Silver Lining Tours vans rolled in Kansas

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Jun 16, 2015
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Oklahoma City, OK
quincyvagell.com
@Dan Robinson, I’ll get the video up today if I can. I’m on the road chasing for one more day.

At 5:55, I’m roughly 1 mile southwest of the incident in question with a camera recording to the west. You can see a wall cloud to the WNW, but to the WSW/SW, there’s a rain curtain that comes into frame. That’s when I started heading north and then east to stay ahead of the broad circulation.

The bluish rain curtain is similar in appareance to what will be seen for much of the duration of the eventual tornado.
 
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Blake Knapp

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
3
17
1
West Chester, PA
Thoughts from a Tour Owner:

The approach I take when chasing on my own, vs. when I have a van full of guests is different. The risks I'm willing to take myself SHOULD be different than what guests "think" they are willing to take. First time tour guests have NO IDEA what they're getting into. So while there is assumed risk, and they've signed a waiver, when the $#!? hits the fan, all that theoretical stuff flies out the window & reality sets in very quickly.

On my first trip out stormchasing I was a passenger with Extreme Tornado Tours. And the first storm I ever chased produced an EF2 that killed three people near Kirksville, MO. That tornado impacted our van west of town and we're lucky to have escaped. The guide was so green that 20 minutes later he did it again on the east side of town, and the only reason we didn't get smacked again was Twistex turning around in a driveway, blocking our path into the 2nd tornado. Before going out, I had a conversation in my head that basically said, this is something that I want to do, and there is a risk of me dying, and I accept that risk. But when debris started impacting our van, and loose objects, branches, grass, were flying past us into the circulation as we backed up, that acceptance of risk went right out the window. I had no idea the real danger. Truthfully, it took several more years to truly understand how close we were to not making it out of there... When I started my own company, I vowed to never put my guests in that kind of position.

These incidents are far more frequent than is publicly known, for obvious reasons. It's much easier to tout our successes than to admit our failures. I know there were additional incidents during El Reno with close calls with tours. They'll continue to happen - that's the nature of what we do chasing tornadoes, but not being able to see danger is a terrible problem for a tour operator to have. If I've seen more tornadoes than anyone alive, and I've seen how close my tour was to disaster in Joplin, and close friends of mine died in El Reno, and we've had chaser deaths since then, and convergence is getting worse, then I don't know how I let a tornado that big get that close on a MDT day, in an area with hills & trees, and known flooding issues. Ultimately, it comes down to negligence.

I think most if not all tours have the waivers, and like most have said, they're more of a deterrent than a protection. I can guarantee I'm one of the FEW tours that actually carries insurance. It's incredibly hard to find and incredibly expensive. My coverage cost me on average $12,000.00 per year. It's hard to turn the corner with that high a figure. That's why most tours just don't have it. A bunch probably lie. And the only way we truly find out is when something bad happens, and everything gets exposed.

And exposure, ultimately, is what we're all arguing about here. We all know that situations happen, and we can find ourselves in bad positions. Most of us learn from those mistakes and do our best not to repeat them. There are things I did in the early days of my career I'd never do today. But the only good way to deal with those things is with transparency. And transparency is exactly the opposite of what we're getting in this incident. THERE IS NO WAY that 4 vans full of guests were that close to a tornado, on a MDT day and weren't shooting literally hundreds if not thousands of frames of photos and video. Guests take pictures & video of everything - sure they'll get tornadoes & storm structure, but most don't know what scud is. Every pointy cloud is a funnel. They don't know what's important and what's not, so they shoot everything. And here we are 4 days later and no video is online? That stinks to high heavens. To me, that means there's something to hide. To me, it indicates they've been instructed (or ordered) to not post their photos & videos. To not comment. You all know that video of that incident would bring $3,000-4,000+ from media companies starved for the next "extreme video"... Already there are inconsistencies with the "official story" and what we've put together with radar, gps, and damage surveys. Much of forecasting is pattern recognition. Connecting the dots. Maybe a big reason so many are hesitant to connect the dots in this instance is because they already know the picture it will make when they've been filled in...
 

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May 31, 2018
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Richmond Virginia
In all honesty, I think they have every right to be outraged. Unlike situations where townsfolk become very anti-chaser after their town is hit, we actually took several EMS resources away from the town when they could have been used for injured local residents. We all have a responsibility to chase "respectfully", but it is especially important for tours. One of the many great aspects of chasing is that we have the freedom to chase how we want, but I don't think this applies to tour groups. An individual can get as close as they want because they are responsible for themselves and (hopefully) know and accept the risks, but tours are responsible for a whole group of people. To quote Blake Knapp, "They'll get tornadoes & storm structure, but most don't know what scud is. Every pointy cloud is a funnel. They don't know what's important and what's not, so they shoot everything." They have very little idea of what's actually going on, amd their safety is entirely dependant on the tour guide. Hopefully SL and other tour groups take a deep look at what went wrong and make changes to increase the level of safety they provide their clients.
 

Warren Faidley

Supporter
May 7, 2006
1,917
1,946
21
Mos Isley Space Port
www.stormchaser.com
Thanks Ben for posting this update. As I've read here and elsewhere, if this had been one of the popular / unpopular idiots, it would have been a different story and likely taken a "heroic" tone -- even though the overall reasoning for getting too close was / is the same, to make money, self promotion or for social media glory. I'm sure these people are upset but no one was injured responding so it's a closed case for them. I seriously doubt their county will ever have a similar event.
 
Thoughts From An Additional Tour Owner With No Hidden Agenda:

Let me start by stating the fact that I wasn’t there. Due to the recent issue with one of the DOW trucks near Magnum, I decided to play/keep my tour guests on the southern target for obvious reasons. Let me also say that I’ve spent countless hours reading and re-reading every post in this thread prior to posting. I’ve studied the position of impact, watched the videos of others, I’ve spent countless hours going over the data and I believe I have a good understanding of the event meteorological speaking.

All of that said, I still come to the conclusion that I wasn’t there and I simply cannot and will not make the judgement call on their position or the thought process behind it.

My next few comments are not meant disparaging, nor personal attacks nor ad hock, nor do they have any hidden agendas - they are merely the facts that I believe we should all know and understand prior to making any assumptions or speculating and then forming even a basic opinion on the issue at hand. They may piss some people off but they are facts that should be known, understood and are relevant to this situation. My thoughts and response in twofold thought process below:


1) As a tour owner, I think there is a line (as tour owners) that we simply cannot cross.
While I do believe we should hold ourselves accountable, I DON’T believe that another tour company should “police” this event/situation in any way. This is not only counter productive, it only reflects the position one tour company has on another. Which IMO SHOULD NOT be allowed and I think the mod’s should at the very least, control before this becomes a shit show. To put that into perspective, you have one “tour company” (a competitor) that has stated their position - but the thought process behind that position is strictly business based, and should be understood as such. This is a far cry from being a reasonable response for ethical or even responsible chasing. I think there is a fine line that many are crossing in this thread and that is just one of them.

2) I do not believe that “shaming” or what has been suggested, implied or otherwise is a viable solution given past history of some of those that are pushing this agenda.
Again, no personal attacks meant or made - just stating the facts...
Some of those pushing for this type of agenda: We have a meteorologist working for a TV station in ICT who was involved in a MVA while chasing and it was broadcast live on air. He had no control over the situation but could have been held liable to some degree. Was he shamed? Do even half of the people posting here know about it? I could share the video for those interested?
We have a highly skilled veteran who’s only dog in the fight is with the verbiage of “Storm Chasing” which IMO should have absolutely zero meaning. We have, as mentioned, another tour companies post which clearly reflects a business based thought process.
We have another highly skilled and experienced chaser who has been in this very type situation but was lucky that the same thing didn’t happen to him. I could go on and on and highlight some of the actions of some of these individuals personally (some VERY recently) to reflect my point of view but it would bring no value or real insight to this thread at this time and may only be construed as a personal attack - which is not my position, point or agenda.

My point is simply that we have ALL put ourselves into a position that we probably should not have been in. Or maybe we made a split second judgment call due to whatever situation we were in, which caused us to be in a position that we couldn’t control or simply didn’t expect. A prime example of this would be the same ICT meteorologist during his stint on Storm Chasers.
One act of a split second judgment call should not be construed as irresponsible chasing nor behavior *unless* there is a pattern to suggest otherwise. I’ve known Roger for years, he is not only a friend but also a colleague...and there is simply no pattern. Period. Thus, I cannot help but question the “ethical” position of some, most particularly those that hold the position as described above.

As a recent graduate BS Atmospheric Sciences, a BSEE, a 29 year veteran and also a tour owner, I understand the complexity and gravity of the situation. This post is not meant to showcase otherwise. It is merely my thoughts on the matter.
I should state upfront that In those 29 years, I don’t recall ever witnessing a “rain wrapped” satellite tornado. To have such, one would need a very special set of circumstances, (considering the applicable rule of entropy and additional meteorological laws)...likes of which I have personally never seen. As such, I have spent countless hours pouring over the data, trying to understand what exactly happened and how. Not because I wanted to play the blame game...but more so because I felt it very important to hopefully not be put in the same situation in the future with my tours.

The highlight is that this shouldn’t happen to a tour company (which I agree) but hinted that risks taken while “solo” might be acceptable. I can’t argue this as I also take some of these same risks prior to the tour season and have succumbed to these risks by being hit by a tornado. It isn’t fun. It isn’t a fu^>^ing joy ride. It is pure terror and it will move you to the core. But I would be remiss if I didn’t again mention the fact that while we collectively believe that we have things totally under control, this is the farthest from the truth. And it doesn’t matter if you are running a tour, or chasing solo. Things happen beyond our control. We make split second decisions that ultimately play cause and effect. The outcome of such we simply don’t truly know until it happens.

All of that said, while I have spent those countless hours going over this event, I understand the data may not suggest that there was indeed a satellite tornado. I cannot comment on this directly with facts as I was not there. I can only ingest the information from others who were there and my interpretations of said data. And while I believe I understand what may have happened, I am still only guessing. For those who were not there (meaning in the tour vans or taking part of the tour) isn’t this the most plausible and best position to take? After all, assuming does nothing for the cause.

What I do know, and what we could all probably agree on is this, meteorologically speaking, this was a shit show of a storm. Very HP, what appears to be a merger of *possible* mesocyclone shift just as we see and have experienced in the Deep South and a position related the this merger (looking at nearest 88D - understanding spat differences ect...and prelim Damage assessment, including using the vans as DIs) It’s a worst case scenario and it just so happens that a highly known and reputable tour company was involved.

We could argue the fact of satellite or not, we could argue positioning, we could argue judgment call...but IMO what does any of that prove and how will it help? IMO it doesn’t help. I for one am just thankful that the situation did not have a deadly outcome and at he end of the day shouldn’t we all be?

Everyone on this forum, everyone in this thread is guilty as hell of doing dumb shit or making a bad judgment call or getting wrapped up in the moment at one time or another. If Roger believes that it was a sat tor as has had been stated, I for one believe his thought process and convictions.

As for his company and any issues in the future, unlike other tour companies and or people, I for one will support him to the best of my ability. The words competition, dislike, hate, jealousy, ect..should go out the window when it comes to a situation like this and human life. I can only hope others may understand that.
-LFD
 
Jan 31, 2017
105
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11
Joplin, MO & Iowa City, IA
First time tour guests have NO IDEA what they're getting into. So while there is assumed risk, and they've signed a waiver, when the $#!? hits the fan, all that theoretical stuff flies out the window & reality sets in very quickly.
Thank you, Blake, for your honesty. Have you, or any other tour operator, ever turned away a potential client because you had a sixth sense that person was bad news? A woman who broke into a cold sweat at the mere mention of the word "tornado" (the trip was definitely hubby's idea), or, on the other end, the guy dressed in paramilitary gear who called himself "The Tornado Tamer"?
 
Feb 19, 2007
179
81
11
Austin, Texas
www.randydenzer.com
I don't know these people and I don't know what their intentions were at the time, but I have to wonder why a tour group was punching the core of a near zero visibility HP supercell with a history of producing rain wrapped funnels earlier in its life cycle.

Liability waivers? Unless they are properly worded AND comply with Kansas state law (since the accident happened here) they're worthless. Even then, a waiver doesn't prevent a lawsuit nor keep the operator from having to shell out thousands of dollars in legal fees to gain a dismissal.
I was in discussions with a couple old chasers the other day about Liability releases. My curiosity made me call a big time Accident attorney who chuckled when I asked about a liability release (Waiver). Liability Releases or "Waivers" are never written in a way to release a money making business for being responsible for damages (death, injury, property). Juries rarely side on that of the business unless the customer did something to cause the accident. He alluded to the fact that I could sign a liability release to allow him to shot me, but if he does, he is still responsible for the death.

Id bet a bunch of Kansas attorneys are calling those involved. The attorney I spoke with asked me if I knew anyone in the van! haha.
 
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Feb 19, 2007
179
81
11
Austin, Texas
www.randydenzer.com
As a career first responder for the better part of my adult life, I will convey a side of this few are talking about. The effect an incident like this one has on public safety. Like so many smaller rural communities we chase in and around, these small combination and VFDs do not have the resources available to respond to an incident of this magnitude AND maintain the ability to take care of their paying citizens. While Tour companies make money on shuttling passengers who are unaware of the true hazards they are facing, the local and state public safety agencies are forced to respond o something that is not generating any Taxes to help them cover the costs. This includes the incredible level of chaser convergence now locking up these rural areas. Something at some point will create the breaking point and 12-15 dead tourists will certainly bring this reality to light. (I worked the Balloon crash (16 dead) a few years ago and when the NTSB comes to town, every tour company will feel the effect, and they should! Tornado tour groups are an ungoverned interstate chauffeur business making a lot of money. Silver Lining Tours should be billed for the entire rescue operation, as well as backfill that was needed to support their communities while they were tending to Rogers "minor" incident.

As far as all the previous posts about what happened and was it a satellite tornado, or the main circulation. Every seasoned storm chaser knew this was going to happen to a tour group some day. I am glad there were only minor injuries, it will be much worse NEXT TIME. I can not believe that chasers sit around and, like someone else said, coddle anyone who looses their Situational Awareness, especially with innocent passengers.

This accident was not OK. It is not OK to make excuses when peoples lives are at stake.
 
Nov 13, 2017
27
112
6
Illinois
I do not, have not, and will not work with any tours, but this event and conversation are interesting to me despite not having a real stake. I don’t have super strong opinions to offer, but I want to say that this thread has been exceptionally informative and cordial. There have by and large been no sweeping generalizations or dramatization of the points others are making. It’s been a wonderful read and rather than lurking I feel the need to express some appreciation, even though I would not expect anything else from the routine crowd on this forum.
 
May 31, 2018
13
13
1
20
Richmond Virginia
So I used to, during grad school, provide a guide service where I would sit as the passenger. I haven't done it in years now. Crazy thing is about this customer was he would argue with me about moving to a safer location. The guy didn't know shit, he thought you could position three hours a head of time and watch a tornado pass through a field. I thought he was joking, he was dead serious. Despite this lack of knowledge, he would challenge a safety call. Since I was the passenger I would also have to deal with him speeding, and me routinely asking him to slow down. When he wanted to come back the next year, I thought I would screen him out by charging 3x more. As a grad student $3k for 1 week was something I could not really turn down. Anyways, he still goes out, and hires some poor shmuck. I shudder at the thought of dealing with him. He's sneaky too... He has connections in the photography world so he brings people along, charges them, and then hires a guide. So he's technically running tours these days! I wonder if his customers know he Photoshops tornadoes into his photos. It's weird, he saw tornadoes, but paints them into a shelf cloud. This whole talk about the customer is knowledgeable, is laughable, to a dangerous level.
By any chance do you have a picture of the shalfnado?
 

Blake Knapp

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
3
17
1
West Chester, PA
Thank you, Blake, for your honesty. Have you, or any other tour operator, ever turned away a potential client because you had a sixth sense that person was bad news? A woman who broke into a cold sweat at the mere mention of the word "tornado" (the trip was definitely hubby's idea), or, on the other end, the guy dressed in paramilitary gear who called himself "The Tornado Tamer"?
I haven't - but I've had guests who I wouldn't have back on tour with me. It's a scary proposition sometimes, taking on unknown people, but it's a risk I accept.
 

Blake Knapp

Enthusiast
May 31, 2019
3
17
1
West Chester, PA
Thoughts From An Additional Tour Owner With No Hidden Agenda:

Let me start by stating the fact that I wasn’t there. Due to the recent issue with one of the DOW trucks near Magnum, I decided to play/keep my tour guests on the southern target for obvious reasons. Let me also say that I’ve spent countless hours reading and re-reading every post in this thread prior to posting. I’ve studied the position of impact, watched the videos of others, I’ve spent countless hours going over the data and I believe I have a good understanding of the event meteorological speaking.

All of that said, I still come to the conclusion that I wasn’t there and I simply cannot and will not make the judgement call on their position or the thought process behind it.

My next few comments are not meant disparaging, nor personal attacks nor ad hock, nor do they have any hidden agendas - they are merely the facts that I believe we should all know and understand prior to making any assumptions or speculating and then forming even a basic opinion on the issue at hand. They may piss some people off but they are facts that should be known, understood and are relevant to this situation. My thoughts and response in twofold thought process below:


1) As a tour owner, I think there is a line (as tour owners) that we simply cannot cross.
While I do believe we should hold ourselves accountable, I DON’T believe that another tour company should “police” this event/situation in any way. This is not only counter productive, it only reflects the position one tour company has on another. Which IMO SHOULD NOT be allowed and I think the mod’s should at the very least, control before this becomes a shit show. To put that into perspective, you have one “tour company” (a competitor) that has stated their position - but the thought process behind that position is strictly business based, and should be understood as such. This is a far cry from being a reasonable response for ethical or even responsible chasing. I think there is a fine line that many are crossing in this thread and that is just one of them.

2) I do not believe that “shaming” or what has been suggested, implied or otherwise is a viable solution given past history of some of those that are pushing this agenda.
Again, no personal attacks meant or made - just stating the facts...
Some of those pushing for this type of agenda: We have a meteorologist working for a TV station in ICT who was involved in a MVA while chasing and it was broadcast live on air. He had no control over the situation but could have been held liable to some degree. Was he shamed? Do even half of the people posting here know about it? I could share the video for those interested?
We have a highly skilled veteran who’s only dog in the fight is with the verbiage of “Storm Chasing” which IMO should have absolutely zero meaning. We have, as mentioned, another tour companies post which clearly reflects a business based thought process.
We have another highly skilled and experienced chaser who has been in this very type situation but was lucky that the same thing didn’t happen to him. I could go on and on and highlight some of the actions of some of these individuals personally (some VERY recently) to reflect my point of view but it would bring no value or real insight to this thread at this time and may only be construed as a personal attack - which is not my position, point or agenda.

My point is simply that we have ALL put ourselves into a position that we probably should not have been in. Or maybe we made a split second judgment call due to whatever situation we were in, which caused us to be in a position that we couldn’t control or simply didn’t expect. A prime example of this would be the same ICT meteorologist during his stint on Storm Chasers.
One act of a split second judgment call should not be construed as irresponsible chasing nor behavior *unless* there is a pattern to suggest otherwise. I’ve known Roger for years, he is not only a friend but also a colleague...and there is simply no pattern. Period. Thus, I cannot help but question the “ethical” position of some, most particularly those that hold the position as described above.

As a recent graduate BS Atmospheric Sciences, a BSEE, a 29 year veteran and also a tour owner, I understand the complexity and gravity of the situation. This post is not meant to showcase otherwise. It is merely my thoughts on the matter.
I should state upfront that In those 29 years, I don’t recall ever witnessing a “rain wrapped” satellite tornado. To have such, one would need a very special set of circumstances, (considering the applicable rule of entropy and additional meteorological laws)...likes of which I have personally never seen. As such, I have spent countless hours pouring over the data, trying to understand what exactly happened and how. Not because I wanted to play the blame game...but more so because I felt it very important to hopefully not be put in the same situation in the future with my tours.

The highlight is that this shouldn’t happen to a tour company (which I agree) but hinted that risks taken while “solo” might be acceptable. I can’t argue this as I also take some of these same risks prior to the tour season and have succumbed to these risks by being hit by a tornado. It isn’t fun. It isn’t a fu^>^ing joy ride. It is pure terror and it will move you to the core. But I would be remiss if I didn’t again mention the fact that while we collectively believe that we have things totally under control, this is the farthest from the truth. And it doesn’t matter if you are running a tour, or chasing solo. Things happen beyond our control. We make split second decisions that ultimately play cause and effect. The outcome of such we simply don’t truly know until it happens.

All of that said, while I have spent those countless hours going over this event, I understand the data may not suggest that there was indeed a satellite tornado. I cannot comment on this directly with facts as I was not there. I can only ingest the information from others who were there and my interpretations of said data. And while I believe I understand what may have happened, I am still only guessing. For those who were not there (meaning in the tour vans or taking part of the tour) isn’t this the most plausible and best position to take? After all, assuming does nothing for the cause.

What I do know, and what we could all probably agree on is this, meteorologically speaking, this was a shit show of a storm. Very HP, what appears to be a merger of *possible* mesocyclone shift just as we see and have experienced in the Deep South and a position related the this merger (looking at nearest 88D - understanding spat differences ect...and prelim Damage assessment, including using the vans as DIs) It’s a worst case scenario and it just so happens that a highly known and reputable tour company was involved.

We could argue the fact of satellite or not, we could argue positioning, we could argue judgment call...but IMO what does any of that prove and how will it help? IMO it doesn’t help. I for one am just thankful that the situation did not have a deadly outcome and at he end of the day shouldn’t we all be?

Everyone on this forum, everyone in this thread is guilty as hell of doing dumb shit or making a bad judgment call or getting wrapped up in the moment at one time or another. If Roger believes that it was a sat tor as has had been stated, I for one believe his thought process and convictions.

As for his company and any issues in the future, unlike other tour companies and or people, I for one will support him to the best of my ability. The words competition, dislike, hate, jealousy, ect..should go out the window when it comes to a situation like this and human life. I can only hope others may understand that.
-LFD
This response is a bit over the top. I'm not a "tour company" - that's dismissive. I'm a tour company. No quotation marks required. The company is called Weather Adventures. I've been operating it since 2014. Before that I spent two years with ETT, doing my best to juggle the hype of Storm Chasers with my thoughts on how chase tours ought to be operated. With Weather Adventures, I've been paying for full insurance, with 100% transparency with the insurer about my tours being Storm Chasing Tours. How many tour operators can say the same?

The statement Lanny makes that the mods should remove my post is outrageous. This is the exact kind of censorship I'm complaining about with the Hills. The fact that I'm a competitor in a business sense (only in the loosest sense - I only do a fraction of the volume that SLT does) doesn't affect the validity of my argument in the slightest. But while I am a competitor, I'm also a peer. Lanny's argument here is like saying that Aaron Rodgers shouldn't be allowed to critique the play of Tom Brady because they're competitors. That's ridiculous. Shame on you for making such an absurd statement in an attempt to discredit me or my opinion. There are similarities in Lanny's response here, and the position taken by the official SLT statement. It's dismissive. And to people in the know, it's a bit insulting. There is no situation wherein you should be blindsided on a MDT risk, that close to a storm capable of producing a tornado. In my opinion, as a chaser, and as a tour operator, to be blindsided in that way shows a lack of situational awareness.

Most of you who have chased regularly over the past 6 years know my van. And when you see it, it's usually not on the side of the road - it's fully off the road in a turnout or on a side intersection. My tour guests aren't standing in the road, they aren't running in front of traffic. I'm not overtaking in no passing zones. I'm not recklessly speeding. I'm not tailgating. One of my goals with my tours is to have as little impact on other chasers as possible, and to never put other chasers in compromising, let alone dangerous, situations. I feel I have succeeded in this, and it's a point of pride. I do my best to teach my guests the "right way" to chase - meaning to always be mindful of others on the road, to be mindful of locals, who are often seeing damage in places they call home, and to have the best situational awareness possible. This means thinking several steps ahead and very seldom needing to be reactionary. I.E. the way I chase. And I've been pretty darn successful, and I've done it without being a detriment to others.

I'd rather not resort to "shaming" either, but if that's the only way we are going to get accountability out of other chasers - by calling out their bad behavior, then so be it. I'd much rather people reflect on their mistakes and learn from them, but I know most of you have at least a handful of repeat offenders in mind when it comes to bad chasing habits. It was supposed to change after El Reno. It was supposed to change after losing Corbin. But nothing's changed. It just gets worse. And it makes me want to chase a lot less. Maybe even not at all. On May 26th, I saw the aftermath of three accidents in eastern Colorado. In my previous 10 years of chasing I saw zero. I grow tired of the response (or lack thereof) from people who seemingly would rather stick their heads in the sand and ignore an obvious problem than say to each other we need to change. The thing we love (chasing) is dying. Only changing our behavior as a whole can save it.

So - do I have a hidden agenda here? No. Would I benefit from SLT closing shop? Maybe, maybe not. From my standpoint it seems just as likely that perhaps this incident will prevent me from obtaining insurance in the future. And if I can't get insurance, I'm not going to run tours. Do I want SLT to stop? No, not really. What they do shouldn't affect what I do. Maybe if I were a better businessman I'd be more cutthroat, but I'm a pretty terrible capitalist. I'm more interested in sharing my passion for chasing with others. Some of my tour guests have gone on to be broadcast meteorologists, several have been involved with tornado research projects, some have gone on to become tour guides themselves. That's the true measure of success as a tour company. I'm sure Roger gets the same satisfaction from knowing that he nurtured that same spark within his guests, and inspired them to pursue their love of the weather.

All I'm saying is do it honestly, do it responsibly, and own your mistakes - because I demand that from myself, and so should you.
 
This response is a bit over the top. I'm not a "tour company" - that's dismissive. I'm a tour company. No quotation marks required. The company is called Weather Adventures. I've been operating it since 2014. Before that I spent two years with ETT, doing my best to juggle the hype of Storm Chasers with my thoughts on how chase tours ought to be operated. With Weather Adventures, I've been paying for full insurance, with 100% transparency with the insurer about my tours being Storm Chasing Tours. How many tour operators can say the same?

The statement Lanny makes that the mods should remove my post is outrageous. This is the exact kind of censorship I'm complaining about with the Hills. The fact that I'm a competitor in a business sense (only in the loosest sense - I only do a fraction of the volume that SLT does) doesn't affect the validity of my argument in the slightest. But while I am a competitor, I'm also a peer. Lanny's argument here is like saying that Aaron Rodgers shouldn't be allowed to critique the play of Tom Brady because they're competitors. That's ridiculous. Shame on you for making such an absurd statement in an attempt to discredit me or my opinion. There are similarities in Lanny's response here, and the position taken by the official SLT statement. It's dismissive. And to people in the know, it's a bit insulting. There is no situation wherein you should be blindsided on a MDT risk, that close to a storm capable of producing a tornado. In my opinion, as a chaser, and as a tour operator, to be blindsided in that way shows a lack of situational awareness.

Most of you who have chased regularly over the past 6 years know my van. And when you see it, it's usually not on the side of the road - it's fully off the road in a turnout or on a side intersection. My tour guests aren't standing in the road, they aren't running in front of traffic. I'm not overtaking in no passing zones. I'm not recklessly speeding. I'm not tailgating. One of my goals with my tours is to have as little impact on other chasers as possible, and to never put other chasers in compromising, let alone dangerous, situations. I feel I have succeeded in this, and it's a point of pride. I do my best to teach my guests the "right way" to chase - meaning to always be mindful of others on the road, to be mindful of locals, who are often seeing damage in places they call home, and to have the best situational awareness possible. This means thinking several steps ahead and very seldom needing to be reactionary. I.E. the way I chase. And I've been pretty darn successful, and I've done it without being a detriment to others.

I'd rather not resort to "shaming" either, but if that's the only way we are going to get accountability out of other chasers - by calling out their bad behavior, then so be it. I'd much rather people reflect on their mistakes and learn from them, but I know most of you have at least a handful of repeat offenders in mind when it comes to bad chasing habits. It was supposed to change after El Reno. It was supposed to change after losing Corbin. But nothing's changed. It just gets worse. And it makes me want to chase a lot less. Maybe even not at all. On May 26th, I saw the aftermath of three accidents in eastern Colorado. In my previous 10 years of chasing I saw zero. I grow tired of the response (or lack thereof) from people who seemingly would rather stick their heads in the sand and ignore an obvious problem than say to each other we need to change. The thing we love (chasing) is dying. Only changing our behavior as a whole can save it.

So - do I have a hidden agenda here? No. Would I benefit from SLT closing shop? Maybe, maybe not. From my standpoint it seems just as likely that perhaps this incident will prevent me from obtaining insurance in the future. And if I can't get insurance, I'm not going to run tours. Do I want SLT to stop? No, not really. What they do shouldn't affect what I do. Maybe if I were a better businessman I'd be more cutthroat, but I'm a pretty terrible capitalist. I'm more interested in sharing my passion for chasing with others. Some of my tour guests have gone on to be broadcast meteorologists, several have been involved with tornado research projects, some have gone on to become tour guides themselves. That's the true measure of success as a tour company. I'm sure Roger gets the same satisfaction from knowing that he nurtured that same spark within his guests, and inspired them to pursue their love of the weather.

All I'm saying is do it honestly, do it responsibly, and own your mistakes - because I demand that from myself, and so should you.
Blake,
I don’t understand “a bit over the top”, but you are certainly entitled to your opinion. However, please understand that I am NOT suggesting censoring nor did I mean to imply that. If my post came across that way, my apologies because that was certainly not my intentions.
My point was that I don’t believe a competing tour company should be at the forefront of policing this situation...I think it obvious as to the reasons why. And I suspect after you think about it long and hard, you will understand. Hence mentioning to the mods. And just for the record, I pay a little over $13k for 6 months insurance coverage. You hint at being the only “honest” tour company. I built my company from the ground up...blood sweat, tears and nothing but honesty since 1999. Even hinting or suggesting otherwise is a VERY poor selection of verbiage. Once we can get this dick measuring contest out of the way and over with, I am sure that we can have an adult conversation with great dialog on the topic But we’ve got to move past the “I do this and I do that with my company, I’m honest, and I carry all proper insurance” etc...
The thing is, I really don’t care what you do or don’t do or have or don’t have with your company. It has no bearing on this situation. In fact, until you can start paying my mortgage payment and bills, I could care less what you do or offer. This isn’t about that. Not at all. What does have bearing and meaning, is the fact that a situation happened that for whatever reason was uncontrollable to SLT *at the time*.
And NO TOUR company should have the ability to police this. Again, IMO it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out my thought process here. I certainly wouldn’t act in this manner if it was YOU in this position. See where I am coming from? While holding someone accountable, I totally agree with but a tour company holding another tour company “accountable” when said tour company wasn’t affected directly by this?

I do understand and agree with your point regarding change, El Reno and most particularly Corbin.
If I didn’t, you wouldn’t see my name in the lawsuit. I think I’m the only “chaser” named in that litigation. Has it ever crossed your mind what it took to make that stance. Yet you criticize my thought process and assume that I don’t care or am only interested in “doing what the Hills are doing”. Really?
I am personally asking you to think long and hard about that since you brought Corbin to the forefront.
Understanding that it WAS NOT another tour company that ran a stop sign and continued to drive like idiots with gross negligence every time they stepped into the vehicle, ultimately killing an innocent individual.
I think you’d be hard pressed to find a tour company doing stuff like that. Guests on the side of the road, parking incorrectly, that’s a different story and I totally agree with you there 100%. In fact, since 2013, I’ve made every effort to curb this. All of my “meet and greets” before every tour cover this in our safety orientation and I strictly prohibit my tour guests from even exiting the vehicle until I tell them. Ask any of my guests.

I cannot speak for SLT, Roger or Caryn or how they discuss safety, but I can say that I probably go a little overboard on my safety presentation for obvious reasons. And if I have allocated both tour vans, we have continuous communication between the two...always helping to watch for the other. Hence how and why a disaster was averted the day of Magnum as mentioned in my previous post.

If you can clearly and concisely explain to me just how you were affected directly by Roger being hit, I will certainly listen. But c’mon let’s call a spade a spade - we both know that it has no real bearing on your company. It has none on mine. Unless you can convince me otherwise, IMO it is nothing more than a way to promote and isolate SLT. Which goes back to my original post...another tour company should in no way be allowed to police this issue. Opinions, sure..Absolutely! Dialog? Sure! But calling them out and making the FB post and then the post in this thread. It’s the pot calling the kettle black. And you know exactly what I mean from your days with ETT. But I digress.

All I’m saying is that situations happen that we cannot control. And I certainly hope and pray that you never find yourself in this same type of position after holding such strong verbiage. But should you ever, just know that I will hold the same position.

Wishing you best of luck this remaining season.
-Lan
 
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J Holder

EF2
Mar 30, 2005
131
16
6
Osage city, KS
I saw that comment as well. Also have a reply to my tweet with basically the same thing.


I'd like some confirmation on that, but if true, is not good.
I believe it.

Considering the circumstances and the number of patients involved, Douglas county 911 probably paged it out as a Mass Casualty Incident with multiple LE and fire departments responding.
 
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J Holder

EF2
Mar 30, 2005
131
16
6
Osage city, KS
If you want to read some of the locals' reactions, visit this fb post

Holy crap there are some angry people!
And they have every right to be. Douglas county had 17 injuries from this tornado, of that 12 of them were from this incident. I haven't heard the injury stats from Leavenworth county yet. Resources that they pay taxes for to be at the ready for them in times like this were diverted to assist some (in the view of the locals) out of state glory hounds who paid to gawk at their worst days of their lives and nearly got themselves killed.

The optics are very bad here and knowing the local activist politics in this area I wouldn't be surprised if there's a movement by some to get the Government to regulate storm chasing and tours after this. If the NTSB isn't involved in the investigation by the end of this month I'll be amazed.
 
Feb 19, 2007
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www.randydenzer.com
I believe it.

Considering the circumstances and the number of patients involved, Douglas county 911 probably paged it out as a Mass Casualty Incident with multiple LE and fire departments responding.
This had to have been dispatched, OR upgraded, to a mass casualty. By no means a simple unfortunate unavoidable incident as stated. This took responders away from assisting their own citizens during a major disaster. I will reach out to get more info.
 
Mar 30, 2010
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Got a question. Why was a chasing tour with passengers inside the bear's cage? (using Quincy's statement in first page of thread as reference regarding tour vans being 1 to 2 minutes north) Common sense would seem to dictate of keeping an eastern or SE position outside the perimeter of the cage where your passengers can still get great photos while ensuring their safety.
 
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Warren Faidley

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May 7, 2006
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Got a question. Why was a chasing tour with passengers inside the bear's cage? (using Quincy's statement in first page of thread as reference regarding tour vans being 1 to 2 minutes north) Common sense would seem to dictate of keeping an eastern or SE position outside the perimeter of the cage where your passengers can still get great photos while ensuring their safety.
The complete story is unknown and will likely not be known until everyone (tourists, witnesses, drivers and owners) make statements. This could take months or years if it takes a legal path.
 
Mar 30, 2010
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The complete story is unknown and will likely not be known until everyone (tourists, witnesses, drivers and owners) make statements. This could take months or years if it takes a legal path.
Agreed. But the discovery battle in the upcoming legal fight is going to be something else between the parties to the case. I would err towards this taking years though unless there is a settlement between the parties.
 
VERY interesting write up by meteorologist Jon Davies. His article paints my thought process exactly regarding the “merger” and even discussing their position in regards to the “satellite tornado” which is what we might typically see in the Deep South as
I previously mentioned. This clearly indicates why they were in the location they were and what the basic thought process was.
Link below:

 
Feb 19, 2007
179
81
11
Austin, Texas
www.randydenzer.com
VERY interesting write up by meteorologist Jon Davies. His article paints my thought process exactly regarding the “merger” and even discussing their position in regards to the “satellite tornado” which is what we might typically see in the Deep South as
I previously mentioned. This clearly indicates why they were in the location they were and what the basic thought process was.
Link below:

This incident should have never happened but yet every seasoned chaser knew it would. Tour companies loading truly unsuspecting passengers into a van and taking them even remotely close to any supercell is a disaster waiting to happen. Whats even worse in my opinion is the fact that everyone is somehow saying this was ok because they were not aware. If you want to know just how "minor" this incident was, ask the local communities which were impacted by a tour company creating a mass casualty incident in their area during a natural disaster. Their opinions should be at the forefront of any excuse being provided by tour operator/owners. 23 of their first responders were tied up transporting or attending to 12 patients while their own community needed them badley. SLT should be billed for the response and backfill this "minor" mass casualty caused.

The real disaster here is that this will be excused so it will happen again.

Tour companies should be highly regulated and taxed for the potential mass casualties they bring with them.

I am hoping the NTSB gets involved in this incident to bring needed change to these unregulated interstate tour businesses. Simular to what we did for the Balloon crash that caused 16 hirrific deaths in central Texas. Ill bet the next tour bus accident will be much worse. And, again, we all know its coming.
 
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Jan 14, 2011
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Another aspect of this incident that is worth analyzing is the claim that rescue personnel "drove into the tornado" to respond. Does anyone know the names and locations of the responding stations, estimated time the calls came in, etc? This seems like highly relevant information given that the claim that emergency personnel "risked a tornado strike to respond" is being used in a major way to fan flames of anger among local residents. If the claim is true, the anger is deserved. If false, it is a deliberate fabrication to take advantage of the situation and therefore should be called out.
 
Feb 27, 2009
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I bring this up just to give some perspective to the whole "situational awareness" bit. How many chasers saw Rozel? And what percentage of those have no clue this second tornado dropped behind them?

FB_IMG_1559526729766.jpg

I have never seen another pic of this tornado in the foreground and only one short video clip. Everyone was closer with eyes glued to the main tornado. There were probably hundreds of chasers that day between two tornadoes and they never knew it. The reason I was so far back is I had my mother with my for a mother's day present. One thing she really wanted, is to see things I see, so i asked her to go. I don't know quite how to express it but this discussion of being safe at all cost irritates me. And I think it is encredibly sad if Roger is hurt by this. Because yes I really believe if you want to live it involves risks. And stuff just happens even when you think you are interpreting everything correctly. All of those tour guests were choosing to live and not sit at home on the couch. That foreground tornado Rozel day was weak but it had a debris cloud and no one even saw it! As a society we are just going to litigate ourselves out of doing anything significant or daring or fun. And I will echo Dan's comment, any first responders that feel like I don't belong or something, can pass over me. I know that's silly but that is literally my thoughts on that. I think though that we as humans can help out humans when our plans don't work out, even if they involve slight risk.
 
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