Storm Chasers Face Host of Dangers Beyond Severe Weather


The deaths of 4 storm chasers in automotive crashes during the last two weeks have underscored the risks of pursuing extreme climate occasions as extra folks clog again roads and highways looking for a glimpse of a lightning bolt or twister, meteorologists and chasers say.

In this screen grab from a video provided by the Meteored Press Office, meteorologist Martha Llanos Rodriguez gives an on camera weather report in Mexico City. The storm-chasing meteorologist of Mexico City died in a crash on on Interstate 90 in southwes On this display screen seize from a video offered by the Meteored Press Workplace, meteorologist Martha Llanos Rodriguez offers an on digicam climate report in Mexico Metropolis. The storm-chasing meteorologist of Mexico Metropolis died in a crash on on Interstate 90 in southwes

Martha Llanos Rodriguez of Mexico Metropolis died Wednesday when a semitrailer plowed into her car from behind on Interstate 90 in southwestern Minnesota. The automotive’s driver, Diego Campos, instructed the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he and Rodriguez and two different climate consultants had been chasing violent climate and have been hit after he stopped for downed energy strains on the highway.

Extra individuals are hopping into their vehicles and racing off after storms, jamming up roads, working cease indicators and paying extra consideration to the sky than visitors, stated Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program on the College of Georgia.

‘There may be such a quantity of chasers on the market on some storms generally that it creates potential visitors and different hazards,’ Shepherd stated. ‘Seeing storms inside their pure context has scientific and broader worth so I’m not anti-chasing, nevertheless, there are parts which have develop into somewhat wild, wild West-ish.’

Popularized within the 1996 film ‘Tornado,’ storm chasing includes pursuing extreme climate occasions akin to electrical storms and tornadoes, typically in vehicles or on foot.

Some are researchers seeking to collect knowledge, akin to verifying laptop fashions predicting storm habits. Some want to get in contact with nature. Others are photographers. And nonetheless others are simply searching for a rush, stated Greg Tripoli, an atmospheric and oceanic sciences professor on the College of Wisconsin-Madison who taught a category on storm chasing.

‘Seeing a twister is a life-changing expertise,’ Tripoli stated. ‘You need to see one as an alternative of simply speaking about them. It is actually simply one of many excitements of life. You have to take possibilities and go on the market and go after your passions. It is no totally different from rock-climbing or deep-sea diving.’

The storms themselves current risks to inexperienced chasers who get too shut. They’ll get hit by particles, struck by lightning or worse. Tripoli stated he determined to cease educating his storm chaser class and taking college students into the sector within the early Nineties after college officers stopped insuring the journeys.

FILE - In this image taken from video provided by Scott Smith, a fast-moving tornado is seen in the distance through a windshield just before the toll booth for the Burlington Bristol Bridge, Sept. 1, 2021, in Burlington, N.J. FILE – On this picture taken from video offered by Scott Smith, a fast-moving twister is seen within the distance by a windshield simply earlier than the toll sales space for the Burlington Bristol Bridge, Sept. 1, 2021, in Burlington, N.J.

Nature is not the one menace. Storm chasers spend lengthy hours on the highway touring from state to state like long-haul truckers, inviting fatigue. After they catch as much as the storms, they will typically maintain their eyes on the skies as an alternative of the highway, generally with lethal penalties. Tripoli stated he would warn college students in his storm chaser class that the probably manner they’d get damage is in a automotive crash.

Three College of Oklahoma college students have been killed on April 30 after touring to Kansas to chase a twister. In line with the Oklahoma Freeway Patrol, the scholars’ automotive hydroplaned on the interstate in Tonkawa, about 85 miles (137 kilometers) north of Oklahoma Metropolis. They slid off and again onto the interstate earlier than a semitrailer hit them.

The College of Oklahoma has a coverage stating that anybody who chases storms does so at their very own threat and that storm chasing is not a part of the varsity’s meteorology curriculum.

The mom of one of many college students, 19-year-old Gavin In need of Grayslake, Illinois, instructed WMAQ-TV that her son liked to chase storms.

‘He liked it, and we have been so completely happy for him,’ Beth Brief stated. ‘And it simply, that is simply the worst nightmare for us and two different units of fogeys.’

Chaser visitors jams have gotten extra widespread, stated Kelton Halbert, a College of Wisconsin atmospheric and oceanic sciences doctoral pupil. He stated he is been chasing storms since he was 16 as a result of he desires to really feel nearer to nature’s magnificence and confirm his forecast modeling, largely by taking video of storms’ habits.

‘Except you are with one in all these analysis establishments, storm chasers haven’t got the flexibility to gather a whole lot of arduous knowledge,’ he stated. ‘For many … it is the sweetness, it is the pictures after which clearly the fun seekers and adrenaline seekers. You possibly can have folks tailgating you, folks in the midst of the highway. In the event you’re in Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas on a high-risk day, yeah, you may see tons of of them. Given the latest couple weeks, I’ve undoubtedly felt extra apprehensive. It brings again to the forefront that each time you do that you take a threat.’

Wednesday’s storm within the Higher Midwest left tens of 1000’s of houses and companies with out energy into Thursday. Extra probably extreme climate was forecast into Thursday night that would carry hail, excessive winds and tornadoes from the Dakotas and Minnesota into different components of the Midwest, the Storm Prediction Heart stated.


Back To Top