What To Expect On Your First Storm Chasing Adventure

tornado-protectionSo you want to call yourself a storm chaser. Maybe you’ve watched tornado the movie, or watched the latest Discovery documentary about storm chasers. It’s a thrill, it’s exciting, and it’s phenomenal. So whatever your reason for wanting to become a storm chaser, the only thing that matters is that you’re well prepared to combat the forces of nature, as the force is strong!

Storm Chasing Adventure Tours

The easiest way to get involved in storm chasing is to join a tour. No kidding, there are tour companies that specialize in taking people on storm chasing tours. One company that specializes in such tours is Storm Chasing Adventure Tours. These guys have been providing professional storm chasing tours for more than ten years in Tornado Alley. They know what they are doing, and will ensure you have a great experience, while staying as safe as you can near a powerful storm

Precautions

Always have a satellite phone with you. Always have a professional with you. Always have sunscreen with you. These are the three must follow rules. The first two make sense, the third one not so much. But despite it being cloudy and there being a storm, you’re likely to be in a desert, and sun is excruciating there. I spend my first adventure tour rubbing coconut oil for sunburn on me because I didn’t use sun lotions. Don’t let that be you!

How Long?

If you expect to rock up and see a tornado, you will be very disappointed. It usually takes between four and eight days before you see a tornado. That’s why they call us storm chasers. We follow the weather patterns, and wait fairly patiently for the big event. So make sure you have some realistic expectations about this trip before you pack your new storm chasing gear.

Do you have any tips for first-time storm chasers? Any experiences you want to share with our community. Leave a comment below and share the passion for storm chasing with our readers!

How To Build a Tornado Chasing Car

So we’ve been storm chasing for a while and wanted to take things to the next level. We’ve written an article on what basic storm chasing equipment you need as a beginner (and slightly more advanced gear as well). But that will only take you so far. So we’ve decided to do some research to creating our own storm chasing van. It sounds difficult, but luckily we found a video which takes us through this process step by step.

We’ll be posting our own video of our process and will post the end result as well. This is a great way to build the ultimate storm chasing vehicle on a budget. Let us know in the comments below if you have any experience with building your own equipment and how it went for you when you started a project like this.

What The Inside Of A Tornado Looks Like [VIDEO]

As storm chasers, we all experience thrilling moments. But some moments are slightly more thrilling than your average “let’s watch the storm from a distance”. The below video shows just how scary, dangerous and exciting storm chasing can be. They were able to capture the moment incredibly well, and show what the inside of a tornado looks like.

What Is A Tornado?

But before we move on to the tornado video, let’s find out what a tornado really is. According to the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), which is a federal research laboratory, a tornado is “a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from the base of a thunderstorm to the ground”. Obviously wind can’t actually be seen since, so normally a tornado isn’t actually visible, unless condensation forms within the tornado, and it carried with it dust and debris. We all know just how violent this storm can be.

Inside A Tornado

So let’s watch the video, as I’m sure that’s why you visited!

Make sure you leave a comment below, as would love to hear what you think, and what your experience with tornadoes and storm chasing has been so far. Look forward to hearing from all of you!

Our next article will show you exactly what you need to become the best storm chaser in the country, so make sure you visit regularly and check back soon to view our new posts and guides to storm chasing.

Must-Have Storm Chasing Equipment

Essential storm chasing equipment is an absolute must for observing tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, gale-force winds and other torrential forms of weather. Not only to keep safe, but to effectively monitor and capture the weather pattern. People who follow these devastating storms are called storm chasers and here are just a few pieces of basic must-have storm chasing gear if you’d like to join this wild group of storm lovers:

* Cell phones
* Smart phones
* GPS enabled automobiles
* Laptops
* Dashboard-mounted webcams
*Doppler radar technology
* Radiosondes and much more.

The history of storm chasing is quite a long one dating back to the year 1680. In the 1940’s planes used to follow thunderstorms. In fact, the first tornado watch happened in 1948. Planes studied squall lines in 1956. So you can certainly see the use of storm chasing equipment is much more advanced today, and it has become a lot easier for us all.

More Advanced Equipment

It is the storm chasers themselves who hold the key to unlocking the mysteries of these devastating storms, but technology definitely helps them make this easier and safer. Here’s a list of equipment and gear we always use on every single expedition with more advanced groups:

  • Radiosondes– a storm chasing pack that contains a large balloon that is used to collect and transmit meteorological information.
  • Doppler radar technology– this is a form of radar used to detect the motion of storms like tornadoes.
  • Dashboard-mounted webcams– These are used to document violent weather via live streaming video (go-pro is a recommended one).
  • Laptops– These are used to provide weather maps,analyze data, display data, and much more.
  • GPS enabled automobiles– provides information to map in real time,navigation maps, and these help storm chasers travel very long distances into unfamiliar territory.
  • Smart phones– Capture subtle storm details that videos overlook.
  • Digital cameras-digital images can be quickly and easily uploaded to Internet sites to be used research, education, or scientific studies. Also digital images can be easily incorporated into news, weather sites, on-air broadcasts.
  • Cell phones– Cell phones can enable communication with authorities so they can keep the public informed about these dangerous types of storms.

Other Storm Chasing Equipment

anemometer

An anemometer is an essential tool for measuring the speed of the wind

Other equipment storm chasers use involve more advanced ways to measure temperature, dew point, pressure, wind speed, wind direction and more. A special tool used to measure wind speed is called an anemometer. It can also report the wind speed. Bear in mind that a storm chaser must be licensed to use some tools like a HAM Radio.

A tool as simple as a flashlight can be used to locate victims trapped in a storm. Auto Emergency Kits are quite useful (and in some placed legally required) to the storm chasers in providing them with a first-aid kit, tow rope, fuses, foil blankets, and more emergency items.

CB Radios help storm chasers communicate with each other while they are out tracking a storm. Also the use of email can be really helpful during the early stages of a storm. Binoculars are a useful tool for taking a much closer look at the storm. AGMRS Radio is a nice alternative to any cell phone.

With the advanced technology of today, it is getting easier to track and chase storms (but not less scary of course). New technology and electronic devices is helping  storm chasers to do a great job each and every time. Do not forget the AC-Adapter for charging camera batteries and powering other basic items that are needed to chase storms and relay information.

Introduction To Storm Chasing

How wild is your spirit of adventure? Is it wild enough to withstand the fury of the elements? If you’re brave enough to go storm chasing but not sure where to start, I have highlighted some of the things you need to take care of when going on your first storm chasing expedition.storm chasing introduction

The Camera Never Lies

Chances are that while you are on a storm-chasing expedition, your adrenaline will be at its peak. There are electric moments to capture but you may never catch every action. If you need to relive the moments, ensure you have a camera and not just any camera but a state-of-the-art one.

The camera should be able to, among other things, capture images clearly while you are in motion and have the maximum possible magnification. Remember, only when you are back and everything has gone back to calm will you be able to experience some of the glorious moments of the day, as the camera never lies.

There is Safety in Numbers

Storm chasing calls for a large group of people if it is to be fun and enjoyable. The screams, the wails, the chants and the cheers only make sense when you are in a large group.

Remember to be accompanied with lots of friends and go boldly to the direction of the weather. Fear not but tease the weather until it gets totally infuriated and begins coming for you, then use the strength in numbers to run confidently away from it.

You May Or You May Not Need Your Car

Storm chasing requires good judgment in knowing when Mother Nature won’t take your foolish chants and photographs anymore. It is not difficult to know when she is preparing to charge at you, and this is always the opportune time to hop into your 4 x 4 and speed away!

However, the terrain will have a very significant bearing on your ability to escape using your car. In very windy weather, for instance, a car may hamper your escape, especially if it is during Fall and tree debris is being scattered all over the place. At times, you may not need to escape at all, especially if the site has proper weather shelters, just know what action is appropriate and take it on the spur of the moment.

Use Some Professional Advice

Before you go storm chasing, use some background information made available by the weathermen. One such information is knowing the direction of movement of the storm, wind or ice glacier.

This will greatly affect your chances of making the most of your expedition, as you will learn to steer clear of the danger paths, observe from the sidelines and make a safe escape. Remember, storm chasing might be one of the many adventure activities out there, but it is not short of statistics on the number of lives that have been lost as a direct consequence of it.