Daily Archives: April 27, 2009

How many storm chasers are there?

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Because storm chasing primarily began in the United States, for reasons to study the behaviour of tornadoes, storm chasers seem to have a relatively high acceptance in the community. In the United States, literally thousands of chasers embark on storm chasing expeditions across Tornado Alley. Anyone from storm enthusiasts to researchers and even storm chasing tour companies who are paid by their tourists in the hope of experiencing a tornado sighting!

Since the 1990s, storm chasing spread to other countries such as Canada and Australia as well as several countries across Europe. Of these, some storm chasers also make their treck across to Tornado Alley in search of supercells and tornadoes. The influence of the movie block buster Twister had its impact across the globe but certainly the internet revolution enhanced the storm chasing movement.

In Australia I would estimate perhaps a hundred or so storm chasers who might venture out during the season. Very few storm chasers existed prior to Twister aired across Australia. The development of Australia Severe Weather website certainly made significant grounds in providing a balanced, positive and quite accurate foundation for storm chasing in Australia.

Is storm chasing a job or career?

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Although there are a few storm chasers that chase as part of scientific research, or run storm chasing tour groups, most storm chasers sell DVDs to make up some of the storm chasing costs. Some storm chasers have been lucky enough to appear in documentaries where storm chase expenses are paid for and gain some publicity.

In my situation, the early years were virtually 100% expenses. With increased media publicity came more opportunities. At least now storm chases are mostly paid for taking the burden off the thousands of kilometres spent on the road and the rising fuel costs. And of course all of those air fares and accommodation costs whilst overseas. The sales of storm DVDs and video stock footage assisted in making up some of my immense costs. Perhaps the most significant were the sales of the Australian tornado stock footage given it is was a significant event and very unique from up-close.

What is Storm Chasing?

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Storm chasing to my understanding is defined as the art of being able to predict specific severe weather events and intercept those events in a specified location or near enough to it. When there is the possibility of a storm producing event, using my knowledge of past events I begin to follow what information I have available to see of the meteological models are "telling the truth". The models can change and nothing may eventuate (perhaps the modes may have over-estimated moisture and not much happens).