Texas is no stranger to severe weather conditions, particularly tornadoes, and spring is when it hits the state the hardest. This has resulted in a frenzied activity of storm chasers, who play an indispensable part in providing data that radar alone is unable to furnish. While tornado season usually runs from late spring to early summer, this year, the state has already experienced several tornadoes by mid-March.
Meteorologists and the National Weather Service rely heavily on storm chasers for informed data. As chief meteorologist of KRLD, Dan Brounoff points out, “Until we get some sort of ground truth or a storm spotter or a storm chaser saying, ‘Hey, yeah, tornado warning, that tornado is on the ground. Because a lot of the circulations that radar picks up, that does not they don’t reach the ground. So that’s one of the most valuable things that have as many eyes on the ground looking at the sky as possible.’”
The kind of information storm chasers gather requires an intimate knowledge about the weather that goes beyond a cursory glance heavenwards with a camera. As Jeff Stephens, an experienced storm chaser, acknowledges, “You’ve got to understand and interpret what the clouds are doing, you know, because inherently you’re going to get into positions where you’re not going to have all this technology, and then all you’ve got is your visuals. And that, to me, is learning what clouds or what and not thinking that a scud cloud is actually a funnel.”
Despite using technology, storm chasers’ knowledge of the fundamentals of nature plays an important role in avoiding accidents in their line of work. “Every storm chaser we talked to for this story shared tales of close calls or getting stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. And just about all of them said tornadoes were not their biggest fear,” claimed the report.
Storm chaser Joe Bajza claims that tornadoes are not the most dangerous aspect of storm chasing. Big hail is scarier than tornadoes, as hailstones can crash into vehicles and break windshields in addition to leaving ugly dents on the vehicle. Despite this, storm chasers get a thrill out of experiencing the weather phenomenon, and there is an adrenaline rush that comes with sailing too close to the wind.
Jennifer Stark, another storm chaser, said, “There’s definitely adrenaline, especially when you start out and you see the first storm go up and you see the first beautiful structure of the day. It’s exciting. It’s awesome.” She concluded by saying that when one sees a beautiful structure forming in the middle of nowhere, it is mesmerizing and one cannot take one’s eyes off it.
In conclusion, storm chasing is a perilous venture, but it is necessary to provide accurate weather predictions that advance warning can help people prepare better. The information gathered by storm chasers is valuable to meteorologists and the National Weather Service. Furthermore, there is a sense of adventure and awe for the weather phenomena, which makes storm chasing an intriguing profession.