Poll: What is your main goal when chasing?

What is your main goal when chasing?

  • Tornado, no matter how brief, small, low contrast- nothing else comes close.

    Votes: 13 19.1%
  • Love tornadoes but epic structure a close second.

    Votes: 43 63.2%
  • Great structure trumps all but the most photogenic tornadoes.

    Votes: 10 14.7%
  • Tornadoes? Meh, but give me a mothership any day.

    Votes: 2 2.9%

  • Total voters
Sep 25, 2006
Denver, CO
Was the structure still good at that point and we were just at a bad angle, or was its best time already past?
Good Q...best I can piece together there were actually two storms with good structure at different times. Earlier storm southwest of Holyoke and later storm near Imperial. I got under the Holyoke storm for tornadoes and then happened to pass under what was to become the Imperial storm later on. Missed structure on both.

Structure vs. tornado value depends on the view of the tor for me. If a tornado isn't high contrast/close range I could definitely see structure winning the day. Especially on the high plains where structure is often contrasted against a deep blue sky and wide-open visibility. Or I hear Wyoming can sometimes give you both :D That said you can't win (a close range tornado) if you don't play. I'll be paying closer attention to maximizing both ops by checking out structure once the boundary layer stabilizes if LL shear is still (or newly) cranking.
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Reactions: JamesCaruso
Sep 7, 2013
Strasburg, CO
#1 Lightning is my original passion and its what got me started.

#2 Structure. Its harder to get than most realize. I still have yet to find that shot of an isolated mothership. I've gotten really close shots, but not "the one."

#3 For me tornadoes are pretty damn exciting, but rarely if ever an active goal. I see them more as a bonus event and will chase them if the opportunity presents.

Honestly, I like being able to hang out in one spot for an appreciable amount of time catching lightning as opposed to having to constantly be in the car, repositioning for the small chance a storm might decide to spin up...all the time missing the lightning and structure.
Jul 5, 2009
Newtown, Pennsylvania
I think @Marc R. O'Leary is right about structure being harder to get than most realize. Is it just me, or have the last few years seemed to have fewer structure opportunities? I know this is just anecdotal and affected by my own chase vacation timing each year as well as success/failure in the field. But it just seems like a lot of mushy HP storms these last few years, even on the forecasted “big days.” This could also just be because of my own strategy; I do tend to stay close in for tornados, and am probably too slow to pull back for structure when the storm goes HP. But I remember times in the past when I’d be close in and still able to look up into the vault and see incredible banding and whatnot. Just can’t recall having too many experiences like that for quite some time.

Also agree on wishing I could stay out in the field more and not always be in the car, constantly on the move to stay in tight only to probably have half the brief spin ups occur behind me while driving or hidden in the murk or whatever. And now with more chaser traffic it’s even more of a pain to have to keep moving.

Michael Towers

Jun 28, 2007
Machesney Park, IL
Seeing a tornado is always the objective and if I don’t see a decent potential I won’t chase. The farther distance to the target also requires a higher potential (e.g. I’ll chase a 2% tornado risk in my back yard but likely wouldn’t do so for any target over 250 miles away). I love structure and great structure (among other things) can make a chase a success but the primary motivator and driving force that gets me to chase is to see a tornado. I have driven and will drive 1,000+ miles for a chance at strong/violent tornadoes but absolutely wouldn’t if the best outcome was likely only decent structure.

Just a note, my perspective is shaped largely by balancing limited free time and work. I can only carve out so many days a season to chase (including travel to and from) so unless a season is lacking opportunity any trip taking more than a day must have a decent potential for memorable tornadoes.
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Jun 14, 2009
Brooklyn, NY
Of course I always target tornadoes but I like all aspects of it. I ended up riding out a severe storm in MO this year in a car wash and I was surprised how much fun it was to be inside that thing. I've been in baseball size hail before but this was more like being in a hurricane: