Storm Chasing

I have been chasing storms since 1985. One of the great dividends of my annual trips has been interaction with my colleagues across the Great Plains. This shows me in 1990 when I was visiting scientist with the NSSL.

Each trip I look forward to meeting up with these colleagues. It is gratifying when we all seem to converge on the same storms.

My chase partner, Thom Trimble has been chasing since 1984. Thom is an engineer, not a formally-trained meteorologist, yet he has obtained the background in storm structure and basic synoptic meteorology to make him a valuable colleague and contributor in the field. He, like others who have attained basic knowledge on their own, proves that one need not be a degreed meteorologist to be a competent storm chaser.
We were joined in 1995 by Ron Smith, Instructor of Meteorology and Astronomy at Santa Rosa Junior College. Ron also has built his knowledge of storm structure, storm dynamics and synoptic meteorology on his own; he is a degreed astronomer.
In 1996, Thom and I chased with Brian Curran, Mike Foster and Mike's daughter Erin. A more congenial group could not be found! Although we saw no significant tornadoes (a couple of tornadic whirls), we did find what supercells were out there for some exciting, educational (storm structure) chases. Mike is Science Operations Officer and a forecaster at the Fort Worth National Weather Service Forecast Office and Brian is a forecaster at the same office. Thom and I learned much about storm structure, chase tactics and photography in our sojourn with Brain, Mike and Erin this year.

Chaser Sights!

Who can come to Tulsa without stopping and marveling at Oral Robert's Hands sculpture. Not!
Haute cuisine, Will Rogers Turnpike-Style. (Yes, that is a MacDonald's on top of the turnpike, southwest of Tulsa.)
I scanned this image in degraded style, so users of this Web Site would not have to read the intellectually insulting, idiotic right wing, militia slogans on some ding dong's property in south-central Kansas.

Chaser No-Nos!

Lowlight of a Down Day: Blue Sky, Northwest Winds; Highlight: Breakfast
There is a misconception that chasing is continually exciting. The truth is that there is much "down" time during chase trips; nature does not always cooperate. Dedicated chasers learn to restrain their impatience. Unfortunately, recent PBS and Discovery Channel specials on chasing as well as the movie "Twister" have presented a totally lopsided, inaccurate view of the degree to which "excitement" characterizes the typical chaser day.
Chasing is a potentially dangerous activity. In a recent PBS special, the chases of Jack Corso and other chasers were highlighted. All would-be chasers should know that Jack Corso's decisions and behavior depicted on that special were dangerous and irresponsible, particularly his "core punch" (purposeful drive through the center of heaviest large hail and poor visibilty usually immediately adjacent to the tornadic portion of a supercell). Actions like this not only put the chaser at risk but also make it likely that public safety officials may make it difficult for all of us to chase.
No one should chase unless he or she knows enough about storm structure and behavior to ensure their own safety. "Ambulance" chasers rarely take the time since they want the excitement without the knowledge that will allow their own safety to be ensured and which will ultimately make the experience more intellectually rewarding.

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