I also can probably quote Skip more than Twister. I Also chased last year for the first time, learned a ton. My focus has been to always try to chase conservative at first, and continue to do that as I gain more experience. I just had a really successful chase on the 28th in IL, where I chased 2 storms which were tor warned and got into position to safely view the wall cloud/updraft region. This was a first for me and it finally allowed me the chance to apply all that I learned while under the pressure of navigating a threatening storm. I also obsessivly watched Rich Thompsons lecture series on tornado forecasting, in order to gain more knowledge of the forecasting side of things. There are some great videos on storm interactions and other mesoscale events to be aware of. The other thing that I did/continue to do, which has contributed greatly to my improvement, is I always try to have a takeaway from each chase. Something specific that I learned. It also helped to have a realistic chase goal. On my first chase it was literally, I am attempting my first forecast, lets go drive to an actual "storm". We did that and I called it successful. My second chase, "lets navigate to the SW side of a storm and try to stick with that storm. Anyways, this is getting long, but I guess I am just trying to share some of the tips and tricks I used as a beginner chaser. Take 'em or Leave 'em.
That's some good advice! Thanks! Yeah, I only managed to catch one tornado as it was roping out in Wray, CO after dodging baseball sized hail. I think I was only able to catch it because I had come up behind it. Most other storms, I insisted on being in front to photograph the gust front and shelf cloud. I didn't consciously try to have a take away point from each chase but I think the majority of my chases were "successful" in that I found a storm, filled up an SD card and didn't get hail damage, minus a broken window from a microburst in Sharon Springs, KS.
Though, as you were describing with a realistic chase goal, I did try to focus on that. I figure that 99% of storms I chase won't produce tornadoes and most aren't even surface-based. Last season, I just tried to chase whatever popped up, just to start getting familiar with different cell structures and start to develop a system for navigating, chasing, setting up my cameras, safety, etc. I like your idea of having specific goals for each chase though. Got me thinking about starting a chase log and writing down my goals, observations, and learned lessons.
I think that is a great idea Moe. Everyone is different/is in it for slightly different reasons, but for those that really want to learn quickly, I think its a good approach. I have yet to witness my first tor, but I have a really good feeling about this summer. I was about 5 minutes behind the Cambridge IL tor, but missed it because of dark and rain. And its only the beginning of April.