Chaser traffic in 2012 and the "CTI" (Chaser Traffic Index)

Discussion in 'Advanced weather & chasing' started by Dan Robinson, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Messages:
    1,798
    Likes Received:
    1,113
    I thought it might be useful to hear from others about the degree of chaser/local traffic problems throughout the season.

    I've put some thought into quantifying the chaser traffic problem, and here is the scale I came up with:

    ctiscale.jpg

    More detail:
    http://stormhighway.com/blog2016/april2516a.php


    Here are some CTI values on a few of my recent and past chases:

    • April 14, 2012 - NW Oklahoma: CTI-3
    • April 13, 2012 - SW Oklahoma: CTI-2
    • April 12, 2012 - NW Kansas: CTI-1
    • April 22, 2011 - Missouri: CTI-1
    • April 19, 2011 - Illinois: CTI-0
    • May 10, 2010 - Oklahoma: CTI-4
    • May 12, 2004 - Kansas: CTI-2
    • May 29, 2004 - Oklahoma: CTI-1
    • May 5, 2007 - Kansas: CTI-3
    • May 4, 2007 - Kansas: CTI-3
    • April 23, 2007 - Kansas: CTI-4
    • June 9, 2005 - Kansas: CTI-2
    • June 12, 2005 - Texas: CTI-3
    • June 12, 2004 - Kansas: CTI-3
    • June 11, 2004 - Iowa: CTI-1
    I wasn't there, but from the pictures and video I've seen, May 19, 2010 in Oklahoma was a CTI-7 or CTI-8. That event is likely the worst that storm chasing has ever seen in its history. April 14, 2012 in Kansas looks like a CTI-6, not quite as bad as 5/19/2010 but still probably ranking in the top 5 of storm chasing traffic hordes in sheer numbers.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    #1 Dan Robinson, Apr 18, 2012
    Last edited: May 15, 2017
  2. Jake Orosi

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2011
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    26
    Have you got any links to some examples from the May 2010 chase? Just to give me a mental image of the scale we're talking about here.
     
  3. Jeff Snyder

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Messages:
    4,838
    Likes Received:
    99
    Here's a picture from near Kingfisher, OK, on 5/19/10, taken by JR Hehnly and available on his website:[​IMG]
     
  4. Karen St John

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    10
    Remind me to grab a different storm...
     
  5. David Drummond

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2003
    Messages:
    4,138
    Likes Received:
    38
    We got caught in something Saturday that very much resembled Jeff's photo. We were in the initial line, and I finally decided to pull of and watch until it passed and drop back on the next storm coming up (which payed off bigtime). We waited and watched while a line of traffic as far as I could see to the south came by. I'm quite sure it was well over 200 cars. Most of the cars you could identify as "real" chasers were in the first group we were in, closest to the storm. The fast majority of this last line all had KS plates, and rarely did one of them have anything readily identifiable as a chaser, inside the vehicle or outside. Mostly people holding cell phones or similar devices, many of them taking pictures of US as they went by, rather than the storm. I doubt if there were 5 in the whole group that were chasers before that day. I'd classify that one in the 7 on your index Dan. It's personally the worst chase train I have ever witnessed, and it was mostly full of KS residents.

    Taking the next storm coming out of OK, we saw only a handful of chasers after that.
     
  6. Jacob Ferden

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    0
    By that criteria, what I've witnessed on my chases so far this year at worst:

    February 3: CTI-0
    April 2: CTI-1
    April 9: CTI-1
    April 13: CTI-1
    April 14: CTI-4 to CTI-5

    High risks are a powerful drug.
     
  7. Paul Sherman

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2007
    Messages:
    137
    Likes Received:
    2
    High Risk's on a Saturday are a Bad Deal.

    The two worst I can verify are 5th May 2007 near Stafford (Saturday) & 14th April 2012 North of Kingman (Saturday)
    Luckily was not privvy to the May 19th 2010 carve up near Kingfisher as we played the Dryline further South and watched the Wynewood Monster Spit out numerous Tornadoes before Sunset with only a few Chasers around, apparantly the rest were either stuck North West of Oklahoma City or could not make it down in time due to construction near Paul's Valley and the Oklahoma Rush Hour.

    Will be interesting to see if another High Risk falls on a Saturday in Oklahoma or Kansas during May. Good luck if it does.
     
  8. Jake Orosi

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2011
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    26
    Yikes, you're not kidding! That's really just ridiculous right there.
     
  9. Timothy Finn

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Just out of curiousity....

    How do you identify, or define, or determine, a "real" chaser?

    Thanks,
    Tim
     
  10. Jake Orosi

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2011
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    26
    Amber light bars, naturally.
     
  11. Jacob Ferden

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    0
    And if you look real close at that picture, you'll see what made May 19, 2010 so horrific. Throw a Saturday High Risk near OKC in with 100 Vortex 2 vehicles on top of it...yeah, that kind of thing happens. Not blaming Vortex 2, but it certainly didn't help.
     
  12. Jeff Snyder

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Messages:
    4,838
    Likes Received:
    99
    Jacob -- V2 was on that storm, but there aren't that many V2 vehicles in that picture, and there certainly were fewer than 100 V2 vehicles (I get your point, and I know you weren't really meaning 100, just "a lot"). The radar truck I was in was ahead/east of the DOW in the picture, and we saw primarily non-V2 vehicles. On that particular day, it was [edit: NOT a weekend] a relatively small high risk in central OK. That may have been "worst case" back in 2010. If we take the vehicles I saw on 4/12 on SpotterNetwork, put them on one storm, and assume that most locals aren't on SN, I think we could dwarf what's shown in that picture now (only 2 years later).

    If I see a car that has a few people in it with plates the same as the state I'm chasing in, with no signs of maps or any camera/camcorder equipment (not counting an iPhone or other smart phone), I think there's a better-than-not chance that the people in that vehicle are probably not active storm chasers. Of course, one doesn't need such equipment to chase, but it certainly looks more like a "hey, Gary England is showing a storm up here -- grab your iPhone and let's go!"-type of event than a chaser who's been watching model forecasts for 5 days, got up early to look at the 12z soundings and latest model data, gathered up his/her gear, and hit the road. Note that this is legal, so I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it. In addition, I've made a few spot chases in which I didn't pack my equipment before leaving work or another location (largely because I hadn't planned on chasing that day), but those tend to be marginal or "surprise" days, typically very diffferent from the days we're talking about (weekend high risk in W/C OK through W/C KS).
     
    #12 Jeff Snyder, Apr 18, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2012
  13. Jason Haller

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2009
    Messages:
    108
    Likes Received:
    0
    I consider my self a "Budget Chaser". I only chase within a radius of my home town so that I will be able to return home after a day of chasing. It limits me on which storms I can pick up sure but for my own financial reason I can't do more. I don't have anything on my van that would tell you I am a storm chaser but I do have my Ipad loaded with Radarscope, My Android phone with both Radar Scope and PYKL3. I have a cheap laptop that is setup with GRlevel3 and Spotter network with a GPS puck. I have almost all of Tim's forecasting books. I have loved following severe weather all my life. Just because I don't have a half dozen antennas on my vehicle, hail guards, and have local plates does not disqualify me as a chaser.

    I was on the storm that tracked threw Rice, Saline, Dickinson, and Riley counties. I saw exactly what you did. I had my friend driving so I could considerate on navigation and the radar to keep us safe. I saw, first hand some of the worst driving behavior in all my years on the road. Cars would fail to yield to emergency vehicles, people, kind of pulled over on the shoulder with there doors opened to oncoming traffic (saw a local news chase crew get scolded by a local police officer for doing this exact thing.)

    My point in my post more to a point is just because I have local plates on my vehicle did not make me any less of a chaser than people with out of state plates, light bars, and antennas.
     
  14. Travis Davis

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    13
    Actually Jeff, if this is May 19th that you are talking about, then it was a Wednesday. I remember being at work and catching the earliest flight I could back home from Boston that morning.

    I remember thinking that the traffic was crazy for being a weekday. It took me over five minutes to get back on the road after I pulled off.
     
  15. T Metz

    T Metz Lurker

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would say the 4-14-12 traffic in and around Salina was on average a CTI-5.
     
  16. Jeff Snyder

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2003
    Messages:
    4,838
    Likes Received:
    99
    Travis -- you are correct. I'll edit my post to get rid of the error. Thanks!
     
  17. Rob H

    Rob H EF5

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Messages:
    825
    Likes Received:
    5
    Out of curiosity, where does the 2009 Oregon, MO storm fit in?

    It would be interesting to try and figure out the number of SN-using chasers / chasers / locals. Does anyone have a screen cap of the Salina area SN icons at peak congestion?
     
  18. Jake Orosi

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2011
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    26
    Sorry for coming back to it, but that photo is just epic. I keep imagining that cell in the background suddenly throwing an obvious hook on the radar, and everyone in that line trying to turn around and chase it...envision the pure chaos.
     
  19. Skip Talbot

    Joined:
    May 1, 2004
    Messages:
    3,364
    Likes Received:
    244
    Man, I guess I'm just lucky. The only convergence that has seriously hindered how I chase was June 7, 2009 simply because there was one dominant storm and one or two bridge crossings across the Missouri. I've never seen emergency vehicles impeded.

    April 14 was a CTI-1 for us and we saw several large tornadoes in central KS. I did see a lengthy line of cars near Kingman that day, but we were playing the storm rather tightly and were able to get back on the road before the three ring circus arrived. The rest of the day we saw maybe 4-5 chasers at most in any one spot.

    Last year it was dead out there. In fact, during most of my tornado intercepts not only was there no convergence but we were the only car on the road:
    http://skip.cc/chase/110409/104-copy.jpg
    http://skip.cc/chase/110521/11052118.jpg
    http://skip.cc/chase/110522/11052209.jpg

    Some days we didn't see another chaser the entire day. It's made me believe that chasing has peaked in popularity and that the field is largely saturated, the exception being near cities where locals venture out. The cities are relatively easy to avoid in most cases, however.

    Inhibiting convergences seem like the exception rather than the norm with May 19, '10 being an extraordinary case. I encounter them so infrequently that they aren't even much of a concern. Here's a few simple tips on how to avoid the masses:
    • Don't bunch up. That sounds obvious, but it's simple. Many chasers, locals, and newbs congregate because they see each other. Just avoid the groups and travel a bit down the road until you're in the clear.
    • Don't intercept in heavily trafficked areas. Avoid cities and major highway intersections. It's hard to enjoy the storm from these vantages points anyway.
    • Stay ahead of the storm. Most of the "newbs" have a tendency to just drift, or parallel the hook to the south or lag behind it. Stay a step ahead of the storm, and you'll be a step ahead of most chasers.
    • Pick the less obvious or less popular target. This feels like a debilitating compromise, but often times the lesser target is the most rewarding, and you'll see stuff few others will. Who wants to pile onto the same storm and get the same picture from the same angle that 100 others did?
    The one thing that irks me, and I've seen this a few times in reference to recent events, is the notion of "real" chasers. This is a made up term by those with a false sense of self worth used to try and elevate themselves above others. First of all, you can't judge chasers by their vehicles, since some of the most experienced and prolific chasers chase in unassuming sedans with no fancy equipment and some of the biggest newbs out there have vehicles plastered with stickers and lights. Second, we're all idiot amateurs with camera phones. We all started in a similar manner, and while we have varying levels of experience and knowledge, no chaser (or motorist for that matter) has any more right to be on there than anyone else. We're all just tourists. I don't care if you have a plastic spotter badge, inkjet certificate, a news station pays for your tourism hobby, storm chasing license signed by Doswell, claim to have seen 400 rotating pieces of condensation, or $10,000 in attention getting vehicle add-ons, everyone in that convergence has just as much right to be there as you.
     
  20. Stan Rose

    Stan Rose EF4

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2006
    Messages:
    476
    Likes Received:
    69
    My CTI goes to 11--
    CTI-11: The population of Wakeeney jumps to 30 million. "Revenge of Twister," starring Kim Kardashian, is re-released in 3D. The President signs an emergency executive order making storm chasing a capital offense. Dogs and Cats sleep together...
     
  21. Travis Davis

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2007
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    13
    I would say when I got on the storm near Waynoka it was a CTI 1. As it progressed towards Cherokee it was around a 3 to 4. I jumped off the storm when it passed by Cherokee.
     
  22. Bryan Stokes

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2008
    Messages:
    280
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excellent post Skip! And very good advice.

    I was caught up in the May 19, 2010 mess and by essentially following the advice Skip gave above, I've avoided any crowds since then. I also tend to chase the High Plains and Northern Plains, and I do not run into any of the problems that a High Risk day near OKC and ICT brings.

    There's plenty of stress-free, uncrowded chasing to be had out there.

    Bryan
     
  23. Jacob Ferden

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2009
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    0
    I also should note that on April 14, after we left the Kingman storm, we went after the storm coming up from Oklahoma. Punched from the north, didn't see another chaser. Got in position south of Argonia next to maybe three other chase cars. Proceeded to watch the biggest and meanest wedge I've seen in my chase career. So it can still be done.
     
  24. Jake Orosi

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2011
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    26
    I agree with you absolutely, one hundred percent!(seriously though, where can I get one of those???)
     
  25. Sean Ramsey

    Joined:
    May 18, 2010
    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    68
    Some convergences are better than others. May 19th, 2010 was horrible and I'll always remember that day as being the peak of the issue. Other convergences aren't bad, such as the March 18th storm in SW Oklahoma...lots of people but it was fairly easy to pull off the road and back on as needed. Saturday's convergence didn't really hit until the late afternoon, after I had been following the same storm with only a couple of others in sight most of the day from Oklahoma into Kansas. Friday night near Cooperton there were a few people, but not a ton and it was tornado warned for a good amount of time. April 7th in the Sterling City, TX chase there was almost no one at all.

    Most of it comes down to the hype in days before the event.
     

Share This Page