Reloading of Agressive Chasing Era Begins

Warren Faidley

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May 7, 2006
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Mos Isley Space Port
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"Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." ― George Santayana

Interesting to watch the live, YouTube chasing phenomenon take off. It's become BIG bucks and It looks like next year will be the most extensive and aggressive year in history, likely surpassing the pre-El Reno circus in 2013. Chasers are splitting off Ryan's live coverage and going out on their own. Other chasers are planning on deploying multiple TIV's. I'm also hearing the same fatal attitude of: "I'm not one of the idiots," or, "It won't happen to me because I'm a professional," etc.

Although I believe that live, social media coverage adds to the awareness and safety during major events, multiple, live chase "units" will only lead to more and more "stunts" and lunacy on the road, as everyone tries to get the best live footage. The Weather Channel learned this lesson and never did it again.

You heard me say it...... this will not end well.
 
Aug 25, 2022
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Fairfax, Virginia
Reed Timmer recently put out videos and images of the Dominators. Looks like he is going to bring them back. 3 different groups with intercept vehicles that I know of… and I have definitely seen more people streaming live coverage. I’m not predicting any outcome, but I do feel chasing is going to get a lot more competitive.
 

Warren Faidley

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May 7, 2006
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Mos Isley Space Port
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Reed Timmer recently put out videos and images of the Dominators. Looks like he is going to bring them back. 3 different groups with intercept vehicles that I know of… and I have definitely seen more people streaming live coverage. I’m not predicting any outcome, but I do feel chasing is going to get a lot more competitive.
I have yet to see a good outcome from competitive chasing. Kind of like the disasters on Mt. Everest when everyone was trying to be the first on top for tourists. People died until rules were "kind" of set. Even when the main chase competition was obtaining still images, competition caused some real backlash including jealousy, personal sabotage and hatred in the chase community -- some never resolved. There has already been discontent amongst You Tube chasers. Fasten your seat belts!
 
Aug 9, 2012
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Macomb, IL
stormoptics.smugmug.com
As with any hobby, there will always be idiots who do stupid stunts and either get themself killed or seriously injured.

Does this concern me? Yes It does very very much, I don't like seeing anyone get hurt or killed in any hobby, but sadly it happens. However if you are going to chase at close range and in the path of a strong tornado (I don't have any room to talk here as this has happened to me on a couple occasions/lost data/situational awareness etc); you should know that you are likely going to lose glass in your car which can be costly to repair or get yourself killed by flying debris/flipped vehicle etc (see SLT 2019 and Twistex 2013).

All it takes is one small piece of debris flying at 150+ mph to hit you in the right place and you will probably either die from impact or if it hits an artery, bleed to death, or have your vehicle disabled and take a full or brush hit, which would still be very damaging.

I hate to sound harsh, but this is a harsh reality that these "newer" chasers need to learn if they want to "zero meter" tornadoes (something that shouldn't be done without a lot of expeirence and even then, I don't recommend it as it is not safe unless you absolutely know the storm's direction and behavior. Any storm on a boundary can deviate and if you are in the path with no escape route, its game over. Even as a highly experienced chaser (been chasing since 2003), I don't recommend anyone get closer to a high precipitation tornado or rapidly evolving MVMC. There is way too much to go wrong, but as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water....but you can't make it drink.

I think that is what is happening here. We can tell all these young kids our experiences over the years, but until they experience it themselves first hand, its the whole "that will never happen to ME" mentality. The same thing we see year after year with the articles of "having no warning". Bunch of BS. These people definitely have to know the risks and either just not care or care more about "making money" (news flash there isn't much to be made in chasing).

Can't tell you how many friends I've lost to car and train accident who said that same thing never to return home to their families. Something to think about. I know there's nothing we can do as chasers on here except keep chasing and stay as safe as possible. The sad truth is we haven't seen the end of deaths from storm chasing tornadoes after 2013-05-31 (not car accidents/non tornado impacts counted). Not being a pessimist, its just the very very sad truth.

Looking at twitter these days with young kids, if some of these folks didn't have the HRRR and had to use a real surface map, their mind would probably explode. I'm all for kids getting into chasing, but some of the ones I come across today are very disrespectful and after only a year of chasing, think they are the best thing since sliced bread. I guess you'll always have that with any hobby.

Sorry that is the end of that rant. This whole "new era" of chasing really gets under my skin and makes me not want to interact with anyone while I'm out in the field anymore unless I have known you a long time.
 
Aug 9, 2012
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Macomb, IL
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I have yet to see a good outcome from competitive chasing. Kind of like the disasters on Mt. Everest when everyone was trying to be the first on top for tourists. People died until rules were "kind" of set. Even when the main chase competition was obtaining still images, competition caused some real backlash including jealousy, personal sabotage and hatred in the chase community -- some never resolved. There has already been discontent amongst You Tube chasers. Fasten your seat belts!
There is none, your prize is either a destroyed vehicle, serious injury, or death. Obviously some newer people nowadays have no problem with any of these outcomes (which I guess is okay because it is your life, but kinda crappy thing to put your family and friends through).

It honestly wouldn't surprise me in the coming years if LEO started just pulling more people over for being chasers. I've heard of this happening in Kansas, them writing tickets for less than 5 mph over for being a chaser. No cop will tell you this, but storm chasers are not very well liked in Kansas. I don't think any official law will be handed down ever because it is impossible to enforce. However I could see it to a point where if folks try to go around cops or resist, they get arrested and taken to jail during a chase. I know someone on the DDC day who got a $550 ticket for going around a cop. It's pretty much already going on in a lot of places.

I'm thankful here in IL/IA, storm chasers are still treated like a staple and most cops don't seem to have issue. In fact during the March 28, 2020 MDT risk event, I had a county cop help us get through a muddy road by escorting us and ended up asking questions about the warnings and where the storms were headed.
 
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Feb 19, 2021
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Wichita
I've heard of this happening in Kansas, them writing tickets for less than 5 mph over for being a chaser. No cop will tell you this, but storm chasers are not very well liked in Kansas.
That was the case after the April, 2012, outbreak but is no longer the case. A lot of us have worked with law enforcement to improve the image of chasers. I organized and moderated a meeting between OK and KS Highway Patrol and other law enforcement representatives at the
2019 Chasercon in Wichita.

That is not to see that outrageous behavior by chasers (which started the problem in 2012) could not start the problem all over again.
 

Warren Faidley

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May 7, 2006
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This discussion comes up every six-to-ten years as the world of chasing morphs. I seriously doubt LEO or anyone will crack down. Chasing covers a vast area and offenses / accidents in any one jurisdiction occur maybe once or twice in a lifetime so it's not seen as a "continuing problem." The days of trying to "enforce" or "alter" bad behavior are long gone. I dare anyone to go on social media and complain. As I've noted before, I no longer care or take an active part in trying to police individuals or chasing. I let future EF5's do that. However, I do take great care to avoid idiots on the road and thankfully, my income does not depend on high-risk, social media stunts.

The saving grace for younger chasers is that technology and communications change quickly in the world today. The "Live YouTube" gold rush will give way to something else, just like film cameras morphed into digital cameras and cell phones, converging with social media to destroy the stock image industry.

I can't wait til spring!*

* And lightning / hurricane seasons!
 

Todd Lemery

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Jun 2, 2014
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I know a lot of the concerns that some of us “old” guys have is chasers getting too close and getting themselves in trouble.I don’t want myself or anyone else to roll up on a twisted pile of metal that used to be a car, but that’s not my biggest concern. I’ve driven like a complete moron in the past trying to get in a better position on a storm and am lucky to have never been in an accident. Others haven’t been as fortunate. The biggest concern I have now is getting hit by someone driving like I had in the past or worse. “Whoops, I’m sorry” won’t cut it when it’s too late.
 
May 12, 2022
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I don't follow steaming much, so I didn't realize live YT was so lucrative. I'd imagine competitiveness will likely be driven by "likes" and followers more than anything though.

Part of me believes taking risks around a storm (and in everyday life,) is a generational thing. We all wise up and see the error of our ways as we get older. I had it happen to me once I become proficient in skydiving, only to later realize how foolish some of my "stunts" were. I think the issue here is a large portion of the the younger population no longer see a risk to be weighed, as the honesty don't think it'll happen to them.

Unfortunately, it's gonna take a really horrific accident to shatter that mindset... only to be repeated again, as complacency creeps back in over time. With the fast paced environment that is modern social media, that cycle will probably only quicken as people's attention spans shorten.
 
Apr 23, 2010
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With drones cheaper, nix the TIVs, stay to the southwest of the storm and fly your intercepts. Preposition in a grid with hand-offs? You’d get better footage anyway.
 
Oct 31, 2013
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Eastern TX Panhandle
It's not going to get better with time. After what happened to Tim and Company, you'd think that reality would slap a lot of these idiots in the face. As safe as Tim Samaras was, a tragedy still happened. I say this because it was a HUGE reality check for me when I saw the photo of Tim's car mangled like a soup can. I have never been one to get close or be the next Good Morning America star, but I backed away that much more after that tragedy. I have been chasing with Warren since 2011, and I must say that we are overly safe...so much so that we miss a lot of tornadoes, but I'm ok with that. Of course we chase a lot of secondary areas to stay away form the hoards and craziness. I'm much more content with seeing a nice storm away from the crowd, and making memories with my buddies than seeing a tornado and stressing out on chaser traffic and dangerous situations.

As far as LEO's...They will never be able to stop chasers from being in their counties. It would be impossible to do, especially nowadays with every agency being short handed. We as chasers HAVE to police ourselves, or we will see more death and destruction from our own stupidity.

Warren, I'm ready for spring as well!
 
Sep 26, 2022
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Allendale, Michigan
As a 16 Year old sinking into the deep side of chasing, I can say from my view that I have been eyeing these streamers from the very beginning. most of my buddies are influenced by some of the more aggressive figures. During last year's surprise December mess (Dec 10-11) one of my older buddies (who im gonna call Darwin) Nearly got rattled by (what i assume) The Mayfield tornado a few minutes after it formed. Darwin tried to tail and fly by it to the SOUTH at close range, which is a HUGE no-no for those conditions at the very least.
and Warren makes a good point about the specially built chase vehicles. a lot of them are being restored and re-bought, (TIV 1 @ 2, Dominators) and new ones are being made from the ground up as well. The Current Owners of TIV 2 (Live Storm Chasing) have been considering refitting the camera turret Specially for Live-Streaming.

i hate to speak the ugly truth, But Live-Streaming is the future of Big Money chasing, and is influencing some of the most aggressive and crazy chase tactics I have ever seen. it will only be a matter of time until we watch one of these streamers get horrifically killed live trying to "Stream-bomb" the tornado, if not some poor wanna-be chaser who is trying to catch one of the fame-waves. :(
 
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Jason N

EF1
Mar 2, 2021
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South Carolina
I know this much; I've re-styled the method I use for chasing to explicitly avoid the hoard. I have a hard and fast set of rules that I will not compromise on, especially as an individual chaser without a team. No chases after sunset, minus maybe a stop for good nocturnal lightning. Very little to no chases on HP cells, especially on days where its multi-cellular and QLCS expectant. No chasing especially when the storm motion is greater than 40kts, it reduces the speed and "get there-itis" stress. For me, I stick to Classic discreet or LP structure and in the middle of nowhere. and I tend to stick outside 2-4; sometimes 5-8 miles from the core; better structure shots anyway. I have found, for me, I have avoided 80% of the issues by just being well prepared and not afraid to walk away onto something else. I think that's the discipline many lack. The idea that turning a chase into some kind of Mad Max film just shows the immaturity and aggressive nature of people that can only signal real potential issues that ultimately screw good people and responsible chasers. This is just my opinion anyway and how I go about it. I'm not telling anyone how to chase for themselves.
 
Oct 31, 2013
463
389
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Eastern TX Panhandle
I know this much; I've re-styled the method I use for chasing to explicitly avoid the hoard. I have a hard and fast set of rules that I will not compromise on, especially as an individual chaser without a team. No chases after sunset, minus maybe a stop for good nocturnal lightning. Very little to no chases on HP cells, especially on days where its multi-cellular and QLCS expectant. No chasing especially when the storm motion is greater than 40kts, it reduces the speed and "get there-itis" stress. For me, I stick to Classic discreet or LP structure and in the middle of nowhere. and I tend to stick outside 2-4; sometimes 5-8 miles from the core; better structure shots anyway. I have found, for me, I have avoided 80% of the issues by just being well prepared and not afraid to walk away onto something else. I think that's the discipline many lack. The idea that turning a chase into some kind of Mad Max film just shows the immaturity and aggressive nature of people that can only signal real potential issues that ultimately screw good people and responsible chasers. This is just my opinion anyway and how I go about it. I'm not telling anyone how to chase for themselves.
This is pretty much exactly the way I chase these days.
 
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Jason N

EF1
Mar 2, 2021
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South Carolina
Jason seen last year near Dumas.

View attachment 23352
That seems about right on to me Warren, just add in some Davis gear, Hail Guards, and Ham Radio gear lol..

I saw almost this exact scene when I chased the Mangum EF2 2019 (another reason I stopped chasing HP's), a car wreck ensued and there were multiple near misses outside of town. Now, I've chased quietly for over 20 years. I am by far from an expert. I just know what works for me, but I never saw stuff like this in the Vortex days in the early 90's ... even after Twister 96' I dont think it 'chasing' really caught on until TWC changed its format into a long form and then they HAD to make TV shows to pay advertisers and that's when I think it really started to gain traction and your picture became more of a real reality post 2000-3 and especially after 2008 with the discovery channel chaser series. This is all history I am sure you already know, but that's my assessment on it lol.
 

Jamie H

EF1
Feb 25, 2022
52
57
6
United Kingdom
Having worked in health and safety I don't think you can stop people doing reckless things. I have met people who have been burned by cutting into electrical cables who wouldn't wear fireproof coveralls properly, people who would risk their lives just to avoid a minor inconvenience. It's sad but what else can you do?
 

John Farley

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Apr 1, 2004
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i hate to speak the ugly truth, But Live-Streaming is the future of Big Money chasing, and is influencing some of the most aggressive and crazy chase tactics I have ever seen. it will only be a matter of time until we watch one of these streamers get horrifically killed live trying to "Stream-bomb" the tornado, if not some poor wanna-be chaser who is trying to catch one of the fame-waves. :(
This captures one of the many reasons why "big money" has never been a motivation for me to chase. Live-streaming is too much bother for me anyway as a usually-solo chaser, and in any case the vast majority of us are never going to make "big money" chasing. IMHO, get out there and enjoy the storms, get some good pics and video if you can, but don't be driven by the usually-impossible dream of "big money." My favorite Bob Dylan quote applies to chasing as much as to anything else - "Money doesn't talk, it swears."
 
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Jacob Metzger

Supporter
As a still relatively new chaser, particularly here in the south, I honestly am fearful of what is to come with the YouTube and streaming wars taking hold on our hobby, too. I am an aviation photographer, and before that I used to like trains. The kids of the generation I am in, and the kids below me, have come into just about every hobby space conceivable and made it all about themselves, social media and doing whatever they can for the glorification of their ego.

This includes messing with the property/fence lines at USAF instillations, directly irritating the federal government to the point of FBI/OSI involvement at places like Nellis AFB in Vegas.

It will likely, as we are all predicting, result in the untimely and unnecessary deaths of themselves, or worse, innocent people around them as with the reckless driving incidents in years past.

I fully aim to stay out of it again this year, by maintaining my distance, choosing the more isolated and less chaser-dense storms, and chasing on underdog days like I have for the past several years. I usually chase solo, and there’s simply just too much at risk to not be careful about it...
 
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Aug 25, 2022
45
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Fairfax, Virginia
I’ve never chased, and my opinion is probably invalid, but if you want to zero meter tornadoes, whatever, as long as your team is okay with it. It’s your life. But driving dangerously and recklessly puts other lives at risk, and has absolutely no excuse. I’m not gonna tell you what to do with your life, but you better not put any others in danger. More chaser deaths come from dangerous driving than anything else.