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Chasing in the News: "As storm chasing grows in popularity, so do the problems"

Discussion in 'Weather In The News' started by Randy Denzer, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. Randy Denzer

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  2. Mike Thornton

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    I was at the National Storm Chasing Convention this year. The event had a panel and the officers and chasers at the panel did everything but "buttheads". The media loves to paint chasers and law enforcement as enemies. But to be 100% honest. I've never had a problem with law enforcement. If anything, they always come up to me, and talk to me for awhile before I chase. Just don't break the law and respect the officers as they have a job to do and you will be fine. I will leave a link below to a video of the panel. I also really dislike how the media thinks that every chaser on the road was inspired by the movie "Twister" I for one dislike that movie and became a chaser based off of a tornado that struck my town.


    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Stormtrack mobile app
     
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  3. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Resident meteorological expert
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    Seems like law enforcement in Kansas has a particular hard-on for chasers there. Bad behavior occurs up and down Tornado Alley, but no one seems to complain about it quite as bad as they do in Kansas.
     
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  4. Marc R. O'Leary

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    This is why incognito chasing is the way to go. Being festooned with weather stations and external roll cages and big graphics only makes you a target in places that are less friendly. After I lost my small Skywarn magnet somewhere, I never bothered to replace it. And with dark tinted windows, I don't even get bothered by people in the gas station asking what all the gear is for (not that that ever bothered me unless things were active.)
     
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  5. Mike Thornton

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    ^^^^

    Sent from my Pixel 2 using Stormtrack mobile app
     
  6. Randy Denzer

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    I have never had an issue with local responders, but can understand their frustration with the hoards. Most of the time, this is not an issue. But, I can see how they would get frustrated with those driving around with combination home weather station / PVC jungle bar set on their roof / Hurricane Fence window guards, and stickers that say, "NO FEAR" going 99 mph through stop signs in their district! Add some natural disaster stress to a little chaser attitude and I can see the local police getting pretty uptight. Whoever said, incognito is best was right these days!

    After El Reno, I was asked to meet with an old friend and current Chief of Texas DPS (and his Commanders) to discuss "Storm Chaser" convergence and the effects of blocking roadways near tornados. They indicated that they would not be doing roadblocks and the only issue they would keep an eye out for in Texas with the chasers would be speeding or reckless driving. No one wants a reckless driving ticket (no more Insurance).

    I can also see how it could offend local responders in rural areas If a chaser claims to be a "First Responder". I have heard chasers falsely claimed they are "First Responders" and are "Saving Lives" (and so on). Being a NWS Skywarn spotter in itself is a very noble thing to do,but it does not make anyone a First Responder. First Responders are the folks who are "On Duty" in a first response capacity (either professionally or by volunteerism). Myself and my professional Firefighter chaser friends (with 25-30 years of firefighting experience) are not "First Responders" when we leave town or are not on duty. We are Good Samaritan bystander chasers with some training who can help if requested. And, if requested, we follow any and all directions from local First Responders at all times.

    O, and the media is always right.
     
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  7. Warren Faidley

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    The problem becomes a problem when all chasers are lumped together as trouble makers -- most are not. As previously discussed to the point of insanity, a certain percentage (depending on location) of the worse offenders are locals. I do believe the DTS or "Darwin Traffic Solution" is coming of age, where offenders are held accountable for their actions, sometimes with tragic or civil results. As more and more vehicles are running with "witness" cameras, the days of getting away with felonious acts are shrinking and more and more law enforcement agencies are requesting or subpoenaing footage. Since last year was a dud, I'm suspecting there will be an unusually high amount of stupidity on the road if this year ends up more active. I just put in an order for spike strips. :)
     
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  8. Joey Ketcham

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    This. In all the years that I've been chasing, I've literally had zero negative encounters with law enforcement. The only encounters I've had with law enforcement was generally while sitting and waiting for storm initiation and they'd approach to make sure I wasn't broken down or anything. Usually ended up just BS'ing with them about the weather, the area I was chasing in and would many times ask for recommendations on good places to eat and sights and businesses to visit. Always had nothing but positive encounter with the police.
     
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  9. Brett Roberts

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    I've been operating under this mindset, and scratching my head at some people who take the opposite approach, for a long time. Before smartphone WiFi hotspots became reliable, I had a mag-mount antenna for my USB modem for several years, which was the only indicator of my activities on the exterior of my vehicle -- but a pretty obvious one. I was ecstatic when I no longer needed it and could blend in completely with non-chaser traffic, at least on highways.
     
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  10. Douglas Kiesling

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    I was at ChaserCon and there was no drama. It was actually one of the best ones where everyone was relaxed and got along. Maybe it was due to the bar closing at 11PM... This just sounds like some news outlet just trying to create drama for click bait to get ad's viewed.
     
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  11. Paul Knightley

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    I doubt that chasers who are going about their business quietly, within the law, and not drawing big attention to themselves will attract the attention of the law enforcement.
    I see many chases going about it like this, indeed the vast majority. But I do also, occasionally, see much more reckless driving, including driving whilst operating electronics, which should be a big no-no. Like many things in life, the actions of a few can inform an erroneous view of the masses.
    To be honest, if I'm viewing/chasing a storm within the law, then the law enforcement agencies should be taking no interest (well, I mean from the point of view of making it an 'issue') - in all cases where I've spoken to them, it's been about the storms, or just the area in general (they are often very proud to speak about their jurisdiction) - and it helps being from the UK as this can become a good talking point too!
     
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  12. JamesCaruso

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    The Wichita Eagle - and I believe this same author, Stan Finger - has always written anti-chaser articles like this. It’s irritating, but nothing new and hopefully a fairly isolated obsession that doesn’t go too far beyond this one reporter.

    Personally I have never had any problems with LEO, maybe just being asked to move off a shoulder once. But I do worry about road closures that may be at best unnecessary and at worst cause more danger.
     
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  13. Chris Dickerson

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    Aside from a Kansas Hwy Patrolman on a fishing expedition (drugs, cash they could claim with civil asset forfeiture; another story for another time) I've never had a bad experience with the law while chasing. I've got a few stickers, but nothing too crazy, no lights, etc so I'm nowhere near as gaudy as some folks. The cops have always been friendly, we've chatted while waiting for initiation, and they've even let me pass roadblocks here in the Midwest when I mention I'm a chaser.

    What worries me is that the Plains cops seem to be the ones who are the most bent out of shape, and the Plains also seems to have the most glaring examples of bad behavior. Now, I show up with Indiana plates, and these guys are already suspcious, then they find out I'm a chaser as well, and there's a potential for being hassled. Small town cops always seem to give more leeway to locals, and I don't want my chase time ruined because I'm being hassled by cops who think I'm nothing but some out-of-state thrill-seeker.

    I mean, I AM, but there's more to it than just adrenaline ;)
     
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  14. James Hammett

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    This. Ignore him and most of the hand waving from Kansas goes away. He comes to Chasercon looking for dirt on the regular.
     
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  15. Warren Faidley

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    I don't think it matters if you have decals, lights or whatever, LEO are smart enough to know if you are chasing. Don't break the law and you are very likely to have no problems. Having said that, there are a few Barney Fife types out there and you need to cover yourself with witness cameras and recordings. Starting this year, I'm wearing a high-end body cam for both recording chase events, etc. In 2008, a chaser leading a tour group had a major encounter with LEO in Crane County, TX. I suggest everyone read that story and the outcome. (I don't have a link).
     
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  16. Randy Jennings

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    http://www.newswest9.com/story/8286980/storm-chaser-arrested/

    The officer who arrested the chaser was let go a few days latter:

    http://www.newswest9.com/story/8368674/crane-county-deputy-no-longer-on-the-job/

    Here is the ST tread: https://stormtrack.org/community/threads/storm-chaser-arrested-in-texas.13852/

    I can't find how this ended in the courts (it if it ever went to court).
     
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  17. Warren Faidley

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  18. Ric Burney

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    Aside from exactly one speeding ticket (missed the 70mph to 30mph in a little speedtrap town in TX) all my contacts with LEO have been positive. I even stayed and sat with a Garza Co. constable who had a flat under a meso. He was out in the middle of nowhere and quite nervous about the situation. He was grateful for the company and really glad when a couple of trustees showed up with a spare tire.
     

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