of those categories) and chasers. There’s a wealth of knowledge to be had. Even if you are terrified of storms, this can be an amazing place to start losing some of those fears. Knowledge is the first step to dispelling fears. My story started with terror of storms, now I dread the arrival of winter and months of no storms. You can read how it all changed for me HERE.

I thought today I’d post some of my favorite links of live stream chasers to watch! Some are incredible. Some interact, some don’t. Some are pros and some are newer chasers. It’s a great collection of people to watch. The chat rooms are usually a lot of fun and the storms are awesome to watch!

I hope you’ll join us this storm season! Come arm-chair chase with us! Today (April 22, 2015) could be a great day to watch as there’s some expected storm action in Texas!

TORNADO HUNTERS <— I talk about this team a lot because they are awesome to watch.

TVN LIVE <— A pretty big collection of chasers to watch.

There are a bunch more and I’ll be updating this post anytime I find a new one to watch! Arm-chair chasing is great. All of the action, none of the danger. Which is super handy if you find storms pretty terrifying like I used to!  Now I just want to get out there!

If you have a live-stream site you want listed here, let me know and I’ll check it out!

To all you awesome chasers out there who live stream for us, you rock! Thank you for all you do!

~Sarah

Storm barn july 24-13

Awesome shot by Greg Johnson

 

 

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Tornado Hunters on CMT ~ Review

Tornado Hunters

Let me start out by saying a huge THANKS to Ricky Forbes for the invite to the sneak peek screening of the Tornado Hunters TV show set to hit CMT on October 26th!

If you haven’t already watched the webisodes that were released a few months ago, you should! It gave me a pretty good idea of what I would be seeing in the TV show. Here are my thoughts on the webisodes (which I really enjoyed).

I’ve been a fan of storm chasing shows for many years. I’ve watched a lot of them but I found this one unique. I like the focus in Tornado Hunters on the realities of chasing. Yes, many of them show some of the ups and downs of chasing, but I found that Tornado Hunters showed a uniquely honest point of view. The webisodes showed us some of the ugly downsides of chasing and that continues in the episodes for TV. I really liked how they showed the comedy,frustration and action of the profession.

I love the moments with amazing storms, tornadoes and the almost palpable thrill of the team as they capture some amazing footage. They also addressed the tough part of the profession. The fact that slow storm years, being out of position and being unable to chase, all contribute to huge pressure on the guys. This is another reason why I think these guys (and all chasers who do this for a living) are brave. You can learn all there is to learn, you can be in the right place and yet the storms do what they do. There’s predicting, but there’s no predicting when you’re going to go bust. Miles and miles of road, hours and hours of sleeplessness, anxiety and pressure building, it all adds up to one heck of a way to make a living. Makes me extremely grateful that these guys are here to track the weather that is on our doorstep!

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.

Make sure to set your PVR’s or just cancel all plans and check out Tornado Hunters, airing October 26th, 2014 on CMT!

Thanks again to the guys for letting me come and a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Ricky, Greg and Chris on TORNADO HUNTERS! Can’t wait to see the episodes again and I sure hope that it turns into a whole series for you!

Ricky Show Shot

Ricky proudly showing off the poster he got us to sign at the party!

~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

Unexpected Fun

So, I was writing with my friend Leslie over Skype last night and she posed a challenge for me.  A blog post about “the last time you had more fun than you expected to. Something that surprised you with joy.” She also put a proviso on it.  It couldn’t be about my kids, my man, or God.  My initial thoughts were ‘um, what does that leave me’ and ‘that’s basically my life right there’.  Once I got past those thoughts though, it led me to a realization that there’s more to me than only those things.   So, of course, it’s going to be storm related.  🙂

Bolt from the Blue

‘Bolt from the Blue’ by Craig Hilts

I have an interesting relationship with social situations.  I love them if they are full of people I know, or at least partially know.  I am super uncomfortable with ones where the majority of the people are unknown to me.  I know most people are similar.

I also have an interesting relationship with Twitter.  I think it’s awesome in the summer when all the storm-chasers are posting updates and photos of storms that they are following.  I don’t like how time-consuming it is.  Confession: I joined and quit three separate times before it stuck.

Unless you’re a Twitter person, ‘tweetup’ won’t make a lot of sense to you.  Honestly, I still don’t really get them completely.  A ‘tweetup’ is a get together with a bunch of Twitter people in real life.  Like a party, with mostly people you’ve never met in person before.  It’s a combination of uncomfortable and cool all at the same time.  You could potentially make some awesome friends, or you could want to swear off Twitter entirely.

I had a combination of those experiences my first tweetup.  I met some really strange people, but I made some awesome friends.  (@ItsGodzirra and @mellowdeekay, you two redeemed my first tweetup and I am so grateful for you both!)

My second tweetup is where the unexpected fun happened.  One day I was thinking about storms and tweeted out ‘Anyone ever thought of putting together an storm tweetup?’.  Thankfully, an awesome local weather specialist saw the tweet and ran with it!  She had way more resources to get it done and I’m grateful she did it!

So, the storm tweetup was born.  I had my usual trepidation as the day approached.  Wavering back and forth between wanting to go and wanting to stay home in my safe zone.  Yes, I do this all the time.  Taking a risk is not something I do easily.  Yes, I still want to go out and storm chase!  Unpredictable weather is less scary than the unpredictability of people.

However, I had made a decision at the beginning of last year to be more brave.  To step out of my comfort zone more often.  Not in a dangerous way… though I think there’s always a danger outside of the comfortable little boxes we tend to sometimes live in.  To be bolder.  To not let fear rule my life.  I’m a work in progress.  There are many times where something hard happens and I consider staying in my comfortable little box.  This was not going to be something I would let fear take.  I wanted to go.

storm33

Photo Credit to Greg Johnson

When I arrived I was shaking.  Yep, shaking.  I was greeted at the door, thankfully, by a familiar face.  Greg Johnson, the local Tornado Hunter, had a brief conversation with me and put me at ease a bit.

Settling in at a table with the only other person I knew, I listened to storm-chasers talk about the storms they’d seen, the gear they use, the anticipation of the next season and the sadness that the year was wrapping up.  It was great!  As a new ‘storm-enthusiast’, this was awesome.  Hearing the stories and the excitement just made me want to get out there more.

Greg gave a talk about his storm year.  2013 was a wild year in the US for storms and Greg, Ricky and Chris were down there for a lot of it.  I really enjoy hearing about storms and I find Greg a really dynamic speaker.  He took questions after and I was able to learn a lot.  At one point, when the questions dies down a bit, Greg looked at me and said ‘Sarah, I find it hard to believe that you don’t have a question‘.  Yep, I’m making a name for myself as being someone who asks a ton of questions… annoying and otherwise.  🙂  The conversations continued and I got to meet some great local chasers and hear some great stories.

I walked away from the experience really glad that I went.  Not only did I meet some great people and hear some awesome stories, but I learnt a lot about storms and what it takes to chase them.  Thanks to everyone who made the experience an awesome one!  Looking forward to the next one!  Good luck this year in your chasing!

Storm 1

My own photo from my first storm-spotting trip.

When was the last time that you had more fun than you expected?  The last time that you were surprised by joy?  I’d love to hear about it!

~Sarah

Weather Wednesday

Click the photo to see more awesomeness!

Click to enlarge!  Trust me, you want to!

Photo credit to Greg Johnson (Tornado Hunter).  Look at those amazing clouds!  I could look at this picture all day and still be fascinated by the clouds!  Click here to see more from the awesome Tornado Hunter team: http://www.tornadohunter.ca/tornadohuntermedia/photos

What is your favourite weather phenomenon?  If any of you say snow… I might throw up!  😉

~Sarah

Chat with Chris Chittick of Team Tornado Hunter

Chris Chittick

I’m excited to be able to chat with Chris Chittick.  A man of few word and great skill with a camera.  I first saw Chris on TV a few years ago and really liked his quiet presence and passion for what he does.  This year he teamed up with Team Tornado Hunter and I was thrilled.  He brings a new element to the team and they fit really well together.  This summer I really enjoyed watching the three of them banter back and forth while on chases.  Chris has been one of my favourite chasers for many years and I was honoured to be able to ask him some questions!

Thank you Chris for being willing to chat with me!  Tell us how you got into storm chasing and storm photography?

 I got into storm chasing back in 1998 as a hobby.  I fell in love with it in 2000 when I saw my first tornado in WY.  I didn’t start picking up the video camera until about 2008….I realized I have the photographic eye and have been in love with shooting and editing ever since.
You certainly do have great skill with a camera!  Do you only chase tornadoes or is it all weather you love to chase?
I chase all extreme weather from ice and snow storms to hurricanes to tornadoes.
Well, you’ll certainly get a chance to chase snow in Canada!  Can you tell us about the very first tornado you remember?
First tornado was in 2000 in south-east WY.  It formed over our heads and dropped just to our west close to some hills and I fell in love with it right there.

What made you get behind a camera when storm chasing?

I first picked up the camera in 2008 and shot some things then realized I was really good at framing and just shooting in general.

Did you then take classes on photography or are you self-taught?

I am self taught.  I learnt a lot on the road and being next to Discovery Channel camera operators for 4 years.

Chris Chittick strom

That’s a great way to learn!  What was the most memorable chase you’ve ever been on?

The most memorable chase I have been on was this year May 31, 2013 El Reno.  It was unbelievable.  The sights and sounds and smells.

That was an intense chase to watch, I can only imagine the intensity of being there.  Besides tornadoes, you’ve also filmed hurricanes.  What makes a hurricane so interesting?

Hurricanes are interesting to me because it’s a whole other beast…. new things to worry about, like how am I going to get this shot etc…..It’s basically a really big tornado.

Will you be coming up to chase blizzards in the winter?

I live in Regina now, so yes, I will be chasing blizzards with the team.

How did you wind up riding with Team Tornado Hunter?

I had met Greg a couple of years ago and thought he was a great guy.  I met Ricky last year in the U.S. Plains and couldn’t get enough of him.  So, this winter I left my old team and Greg reached out to me…next thing you know I’m living in Canada.

Tornado Hunter Truck

I had no idea that you’d moved to Canada!  Hope that you like it up here!  What was the scariest moment you’ve ever had chasing?

The scariest moments I have ever had chasing was in the earlier years when we didn’t know what we were doing out there.

You sure know a lot now!  What advice would you give to aspiring storm chasers/storm photographers?

Go to some spotter training courses and soak up as much knowledge as possible, or go on a tour with a respected tour company and ask lots of questions.

Great advice!  If you couldn’t storm chase, what would you do?

If I couldn’t storm chase I would be a camera operator for TV shows.

Is storm-chasing your full-time job?  What do you do in the off-season?

Storm chasing is my full time job.  In the off season I do speaking engagements and get ready for the next season.

I’m already looking forward to watching you guys chase next year!  What do you like to do when you’re not out chasing?

I like to play golf hang with friends and family and most of all hang with my girlfriend.

Thanks again Chris for taking time to chat with me.  I look forward to watching you and Team Tornado Hunter chase this winter and, most definitely, next summer!

You can follow Chris and his photography on:

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

TORNADO HUNTER WEBSITE

Also, check out my other Chaser Chats with Ricky ForbesCraig Hilts and Sean Schofer!

Chat with Ricky Forbes: Team Tornado Hunter (Part One)

RFD Ricky

You’ve all heard me talk about team Tornado Hunter and how much I look forward to the summer storm chasing season.  These guys are awesome.  Okay, in all honesty I’ve only met Greg, but I hope to remedy that sometime soon.  I’ve chatted with Ricky a fair bit and I am so glad that he agreed to be part of this blog series!  In fact, he’s going to lead the way in what I hope will be a good bunch of storm chaser chats!

Hey Ricky, thanks for being willing to answer a few questions for me!  I’m a pretty big fan of storm chasing and I’m excited to chat with you about it.

Tell me, what drew you to storm chasing?

Originally it was the elusiveness of catching a storm and the majestic beauty of Mother Nature. Now it’s all that plus the adventure and friends. It has become one of my favourite pastimes.  

It does look awesome!  I can’t wait to get out there next year!  Do you remember the first tornado you ever saw in the field and can you tell me a bit about it?

I’ll never forget it! It was the Great Bend EF-4 of April 14, 2012. It produced 12 tornadoes over a 3 hour period with little damage to a few farm yards and no one injured. At points we were within 100 yards, right beside it, hearing the whistling roar, seeing debris flying everywhere, and other points we were sitting still watching it off in the distance only to meet up with it again. It was the best day for a storm chaser. I was definitely spoiled.  

15_tornadohunter 2012 favorites

That would have been amazing to see!  How did you end up teaming up with Greg?

I got in touch with Greg through a mutual friend. Originally I was meant to go out in the backseat handling the computer and camera gear – and immediately got put in the driver’s seat! It’s been a great trip and only getting better.

I know that you are an integral part of the team and that there is more to your role than just driving ‘Flash’ to the storm, can you tell me what your role involves?

Behind the scenes I handle all aspects for the website – it’s my profession in the off-season so I am the go-to guy for that. On the road it is also my duty to share our adventures real-time with social media as much as I can, as Greg and Chris are busy capturing the storm.

On the live feed we often see Greg giving you directions on where to drive.  Does he make that decision alone or do you guys discuss it before you head out for the day?  Is it always a group decision when you are debating on staying with your current storm or chasing another more promising one?

Lots of times those directions are last minute decisions. We can have a general idea before the storm of our road networks in relation to where we think the storm will be, but that all changes once the game starts. Factors such as the storm direction, high traffic areas, damaged roads, etc. impacts our directions. Once in the moment it is very much up to Greg and Chris on what they think the best routes are as my focus is on driving. 

It is always a group decision on deciding whether to leave a storm or stay on a storm. We all bring our different backgrounds and experiences to the table and we quickly discuss all factors to make a smart decision.

It’s awesome how you guys work together so well!  If you can narrow it down, what was the best chase you ever had?

That’s a tough one! It would have to be the first tornado I ever saw – the April 14, Great Bend tornado. There was so many amazing moments and sights we got to see. At one point we were on a closed off freeway with the tornado slowly circulating over top of us, moments like that take your breath away. 

This year you had some pretty intense experiences.  Was El Reno the most intense chase that you’ve ever been on?

El Reno was the most intense situation I have ever been in! That tornado was later declared to be the world’s largest tornado on record and for good reason. The way it moved and built so fast was unreal. 

In the El Reno situation, when you found yourselves in a very dangerous situation, what went through your head when you knew it was up to you to get the team away from danger?  Did you just rely on instinct at that point?

That’s a tough one, gives me the chills a bit thinking back to that moment. The roar of the tornado was all around us, our ears had popped from the pressure change, buildings were be torn apart and being thrown into us, and our exits were blocked. I hit the sketchy ditch as our last resort and hammered on the gas. We lucked out making it through there, at one point all of our tires were off the ground. While in the ditch we saw a large 2 ton grain farm truck fly through the air and land in the ditch, barely dodging it bringing us out of the ditch and on our way to safety. Literally felt like a moment out of Twister. 

I remember that on the live feed.  My heart was nearly stopping and I wasn’t even there!

I’ve really enjoyed Ricky’s answers to these questions!  

Check out Part Two of this awesome chat: here

Find Ricky here:

Twitter  

LinkedIn 

Danger Dynamite

Tornado Hunter

Instagram: @forbesricky

Also, check out my other Chaser Chats HERE!

Thanks for coming by!

~Sarah