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Would you ever go storm chasing?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on May 9, 2007

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Photo of Katy Johnson

“I would if someone who knew what they were doing invited me. I think it would be exciting to see a tornado or something up close. I’m really not that scared of storms.”

Photo of Doug Long

“Oh yeah. I used to go when I was in high school. We would go down by Lake Perry and out by Louisburg, but that was about 13 years ago. I’d go again, though. I need some excitement in my life.”

Photo of Whitney Innskeep

“Yes, definitely. I’ve never chased a tornado, but I’ve chased storms. I like the danger. It’s the thrill of living on the edge.”

Photo of Casey Meek

“No. I’ve never even thought about it. I just doesn’t appeal to me.”


H_Lecter 10 years, 9 months ago

I've had a few chasers, but never a storm chaser.

ohjayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

I went on several storm chases while part of the Atmospheric Sciences department at KU. I'd love to go again sometime. Chasing around here is pretty dangerous with all the hills and so forth. However, Katy has it right... if you are going to chase storms, PLEASE make sure you are with someone who knows what they are doing. Storms that produce tornados have many more ways to get hurt than just the tornado. Not to mention, what happens if your chase takes you into the path of the tornado (it's happened to even seasoned chasers)? Sorry for the bring down, but I feel a disclaimer is necessary.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 9 months ago

I've ran from a storm on a couple of occassions.

jonas 10 years, 9 months ago

I don't know, I guess I'd consider it. I always thought Storm was kind of hot, in that kick-my-butt amazonian type way. Although her character in the old cartoon was irritating, and Halle Barry did a terrible job, but the comics, not bad.

Linda Aikins 10 years, 9 months ago

Heck yes! I'll chase a storm clear to my front/back porch!

Bone777 10 years, 9 months ago

In the early 90's, I went out to Clinton's Dam to see if I could see an approaching storm.

Stupidest thing I have ever done. I was almost blown of the road. When I returned on Clinton Pkwy roofs were be blown off buildings.

So, no never again.

Bone777 10 years, 9 months ago

That looks like it was written by an idiot. I will never chase storms and I will never post without proof-reading...

Linda Aikins 10 years, 9 months ago

My brother was there yesterday - called me from the downtown intersection. I've only seen him cry once, but his voice was on the verge. Horrible still. I'm missing word on one friend, but the other was OK - out of town Friday night.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 9 months ago

I suppose that storm chasers, with their pics and videos, have given tremendous help to the weather service in identifying particular kinds of storms and what tornadoes look like and how they form.

And if that was their sole reason for doing it, that would be different...

But when I hear people talk about storm chasing and using words like "exciting", "thrilling", and "dangerous"...that burns me...

There are hundreds of people in Greensburg now who don't think that storms or tornadoes are "exciting". They can be killers, pure and simple. If you think that you need that kind of "excitement" in your life, you're truly whacked in the head.

Ask those same hundreds of people if they thought having to ride out a tornado of that magnitude was "thrilling". Do you think it was "thrilling" to sit huddled there, not knowing if you were going to live or die, or what you would find afterward if you did survive?

Do you think it would be "thrilling" to stand there in the aftermath and see your whole life in ruins around you? To not know if anything was left or salvageable? Is that the kind of "thrill" you're after? Again...whacked in the head...

And as for facing the danger...there are now hundreds of people in Greensburg who wish they had never had to face that danger, and given any kind of choice, they wouldn't have. That kind of "danger" is life-threatening, and sadly, it was the ultimate "danger" for some.

Exactly how would you feel if you were storm chasing, and saw a tornado, and found out afterward that that same tornado wiped out hundreds of homes and killed dozens of people? Would that somehow make it more "thrilling"? "Exciting"? "Dangerous"?

I think people who like to storm chase are complete idiots.

People who have been the victims of such storms would have done anything to be able to keep out of their way. And you nut jobs go around LOOKING for them.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 9 months ago

Absolutely. And while I'm at it, I'll do my best to put myself in the path of earthquakes and tsunamis, too. And maybe some hurricanes. Because I'm all about putting myself in serious danger.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 9 months ago

Rodentgirl, I have nothing but respect for those who follow storms with the intent to study and warn others of the danger. They provide a valuable service.

I guess most storm chasers (professional or not) that I've known were basically the same as ambulance chasers...the kind of people who seem to ENJOY seeing death and destruction, and those kind of people make me sick. Even though my own father was an ambulance chaser...I always wondered how he could get a thrill out of seeing all those mutilated people in their mangled cars, and not have trouble sleeping at night.

Yes, I know, law enforcement people and emergency rescue people have to do it all the time...but I've never heard a single one of them talk about how "thrilling" it was...

4th_grade: as for sky diving, auto racing, mountain climbing, etc., etc., I have never had the desire to do any of those things, either. I do not get a thrill out of knowingly putting myself in danger.

Believe me, I know the dangers of driving every time I get in my car, and sometimes I think about it. But I don't have much choice there. I have to get around somehow. I try to be as careful as possible. But you don't HAVE to choose to be a storm chaser.

And there's a difference between being a storm spotter and a storm chaser...

And even if you think you know what you're doing while storm chasing, tornadoes can and do change direction abruptly, and you may suddenly find yourself much closer than you intended to be. More than one storm chaser has died in this way.

I definitely hope you aren't suggesting that any of the residents of Greensburg, especially those who lost family members, WANTED to experience a tornado for the "thrill" of it.

I have lived in Kansas all my life, and have developed a healthy fear of tornadoes. You live longer that way. In all my years I have only seen one tornado, and it didn't touch down. Hopefully, I will never see another. And I certainly don't plan to go out chasing them.

I value my life as much as the next person, and I understand my own mortality very well, thank you. That kind of understanding usually comes from age and experience, not facing constant danger.

I faced all the danger I wanted to, living with an abusive man.

And a wise person once told me, "life is what happens while you're waiting for excitement."

trinity 10 years, 9 months ago

yes yes yes! fascinating, heartbreaking, powerful, tragic, mesmerizing, fearful....

sgtwolverine 10 years, 9 months ago

Well, R_I, I have managed to total two cars in the last few years, so I guess that's a good way to describe my car...

beatrice 10 years, 9 months ago

Not only no, but no with a capital four letter curse word that starts with the letter F in front of it.

Grundoon Luna 10 years, 9 months ago

The thrill seeker part of me wants to see a tornado, but my practical side says get your butt in the basement. My Moon's in Gemini so I can't help but be of two minds sometimes.

Py, I couldn't get back to OTS until later in the day (sheeyah, much later), but I did eventually responde to your question about the beaches on the westside of lake MI.

mom_of_three 10 years, 9 months ago

Yes, I would if I was with an experienced storm chaser. I am not as scared of storms as I was when I was a kid. I am one of those who is peaking out the windows on the way to the shelter to see if I can see anything.

Bladerunner 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm more of a skirt chaser. Course...I rarely catch any.

ms_canada 10 years, 9 months ago

sgt wolverine - you would not want to be in an earthquake. Hubby and I have been in two of them. Both occurred on visits to Central America. The first was in Guatemala where 40,000 people lost their lives. That is not a typo, 40,000. It happened on Feb. 2, 1976. One town that we drove past on a bus had only one building left standing, the new concrete block health center. I shed many a tear over that. The second was in Costa Rica, forget the year. That was not quite so devastating but dang scary, I tell you. In Guat City, as they call it, I really did think I had had it. It happened at 3:04am. I just clung to my mattress hoping that it would cushion my fall when the hotel collapsed. What a ridiculous thing to think. I had nightmares about that for months after returning home. Our house is high (220ft.) on the river bank and I dreamt that the bank collapsed and down went our house into the river. I will never go to Central America again. I bring them too much bad luck. :o)

grust 10 years, 9 months ago

You bet. Life is too short to not test the weather of time.

laughingatallofu 10 years, 9 months ago

Anonymous user

Ceallach (Anonymous) says:

I just found 25 reasons I would not chase a tornado. <<<

This link bears repeating --- the pictures are very sobering.

Danielle Brunin 10 years, 9 months ago

I know Darin, the KU chaser who caught the Greensburg tornado, and he is very experienced and well trained. He doesn't chase for the thrill, he chases for the science. He is well known in chasing circles and knows many meteorologists at the NWS. It was because of him and his colleagues that they were able to notify the NWS in Dodge City that there was a large tornado on the ground. Thus, they were able to issue a tornado emergency that indicated that Greensburg would be directly hit by the tornado. Countless lives were saved. I realize that there are yahoos out there that wrecklessly chase storms. Both those who do it for the right reasons serve a vital role in warning people who are in the paths of such horrible storms. Greensburg was horrible, but it could have been even worse.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 9 months ago

Didn't have time to write earlier. 1st storm to run from: got caught in a major/blowing trees sideways/hail/can't see the road storm when I was majorly pregnant with #1. The hubby (thank God) knew the area blindfolded and got us to a nearby farmhouse (I would have never seen it!) and we rode that storm out there with the good family that lived there.

2nd storm: knew a major storm was on its way but thought I had the 10 minutes it would take to drive to the neighbor's house, kennel their dogs, and drive home. What an idiot I was! The storm was moving much faster than I thought and I only made it 1/2 way home. I had to stick my head out of the car window being pelted with rain and hail to find another neighbor's house. Managed to find it but nobody was home. I crouched beneath their deck convinced I would be carried off at any second. The storm blew past in about five minutes (may as well been 5 hours) and I made my way home. I stumbled (soaked and shaking) into the hubby's arms and cried like a baby.

Even so, I don't run to the basement unless the trees are sideways and I've at least tried to "see" a tornado. I'd NEVER go chasing one!

denak 10 years, 9 months ago

When I was stationed in Okinawa 19 years ago, we were in the middle of a typhoon and like a bunch of dummies, we went outside to play football, in the storm. Needless to say, most of us ended up hurt and the brass was NOT happy with our condct but we had the best time!!!!!!! That was almost 20 years ago(1988) and these days, I prefer to stay indoors when there are violent storms. But if I were 20 years younger, stupider, and more adventerous, maybe I would. It could be fun!

Linda Endicott 10 years, 9 months ago

Well, glad to say, I haven't had to deal with that particular kind of company for over six years...

If I could be totally sure that I'd be safe, and that it wouldn't harm anyone else either, yeah, it would be interesting to see a tornado in action. But unfortunately, that won't happen. Tornadoes are too unpredictable.

I've seen countless shows on the weather channel, and National Geographic about tornadoes, that show pics and videos that others have taken of them. That's as close as I want to get.

Matter of fact, just watching those kind of shows, especially during a time when we've been having a lot of severe storms in this area, makes me uneasy. I'll watch them if they air during the winter, when tornadoes are more unusual...

But when it comes to storms, I'm really a wimp. They scare the hell out of me. They can change into a deadly storm so fast, and with little warning. So no, I will never be a storm chaser, and I will never have the desire to be one.

I think my fear of storms comes from my mother, who was absolutely terrified of them. But then, that was understandable, as she had lived in an area at one time where a tornado hit fairly close.

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