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

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 with Nick Schenher

Nick S

Welcome everyone! I’m grateful today to be chatting the Nick Schenher (aka Nick the Body). Nick was one of the first chasers I ever started to watch. There was a day back in 2012, an incredible season and my first as a storm enthusiast, when Nick was out chasing a nice tornado near Wadena, SK. Nick makes mention of this day too. Nick was near another¬†team¬†that was right in there, but he was hanging back. It was amazing to watch the tornado on Nick’s live stream. The other team was too close for us to see the tornado well but Nick kept an awesome view for those of us watching. It was so cool.

Thanks, Nick, for chatting with me. I appreciate it! Tell me, what drew you to storm chasing?

I was always interested in storms from a young age. Not sure what the draw was, but I always knew I wanted do pursue some kind of career/hobby in weather.

How old were you when you first realized that you wanted to chase storms?

The first time I found out what a storm chaser was I was about 10 years old, watching a National Geographic documentary. It was about that time.

Tell me about the first tornado you ever saw.

The first tornado I saw was extremely brief, and occurred in southwestern Saskatchewan. The only thing I remember was that by the time I got my old film camera out and fired up, the tornado was over. It kicked up a lot of dust, and I was immediately into heavy rain and hail right after.

I bet that was so cool to see! Nick, what is your goal when you go out storm chasing?

My goal is safety ‚Äď being able to provide whatever entity ‚Äď whether Environment Canada, the National Weather Service, or the general public information about severe weather so loss of property or life is minimal.

That’s a great goal! What vehicle are you chasing in this year?

I have chased almost exclusively in my 2006 Toyota Yaris. It is a subcompact car that I trust. My goal is not to get into the middle of severe storms like other chasers, but to be able to stay dry, and keep a visual on rotation. With this in mind, there are times when I choose to stay a greater distance away from severe weather. I always want to give myself as much time and as many directional options as well in order to report and escape, if necessary. The Yaris relieves me of my temptation to go off-road or get into more precarious situations, as it does not handle well on anything but pavement. I also have a 2007 Jeep Compass which I utilize if storms are going to be a little more unpredictable, or if the road system in the area is less favourable than around the City of Regina.

I like that you deliberately drive a vehicle that will keep you, hopefully, out of danger. When you are out chasing, do you chase alone or do you have a team you usually go with?

I typically chase with a local photographer named Chris Graham (@cgphotography). I am not a photographer, and hate taking pictures of storms. The set up in the car allows me to live stream HD video in real time, but that I can set and then forget about. My dashboard camera captures any images I wish to reproduce, but Chris captures incredible images which are nice to look back on. I usually attempt to take another person for a ride-along when possible.

Now I have to ask how I get on that list for a ride-along! ūüėČ What do you find most amazing about chasing storms?

The fact that there are never any guarantees despite favourable conditions or high-risk ingredients atmospheric ingredients mixing together. I am always intrigued by how every chase is different, and always produces different memories and moments, and often times I hear myself saying, ‚ÄúWow, I don‚Äôt think I‚Äôve ever seen that before.‚ÄĚ

What was the most memorable chase you’ve ever been on?

Probably the Wadena tornado in 2012. I had two persons with me who had never seen a tornado before, and the progression of the day was excellent. We were correctly positioned all day, never got touched with a drop of rain, and had a clear and safe road with which to run parallel to the storm until it fizzled out.

That was an amazing day even to watch on the live-stream! What was the scariest moment you’ve ever had chasing? Was it when your car caught on fire?

My car catching on fire was more frustrating than it was scary. Even though we were under a tornado warned storm, with a wall cloud rotating a short distance away from us, it would have passed a few 100 metres to our north, so we would have been fine. Scariest for me is always chasing at night with little visual. I have had a couple of tornadoes pass not far in front of me, one of which was not noticed until a lightning flash while we were parked on a highway.

Yikes! That would be scary for sure! If you could go back and experience one tornado again, which one would it be?

I probably wouldn’t go back. Each experience is different, and with the chaser community being so large now, tornadoes are rarely missed. I am passionate about the weather, but the reason I chase is to keep people safe and educate others about storms, their risks, and why people do not need to fear the weather.

That’s one of the most unexpected storm-chaser answers I’ve ever had, but I like it. What advice would you give to aspiring storm chasers?

Do as much reading as possible, get comfortable understanding severe weather, watch as many videos observing movement and structure of tornadoes and storms, understand the risks, and then just go and do it. It astounds me that many chasers have a problem with so-called ‚Äúmembers of the public‚ÄĚ chasing or taking pictures of severe weather rather than huddling in a basement somewhere. I firmly believe people have the right to do whatever they want as long as they are not harming anyone else. There are certainly risks involved, but to say, ‚Äúleave it to the professionals‚ÄĚ when the whole system is reliant on the public is crazy to me. Many chasers will be happy to take anyone out with them for a share in gas, and if it‚Äôs about fulfilling a thrill or desire for excitement, then that is the way to go. If you are interested in weather or photography or contributing to the chaser community, then get educated and do it.

As someone who is trying to get educated, I can say there is a LOT to know. Nick, what is one thing that you wish the public understood better about storm chasers?

Nothing here. I think the public knows exactly what they need to about chasers ‚Äď some do it for photography, some for the adrenaline rush, some for education, some for science, many for a combination. Some take a lot of risks, others not as much. The chaser community, like any other community is filled with an eclectic bunch of people who all have their own reasons for doing it, and any of those reasons are acceptable. To try and box everyone in and say that the chaser community is filled with a bunch of safe, responsible role models would be incorrect, though there are many out there who do fit that role. They all serve a purpose, and that is that. Let everyone do their thing.¬†

What do you like to do in the winter? Do you chase blizzards?

In the winter I curl a few nights per week, and watch a lot of hockey. I enjoy getting out a couple of times to show everyone what a good Saskatchewan blizzard looks like, and why people should be much more afraid of cold weather over and severe summer storm.

When you’re not out chasing in the summer, what do you do? Professionally, and for fun!

I have a job where I get to help people 365 days per year, which I love. I am currently finishing a graduate degree in science (psychology). I love playing tennis in the summer, spending time with my wife and daughter, and reading as much as possible.

Anyone that you’d like to give a shout out to that supports you in your chasing?

Just thanks to everyone who enjoys watching the live stream and conversing on twitter. I appreciate the conversations we have had.

Thanks so much, Nick!

You can find Nick on http://www.stormwatcher.ca, Stormwatcher on Facebook, stormwatcherca on Instagram, and @NickTheBody on Twitter.

~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

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.

Diva storm 1

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

Chaser Chat with Sean Schofer: Team TVN~ Part One

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I am thrilled to be able to bring to you the first chaser chat with a TVN team member! ¬†I, like many, am a huge fan of TVN. ¬†Even before my world changed and I went from fearing storms to loving them, I enjoyed watching ‘Storm Chasers’ on Discovery channel and thought that the TVN team was awesome! ¬†Well, since that time, the TVN team is even better!

Let me introduce you to one of TVN’s amazing drivers. ¬†Sean Schofer is pretty new to the TVN crew and has the awesome job of piloting the newest Dominator, the D3.

I’m beyond thrilled that he agreed to be part of my Chaser Chat series! ¬†Last year, Sean began chasing with TVN after being asked by Reed Timmer. ¬†I think Sean is a fantastic match for TVN and they really seem to mesh well together.

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Thanks, Sean, for letting me ask you some questions!  I love that you are a from Saskatchewan and chase with one of the best known chase teams in the US!  Tell me how you wound up driving for Reed.

“I met Reed a few years ago while chasing in the US and soon we became very good friends. I soon realized I had more of a passion for capturing scientific data on tornadoes than taking photos. He asked me to join the team and here I am. What better way to learn more about science than with a Scientist?”

That’s awesome! ¬†It’s great when you can connect a passion with a great team that has the same goal! ¬†Can you tell me about the very first tornado you saw?

“Yes, I remember my first tornado very clearly. We were in Oklahoma and it was dark out already when a tornado touched down. We could only see it when lightning would flash because it was so dark out. I remember seeing it coming right for us and I was a little nervous. ¬†When I asked the guys if they‚Äôre ready to go yet, one of them responded with ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre not going anywhere!‚ÄĚ Lol!”

I’m sure I would ask the same thing. ¬†I’ve always thought that night tornadoes would be more scary because it isn’t as easy to see what they are doing. ¬†Tell me a bit about the D3. ¬†What is the coolest thing about driving it?

“I think the coolest thing about driving D3 is it doesn‚Äôt matter where we go everybody recognizes the vehicle and wants their picture taken with it.”

Yep, I’m the same way. ¬†I loved getting to see it last summer and getting a picture of you guys with it!

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Reed Timmer, Sean Schofer and Mike Scantlin
I got to hang out with them this summer and snapped this pic. ūüôā

What do you find most challenging about driving the D3?

“The most challenging part is deciding which tornadoes we can drive into. Even though D3 was built to go inside bigger and stronger tornadoes we still have to be extremely careful about which ones we drive into. ¬†We are not invincible in it. We can‚Äôt make a mistake or it will be our last.”

The D3 is intense but you face some tornadoes that are nothing to mess with for sure.  Besides driving the D3, what other responsibilities are yours?

“Besides driving, I‚Äôm also on the science team. When we are stopped and I‚Äôm not driving I will send warnings on social media when necessary but Reed does most of that.”

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(I asked Sean later what the science team does. ¬†He explained that they¬†plan which is the best way to get the probe into the tornado. Every situation is totally different and they have a few different methods to do this. It’s extremely difficult to get the probe into a tornado successfully, but they are going to keep doing it until they have what they want.)

Sean, who makes the decisions on what direction you head? Reed seems to do most of the directing but I’m sure that you all play a part.

“Reed is very much a team player. He‚Äôs always asking the rest of the team our opinion and sometimes we give it. But overall, we know Reed‚Äôs the best at finding tornadoes in the world so he should get final say.”

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Reed really is something else. ¬†A ‘human barometer’. ¬†(And there’s the nerdy ‘Twister’ reference.) ¬†ūüôā ¬†You’ve been on a ton of chases and I have to ask, what was your favourite to date?

“There are so many but the best chase I‚Äôve ever been on is Bennington, Kansas tornado May 28/13. Watch the ‚ÄėTornado Chasers‚ÄĚ episode and you‚Äôll know what I‚Äôm talking about. But honestly, it‚Äôs much more drastic in person.”

I just watched that episode this week and remember that day from the live stream. ¬†That would have been an intense and unforgettable day for sure! Here’s a preview for the Tornado Chasers Bennington episode. ¬†If you haven’t been watching this series, you’re missing out! ¬†After Storm Chasers was cancelled, the team decided to take their show online! ¬†You can get the episodes here (from both seasons).

Check out Part Two as Sean talks about his first intercept and gives advice to aspiring storm chasers!!

Also, check out my other chaser chats here!

~Sarah