Storm chasing and storm spotting are perhaps the top reasons many people get interesting in meteorology from an early age. Huge storms make a strong impression on a young mind. The raw power of nature in motion is an amazing site and for many people the storms can be witnessed without leaving home.
Storm chasing evolved as a way to witness storms without waiting on the chance of them coming to the city that person lives in. With the development of cars and the highway system storm chasing was made possible. Storm chasers take maps, weather radios and other equipment to seek out storms while driving.
Storm chasing is commonly done in teams since one person is needed to drive and watch the road while other(s) are needed to collect weather data. Before the chase, the team determines the region that is most likely to have the type of weather they are looking for. Most commonly, storm chasers seek tornadoes, hail, convective wind gusts and visual cloud phenomena. Some chasers also seek hurricanes, winter storms and/or unusual weather phenomena.
The chase team will generally have the following equipment with them: 1) laptop computer with wireless Internet, 2) detailed highway maps, 3) weather radio, and 4) video and visual recording devices. This equipment maximizes the ability to find a storm and record the storm.
The primary reasons for storm chasing and storm spotting are to alert of severe weather and to witness particular types of weather. The top item on most chasers wish list to witness is a strong tornado. Even the most experienced chasers only see a tornado in about 1 of 10 chases.
1. Are there companies that I can go on a storm chase with?
Yes, there are several. As examples, visit the following websites:
2. Is storm chasing dangerous?
It is important to properly position around a storm to avoid property damage and threat to life. It is important to drive safely on the roads, especially when they are slick. Although dangers are inherent, with proper training those dangers can be reduced. At least one person on the chase team should be a trained storm spotter.
3. What are the main frustrations of storm chasers?
a. Unrealistic expectations. It is important not to have unrealistic expectations of what will be seen on a chase. Storms often develop in a location the chase team can not get to and on many days the severe weather is not widespread. Usually it takes a large number of chases to experience all the weather phenomena a chaser would like to see.
b. Boredom. Most of a chase consists of driving around. On many days, nothing but regular storms or even less is seen.
c. Bad food. Many meals require quick eating of fast food or packaged food.
d. Irresponsible storm chasers. Storm chasing should be done in a professional manner and someone in the storm chase group should have storm chasing and meteorology credentials.