Storm Chasing 101

If you’re interested in getting involved in storm chasing, storm chaser Tony Perkins offers these top nine tips:

  1. Take a Skywarn spotter class.
    Most of these are free and offered through government agencies every spring. This will help you identify server weather correctly, report it, and most of all make you aware of your potentially dangerous surroundings.
  2. Educate yourself.
    • Read, read, read – the more you know about storms, the better you’ll do at spotting “the perfect storm.”
    • Join storm chasing forums or groups on the internet. (Storm Track is a good one).
  3. Ride along with an experienced storm chaser to learn the ropes.

    WHN TIP: Storm Chasing Tours

    Not sure if storm chasing is right for you? Give it a whirl and try a storm chasing tour. Keep in mind that you might not seen anything and they can be quite expensive ($1000-$2000, according to StormTrack.org). Type “storm chasing tours” in a search engine to find one in your area.

  4. Buy a portable weather radio
    Bring this along, it will be your basic source of information.

    WHN TIP: What Kind of Radio?

    If you live in the city or near a medium to large sized town, get a scanner radio from Radio Shack, Uniden, etc, that picks up the amateur two-meter band (144-148 MHz), and ask your salesperson to help obtain the Skywarn frequency for your area.– StormTrack.org
  5. Get your HAM radio license, and a mobile radio/walkie-talkie/CB for your car.
    This allows you to talk with and listen to other chasers in the area.
  6. Bring road maps
    Especially ones with detailed county roads. GPS map systems are the way to go if you have one.
  7. Bring some snacks and something to drink, because you may go a long time without a food stop.
  8. Be patient
    It's been said that for every trip that results in a seen tornado, you'll have 9 other trips where you will not.
  9. Drive carefully!

    WHN TIP: Wet and Winding Roads

    The greatest dangers to storm chasers are not tornadoes, but instead, traffic crashes and lightning. Driving in heavy rain, high wind, dust and/or hail is obviously dangerous, even to the experienced chaser. Slow down on wet roads, watch for obstacles, animals and other vehicles in unusual and unsafe places; and drive very slowly when making turns on wet surfaces. - Online Storm Chasing FAQ
  10. WhatHappensNow.com’s own advice – be safe, be smart!

Thanks Tony! Want to read about Tony’s experiences? Go here.

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