Chasing 101: Knowing When to Quit
One of the most important lessons in storm chasing is knowing when to call off the chase. Whether it’s been a close call with a tornado, having power lines come down in your path, having your vehicle heavily damaged by large hail, or an extremely close lightning strike, every chaser should know when to call it a day.
Many chasers, even in the heat of the chase as they’re going after a large tornado, will stop if they come across the tornado’s damage path. Sometimes it’s because of the sheer shock factor, sometimes they want to render aid, and sometimes the road network has been wiped out by the twister. Either way, if you come across the damage path, it might be a good time to stop to be sure. We’re human beings who probably need to help our fellow human beings after all.
Lightning. One of the most beautiful and deadly phenomenons a chaser will encounter. As a lightning photographer, I’ve had my share of close calls, and this is one of the closest I’ve ever had. That tree was less than one hundred yards from my truck, and I put my foot to the floor to get out of there before another bolt decided to come down right on top of me. Your car is a (relatively) safe place when it comes to lightning, but there is no shame in getting out of the most lightning intense part of the storm if they start coming down this close to you.
Whatever the case may be, don’t be ashamed to run from the storm. Sometimes they chase us, and if it’s in your best interest to run, then do so. There’s nothing more important than your life. There will be other storms to chase, but they’re no good to you if you’re dead.