Capturing Incredible.

Let’s Examine the Term ‘Unchaseable’

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Ever since I began storm chasing, there have always been certain setups deemed ‘unchaseable’. You know, the setups where storms move 50+ mph, are in bad terrain, and (now) you have limited data as well. Yet, time and time again over the past 13 or so years I’ve seen people turn these unchaseable days into chase days (and oftentimes) successful chase days. 

I think the term unchaseable is probably accurate for a few types of chases — and probably better said ‘prefer not to chase this’ for many others.

To me, something that is truly not chaseable would be storms moving at 65+ mph through the Ozarks. There’s just no way you can do that and have much success. It could happen, but the odds are high that you’d come home empty handed.

The Veteran’s Day chase tomorrow (thus making this article out of date by tomorrow I suppose), is another great example of a chase day that’s actually chaseable — its just not going to be easy nor desirable to chase it.

Low cape, very fast storm motions, rough terrain, windy roads — yes its all a nightmare if you actually wanted to stay on a storm.

Supercell with a brief funnel on the left as the cold front overtook it near Wellston, Oklahoma. March 25, 2015.
Supercell with a brief funnel on the left as the cold front overtook it near Wellston, Oklahoma. March 25, 2015.

Knowing when you go out that you have just one shot (most likely) at getting the storm/tornado timing right is definitely not the most ideal chasing scenario — and driving hours for that one shot over about 30 minutes may call into question all of our sanity — but getting the shot and making the most of the ‘unchaseable days’ is exactly one of the big changes I’ve seen in chasing even over the last decade or so.

When I started in 2003, a day like tomorrow would have been chased by only an enterprising few — and honestly in those days without mobile internet the results were sparse at best.

Its easier to get good material on days that used to be ‘unchaseable’ thanks to mobile internet, and its also easier to stay safe.

Show of hands, who wants to chase a violent tornado outbreak in the Ozarks with multiple HP storms, 50+ mph storm motions all with no mobile data?

That’s where the game truly has changed and the term unchaseable has seen its definition shift somewhat.

But chasing these types of days doesn’t have the same strategy as the better days (yes I said it) of late May into July when storms crawl and you can set the tripod up in one location for almost an hour. Tomorrow can be chased — with the low cape, the fast storm motions, the hills and trees — its all doable. When a chaser says its unchaseable, most likely what they are actually saying is, “I’d rather not spend money on this crapshoot.”

And that’s probably a better use of the term anyways.