History of Hurricane Chasing:

tbrite

Enthusiast
Feb 12, 2020
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Eastern NC
Hi! This will constitute my very first post on this forum. I've taken some time to peruse the site, and am impressed with the excellent content contained herein. As such, I look forward to communicating with many of you in the near future!

The main purpose of this thread is to ask for any assistance one might be able to provide in helping me compile a complete and most accurate accounting regarding the history of hurricane chasing. I've already communicated with a few of you, and am most grateful for the thoughtful assistance; mainly your willingness to share your own complete hurricane chase record.

Ultimately, I'd like to write a book on this particular subject matter. It would mainly be focused on the history of hurricane chasing for the U.S. mainland, although I do intend to briefly touch on a few significant interceptions outside the mainland, as well.

Here's what I've been able to assemble thus far:



In short, I want to humbly ask for the pertinent information regarding the chasing history/record for all veteran chasers, as it relates to the following:

1) When was your first official hurricane chase attempt?

For many of us, our initial chase wasn't necessarily a successful one - if intercepting the central core (eyewall) is the standard by which it is judged. For instance, my very first chase consisted of a thirty-mile expedition to the SC/NC border to experience Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Unfortunately, I was restricted by my parents from crossing that border, and the eyewall remained too far south of my chase location. Hurricane experiences at ones home, prior to the initiation of a first chase attempt, are excluded.

2) Total number of hurricane eyewall experiences and the specific city or town where you experienced the worst effects. This includes any hurricane eyewalls you might've experienced at your home prior to your chase career. For instance, Jim Leonard had two hurricane eyewall experiences, as a child, preceding his legendary chase career.

3) Please notate which of the aforementioned hurricanes also coincided with a penetration of the "eye."

4) Please list any chase partners who accompanied you on a particular hurricane chase, if relevant.

For Example:

1) First hurricane chase: Michelle 2001 (Islamorda, FL)

2) All Hurricane Eyewall Experiences:

Isabel 2003 (Morehead City, NC)
Charley 2004 (Punta Gorda, FL) *
Frances 2004 (Ft. Pierce, FL) *
Jeanne 2004 (Ft. Pierce, FL) *
Gustav 2008 (Morgan City, LA) *
Ike 2008 (Galveston, TX) *
Irene 2011 (Atlantic Beach, NC) *
Sandy 2012 (CNJ Coast)
Hermine (Perry, FL) *
Matthew 2016 (Daytona Beach, FL)
Irma 2017 (Naples, FL) *
Florence 2018 (Wilmington, NC) *
Michael 2018 (Callaway, FL) *

* denotes an "eye" penetration

Important note: The western-most edge of Sandy's large eyewall hit the central NJ coastline just prior to being reclassified as an ET system. As a result, I'm counting Sandy as a legitimate eyewall intercept.

The list provided above characterizes the hurricane experiences of veteran chaser, Jason Foster. His totals are as follows:

13 eyewalls/5 majors/10 eyes

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this rather lengthy post, and I look forward to communicating with many of you, very soon! :)

Most sincerely,
Tony
 
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Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
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Thanks for posting, this should be an interesting thread. I'd agree with 2002 being the end of one era and 2003 being the start of the "explosion" of new hurricane chasers. I'm part of the latter, and I can't remember any tropical system being such a buzz in the general chaser community (WX-CHASE, Stormtrack, etc) before Isabel.

1.) 2003 Hurricane Isabel with Bill Coyle of Virginia Beach. We experienced the eyewall and eye between Washington and Windsor, North Carolina, although at 80 miles inland - we did not want to venture out onto the vulnerable Outer Banks.

2.)
Isabel (2003) Windsor, NC *
Frances (2004) Fort Pierce, FL*
Ivan (2004) Mobile, AL
Rita (2005) Beaumont, TX
TS Ernesto (2006) (just shy of Cat 1) Carolina Beach, NC
Michael (2018) Panama City, FL

5 eyewalls/3 majors/2 eyes
 
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tbrite

Enthusiast
Feb 12, 2020
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Eastern NC
Thank you, Dan! It's likely that Ernesto (2006) was a 65 kt hurricane at landfall. The NHC stated the following in the TCR: "Since it is possible, however, that the maximum wind was not sampled, Ernesto might have reached hurricane strength near North Carolina."

Consequently, I'm going to consider that a legitimate hurricane intercept. That translates to revised totals of 6/3/2.

Btw, you did a fantastic job documenting Michael in Panama City!