Friday, April 29, 2011

Storm Chasers Killed?

I have waited to post this but now several sources, including this one, are reporting that a car filled with teenagers and video equipment was found in Tuscaloosa. The occupants died and it is believed they were storm chasing.

I have also had the video below (from YouTube) for nearly two weeks of amateurs driving into a tornado. From the audio, they seem to be chasing the storm. At the :36 mark, you can hear what sounds like an adult voice say, "let's go!" in the background as they accelerate into the storm.

The video was taken at Dunn, NC Saturday, April 16, 2011. I haven't posted it until now because I was afraid it might inadvertently encourage people to engage in this behavior. As far as I'm concerned, driving into the immediate vicinity of a tornado (whether penetrating the tornado was intentional or not) is recklessness in the extreme.

This blog, on numerous occasions, has warned of the extreme danger of storm chasing unless you are thoroughly trained and know what you are doing. If you want to see storms, sign up with one of the tour companies that will take you out safely.

Amateur storm chasing is nothing but a formula for disaster. 


  1. I have just watched the video above and wish I could say that I was surprised by their actions. The only thing that was surprising was that they survived the merge with the tornado. This stupid reality craze, with various shows, including Storm Chasers, presenting a distorted view of what power even the less intense storms have, should cease. These kids saying "it's not a very intense tornado" and the father accelerating his vehicle and driving right into it, just shows a lack of understanding of the forces involved. The lackadaisical attitude towards of the power of these storms stem from pseudo-familiarity gained from Storm Chasers and the movie Twister. In the movie Twister they show erroneously that the high winds are contained in the condensation funnel. Winds capable of flying a cow and rolling a house will not affect a vehicle. People's perception of storms become distorted and they start believing that you can sit right next to a tornado and watch it pass by you by like some elephant in a parade.

    I learned chasing from Howie at OU, and still do "mobile spotting" in my local area. My first priority is to report what I see, and get pictures and videos later. I do not understand why people "punch cores", and do what ever it takes to get a shot of a storm. If I am not in the right position to get a good view, and if getting a good view involves leaving me without an escape route or placing me in danger I watch the storm go by and take pictures of the mesocyclone and enjoy the view. I will not risk life and limb and add to the already stressed EMS system by getting hurt.

    If you do not know what you are doing, do not go out and become a statistic, further stretching the resources for no good reason.

  2. It's one thing to risk your own life, and the lives of other adults who understand the risks they have accepted, to capture up-close video or deploy instruments in the path of an approaching tornado (and then get the heck out of that path) to advance science. If you fail to adequately assess the risks, it's your own fault, and you have to live (or die) with the result.

    It is entirely another thing to subject minor children to such risks. I would not be surprised to hear the child welfare authorities investigated the driver for child endangerment.

  3. What are 'the other' sources who stated that there were would-be stormchasers killed (Besides the

  4. There are two discussion boards that had quite specific information including make and model of the car involved.

  5. The link to your 'source' now returns a "404" ...


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