The Annual April Storm Chaser Story in Kansas

I should just link to this story every April rather than writing a new one. See here, here, or here, among others. Below is a screen capture from KSNW-TV's (Wichita) version earlier this evening. The Kansas Highway Patrol evidently doesn't like storm chasers.

I'm certain officer Crittenden thinks he is doing a service by going on the air to complain about storm chasers. He said that some chasers speed, some shoot video while driving and, according to the narrator, there was an instance where a chaser did not pull over in front of a police vehicle that had its red lights and siren on.

I have a suggestion for officer Crittenden: Give them tickets! Stop going on the air and griping about storm chasers!

As KSNW's on meteorologist, Leon Smitherman pointed out, they depend on reports from storm chasers to help warn their viewers!  Think that is an isolated instance? Here is a screen shot from the NWS in Dodge City showing their work station during a tornado situation in its warning area.
From left: KWCH TV which has its own team of storm chasers. The center screen is which is nothing but chaser reports! At right is KSNW's screen, the same station just airing the complaints about storm chasers. Of course, Dave Freeman and his KSNW team also rely on chaser reports. Storm chasers, for better or worse, are an essential part of the warning process.

The police's annual lament about storm chasers has gotten very, very old. When storm chasers break the law, give them tickets. Quit whining.

There have been situations in Oklahoma, Texas, and Mississippi in the last three years where police have blocked roads in the wrong place. In the Mississippi case, it is possible the road block may have gotten an innocent motorist killed. Law enforcement plays a difficult and vital role in our society. But, genuine storm chasers know far more about storms than policemen and women. More about that in a second.

This was posted on Facebook a few hours ago. It has been estimated there are 200+ chasers in Wichita tonight. There are likely others in Salina. Meteorologists and storm chasers are known for our dullness*. We don't trash hotel rooms or have crazy parties. I wonder how Denny's and the hotels in town would like the police "chasing" away profitable business?

Here is my suggestion: If law enforcement is collectively wise, they would convene a meeting with chasers and ask, "How can we work together?" That would be beneficial to all concerned. I hereby make an offer: If Wichita-area law enforcement will convene the meeting and they need a venue, I'll personally pay for it. Really.

But, please, stop the whining!!

*Absolutely true story: The City of Reno, the early '80's, gave incentives to the American Meteorological Society to have its annual meeting with its thousands of members. A couple of weeks after the meeting, AMS HQ received a letter asking us not to return! Why? We don't gamble, we don't see the shows and we don't do other hijinks. They lost money on us.


  1. I feel the problem is the Joe Q Public storm chasers that are out on the roads, and not the trained chasers/spotters. That has seemed to be the case in several things I have noticed on the news.


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