Looking for advice for a beginner

Andrew Woody

Enthusiast
Jul 11, 2019
6
10
1
Lebanon Tn
I am a new spotter/chaser ive been a weather enthusiast for many years just never been able to do anything about it until now. To make it clear im not wanting to be hardcore get with 100 yards of a giant tornado or anything anytime soon im looking for advice from people from when they first started out. And yes before someone waste time saying yes i know travel with a veteran first but honestly everyone ive found is so expensive and cant afford all that unless someone knows someone very cheap. My goal is to just get close enough to witness in a safe spot and take some pics of the wonderful structure that form. Im starting a weather forecasting class and after that starting in meterology. I live in Tennessee and looking to start small observing here and would like to after experience head over to tornado alley and witness the bigger ones. So any help anyone can give thats not negative will be appreciated i feel like the more spotter/chasers out the the better for people to get to safety before they get hit by something big so again please no negative comments thank you in advance
 
Jul 16, 2013
226
118
11
Joplin, MO
And yes before someone waste time saying yes i know travel with a veteran first but honestly everyone ive found is so expensive and cant afford all that unless someone knows someone very cheap.
If you look at going with a tour group, then that can be expensive. But there are experienced chasers out that that will let you to tag along with them. You would just need to figure out how to get to them to meet up, and they may ask you to help on covering travel expenses (gas, motel, etc..). I believe there was/is a thread on ST for new chasers to connect with experienced chasers for ride alongs, I'll have to see if I can find it.
 

Andrew Woody

Enthusiast
Jul 11, 2019
6
10
1
Lebanon Tn
If you look at going with a tour group, then that can be expensive. But there are experienced chasers out that that will let you to tag along with them. You would just need to figure out how to get to them to meet up, and they may ask you to help on covering travel expenses (gas, motel, etc..). I believe there was/is a thread on ST for new chasers to connect with experienced chasers for ride alongs, I'll have to see if I can find it.
If you do that would be awesome and ive found a couple individual one was wanted 2000 for 8 days and another was wanting 100 per day per person and i will try and see if i can locate that thread as well thank you
 
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Jan 6, 2019
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Tyler
If you do that would be awesome and ive found a couple individual one was wanted 2000 for 8 days and another was wanting 100 per day per person and i will try and see if i can locate that thread as well thank you
I find it hard to believe that you can not find someone to ride with and just split fuel costs.
Eats, motels and such would be separate rooms on your own nickle.

If i was to do something like that, i would pay for all the fuel and whatever else i would buy for related chase costs.
After all, I would be out there anyway on my own dime anyway.
 
Mar 30, 2008
1,186
894
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
Going with a veteran is always good. Splitting gas is typically what chasers do when they chase together. I have taken a lot of people in the past, and found that I really also need to charge some sort of a base fee to cover things like tires, oil, tolls, cellular & weather data, etc, so keep that in mind. $100/day if that includes gas is probably cheap to be honest. Chasing is not cheap.

With that said, learn how to read models. The first real thing is to learn how to tell UTC and translate it. Then learning how to look at models and skew-t's would be next, followed by perhaps the Rich Thompson torcast or the video lecture series on the SPC site.
 

Andrew Woody

Enthusiast
Jul 11, 2019
6
10
1
Lebanon Tn
I find it hard to believe that you can not find someone to ride with and just split fuel costs.
Eats, motels and such would be separate rooms on your own nickle.

If i was to do something like that, i would pay for all the fuel and whatever else i would buy for related chase costs.
After all, I would be out there anyway on my own dime anyway.
Thats where im at on it so im going to start looking on here i was just searching on Google and coming up empty handed on the individual side of it
 
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Andrew Woody

Enthusiast
Jul 11, 2019
6
10
1
Lebanon Tn
Going with a veteran is always good. Splitting gas is typically what chasers do when they chase together. I have taken a lot of people in the past, and found that I really also need to charge some sort of a base fee to cover things like tires, oil, tolls, cellular & weather data, etc, so keep that in mind. $100/day if that includes gas is probably cheap to be honest. Chasing is not cheap.

With that said, learn how to read models. The first real thing is to learn how to tell UTC and translate it. Then learning how to look at models and skew-t's would be next, followed by perhaps the Rich Thompson torcast or the video lecture series on the SPC site.
Yeah i know it's expensive and it was 100 per day per person plus hotel and gas....i will def be checking all that thank you
 
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Jan 6, 2019
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Tyler
Going with a veteran is always good. Splitting gas is typically what chasers do when they chase together. I have taken a lot of people in the past, and found that I really also need to charge some sort of a base fee to cover things like tires, oil, tolls, cellular & weather data, etc, so keep that in mind. $100/day if that includes gas is probably cheap to be honest. Chasing is not cheap.

With that said, learn how to read models. The first real thing is to learn how to tell UTC and translate it. Then learning how to look at models and skew-t's would be next, followed by perhaps the Rich Thompson torcast or the video lecture series on the SPC site.
That is where i am going to have to disagree with you.
Your going to be spending that money anyway whether someone goes with you or not.

I could really use a 2nd pair of eyes.
 
Mar 30, 2008
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Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
That is where i am going to have to disagree with you.
Your going to be spending that money anyway whether someone goes with you or not.
Not necessarily. What I've found is that I talk myself out of setups a lot more often when it's just me. And I can put my cameras on the front seat next to me. As someone who has accommodated plenty of out of town photographers and chasers, it becomes a chore. Even if someone comes along for a week, they are going to want to chase everything they can that week which requires taking time off work, and chasing days I wouldn't normally chase. Also have ran into multiple times where problems arise with my chase vehicle that requires renting a car to continue. i don't think it's asking too much to ask people to chip in. $100 plus gas and hotels seems expensive, but half of that doesn't seem so steep.
 
Jan 6, 2019
82
29
6
Tyler
Not necessarily. What I've found is that I talk myself out of setups a lot more often when it's just me. And I can put my cameras on the front seat next to me. As someone who has accommodated plenty of out of town photographers and chasers, it becomes a chore. Even if someone comes along for a week, they are going to want to chase everything they can that week which requires taking time off work, and chasing days I wouldn't normally chase. Also have ran into multiple times where problems arise with my chase vehicle that requires renting a car to continue. i don't think it's asking too much to ask people to chip in. $100 plus gas and hotels seems expensive, but half of that doesn't seem so steep.
Put in that context I can understand why then.
 
Jul 16, 2013
226
118
11
Joplin, MO
If you do that would be awesome and ive found a couple individual one was wanted 2000 for 8 days and another was wanting 100 per day per person and i will try and see if i can locate that thread as well thank you
Sorry, just now got around to looking for the thread. Here you go: 2019 CHASE PARTNER THREAD

I think a new one is posted each year, I think.. but it's a good starting point to find chasers willing to allow newer chasers to tag along. Like I said, don't be put off if you're asked to help with travel expenses... in the long run splitting gas and what not is much cheaper than chasing solo.
 

Derrick Fast

Enthusiast
May 10, 2017
1
2
1
Moore, OK
Not necessarily. What I've found is that I talk myself out of setups a lot more often when it's just me. And I can put my cameras on the front seat next to me. As someone who has accommodated plenty of out of town photographers and chasers, it becomes a chore. Even if someone comes along for a week, they are going to want to chase everything they can that week which requires taking time off work, and chasing days I wouldn't normally chase. Also have ran into multiple times where problems arise with my chase vehicle that requires renting a car to continue. i don't think it's asking too much to ask people to chip in. $100 plus gas and hotels seems expensive, but half of that doesn't seem so steep.
Not only that, but you’re going to be in the car with each other for a veeeeerry long time. I gave 2 acquaintances separate ride alongs this year for free, and it took everything in me to keep from yanking the steering wheel hard to the right into a ditch just to get out of the situation hahaha.

So yeah, 100 bucks is nothin’ when it comes to showing someone the ropes all day/night long.
 
Mar 30, 2008
1,186
894
21
Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
Another thought I had: It's not expected, but a thank you gift goes a long way if you spend a week or two with someone. I rode along in 09 with someone much more experienced than I and I bought him one of those filmtool window mounts for his camera afterwards as a show of gratitude. Plenty of things I wish I had done differently looking back upon it, but I just wanted to some thanks. I also received a lightning trigger from someone who rode along with me from 2011-2017 (7 seasons) as a show of appreciation. It doesn't even have to be something like that, but picking up the steak dinner tab after a tornado would be an awesome gesture. Just a show of thanks.

But yeah, chasing is not cheap and Joey is right that in the long run, splitting gas and what not is not much cheaper than just chasing solo, and it's a lot less headache to do so.

Hopefully you aren't too put off by my advice in here. I'm trying to just be blunt and post my experiences/thoughts so that you come into this with the right mindset. I've got half a dozen horror stories and a dozen or so good stories of ride alongs.
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,528
32
11
Kearney, NE
bigstormpicture.com
I know in the past the College of Dupage chasing was a relatively affordable chase tour solution (and you get college credit, to boot) - are they still worth a look?

Other than that, yeah, I definitely second trying to find another chaser to show you the ropes. Paying for their gas is a lot cheaper than a tour, and if you pick the right chaser you'll learn just as much or more than being on a tour. If you are a trustworthy driver, you'll also have a lot of worth to another chaser, since 6 hour hauls to target are exhausting when you have to do them day in and day out on your own.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
873
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I could see taking a chance with someone I don't know for a day, but I would never entertain the idea of having someone accompany me for a full week or two chase vacation if I didn't already know them very well.

I've been chasing with the same chase partner for over 20 years. He lives in a different state, so I never see him between chase vacations, and conversation throughout the year is mostly limited to texting. Yet I feel so fortunate to have him for a chase partner because we have a great rapport, share the same temperament in terms of how far we are willing to go for marginal risks, are similar in terms of conservative/aggressive field strategies, etc. I often think how rare it is to be able to spend so much time with someone, day after day, confined to a car for hours, then still having dinner together at night and reconvening early the next morning to review the forecast. I just cannot imagine that happening with someone I didn't know. And this relationship took years to develop. Seems like with a random person it would at best be unenjoyable, and at worst could be a complete disaster. In addition to storm chasing, it's also two friends on vacation. For me personally, having someone else along that neither one of us knew would destroy the whole dynamic. I guess the point of this post is, if most other chasers are like me, it's going to be hard to find somebody willing to take you along. Notice most of the chasers on here are suggesting you find someone to go with, not offering to take you themselves. A tour may be your best bet. Expensive, yes, but that's life. That's why I was unable to afford to go until I was 29 years old.
 
Jun 1, 2008
483
374
11
Chattanooga, TN
www.linkedin.com
Hi Andrew. I'm down in Chattanooga. Like @JamesCaruso writes above, I'll chase with anyone for a day. Overnight / the Plains depends on how the daytrip goes. More relevant, I chase Tennessee / Dixie once or twice a year. I blow off most South events because Dixie gonna Dixie LOL.

Different thread New member with a few questions is also in Intro Wx & Chasing. In my read SPC paragraph I forgot to mention read local NWS discussions. Under Forecasts, it's Forecaster's Discussion.

I am a new spotter/chaser ive been a weather enthusiast for many years just never been able to do anything about it until now. To make it clear im not wanting to be hardcore get with 100 yards of a giant tornado or anything anytime soon im looking for advice from people from when they first started out. And yes before someone waste time saying yes i know travel with a veteran first but honestly everyone ive found is so expensive and cant afford all that unless someone knows someone very cheap. My goal is to just get close enough to witness in a safe spot and take some pics of the wonderful structure that form. Im starting a weather forecasting class and after that starting in meterology. I live in Tennessee and looking to start small observing here and would like to after experience head over to tornado alley and witness the bigger ones. So any help anyone can give thats not negative will be appreciated i feel like the more spotter/chasers out the the better for people to get to safety before they get hit by something big so again please no negative comments thank you in advance
Chaser partner dynamic is important for multi day trips and between experienced (opinionated) chasers. I propose personality match is not vital for day trips with a veteran and an apprentice. Anyone can get along that situation.

Chase vacations with experienced partners is where the dynamic becomes important for everything from the road trip, to safety, to target selection, and chase style. Like James, my chase partner and I are friends. We are not best friends, but we are good friends. We started our careers at the same wx company; so, our forecasting is similar.

A note on sharing cost. Generally fuel and lodging is split 50/50. My chase partner and I also take turns driving, but some crews keep the same driver and copilot. Food is individual until the thank-you meal.
 
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Jun 24, 2010
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Norman, OK
I am a new spotter/chaser ive been a weather enthusiast for many years just never been able to do anything about it until now. To make it clear im not wanting to be hardcore get with 100 yards of a giant tornado or anything anytime soon im looking for advice from people from when they first started out. And yes before someone waste time saying yes i know travel with a veteran first but honestly everyone ive found is so expensive and cant afford all that unless someone knows someone very cheap. My goal is to just get close enough to witness in a safe spot and take some pics of the wonderful structure that form. Im starting a weather forecasting class and after that starting in meterology. I live in Tennessee and looking to start small observing here and would like to after experience head over to tornado alley and witness the bigger ones. So any help anyone can give thats not negative will be appreciated i feel like the more spotter/chasers out the the better for people to get to safety before they get hit by something big so again please no negative comments thank you in advance
When I started chasing I began by networking with more experienced chasers through social media and forums like Stormtrack. That turned into a week long chasecation with an at the time 15 year vet. Networking with other chasers is beneficial!! I see that you're from Middle Tennessee. I lived in Murfreesboro for six and a half years before moving to Norman and met a few chasers from in and around Nashville. I can get you in touch with a few of them to help you out.

Understanding models is important, but so is actually going out and experiencing what Mother Nature has to offer. As far as the expenses go it can rack up pretty quick depending on how far you travel. I personally prefer chasing with friends I'm comfortable spending hours on the road with. We always split expenses 50/50 and on the rare occasion I make an ENG sale on my video I give them a cut of the money.

I hope this was helpful for you, and I hope to see you out on the Plains in the near future!!
 

Andrew Woody

Enthusiast
Jul 11, 2019
6
10
1
Lebanon Tn
When I started chasing I began by networking with more experienced chasers through social media and forums like Stormtrack. That turned into a week long chasecation with an at the time 15 year vet. Networking with other chasers is beneficial!! I see that you're from Middle Tennessee. I lived in Murfreesboro for six and a half years before moving to Norman and met a few chasers from in and around Nashville. I can get you in touch with a few of them to help you out.

Understanding models is important, but so is actually going out and experiencing what Mother Nature has to offer. As far as the expenses go it can rack up pretty quick depending on how far you travel. I personally prefer chasing with friends I'm comfortable spending hours on the road with. We always split expenses 50/50 and on the rare occasion I make an ENG sale on my video I give them a cut of the money.

I hope this was helpful for you, and I hope to see you out on the Plains in the near future!!
Thank you so much and if there is any chance you can get me in touch with one of them to maybe just talk a little and get some more advice i would be more than grateful for that and from people on here and some pm me im understand more and more about the expenses and that not alot people going to go chasing with a novice they've never met so i may just stay around here for awhile and do my best to save up money to go on a tour of some sort or try on my own so well see and i appreciate the encouraging words thank you
 
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Steven Heicher

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Jul 19, 2019
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Nashville, TN
Andrew,

I'm one of Adam's friends, particularly from when we met when he still lived in Middle Tennessee. He messaged me about you, and I just got my account approved. I live immediately north of Nashville, and I'm through Lebanon a bit. I have 8 years experience chasing in Dixie. While it's cheaper to stay closer to home, it does offer up its own challenges that the plains don't.

The people above make great points, in that I've had my share of great chase partners, and my share of annoying ones. While I am not afraid to chase solo, I always prefer a partner just so we can divide the work. If you have any questions, feel free to direct message me. I'm also on FB and Twitter.
 

Joseph Vitola Jr

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May 29, 2019
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Barnegat, New Jersey
I’m looking to travel out to Kansas from NJ next year in May. I’ve been into the weather for as long as I could remember and have some knowledge in it due to self teaching. It will be my first time going out to chase and I’d be more than welcome bring somebody of similar interests along with me.