Chaser convergence- getting even worse.

  • Please note the forum rules were updated today. You may review them by clicking here

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
2,159
586
11
39
Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
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.
It's certainly not a terrible idea for combating this problem, though there are broader policy issues at play when it comes to restricting data from taxpayer-funded, public entities such as NOAA/NWS. It would end up in federal court and probably be a losing proposition for the federal government if they tried to greatly restrict access.
 

Attachments

Last edited:
Jun 4, 2018
69
61
11
30
San Angelo, TX
I will say this, the setups this year have been annoyingly maximizing the problems like no other years before. Seemingly big events (moderate/high risks) that turn into just one storm heading through choke points and horrible road networks. Today might be another if we end up with just one storm.
That, and how lackluster last year was for a lot of people. In comparison, just about anything this year could trigger a convergence event I would imagine.
 
Jan 14, 2011
2,941
2,744
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
Yesterday's SN count peaked at 976. Using the temporary formula subtracting the "always beaconing" spotters and factoring in the preliminary 70% chaser beaconing rate, we get 839. Yesterday was likely mostly chase vacationers and "serious" chasers with very little locals and opportunists, so that may be near our baseline "peak season" count. As long as there is more than one storm and/or a good road network, those numbers shouldn't cause much issues, as they haven't in the past. Where we run into problems is if a higher categorical risk is issued near OKC (significantly increasing the numbers) and/or the road network/one storm problem crops up.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jeff House
Jun 4, 2018
69
61
11
30
San Angelo, TX
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.
I feel like that could make the problem of uneducated chasers even worse. Some folks (myself included) wouldn't have that kind of money in the budget to post up for a hobby. Not on top of all the other chase expenses. Therefore, wouldn't building a paywall just push the folks who have the desire to chase, to just simply chase less informed? Plus I think it could push a lot of the more responsible chasers out of the game entirely just based off of the extra cost. Not to mention I am against the restriction of info like this in general.

I think a better idea might be to somehow introduce some sort of a license for it. You pay a one time licensing/ testing fee and then have a reasonable annual renewal fee. And it would essentially create a data base that could be used to hold bad actors accountable, not only on the roads, but as far as poor reports and other things.
 
Aug 19, 2005
248
55
11
Atlanta, GA
Yesterday's SN count peaked at 976. Using the temporary formula subtracting the "always beaconing" spotters and factoring in the preliminary 70% chaser beaconing rate, we get 839. Yesterday was likely mostly chase vacationers and "serious" chasers with very little locals and opportunists, so that may be near our baseline "peak season" count. As long as there is more than one storm and/or a good road network, those numbers shouldn't cause much issues, as they haven't in the past. Where we run into problems is if a higher categorical risk is issued near OKC (significantly increasing the numbers) and/or the road network/one storm problem crops up.
I was in an area Monday where I saw maybe 5 or 6 dots, but passed/saw probably 20 or 30 cars that were obviously chasing. I think the # of chasers is way more than what SN shows, at least in Oklahoma.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Andy Wehrle
I feel like that could make the problem of uneducated chasers even worse. Some folks (myself included) wouldn't have that kind of money in the budget to post up for a hobby. Not on top of all the other chase expenses. Therefore, wouldn't building a paywall just push the folks who have the desire to chase, to just simply chase less informed? Plus I think it could push a lot of the more responsible chasers out of the game entirely just based off of the extra cost. Not to mention I am against the restriction of info like this in general.
Not that I want to, but that would be the point of something like this. Would you be willing to drive 500 miles based on a gut feeling (or SPC outlook) or would you invest back into the very thing that allows you enjoy it in the first place? I don't think the lack of forecast models put you in any more/less danger when you're out there, they allow you to know when/where to be when you're out.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Michael Norris
Jun 4, 2018
69
61
11
30
San Angelo, TX
Not that I want to, but that would be the point of something like this. Would you be willing to drive 500 miles based on a gut feeling (or SPC outlook) or would you invest back into the very thing that allows you enjoy it in the first place? I don't think the lack of forecast models put you in any more/less danger when you're out there, they allow you to know when/where to be when you're out.
For me personally I would probably just have to scale back to local events only. Because you are right, I wouldn't go that far on a gut feeling, and the chase budget is tight enough as it is. I agree in spirit for sure though. Maybe I just disagree with this specifically as I know it would basically prevent me from chasing just as I am getting back into it. Something definitely needs to change, because as things are now it isn't if a tragedy happens, its when. There just isn't an easy answer that I can see.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sean Ramsey
Jun 16, 2015
476
1,133
21
33
Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
I will say this, the setups this year have been annoyingly maximizing the problems like no other years before. Seemingly big events (moderate/high risks) that turn into just one storm heading through choke points and horrible road networks. Today might be another if we end up with just one storm.
Agree with this. We haven't had many nuanced setups with multiple legit targets. Today looks very focused and with flooding in the area, as well as more woody areas that you'd see west of I-35, it's probably going to be more bottlenecking with chaser traffic.

Even tomorrow may end up being fairly focused too with the main target area, but we'll see.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jeff House
Sep 7, 2013
637
466
21
Strasburg, CO
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.
Hard to justify charging for a public safety product.
 
Hard to justify charging for a public safety product.
I could argue that SPC dispersed information is a public safety product, and the model data is a tool to deliver that information ;). I do know this, I would be hard pressed to find more than 1% of the population who cared what temps were at 700mb at 22z. But overall, it was just a thought that could address chaser convergence and no need to get into the weeds.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Marc R. O'Leary
Jan 14, 2011
2,941
2,744
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
I was in an area Monday where I saw maybe 5 or 6 dots, but passed/saw probably 20 or 30 cars that were obviously chasing. I think the # of chasers is way more than what SN shows, at least in Oklahoma.
Matt, how close to OKC was this? I have a theory that the number of locals/opportunistic chasers increases the closer you get to metro areas, particularly OKC. I could be wrong though. The polls I ran the other day on here and on Twitter showed 90% of chasers beaconing once storms were in progress. That poll could be flawed, but both Twitter and Stormtrack results showed similar percentages. I figure SN might ultimately be the best tool for estimating chaser numbers, we just have to figure out how many aren't beaconing.
 

Mark Blue

Owner
Staff member
Feb 19, 2007
3,084
629
21
Colorado
I was in an area Monday where I saw maybe 5 or 6 dots, but passed/saw probably 20 or 30 cars that were obviously chasing. I think the # of chasers is way more than what SN shows, at least in Oklahoma.
That’s a good observation Matthew. There is just no way to quantify locals or others who are chasing but not using SN. Since we implemented the SN support forum the number of daily email inquiries I receive with RS/SN questions is off-the-chain. In addition to that several people post questions in the forum who cannot figure it out. To me it’s so very simple. Just login to SN through RS and that’s it. Using your observation that would raise the chasers on a storm by a factor of 5. Instead of 5 there are actually 25.
 
Jun 16, 2015
476
1,133
21
33
Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
Matt, how close to OKC was this? I have a theory that the number of locals/opportunistic chasers increases the closer you get to metro areas, particularly OKC. I could be wrong though. The polls I ran the other day on here and on Twitter showed 90% of chasers beaconing once storms were in progress. That poll could be flawed, but both Twitter and Stormtrack results showed similar percentages. I figure SN might ultimately be the best tool for estimating chaser numbers, we just have to figure out how many aren't beaconing.
I think there is possibly a large number of chasers who may not be all that involved with social media, as hard as it might be to believe that these days. Meaning, they were not able to vote in any polls and may not even be aware of how to report a location on SN.

You have older generations, but also the more casual enthusiasts who may only get interested in this sort of thing a few weeks or a month or two out of the year. Even I didn't start reporting my location until about a year after chasing and I considered myself pretty strongly interested in chasing from the start. I've been out on days with no dots around and have seen a few chasers, so I think the polls may not closely match what the actual numbers may be.

Most who are active on Twitter and/or here are very enthusiastic and thus, have a higher likelihood to report locations.

Maybe a test one day would be for someone to observe the number of vehicles in a line, for example, and review SN maps to see how many dots are on. I bet the numbers might be surprisingly different, especially on higher-end days in Oklahoma.

Edit:
I posted a poll on Twitter with four possible responses about reporting locations while chasing. I'm curious to see what the results are.
The options I put were...
  • Yes, most times
  • Yes, when on/near a storm
  • Sometimes, but usually no
  • No (rarely or never)
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Jamie G Cox

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Supporter
Oct 7, 2008
3,303
2,047
21
Broomfield, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
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.
Computational resources and imagery from the EMC/MAG site (Model Analyses and Guidance) are publicly funded by taxpayer dollars, so I doubt such a move would survive a court battle.
 

MClarkson

EF5
Sep 2, 2004
892
28
11
Blacksburg, VA
Trying to hide the model data is not going to work, even if it were legal or practical in this country(it's not).

You'll never get every national agency and research group to sign on.

And you don't need the model data. All the amateurs will just follow the SPC map, or simply find the location of their favorite chaser and go there.
 
Jun 16, 2015
476
1,133
21
33
Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
Even if you hid US model data, there's plenty of publicly available data from other countries.

Early voting in my Twitter poll suggests that only slightly more than half of people will report their location while storm chasing. 28% reported rarely or never reporting, while 17% said that they usually do not. It's only 114 votes in and it's a small-ish sample size so far.

That's 55% than usually report to SN and 45% that never report, or usually do not.

I'm running the poll until the end of Thursday to see what the final results are.
 
Mar 2, 2004
2,319
437
11
Wichita, KS
www.facebook.com
I was chatting with a long-time chaser friend yesterday and we got no the subject of new waves of chasers and how they come into the fold. I, lumped in with the Twister-era starters (to be fair, I just timed out that way cause that's when I got my driver's license, I consider myself an "Enemy Wind" chaser haha), were often looked down at because of the timing to which we got in to chasing. For a while, we were the new wave, and I think everyone got over that animosity pretty quick. Back in those days, we lacked social media, CAMs, and all this stuff that makes chasing so much easier. We were actually forced to learn the ropes, forced to engage with others in the field. Actually learn how to do this. Hell, it was 8 years after my first chase before I even had a computer in the car. I think a lot of folks who suffered through a few bad seasons fell out, and of course, freelancing video wasn't main stream yet, so it was truly a major financial investment to do. I'd LOVE to get a count of how many folks who started in the late 90s (Twister-era) are still around with some regularity.

I think a lot of the Twister-era surge came and went, as many who were like, "hey, that looks awesome", fell out due to lack of success. After my first chase/tornado in 1997, it was three years later when I saw #2, and three years after that I saw my next 5. The 2004 season was my first BIG successful year, including the May 12 and May 29 days. It took stamina, patience, and time. A lot of time. Something that as a whole (extending WELL beyond chasing and weather) is not even a thing. Instant gratification has topped the patience and making a career out of it (or just sticking with it til you actually got better). I don't think anyone coming into this over the last, oh say 10 years, has any clue what investing in this is (and I am talking beyond just buying gear, lights, whatever). I'm talking time investment. And again, why should they, it's basically handed to them on what I'd call a .300 average.

When Discovery Channel came out, we were in a completely different age as opposed to post-Twister. Models were better, but social media was taking over. And that immediately just blew everything up. As mentioned above, a few particular folks have aided into the spread of this fire a bit. But there is definitely a generational gap between Twister-era folks like myself and the Discovery-era/social media folks.

Because of the availability of high-rez models, social media, spotter network tracking, chasing is easier. The need for Meteorology is almost null (in terms of reasonable success ratio). Hell, kids getting out now-a-days are just as successful as multi-decade vets. And of course, the exposure has infinitely expanded, which just further fuels this fire. Now anyone can get a tank of cash paid for through selling a few seconds of video, and with help of social media, and easily find people to split costs with, so that's another factor I think in why this trend continues.

I dunno, I feel this is a giant ramble (I cut this into two parts as I ran some errands in the middle of this). Hopefully this makes sense. It is always better sounding in my head. But case-in-point, here I am jotting all this down from home instead of chasing a moderate risk. While I'll inevitably have a few higher-end risk days to cover here in KS for work, I am starting to wonder if my days of going out of my way for high-stress/higher-risk setups are numbered. The desire to do that just isn't there. There will always be tornadoes to chase, and I live in Kansas for crying out loud. While there is always plenty of money to be made in the freelance world on days like this, I just don't think the stress is worth it anymore. I'm definitely settling into a much different era of my chasing life, and I think I've turned the corner to just enoy the lower-key days cause they are as close as I'll get to reliving what I consider to be the good ol' days.
 

James K

EF3
Mar 26, 2019
281
104
6
Colorado
Reading some of these almost makes me not want to even attempt going out there.


But aside from the few crazed maniacs, how bad is it - say compared to rush-hour traffic in/near a fair-sized city ?
 
Mar 2, 2004
2,319
437
11
Wichita, KS
www.facebook.com
Reading some of these almost makes me not want to even attempt going out there.


But aside from the few crazed maniacs, how bad is it - say compared to rush-hour traffic in/near a fair-sized city ?
I moved out of Denver cause traffic was awful... one of a few reasons, but that was a topper.

And to answer your question, ever sit in that traffic with a Supercell coming at you?
 
I by principle oppose ideas to restrict weather data, that would be a backwards step. By same logic you could argue for restriction on radar data as well. Also, with modern computational power, what stops a dedicated enthusiast from spinning up a small WRF etc domain themselves, provided that the initial(and edge) data is still available from somewhere? I understand the concerns about crowding, but data restrictions would be throwing out the baby with bathwater.

I get it, there is a problem - I myself have regarded the US and especially the Plains as Too Toxic To Chase as early as 2010. But data restrictions are not the solution. Do you really want to go back to the old times?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mark Blue
Jul 5, 2009
1,102
935
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
...I was chatting with a long-time chaser friend yesterday and we got no the subject of new waves of chasers and how they come into the fold. I, lumped in with the Twister-era starters (to be fair, I just timed out that way cause that's when I got my driver's license, I consider myself an "Enemy Wind" chaser haha), were often looked down at because of the timing to which we got in to chasing. For a while, we were the new wave, and I think everyone got over that animosity pretty quick. Back in those days, we lacked social media, CAMs, and all this stuff that makes chasing so much easier. We were actually forced to learn the ropes, forced to engage with others in the field. Actually learn how to do this. Hell, it was 8 years after my first chase before I even had a computer in the car. I think a lot of folks who suffered through a few bad seasons fell out, and of course, freelancing video wasn't main stream yet, so it was truly a major financial investment to do. I'd LOVE to get a count of how many folks who started in the late 90s (Twister-era) are still around with some regularity...
Tony, I’m right there with you, started only coincidentally with the release of “Twister” and continued through some lean years. As a chase vacationer from the east coast with only a couple weeks per year (sometimes less) to chase, it took me a very long time to get any degree of proficiency and there were some very lean seasons in there (and some years when the timing of my trip was less than ideal).

I agree that chasing is EASIER today, but I do not agree that it is EASY. Of course some local yahoos can run out there after a storm that happens to have already gone up in their county, or they can target the same area as their favorite chaser on social media. But for those that have to pick a target themselves, or want to pick it themselves without being prejudiced by others’ targets or dots on SN - then it is far from “easy.” Of course, there are many field adjustments and navigational decisions to be made after picking a target. Unless I just completely suck even after this many years (admittedly still probably adding up to a relative few number of total chase days even after 22 years), it’s like baseball, a 300 Average is pretty good. Can’t say that qualifies as “easy” and 70% should still be enough of a failure percentage to keep the non-serious out of the game. Obviously that’s not happening, the numbers are still growing, but again not just because it’s “easy”. I do think a large part of the issue are the locals that come out spur of the moment, and the people are different on every storm because the locale is different - like a website, they are “unique visitors,” not returning visitors. But that’s just speculation on my part.
 
I by principle oppose ideas to restrict weather data, that would be a backwards step. By same logic you could argue for restriction on radar data as well. Also, with modern computational power, what stops a dedicated enthusiast from spinning up a small WRF etc domain themselves, provided that the initial(and edge) data is still available from somewhere? I understand the concerns about crowding, but data restrictions would be throwing out the baby with bathwater.

I get it, there is a problem - I myself have regarded the US and especially the Plains as Too Toxic To Chase as early as 2010. But data restrictions are not the solution. Do you really want to go back to the old times?
The idea isn't to restrict data or "hide it", it's to have people make an investment in it...or create a barrier to entry if you will. Data wouldn't be restricted, it would be pay to play. Sure, locals would still go out because it's local. Some who wouldn't want to make the investment would still drive three states to chase...but there's many who wouldn't which would in theory have an effect on the number of chasers and create breathing room. Imagine if you didn't have HRRR at your fingertips the morning of a chase because you didn't want to spend the money...would you still take that chasecation?

I can also think of government funded entities that either charge or don't share data. I don't think you can download blueprints to NASA rockets online on a whim, and they still charge to get into national parks.

Again, I'm not arguing it should be done, but it would be a step toward addressing the issue.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,227
777
21
50
Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
or create a barrier to entry if you will.
A financial barrier in hopes that you'll have less chasers on the road? Hmm....

Data wouldn't be restricted, it would be pay to play.
That goes against the very premise of an open society.

Some who wouldn't want to make the investment would still drive three states to chase...but there's many who wouldn't
I'm not following your line of thinking... You suggest that people would see a HIGH RISK from SPC yet would NOT drive across three states because they don't have model data? I'll straight out call that as wrong.

Imagine if you didn't have HRRR at your fingertips the morning of a chase because you didn't want to spend the money...would you still take that chasecation?
Sure, because 1) the HRRR busts often and 2) other non-government sources run model data so you could use those.

I don't think you can download blueprints to NASA rockets online on a whim
https://history.nasa.gov/afj/ap08fj/pdf/sa503-flightmanual.pdf

and they still charge to get into national parks.
Out of the 419 units in the National Park Service (NPS), only 112 parks charge an entrance fee. The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) allows the NPS to collect and retain revenue and requires that fee revenue be used to enhance the visitor experience.[/quote]