With daily news reports of local, national, and global disasters, there is increasing interest among weather enthusiasts to discover how to become a storm chaser (some call them ‘Tornado Chasers’). This pursuit is not for the faint of heart or those who are easily discouraged. Learning to chase storms takes time, failure, amazing effort, and commitment. Mother nature is an expert at mass, unexpected destruction. Severe weather storms are extremely dangerous and leave behind destruction, injury, and death. When choosing to follow the desire to chase fierce conditions, take note. Storm chasers do so at the risk of their own injury or peril.
A storm chaser is driven by the need to understand the science and make-up of the storm and the passion to improve warning systems, shelters, and disaster relief efforts.
Tornado Chasing Isn’t For Everyone
A storm chaser must have an unbridled fascination with the weather and the forces it can unleash at a moment’s notice. This needs to be more than an uncontrolled urge to seek an adrenaline rush. There has to be a mix of determination, wonder, and thirst for knowledge in the heart of the chaser. Getting into storm chasing for the wrong reasons can not only be disappointing, but it can be deadly.
If you’re just wanting to chase storms for the thrill, then consider hiring one of the many outfitters that run storm chasing tours. Storm chasing tours is usually enough of a rush to satisfy the average adrenaline junkie.
Education Requirements To Become A Storm Chaser
Without the proper training and experience, many people with good intentions put themselves and others in harm’s way during a storm. There is no room for error. Get educated and take the first step of becoming a storm spotter for your local area. These invaluable volunteers provide eye witness observations that are critical in assisting the proper authorities in issuing appropriate warnings. There are free training courses available through the National Weather Service to equip you to understand the basic making of a thunderstorm and how it develops. You will learn the skills to spot a severe weather threat, what indicators to report and storm safety.
The Best Weather Observers Make The Best Storm Chasers
Using the training received to become a storm spotter, begin becoming an expert weather observer. Keep daily records of everything going on in the area that you are monitoring and take your volunteer position seriously. As a spotter you will be relaying live data to the National Weather Service that will ultimately improve local warning accuracy. The skills of observation are not only a prerequisite for a scientist, but to the ability to make sense of the patterns in the weather. These skills of translating data to useful information takes time and experience.
Accurate Analysis Skills Are A ‘Must Have’
Anyone can record temperature, humidity, wind speed, and air pressure. A storm chaser needs to be able to make sense of the statistics. In the beginning, it is extremely helpful to reverse analyze. Collect data, record the resulting weather conditions and look for patters and qualities that created the resulting conditions. Over time, you will develop the skills to predict weather.
Amateurs Only Get In The Way Of Real Storm Chasers
Until you have been trained to spot, observe, and analyze weather you should not physically chase severe storms. It would be akin to trying to perform an operation without graduating medical school. At this stage in your career, you should consider riding along side of a respected storm chaser. These spots are coveted, so be persistent. You can glean invaluable wisdom and advice from an expert. Begin chasing your local storms and record as much data as possible. Your goal is to capture storms in action. Movies, videos, still photos, weather conditions, statistics and your personal experiences are the areas of focus. Once the storm has passed, quickly compile the information into a shareable format. As you share your images and results you can begin to earn a respected reputation in the meteorology community.
A Heart of Giving Back
Above all else, stay connected to the people affected by severe weather that you track, study, and analyze. Allow their stories to penetrate your heart enough to fuel the passion behind your daily routine. You can use what you have learned about how to become a storm chaser to improve storm warning systems, storm shelter safety, and disaster relief.