Chaser convergence- getting even worse.

I will think twice about chasing a higher-end event in Oklahoma again.
This was one of a few non-meteorological reasons as to why I did not chase today. I don't seem to have much luck with High Risks, and the concern of the possibility of just one or two dominant storms in OK on such a day was enough to deter me from heading out. I felt that if I was to make it through the crowds to see anything, the risk of getting hurt or worse by some idiot was still there and just not worth it. Obviously that is always a risk, but it was much higher today. I think this may be the first time I've ever sat a chase out for this reason. Even if the threat had materialized as forecasted earlier in the period, I wouldn't have had any regrets in not going out.
 
Mar 2, 2004
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Wichita, KS
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I stayed home today here in ICT... I've done enough high risks over the years where they seldom end well. The traffic has become a nightmare scenario and honestly it takes away so much focus on the weather. So many inexperienced or lack of experience people are chasing well above their skill level. I'm not just talking Meteorology, but experience navigating storms and being in the environment. These are not the days to try and get your first tornadoes. You're too focused on the weather and lacking the situational awareness.

There is no real solution, and yes, it IS problem. I've heard stories of folks unable to pursue the storm due to traffic. One day, this will become unable to escape. It is going to happen, it is only a matter of time. Crashes today because people aren't paying attention. You can't pull off to observe cause you'll never get back on unless you cut someone off. Then you get folks driving two-wheel drive low clearance sedans on muddy roads, and they clog those up. Folks, it is a problem, and one with no clear solution.

I have virtually no desire to get in on these high-end days outside of my home area. The stress level is way too high, and it is just scary to think about all the craziness that comes with these days. Especially in Oklahoma. I've probably legit chased there twice since the fire chief incident, and I think I have only done a couple chases there between that and El Reno.

Sadly, my answer is simply becoming not go... stay home. Easiest way to avoid the issue. And as far as the payoff goes on high risks, its typically low enough where I ultimately don't miss enough to change the philosophy.

Be safe all.
 

Chad Dunn

Enthusiast
Feb 16, 2018
5
14
1
Texas
It's not just you old hats. The hordes freak me out as well. I spend almost as much time trying to predict and avoid convergence as I do trying to track a cell because I don't want the problem and I don't want to be the problem.

I came out of Lubbock this morning and came at Paducah early because I knew they were working on highway 70 and I didn't want to get caught in that single lane mess. Once I got to Childress I was really concerned about how many folks I saw on 70 as the cell ramped up.

I straight gave up on the Magnum cell after I lost the lead when I took a wrong turn. I saw it get a serious case of measles on wX and decided to cut back on a second one at Hollis. Then I bailed on that one to try and get eyes on the Vernon cell before night fall. Had her to myself for a good 20 minutes out near Electra. It was so peaceful to be able to just watch it go without anyone else around. Eventually the horde caught up again, but those 20 minutes of solitude just feeling the wind and watching the lighting were the best part of the entire day.
 
Aug 19, 2005
233
36
11
Atlanta, GA
Imagine the zoo if it was a weekend and a small highly concentrated threat area with no other storms. Remember a lot of chasers were not even in Oklahoma (including yours truly- got the Paducah tornado but bailed on the storm to play the dryline, unsuccessfully). I think I may join those that henceforth eschew the southern Plains on big days.
 
Jun 4, 2018
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San Angelo, TX
I was down south in TX between I'd say I-20 and US-380 most of the day and I did come across others out there, but it was by no means convergence. It was just enough folks to feel a bit of camaraderie actually, especially when you kept seeing the same people over and over miles and hours apart. Sounds like it was the total opposite of what was going on farther north. I am very glad I didn't take a whole day to head up to OK. What ya'll have been saying about the Mangum storm convergence sounds super sketchy.
 
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Mar 7, 2016
31
35
11
Omaha, NE
I'm concerned (as someone relatively new to chasing) that we're approaching a point of saturation and it may soon deter people who are serious about the hobby from participating as much. Short of the 5% days and more nuanced setups, it seems like every well-defined & forecasted target gets swarmed with traffic as soon as a warning pops up. I was down at Tulia and realized that even with the best intentions and safety in mind, I was part of that convergence. I put myself in a bad position not knowing how much that east-bound line would back up, and likewise I put others in a bad position when the line paused to let me in. I called it after turning south and enjoyed some Braums back in AMA as the couplet intensified past the canyon.

There are few things I enjoy more than being beneath a supercell on the plains, but where do we strike a balance between safety and enjoying our hobby? At what point do we hang back and avoid "the show" all together, especially in a Tulia situation with one cell and limited roads? As a sports videographer, I think of the photog bum rush to the 50 after the clock runs off, only in this situation everyone in the stadium has a sideline pass. IMO discouraging locals and over-confident inexperienced chasers is practically impossible, which limits the opportunity for change to factors within our control. For me, it's going to be secondary targets and avoiding anything remotely close to OKC/DFW. Hope to see some of you this weekend in N KS and NE.
 
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Dan Robinson

WxLibrary Editor
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Jan 14, 2011
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
Yesterday's Spotter Network beacon count peaked at 1,855, almost double the peak we saw Friday in Nebraska. Put all of that on one storm in a limited road network & that's what happens. It's not reasonable to evaluate the state of chasing on worst-case incidents.

High Risks make people go crazy. High Risks in Oklahoma even more so. I heard about Facebook chase teams putting together GoFundMes for gas money so they could chase Monday for crying out loud!

Chaser traffic isn't a mystery. It is very predictable, the factors that lead to big jams are well-known (high risk, one storm, limited roads, Southern Plains).

I just can't fathom the lack of rational thinking about this issue. Yes days like Monday are bad. But everyone is just going all-the-way "it's the end of chasing" every single time. If you want to partake in the hyperbole & talk yourself out of the next Dodge City or Bennington, be my guest. I'm going to be there and have very little problems just as I always have. Maybe having even less out there will make it even easier, so maybe I should stop trying to be the voice of reason.
 
Mar 7, 2016
31
35
11
Omaha, NE
Yesterday's Spotter Network beacon count peaked at 1,855, almost double the peak we saw Friday in Nebraska. Put all of that on one storm in a limited road network & that's what happens. It's not reasonable to evaluate the state of chasing on worst-case incidents.

High Risks make people go crazy. High Risks in Oklahoma even more so. I heard about Facebook chase teams putting together GoFundMes for gas money so they could chase Monday for crying out loud!

Chaser traffic isn't a mystery. It is very predictable, the factors that lead to big jams are well-known (high risk, one storm, limited roads, Southern Plains).

I just can't fathom the lack of rational thinking about this issue. Yes days like Monday are bad. But everyone is just going all-the-way "it's the end of chasing" every single time. If you want to partake in the hyperbole & talk yourself out of the next Dodge City or Bennington, be my guest. I'm going to be there and have very little problems just as I always have. Maybe having even less out there will make it even easier, so maybe I should stop trying to be the voice of reason.
I've always appreciated your videos showing the actual convergence when everyone is freaking out about dots. I guess these "big-jam" situations are just another thing to anticipate and plan around on high-end days, and maybe some added incentive to identify secondary targets if it looks too crazy. What would you have done to avoid it at Tulia or Magnum?
 
Feb 27, 2009
440
55
11
Texarkana, AR
There will be disappointment. We can't go where we want to and do what we want to do. I think that is the real issue here. It's disappointing. I consider it to be similar to going to a park in Austin,TX. Soooo many people. That place has exploded in population and a lot of the native Austinites are irritated. You go to see nature and there are 100s of people, blaring music and smoking smelly weed. It's disappointing. But I mostly agree with Dan. I've chased the big events for 10 years on the south plains and have always enjoyed it. I can't imagine ever not going to a mod or high risk in central Oklahoma. But I can see how I engage the storms and approach the day, needing to evolve. You can't predict what others will do so there will always be irritations. Certainly not encouraging anyone if they think they won't enjoy it.
One other point... Some of these people are clearly just average people with cell phone apps. There is a Texas storm chasers group with 60,000 members...people always sharing pictures they take on there. Asking about apps and ride alongs, etc... Many of them are really clueless about storm structure. They do not know how to interpret radar data. But they are still going out taking pictures. My thought is that these people are more local than I am and free to do what they want to do, so I think that is fine. I did the same exact thing in my area for years before I started traveling. We can speak to them about safety, etc... but that is about the extent of it.
 
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Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
2,954
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Westminster, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
Yesterday's Spotter Network beacon count peaked at 1,855, almost double the peak we saw Friday in Nebraska. Put all of that on one storm in a limited road network & that's what happens. It's not reasonable to evaluate the state of chasing on worst-case incidents.

High Risks make people go crazy. High Risks in Oklahoma even more so. I heard about Facebook chase teams putting together GoFundMes for gas money so they could chase Monday for crying out loud!

Chaser traffic isn't a mystery. It is very predictable, the factors that lead to big jams are well-known (high risk, one storm, limited roads, Southern Plains).

I just can't fathom the lack of rational thinking about this issue. Yes days like Monday are bad. But everyone is just going all-the-way "it's the end of chasing" every single time. If you want to partake in the hyperbole & talk yourself out of the next Dodge City or Bennington, be my guest. I'm going to be there and have very little problems just as I always have. Maybe having even less out there will make it even easier, so maybe I should stop trying to be the voice of reason.
What CTI rating would you give for yesterday's event? Using the formula on your website, I selected (values with an asterisk are uncertain):
M = 2
C = 0 *
G = 2
S = 3
D = 0
L = 1 *
R = 1 *
T = 1 *

and got a CTI of 9. That seems a little on the high side based on the reports and images I saw. I would think CTI-7 or CTI-8 more accurately describes what happened. But I wasn't there, so I can't judge for sure.
 

Dan Robinson

WxLibrary Editor
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Jan 14, 2011
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St. Louis
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Jeff that sounds about right! Unfortunately due to getting stuck, I wasn't there to document it. I wonder if there are those who chased both this day and the notorious May 19, 2010 day? Both were similar in circumstance and setup: High Risk, Oklahoma, late May, limited road area and VORTEX II armada. Actually research group presence is probably another metric that needs to be factored in. TORUS has 50 vehicles if I remember right.
 
Beyond this, I suggest the development of a "convergence risk" to be issued by the SCC or "Storm Convergence Center." For example:

"Minor Risk." When convergence is expected to be very low. Very early or late season, or general thunderstorm days when less than 10 vehicles are expected to converge on any single storm. Chasing will be relaxing and fun.

"Elevated Risk." Convergence level is expected to be less than 50 vehicles on any single storm. Does not pose a serious risk. May apply to days when multiple storms will spread chasers out. Chasing will be challenging and require extra attention.

"Critical Risk." Convergence will be hazardous. Between 51 and 100 vehicles will be following every storm, with at least 100 vehicles tracking tornadic cells. Accidents and personal injury possible. Many chasers will post angry comments and videos of bad behavior. Law enforcement will be agitated. Many locals and social media chasers will be causing serious hazards. Chasing will be stressful and exhausting.

"Ultra Risk." Convergence will be dangerous. Over 100 vehicles on most storms with 200-300 possible on major tornadic or isolated cells. Accidents and personal injury will occur. Research vehicles will be present in large numbers. Tempers will flare and road rage will be likely. Law enforcement may ticket or arrest chasers. Some chasers may stand on the side of the road and throw objects at offending chasers as seen in NASCAR races. Social media flaming likely. Chasing will cause extreme personal irritation and anger. Some chasers may require professional counseling or large quantities of alcohol following the event.

PISED: "Particularly Insane Storm Event Day: This can be added when roads are expected to be completely impassible with an inconceivable amount of traffic.

🤪
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
2,954
1,429
21
Westminster, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
Beyond this, I suggest the development of a "convergence risk" to be issued by the SCC or "Storm Convergence Center." For example:
"Minor Risk."
"Elevated Risk."
"Critical Risk."
"Ultra Risk."
PISED: "Particularly Insane Storm Event Day:
Another possible naming of risks:
  • Minor or "relaxed": perfect chase to fold your arms behind your head as you lay in the grass staring up at the sky with hardly another soul around. You are unable to ascertain whether any vehicles driving by you are other chasers or just locals out and about their daily business, hardly even aware of the storm.
  • Elevated or "typical": about what you expect to see on an SPC slight risk day in the Plains in March or July, or about the worst it will get in North Dakota in June-August. Easy to find your own little space in a farm pull-off without competition or having your view blocked by someone overdoing their chase setup (i.e., radio antennas, anemometers, 360 cameras, light bars).
  • Critical or "Elevated": Alright...now the crowds are annoying, but you are able to still get around and have minimal disruption from staying with storms. Lots of pull outs and shoulder spaces are occupied, but after 15 seconds of continuing forward on the road braking every 50 feet you're finally able to find an open spot. Then you have to wait a minute to get back out of it. Difficult to get a good camera shot that doesn't have someone else in it; need to run beyond the fence line to get a clean shot. Mild to moderate distraction from idiots flashing light bars that are way too bright for the occasion. Probably a tour group here and there sticking out into the road.
  • Ultra or "Stupid": Once the circus catches up to you (or you catch up to it) you're along for the ride the rest of the way...and that's it. Don't get off the ride, because if you do, you're not getting back on unless someone stops it for you and lets you back on. You're totally unable to find a spot without having someone within 20 feet of you for 2 hours straight. Localized light pollution from the number of vehicles flashing light bars. CG bolts preferring radio antennas sticking up off of vehicles as much as power poles. Tripods laying all over the road; difficult to distinguish them from scientific weather stations planted along the side of the road for a research expedition. Everyone in their cars screaming the same thing: "COME ON! GOOOOOOOOO! AHHHHHHHHHH!"
  • PISED or "Rock concert": mobile chasing impossible - must catch the storm on foot as it blows by, unless you can catch a good wave for crowd surfing. Weed and red rope licorice being passed around. (make sure to avoid the mosh pit!) Light bars being used as laser show instead. Occasional fires near roadways for no apparent reason. What you think are cops showing up to disperse the crowd turn out to be paid strippers. People selling stolen meteorological instruments on the black market.
 
May 6, 2005
231
91
11
Moore, OK
PISED or "Rock concert": mobile chasing impossible - must catch the storm on foot as it blows by, unless you can catch a good wave for crowd surfing. Weed and red rope licorice being passed around. (make sure to avoid the mosh pit!) Light bars being used as laser show instead. Occasional fires near roadways for no apparent reason. What you think are cops showing up to disperse the crowd turn out to be paid strippers. People selling stolen meteorological instruments on the black market.
LOL... black market met instruments sold by stripper cops.
 
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I'm amazed at how the media continues ignore the root cause for the current mess. Just a few days ago, TWC was constantly airing a clip showing chasers in a gustnado or RFD, while admitting they should not be showing the clip because it "represented irresponsible behavior." Accu-weather was once again pushing fake chase news by praising the bogus research and idiotic antics of Bozo the Clown like it was really something to be proud of. Until the media stops encouraging others to emulate this "let's be social media heroes" approach to chasing, it will just get worse.
 

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
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239
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38
Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
As Rich Thompson pointed out on a social media discussion, and I wholeheartedly agree, a plethora of chasers poison their own wells by drumming up support on social media and YouTube, for example. When you post a forecast or constantly share material that makes the masses want to partake, it contributes to the issue. I've been guilty of this myself. Social media exacerbates the problem. Yes, the mass media helped fuel the flurry of the hoards, e.g., the Twister effect or Storm Chasers on Discovery Channel, but the average chaser can have a pretty wide audience on social media too. You're always going to have a curious number of local chasers who ebb and flow, and new people who have an interest in the hobby will gravitate towards this as well, as we all did at one point, but being cognizant of how not to draw attention that's not needed could help lessen the impact. I don't know how much the tide can be turned back at this point, but it's worth consideration.
 
Jun 16, 2015
407
867
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Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
One thing I avoid is posting my exact target area online, until/unless I’m with a storm that’s rapidly developing or producing a storm. I’m mainly talking about Twitter since I have the largest reach on there.

I’ve had people on Twitter ask me for target areas or where I’m going and I won’t answer. Even if friends or other respected chasers ask, I rarely respond publicly, if at all. I don’t want to be liable for someone’s decision that could put them in a potentially dangerous situation, i.e. a traffic jam in front of a significantly severe storm.

Once a storm is producing, then it’s harder, because I may have posted photos/videos with a precise location, as I usually do for the NWS. By then, there are usually many other chasers/spotters around, so it’s probably less of a concern.

I also don’t report my location on SN (until I’m on a tornadic or impressive storm) for similar reasons. I’m not sure it helps much, but part of the reason is to conserve data from the GPS process, but I also don’t want people who may not be experienced to be following my dot. I had a few questionable examples earlier in my career of people following me, physically, and that’s usually not something I want without consent.
 
I believe the "psychology" of what entices people to chase is being overlooked. For example, back in the day when I was getting a lot of publicity, it was mostly centered around photography. Now days, the few stories I grant are a combination of storm safety, EMS volunteering, spotting and some photography. I don't pretend to be a scientist, although I'm obsessed with the science of severe weather and my brain is 50% sponge. This is not to say I would not publish an exciting clip, but it would have to be something that occurred "naturally" while working, not something dangerous and foolish I designed for publicity.

Most people do not want to be "Warren Faidley" now days. What encourages the majority to chase is not storm spotting, EMS volunteering or even photography. Nor do they want to risk it all on a dryline storm while the masses seek wedges and glory.

So you have to ask yourself, from whom are they getting such encouragement now days? It's not people like me, your local NWS or SPC employee, rescue workers, Storm Track, Donald Trump or Lebron James. It's one individual.... Bozo the Clown. He "dominates" the media and the media is so dumb they are willing to overlook the obvious "fake it till you make it" story line.

No other single chaser, or counter-reasoning behind the pursuit of severe weather is ever offered, so the public is presented / brainwashed with a one-sided, perverted version, lumping all chasers into the "clown" classification. I've been trying to convey this for years, but to no avail.

The reasoning and justification for chasing like an idiot and the psychology behind it can be traced to one individual and his clever use of social media, gullible people and weak-minded journalists. I keep hoping that some brave and professional journalist will expose this fool for what he is someday and burst the bubble of stupid antics before more people are killed or encouraged to be Bozo followers.
 
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Has me wondering what would happen if you put all model data behind a paywall (like $100 a month subscription with a minimum of 6 months). Would it affect the numbers of chasers with data not being so readily available and funneled through paying channels? Revenue would certainly help government weather entities. Just a thought that crossed my mind that wouldn't be a legislative avenue.