Storm Chasing: Tips on Getting Started
You can see the sky turning green, you can hear the wail of tornado sirens is going off in the distance, and while all of this is happening, a select few are charging into the heart of the storm. Meet the storm chasers.
Storm chasing is one of the most amazing and dangerous experiences one can go through. Many people chase as a hobby, some do it professionally. Are you wanting to stop running and start chasing? I’m here to start you on that path.
First off, know that storm chasing isn’t for everyone. It is very expensive, requires a lot of patience, very rarely pays money, and can be dangerous. It is nothing like what you’ve probably seen in the movie Twister or on the TV Show Storm Chasers. But if your heart is set on pursuing the best and the worst that Mother Nature has to offer, you’ll overcome these obstacles and will find some true joy in the pursuit of severe weather.
I personally suggest starting off by looking into a volunteer program called SKYWARN, which is a network of storm spotters that are trained by the National Weather Service to report on and spot severe weather conditions. SKYWARN does NOT condone storm chasing, but they do rely on chasers for severe weather reports. Being trained on basic severe weather conditions and how to properly sight and report them is an invaluable gateway into storm chasing. Classes are free, and you can contact your local National Weather Service office for more information.
Once you are SKYWARN certified, you can learn more about chasing from several major storm chasing teams and organizations throughout the country. Many have their own websites and their own Facebook pages or Twitter accounts, and the groups usually consist of chasers and spotters that have many years of experience.
Finally, I recommend that you use YouTube to watch and review videos from other chasers. Many are littered with examples of what a general chase day is like, and what to do and what not to do in certain situations. Above all, DO NOT just jump in your car and start driving once you hear tornado sirens or are informed that severe weather is in the area. That is how people are injured and killed. Take the time to learn and you’ll be rewarded in the future.
Just as a disclaimer: Storm chasing is dangerous without the proper training and education. So do not pursue severe weather without first seeking both and perhaps a ride-along with a local experienced chaser who might be open to you chasing with them. We do not want to see anyone do anything foolish and add to the general traffic clog that occurs near storms. Storm Chase Tours are a great idea as well, if you can afford one.