6/04/2013

Professional storm chasers understand the risks and provide data

 Not all storm chasers really are. Some are thrill seekers, rubber neckers and photographers looking for the click that will catapult them to stardom. These folks don't belong in the same category as legitimate storm chasers. They 'wannabes"encourage society to lump everyone in together. It also encourages society to blame the  storm chasers who were killed in Oklahoma for being 'out there.

The risks are high; but the stakes are higher. No one knows what the risks are more than a storm chaser. The storm chasers in Oklahoma understood and took the risk. They (and others like them) provide data that help build stronger shelters, get warnings out quicker and determine what happens at various windspeeds.

I know this as someone who has chased. My actions are now relegated to storm spotting. It's entirely different from chasing but still provides information that can save lives.

Over a decade ago, my husband and I were chasing and decided to pick our kids up school. Bus riders were being held. We were heading home and felt that they would be safer with us. They were. Athough the school experienced high wind damage shortly thereafter.

Spotting helped VBS leaders decide to hold kids in the basement instead of running a van. Our weather radio went off with a warning while the decision was being made. No one was hurt.


I don't live out west where there is good visibility. What I do know is that tornadoes are unpredictable forces of nature. As said previously, storm chasers know the risks and accept them. They're part of the professionals and amateurs upon which we lean during severe weather.

Those who say that the storm chasers deaths in Oklahoma should be used to bring a halt to the phenomenon should think about it carefully. Do you want warnings, stronger storm shelters and the benefits that the data can provide? Or, would you rather take your chances and just see what havoc the storm wreaks? Think about it.

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