Monday, April 13, 2009

Instant Fame: The Storm Chasing Fantasy

I spoke with a young gentleman tonight about his desire to become a storm chaser:

[22:19] ****: I am determined to be on tat show (Storm Chasers)
[22:20] Dann Cianca: Why is that so important to you?
[22:24] ****: Ever since i was a little kid, I loved weather. Now seeing the show just made me realize that I want to be an idol to other young and to show people just how serious things could be and to show that todays inventions could be better for tomorrow's future
[22:24] ****: adults
[22:28] Dann Cianca: Well, you're going to need to get out and get a lot of experience before anyone even looks at you.
[22:29] ****: thats the plan
[22:30] Dann Cianca: How many times have you gone out chasing?
[22:30] ****: well i didnt go last year\
[22:31] ****: becuase the damn storm caused me to stay in school
[22:31] ****: 2 minutes and i could have chased
[22:31] ****: and that night there was another one
[22:34] Dann Cianca: So, none ...
[22:37] ****: yeah basically
[22:37] ****: all though i called 2 tornadic cells right on the dot
[22:40] Dann Cianca: What do you mean by "called"?
[22:41] ****: h/o
[22:43] ****: you know how like when you look on radar and say it is like west or east of a town?
[22:44] Dann Cianca: ...
[22:44] Dann Cianca: Yeah, I guess.
[22:46] ****: well like it was on may 22nd
[22:47] Dann Cianca: No offense, but I don't get what you're saying.
[22:47] ****: I went outside during one f the storms and like i noticed that the wind was shifting and the thunderstorm was really roaring aove( constant thunder). As I noticed that the winds were shifting I grew more and more concerned that there was going to be a tornado out east of town and down southeast
[22:48] ****: well tornadoes formed right ing those areas
[22:48] ****: and i didnt used radar
[22:48] ****: I listened
[22:48] Dann Cianca: You sound like you've watched Twister too many times. haha
[22:48] ****: yeah but thats how i know
[22:49] Dann Cianca: Let me give you some advice ... take it or leave it...
[22:49] ****: ok ill take it
[22:49] Dann Cianca: Never, under any circumstance ever tell anyone that again. No one will ever take you seriously and you will never bee on the Discovery Channel show: Storm Chasers.
[22:50] ****: ok
[22:51] Dann Cianca: If you have some sort of innate ability like that ... keep it to yourself. I've seen people claim stuff like that and they get torn down quick. Just an FYI.
[22:51] ****: ok got ya
[22:52] ****: and like I use radar whenever i am not outside to determine where it is at
[22:52] ****: or when i am in a car
[22:52] ****: even though i havent chased
[22:54] ****: Why would ** do something like that? I thought that is what hey wanted
[22:54] Dann Cianca: Huh?
[22:54] ****: like why would they tear somebody down taat knows that there is going to be a tornado
[22:55] Dann Cianca: Because what you say is not believable.
[22:57] ****: wow dude that sucks
[22:58] Dann Cianca: Just being honest. You really want people to believe you can hear a tornado?
[22:58] Dann Cianca: Let's think rationally here ...
[22:58] ****: no its not that
[22:58] ****: I just know when a tornado is forming
[22:59] ****: by listening to the thunderstorm
[23:01] Dann Cianca: Well, no offense, but that is not a believable story.
[23:01] Dann Cianca: You might as well tell me you shoot lasers from your eyes.
[23:02] Dann Cianca: I'm not trying to be mean ... just bein' straight with ya'.

I've been bombarded as of late by young ones on Facebook and elsewhere wanting to know about storm chasing. I'm by no means a "veteran plains chaser", but I try to help where I can. It's astounding to me, however, how "storm struck" many are with the characters on Storm Chasers. I'm not trying to lessen the abilities of those on the show by any means. It's just that there are people out there who like any celebrity are very, very caught up.

So, there exists a certain pressure or drive to have part of that pie. We see this commonly now with people who are chasing for their first year and are loaded with technology ... streaming their epic storm chases live on the interwebs.

(... and yes, I know I post chase updates on Facebook)

I guess what I'm trying to say here is we can turn our eyes away from these VERY impressionable people or we can set the best example possible for them. I'm not going to go to any individuals and tell them how they should or should not chase unless it directly effects me. Just something to think about ...



Ken Reynolds said...

Hey Dann. Been reading your blog now for a while. I am a chaser based out of Dallas, TX. It amazes me how many young people are so interested in chasing, yet have no clue what is really involved, or how to do even basic forecasting. Heck, I can forecast for an event for days, nail a target, then miss the show simply because nature is nature.

I wish chasing were as easy as some of these kiddos seem to think. If it were, we'd all see wedges every time we go out. I've spent years teaching myself about thunderstorm thermodynamics, structures, etc., as well as how to forecast and properly read radar and interpret sounding data. In fact, I didn't even think about getting into the car to chase until I had a solid grasp of these fundamentals.

I like to think about how it was back in the old days, when guys like Chuck Doswell, Alan Moller, and Gene Moore chased with the only important instrument they have: their eyes.

Just my .02, but I do agree that, as chasers who strive to chase safely and follow the "rules" of safe chasing, we really need to be setting an example for those who are younger and star struck by the media.

Unfortunately, I don't know what to do about bad media tactics and practices, but that's another topic altogether.

Beau Dodson said...

Mentoring is your friend - and everyone elses. :)

Adam L said...

I get allot of questions like that too. Mostly on youtube lol I havent been bombarded on facebook really. I simply tell them to start getting training done and I point them to a few resources.

This person sounds kinda goofy though about being able to hear a tornado lol.

I know where hes coming from through, when I was young I looked up to storm chasers as well, just never went out and contacted them.

Anonymous said...

There definitely is a lot that goes into weather forecasting and since I've been reading books on forecasting and about how to read weather models, it sure has changed my perspective on how storm chasers plan out chases.


Dann Cianca said...

Ken: You're right, a lot of it comes down to instant gratification. Many of those types of chasers probably won't be out there two years from now. Needless to say, though, this year and probably the next are going to be pretty crazy out there. Best thing we can do is lead by example.

Beau: Even though it is a bit annoying some times, I do try and take the time to talk to them. I spoke with the young man in question again last night and he admitted he was ... just really excited about the weather and not really as gifted with special powers as he lead on.

Adam: Maybe I should take the "Training". :)

Alan: You're doing the right thing man. Another thing to do is to ride along with others (if they'll let you!)

Steve Miller TX said...

Nice post, Dan. This is a reminder of why I am more concerned this year with who I'll be sharing the road with. Young, inexpereinced (or even totally clueless as in this case) chasers pose a serious safety threat not only to everybody out there on the road, but to themselves as well. It's a very tired, old argument, but still a solid and valid one. Not much we can do about it though except trying to mentor and lead by example...if for no other reason than self preservation. :-)

Dann Cianca said...

Agreed SMTX ... PS: Enjoyed your mushy hail video!

Matt Johnson said...

Even though I've "chased" for 4 years now I consider myself a rookie because just last year I delved into forecasting and am finding it to be way harder than i thought.

I do feel for this kid though. I was so excited to get my licence back in SW Ontario and finally go chasing. But I did get myself into some trouble as I found myself inside the storm more than chasing the storm. Thats part of the learning process though.

Things is though that with the storms that you chasers down in the heart of Tornado Ally have 1) stronger storms on average 2) more storms and 3) tons apon tons of chasers all trying to catch the same storm. I hate to say this but I think that storm chasing deaths might not be far off in the future, especially with all these newbies out on the road.

I really feel luck sometime living in the northern sections of Tornado Ally because we definetly don't get bunching up of chasers, if we even see one chaser out there at all.

Anyway hopefully this kid does a ton more research and practice before he heads out on the road.

Dann Cianca said...

Matt, I've been chasing since 1997, but I'm still a rookie. I still see things that surprise me ... every time I go. Best thing you can do is study up and get out.