“Storm chasing is like a ticking time bomb”

In a strongly written and rightly worded article, Matthew Cappucci of the Capital Weather Gang shared a perspective on the mobs/aka noobs ruining storm chasing.

At the start of his perspective piece, Cappucci stated that he heard “grumblings about the downsides of storm chasing for a long time” – suffice to suggest we’ve heard the same things.

Those downsides include: poor driving habits, traffic jams as cars converge near significant storms.

Cappucci concluded on this particular subject of the downsides of chasing by stating: “It had always been on my mind, but four years of venturing to the Plains had taught me it was just something with which I’d have to live. I’ve always brushed it off as an unavoidable by-product of chasing.”

Cappucci moved on to the subject of which this article is based upon – YESTERDAY’S SEVERE WEATHER RISK!!!

Cappucci started on the above mentioned subject by stating “he witnessed first-hand the practices” that would drive him away from storm chasing.

Cappucci put a six bullet point list on some of the things he’s encountered – which can be read below.

  • Chase vehicles parked perpendicular to roads – blocking major intersections.
  • “Multiple” chasers with red/blue police lights, “pulling over” others to clear their path to the storm.
  • Traffic jams two hundred cars deep.
  • Chasers parking on/in the road to take photographs – blocking traffic.
  • Chasers “barrelling” down a one-lane road at stupid speeds in our opinion – ninety miles per hour.
  • Chasers driving on the wrong side of the road. 

A photo captured by veteran chaser, Daniel Shaw perfectly illustrates a scenario which played out on Monday – see below.

Suffice to say, the dangers speak for themselves.

In his perspective piece, the Capital Weather Gang contributor stated his biggest fear wasn’t weather related; it’s other chasers. 

Yesterday, an incredibly significant and photogenic Tornado swept passed Mangum, Oklahoma – find our articles on that here. here and here

The Oklahoma Highway reported just one injury, thank god. It wasn’t caused by the adverse weather conditions… It involved two vehicles with storm chasers…

You can read the rest of Cappucci’s perspective piece here, we wanted to give you a taste. Now on to our take…

The storm chasing community has been unbelievably lucky when it comes to the lives of chasers1.

 1: Chasers have died in past traffic/Tornado incidents, however out of respect for family, friends and colleagues, we did not want to mention their names in this particular piece. However, our thoughts, prayers and love remain with above mentioned individuals.

We firmly believe the crux of the issue comes from the amount of chasers on the road. Then it comes down to the do it yourself storm chasers/amateur that have been spurred on by popular TV shows, Netflix documentaries etc. Not forgetting to mention: SMARTPHONES!

However, it’s safe to suggest it’s not just amateur chasers contributing to the issue. Professional storm chasers are also contributing to the issue – even making it worse! Sorry to say…

…With a lot of competition in the industry, many are taking it to a whole new level in order to get the best, most up close video. This tends to mean taking needless risks, not to mention putting others at risk. You know Cappucci makes an excellent point on this subject;

“Branding things as “extreme” gets clicks and views. That makes money. And across the board, we’re much more likely to celebrate an “extreme storm chaser” than we are a “safe storm chaser.” You’re not going to turn on the TV and see a headline that reads “storm chaser records tornado from a safe distance.”

Matthew Cappucci, Capital Weather Gang

With a significant amount of money involved, the dangerous and somewhat shocking behaviour looks set to get worse. Illegal driving can’t be policed, why? They’re dealing with the severe weather situation. You can’t limit the number of chasers, tourists that go chasing…

2: However, we’ll come on to that shortly…

It’s going to have to take something drastic in order to hastily get discussion underway in ways the industry change.

2 One idea we had was that chasers would have to get a special type of licence which allowed them to chase3. Here in the UK, you have to have a special licence to drive a lorry (semi-truck) for example.

In order to get that licence, you’d have to take an enhanced & relating test.  Why can’t the same be for chasers? It’s an idea we’re going to sleep on and comeback to post in this blog.

FYI: The definition of noob can be found below:

“A person who is inexperienced in a particular sphere or activity, especially computing or the use of the Internet.”

However, we thought we’d apply it to this.

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