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

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The "blocking the road" idea has serious flaws, filled with danger. Who makes this decision? Blocking a road could turn hundreds of chasers and non-chasers into the path of a more dangerous storm. Lets face it, there are always going to be traffic jams for assorted reasons and the local / state LEO's need to deal with it. For example, large sporting events. I've been to such events where emergency vehicles had a hard time moving around traffic. It happens. The problems with mass chasers only occur a few times a year. It's not a weekly event. I can say as a working journalist with police and state credentials, the first time I'm prevented from covering an event, I'll raise hell.

W.
 
Tim Supinie said:
The attached map was created at about 3:00 PM on Saturday. I think he said the reds are ~30 spotters per 0.5° x 0.5° block. Granted, not everyone on the road has a Spotter Network account, but it's still kind of an entertaining map.

View attachment 6865

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Interesting how the highest concentrations are centered in SPC's 45% bulls-eye (from 2000 UTC tornado probability):



Glad I was down in the wide-open spaces of northwest Oklahoma.
 
May 1, 2004
3,392
630
21
Springfield, IL
www.skip.cc
The hotspot is probably Wichita residents beaconing their position from in or near the city in response to the passing severe weather. Just north of that spot, traffic was still quite manageable. The highest concentration of spotter/chaser traffic was probably up by Salina.
 

Shane Adams

We either stayed further back, or were on a different storm on 5-19-10. That day, for us, was average. There were lots of chasers all around during the tornadoes, but during cycles and navigating to/changing storms, there wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We also never saw the TIV, which probably isn't a coincidence.

I think one thing that plays into our hands personally is the need for everyone to be right next to the tornadoes. Was a time when you had JP, RT, and a few others regularly up close while everyone else was further back (where we were). Nowadays, you don't even need experience to get right next to tornadoes, and with the ever-present lure of $$$, more folks than ever are trying close range chasing. That leaves people like us, who generally stay back 2-5 miles to get the entire tornado/mesocyclone scope as well as hands-offs from one static video position, pretty much alone, all things considered.
 
Here's a picture from near Kingfisher, OK, on 5/19/10, taken by JR Hehnly and available on his website:

IT WAS WONDERFUL !!!! I LOVED IT !!!
;-)
Seriously... the problem is not the chasers. The problem is the road. Build more roads. Widen the existing roads. All county roads should be eight-lane roads , all over Tornado Alley. This would create a lot of jobs, and there would be no more bitching about 'too many chasers' .
 
The "blocking the road" idea has serious flaws, filled with danger. Who makes this decision? Blocking a road could turn hundreds of chasers and non-chasers into the path of a more dangerous storm. Lets face it, there are always going to be traffic jams for assorted reasons and the local / state LEO's need to deal with it. For example, large sporting events. I've been to such events where emergency vehicles had a hard time moving around traffic. It happens. The problems with mass chasers only occur a few times a year. It's not a weekly event. I can say as a working journalist with police and state credentials, the first time I'm prevented from covering an event, I'll raise hell.

W.

well said, Warren.
exactly. it happens once or twice per month, especially when there is a high risk on a weekend. I am so glad they didn't close the road to Campo on monday, 31 May 2010, on a 2% slight risk... ;-)
 

Rob H

EF5
Mar 11, 2009
825
6
0
Twin Cities, MN
When's the last time Kansas has even had to deal with something like this? Late May, 2008? I don't know about the rest of you, but I see a swarm of SN dots going through a town like Great Bend and I think two things: I'm not getting a unique perspective, and I'm not getting through that town anytime soon. Following the herd is almost always a poor choice, unless you have no idea what you're doing or where you're going.

edit: 6/7/09 and 5/19/10 being two note-worthy exceptions where alternate routes might not have been possible
 
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Apr 16, 2010
274
1
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Omaha, NE
When's the last time Kansas has even had to deal with something like this? Late May, 2008? I don't know about the rest of you, but I see a swarm of SN dots going through a town like Great Bend and I think two things: I'm not getting a unique perspective, and I'm not getting through that town anytime soon. Following the herd is almost always a poor choice, unless you have no idea what you're doing or where you're going.
Some of us could care less about what's on Spotter Network and don't access it. I don't mind getting into small convergences but when you see a line of cars waiting to exit the I-70 (east of Salina) then you know there's a problem. From what I hear and have seen there were tons of chaser types on all of the main storms.
 
Oct 27, 2011
52
0
5
Panama City, FL
IT WAS WONDERFUL !!!! I LOVED IT !!!
;-)
Seriously... the problem is not the chasers. The problem is the road. Build more roads. Widen the existing roads. All county roads should be eight-lane roads , all over Tornado Alley. This would create a lot of jobs, and there would be no more bitching about 'too many chasers' .
As someone from KS, I couldn't agree more. Nothing worse than getting stuck behind a slow moving semi, or farm vehicle for miles at a time due to hills, curves, or oncoming traffic that prevents you from passing. Sure it would create some problems initially while the roads are being widened, but I'm willing to put up with it.
 
Jan 14, 2011
2,941
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
The more I read, the more I'm beginning to doubt this is a true "chaser" problem. Unless you screw up and are way behind the storm (which happens to the best of us from time to time, but not always), you're not going to be in the damage path getting in the way of responders. Chasers are normally right on the storm or slightly ahead of it, where there is nothing yet for responders to respond to! If they are responding from the east, they'd be going the opposite direction of chaser traffic! Maybe this is why I haven't encountered the problem yet. Sure, if you're 15-20 minutes behind a tornado and try to drive through a damage zone, there will be traffic. How often do most of us get into that situation unless we've really blown it in terms of positioning? If you make some bad calls and end up falling behind, maybe just flanking the storm to the north or south will avoid the problem, instead of just pressing ahead to the east. Am I oversimplifying this? Seems like the SN followers and locals would comprise most of the damage zone traffic where the responders are trying to reach. As a chaser, if I'm stuck back in the damage path 20 minutes behind the tornado, I'm not doing too well in executing my chasing strategy.
 
Apr 14, 2011
310
33
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Alexandria, LA
The "blocking the road" idea has serious flaws, filled with danger. Who makes this decision? Blocking a road could turn hundreds of chasers and non-chasers into the path of a more dangerous storm.
Hmm, I don't follow this logic. All other things being equal if the choice is between letting people drive into a storm which is already known to be dangerous, and diverting them in a direction where it's possible at some point in the future they could hypothetically encounter a more dangerous storm, the correct option seems obvious to me...?
 
Apr 16, 2010
274
1
0
Omaha, NE
The more I read, the more I'm beginning to doubt this is a true "chaser" problem. Unless you screw up and are way behind the storm (which happens to the best of us from time to time, but not always), you're not going to be in the damage path getting in the way of responders. Chasers are normally right on the storm or slightly ahead of it, where there is nothing yet for responders to respond to! If they are responding from the east, they'd be going the opposite direction of chaser traffic! Maybe this is why I haven't encountered the problem yet. Sure, if you're 15-20 minutes behind a tornado and try to drive through a damage zone, there will be traffic. How often do most of us get into that situation unless we've really blown it in terms of positioning? If you make some bad calls and end up falling behind, maybe just flanking the storm to the north or south will avoid the problem, instead of just pressing ahead to the east. Am I oversimplifying this? Seems like the SN followers and locals would comprise most of the damage zone traffic where the responders are trying to reach. As a chaser, if I'm stuck back in the damage path 20 minutes behind the tornado, I'm not doing too well in executing my chasing strategy.
Good points, but I think it's more than just being behind the storm. Correct me if I am wrong but there was an area of rotation just above the chaser traffic zone on 5/19 (at the gas station). Most likely this scenario will never happen again though.
 
Feb 14, 2005
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Charleston, South Carolina
Good points, but I think it's more than just being behind the storm. Correct me if I am wrong but there was an area of rotation just above the chaser traffic zone on 5/19 (at the gas station). Most likely this scenario will never happen again though.
It's more than just a simple east/west directional factor. Many factors involved. For example, what if a number of chasers are in the "stair stepping" strategy of following a northeastward moving storm by stepping east, then north, then east, etc.? Now, suppose there is damage reported and the main source of emergency responders are located to the southeast of the impact and must utilize a north/south state highway to get there? They could very well get trapped behind chaser traffic headed north, who aren't necessarily 'behind' the storm but just below it.
 
Apr 18, 2006
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Hmm, I don't follow this logic. All other things being equal if the choice is between letting people drive into a storm which is already known to be dangerous, and diverting them in a direction where it's possible at some point in the future they could hypothetically encounter a more dangerous storm, the correct option seems obvious to me...?
We don't have the skill to know how a tornado is going to move. Take the case of the tornado emergency for Conway Springs last weekend. The tornado never hit Conway Springs. It turned north and missed the town to the west. A second tornado developed south of town and missed the town to the east. Imagine if the roads into Conway Springs were blocked because authorities were told the tornado was going to hit the city. The people sitting on the roads east and west of town would have been sitting ducks.
 

cedwards

EF5
Feb 3, 2005
556
0
6
55
Shawnee, OK
www.cloud9tours.com
The "blocking the road" idea has serious flaws, filled with danger. Who makes this decision? Blocking a road could turn hundreds of chasers and non-chasers into the path of a more dangerous storm.
I couldn't agree more. On Saturday, the police blocked the road away from the tornado and let traffic drive north on the road where the tornado was just about to cross.
 
Apr 14, 2011
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Alexandria, LA
We don't have the skill to know how a tornado is going to move. Take the case of the tornado emergency for Conway Springs last weekend. The tornado never hit Conway Springs. It turned north and missed the town to the west. A second tornado developed south of town and missed the town to the east. Imagine if the roads into Conway Springs were blocked because authorities were told the tornado was going to hit the city. The people sitting on the roads east and west of town would have been sitting ducks.
Yes, but simplify the argument here: you're saying the authorities should avoid trying to keep people out of the path of a tornado because they might end up in the path of a tornado. It's six of one or half-a-dozen of the other.
 
Feb 1, 2012
69
12
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Rolling Meadows, IL
I couldn't agree more. On Saturday, the police blocked the road away from the tornado and let traffic drive north on the road where the tornado was just about to cross.
This happened on the storm I was on near Halstead, Ks. The police blocked the road going east and kept the road going north open and the tornado crossed just to the north.
 
on the other hand , stormchasers can be there to un-clogg a road and facilitate traffic. I experienced it in person. I was chasing with Gene Moore on the day of Yazoo City 2010.
we were a few miles east of Yazoo City on highway 432 , shortly before arriving on interstate I-55 , and suddenly we found our road, highway 432, completely blocked by one tree that had fallen across the road, taken down by the rather strong inflow winds. It was impossible to drive around it. So Gene pulled out a towing-rope and we tore on that tree. It took us about 20 minutes to clear it from the road. Meanwhile, traffic was blocked in both directions, and they all waited patiently till we would be done, and some came out and helped. And finally we cleared the tree from the road... and as we continued towards the I-55 , what did we see speeding in the other direction, towards Yazoo City ? an ambulance ! Thanks to us stormchasers the road was cleared and that ambulance could reach Yazoo City much faster !

and I have video I shot with the cellphone
http://www.kyte.tv/ch/klipsi/tree-blocks-road-east-of-yazoo-city/p=lpw&c=9038&s=878424&l=2507

right then and there we did not know what had happened to Yazoo City, it was only later during the day that we heard about the disaster.

anyway, we missed seeing the actual tornado, but we felt kinda proud having taken that tree off the road just before the ambulance arrived.
 

Christopher E. Kincaid

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?
Here is a screen grab that I made while I was stuck in traffic:

 
Jan 14, 2011
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
That map represents probably an average number of chasers on a Plains storm. The wide view makes it appear more dense, that's a one mile road grid on that map. There could be 30 cars in between a lot of those icons.
 
Apr 14, 2011
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Alexandria, LA
That map represents probably an average number of chasers on a Plains storm. The wide view makes it appear more dense, that's a one mile road grid on that map. There could be 30 cars in between a lot of those icons.
A good and fair point, and important, of course.

Another thing the map seems to indicate: all except a handful of those chasers are in the town and behind the storm; not east-north-east-northing ahead of it, or southeast and keeping pace. So I would say the notion that "all the experienced chasers" would be out of the area and therefore could not interfere with aftermath relief efforts is not necessarily true (unless all those folks on the map are just noobs).
 

Christopher E. Kincaid

Actually Jake I was there. The road was blocked by a police car so we were stuck. I was able to find an exit and drive through town. Had the road not been blocked I would have stayed with the storm and I am sure the others would have as well. There were many more cars there than what is represented by the SN dots in my screen grab and most had KS plates.
 
Feb 27, 2009
463
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Texarkana, AR
Wow, look at all those locals who were thoughtful enough to sign up at SN and broadcast their positions live after they heard the weather report and just decided to hop in the car and have a look.

If those dots are representative of all chasers then I’d say there wasn’t much of a problem. Have you ever chased on the plains? I’m guessing that you have not. I never show up as a dot and I know there are others that aren’t on SN either. Without a question there were many more cars on the road because of the storm than shown by those dots, and from what I saw elsewhere many were local lookers. I don’t have a bit of a problem with that by the way, cause if I lived there I’d be out looking also. Both contribute to the numbers. It’s hard to come on a forum for chasers and be critical of chasers without many of them just tuning it out. This is coming from a guy that is rather critical himself of some stuff that goes on.
I've only been making trips 5 years or so, but I think you would say things differently if chasing was a part of your life and you had experience on the plains.
 
Apr 14, 2011
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Alexandria, LA
Actually Jake I was there. The road was blocked by a police car so we were stuck. I was able to find an exit and drive through town. Had the road not been blocked I would have stayed with the storm and I am sure the others would have as well. There were many more cars there than what is represented by the SN dots in my screen grab and most had KS plates.
It is Kansas; one would expect most of the plates in the area to be KS plates. We must consider the fact that not all those cars were "chasing", even if they were stuck in the middle of all the congestion; a lot of these locals were doubtless just going about their business (they live there after all), or are out on the road to evade the tornado, or are en route to check on the welfare of relatives and/or friends.