Skywarn Spotter? Ever asked if you're a storm chaser from the decals on your car?

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mskinner

I've been spotting for a few years now and only have had a hand full of people make comments.

I remember being at Home Depot early this spring, loading up some landscaping material in my expedition and the store clerk noticed my antennas and skywarn stickers. He started to ask the normal questions as one would expect, but then proceeded to ask one of the best ones yet..."Whats it like to be inside a tornado?"...all I could do is answer with a simple "I have no idea". haha

Another instance happend this summer as I pulled up to a stop light. I noticed an elderly man in his car looking at the rather small skywarn stickers I have on my truck. He was pointing at the sticker and giving a huge smile along with a thumbs up. Made me feel proud for providing storm spotting services for the public. I have no idea if he just thought it was neat or if he was "thanking" me for being out there helping out. Maybe he had an encounter once with mother nature and it scared him...who knows, but he was happy and it made me feel good.

73's Matt
 
Dec 26, 2007
113
0
0
Olympia, Washington
Our Skywarn program up here in the NW doesn't have any stickers, logos or anything. I would totally put one right next to my NaFC sticker - just cause I'm that kind of guy.

I wonder if I should ask them, "Hey, I've been spotting for you NWS guys for years - where's my sticker?"

Heck, just did the refresher/training last week again as a matter of fact. Still no stickers.

:p
 

Zachary Lassiter

And now I must ask this. . .and I feel bad for asking this, and maybe I shouldn't. But I'm going to anyway.

Has anyone ever noticed that at most, if not all SKYWARN meetings, there is AT LEAST one toothless. . .below par intellectual person sitting in the front of the meeting who has all of the mediocre . . .remedial questions that slows everything up, while most are sitting there to endure time and renew their ID cert?

I don't mean to be blunt, but jeez. . . It's like these people just walked out from the hills or something.

I don't know. I just wanted to see if anyone else noticed this as I have. Maybe I just notice too much.
Or the blind guy who talks about when he saw his trash bin blowing around
 
Jan 12, 2009
40
1
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32
Southbury, Connecticut
Or the "know it all" chaser/spotter that tries to pin down the person giving the class and looks down at the others attending the class..

Life is Live ya know...

Tim
Man. I know what that's like. Not that I look down on anyone, but it is true that some people do ask common sense questions. It's as arbitrary as knowing the difference between touching a hot burner or not.

No equations involved. :)
 

Jim Stovall

The question I am asked the most by the locals when I am out, "is there a tornado coming this way" I just want to ask why are you gonna take cover or grab your video camera?
 
Mar 14, 2010
291
31
11
Siloam Springs, Arkansas
I had someone come up to me and asked if i was going to be around for a few minutes because someone really wanted to meet me. I said well i think so but that could change in a moments notice, and im thinking to myself why on earth does someone want to see me being that i was 200 miles from home and didn't know anyone. A few minutes later a car pulls up and a boy around 10 comes up to me with a few tornado books and tells me he has been buying weather books and studying them every chance he got since he was little and said he's always wanted to meet a real storm chaser and asked if i could sign them. I wanted to tell him i was a nobody, but seeing the look on the kids face i couldn't say no. Not exactly a bad thing i guess, just really caught me off guard from the usual "I hope your not intercepting here" speech.
 
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J Tyler

EF3
Mar 6, 2010
247
9
11
Dallas TX/Born & Raised in OK
The funniest thing my wife and I got was when a couple pulled up next to us and asked, "Is it so bad that YOU guys are here?!".

James, I'm so glad you didn't destroy that little boys dream. To HIM, you ARE a big deal! How cool is that?! This little boy grabbed all his weather books and brought them to YOU to sign?! The years will fade the details for him, but he WILL always remember....

This is TOTALLY off subject, but I just have to share....After years of saving money, I was finally able to buy my dream car. It was 1996, and the new blue and white striped GTS Viper had just come out and was a really big deal. I was going to a wedding in my home town(Ada Ok), and planned to arrive like a real big shot in my fancy new car. On the drive there from Texas, I stopped for gas in a REALLY small town, and this VERY old pickup came SCREAMING up next to me. The man driving asked if I could PLEASE wait just a second so his son could see my car. I told him I didn't have a lot of time, but I could. He jumps out, goes to a PAY phone (remember those?!). After a minute, he came back and said thanks anyway, but for me to go on. It would just take too long for his wife to get his son to us since he was in a wheel chair. I was stunned. I told him to lead the way, I would follow him to his son. We drove down the MUDDIEST dirt road on Oklahoma for at least 3-4 miles. I hate that I can't remember his boys name, but I remember us getting him into my Viper so I could drive him up and down that muddy road.

I made it to the reception, but I missed the wedding. My big chance to "show off" went down the tubes because my fancy car was absolutely COVERED in mud! But it was worth it to me a million times over. 14 years later, I still remember the boy. I hope he remember me. And I've still got the car.
 
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Dec 30, 2008
19
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Joplin, MO
I don't have an stickers but have the antennas on my Rodeo that catch people's attention. I took my kids on a blue sky day to go door-to-door fundraising in a nearby neighborhood. A woman saw me sittin in the Rodeo next to her house(obviously didn't see my kids down the block) and asked if I was from Google Earth. After I explained the antennas and she went back to her garden it took me awhile to stop laughing.
 
Feb 9, 2007
259
33
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Illinois
skywarnforum.com
Being a Skywarn spotter can be interesting, especially if you have the Skywarn logos on your vehicle. People tend to ask the most interesting questions. If you've had these kinds of experiences, whether it's on the road or at the gas station, tell them here!
My truck has a storm chaser sticker on both sides and magnet storm chaser and skywarn spotter decals on the back tail gate. I also have a small light on top of my truck that I use for emergencies only like if I am in the "danger path" of the storm or if power lines are down and I am trying to help warn people from getting killed (don't call me a whacker, its not like I have a full lightbar looking like a disco ball going down the road, lol)...

People in southern Illinois where I live don't say too much but tornadoes here are pretty rare compared to most areas. Now when I went with Kevin Askew to TN, his vehicle had spotter decals and a light and TN folks were coming out of the woodwork asking about the weather... But I really enjoyed their company. People in the south are really friendly and I don't mind talking about chasing with any of them...

I don't put all the decals and stuff on my truck for attention though, I put it on there so people know to be cautious of me and mainly because of the texter drivers. LOL.
 

J Tyler

EF3
Mar 6, 2010
247
9
11
Dallas TX/Born & Raised in OK
The whole lights and signs thing on this site cracks me up!

I'll tell you right now, for the first 2-3 years I was a spotter (back in the mid 80s), I did not have any signs. It was actually the Sheriff that asked our Civil Defense director to come up with signs for his spotters because the Sheriff was tired of being called out by land owners who wondered who the stranger was that was parked out on the road by their land. So, they printed up these hidious stickers that said "Tornado Spotter"! I hated putting that damn thing on my beloved Trans Am (yep, with the big chicken on the hood!), and didn't use it the 2nd year. I was sitting on a county road one night around 1am, spotting, and a pickup comes up behind me and stops. Next thing I know, a rancher is standing next to my car in the dark with his shotgun wanting to know what I am doing. Scared the living hell out of me. I paid for magnetic signs myself, and have used them ever since. There is a reason the electric company has signs on their trucks. They are not trying to be a "show off". They want the public to know what that white pickup is that is parked in the alley behind my house with a man sitting in it.

I think they are a good idea, especially in rural areas, but I'm not going to ride other people to get them. To each their own.
 

John Mullen

I've had people ask on occasion. Usually it's something to the effect of either "Do you ever let people ride with you?" or "What's the weather going to be like? Are there going to be any tornadoes?". I was in TN last year and had someone ask me the latter about 30 minutes before a long track F-4 tore through the town of Murfreesboro. It makes you feel good knowing you could have possibly kept someone out of harms way.

As for the signs, I throw'em on when I head out to chase simply because it's a good way to let people (including LEOs) know why you're stopped in front of their land/in an empty parking lot/etc. I've had people come out a couple times (without the signs) to ask just what the hell I was doing parked in front of their field and there's nothing fun about that. I'd rather not risk it.

Here's what I've got at the moment. The stickers on the back glass are self-explanatory. Thin blue was a present from my father (retired LEO). Thin red/star of life is because I'm a firefighter/paramedic. And of course, the fish... well, I love to fish. haha I've got little 3M reflective markers (they're actually just spare markers from my fire helmet) on the rear and down the sides as well. The original purpose was for being seen when stopped at traffic accidents and the like, but it also doubles as an easy way to be seen in heavy rain.

Somebody mentioned lights earlier, for the record I've got strobes in the reverse lights, headlights, on the dash and deck but I've yet had a reason to use them when chasing. I really don't see much of a point for it. Rolling code to the station or POV to the scene of an accident (or first responder call) is another story though. The only lights (other than headlights of course) I tend to use are the flood lights mounted on my roof rack from time to time and even then, that's rare.

So yeah, there ya have it.
 

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John Mullen

John, where did you get the Certified Skywarn Storm Spotter decal on the back of your vehicle?
Here you are, brother.

http://jkstorm.com/

I don't think he makes that particular one anymore, but he might. The prices are VERY reasonable, he ships them flat, not rolled up in a tube (which is a huuuuge PITA), they're on time and last a good long while.

I've been a repeat customer for a few years, I'd highly recommend the guy!
 

Brian R

EF0
Apr 16, 2012
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1
5
I need to get some decals for my new chase vehicle, it is a 2014 chevrolet silverado 4 door. also need to find a nice amber and white led lo profile strobe light bar for it.
 
Nov 6, 2011
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Elmore, AL
i agree with having some level of storm spotter decals and or magnetic signs, some minor level of a roof warning light helps - This way they see your their with a purpose. I've had my fair share of run in's with people who thought i was staking them out to rob them or was up to no good. I also wear that Skywarn Storm Spotter mesh vest and that helps too.

I've found that just by having a $25 walmart amber led light up on the roof, deters the unwanted run ins. With it being a low power led, its not going to blind or cause a major visual distraction.
 
Feb 27, 2009
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Texarkana, AR
I never thought I would ever put a flashing light on my vehicle, being slightly annoyed by them at times. But have found it to be the best way to keep people away. a few years ago, I bought some small amber lights made to go inside the grill, but mounted them on the back of the hail gaurd facing toward the rear. They can be seen from every angle except directly infront of my vehicle. They are around 1/2" by 2". I use them only when going very slow do danger ahead or when I'm stopped. Police and curious people became a real pain, especially at night when shooting lightning. Most where friendly and just wondering what I was doing, but since I have added the flashing lights it cut all that down by probably 90%.
 
Dec 8, 2003
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Southeast CO
www.youtube.com
I drive a car with little ornamentation to indicate that I'm a chaser. I do have one small-ish decal and vanity plates that give it away, but that's about it. I don't mind the encounters with LE. I figure I'm making their otherwise-boring afternoon a little more interesting (while sitting around waiting for initiation, not when damage and injuries have occurred), and I think communication between chasers and LE in non-stressful situations is a positive thing. One of my favorite expressions is "Yeah, I get this a lot", which invariably concludes with a fun little conversation, and I am amassing a collection of business cards from officers/deputies/troopers. Every one of them tells some tale of some experience they've had with a storm. People everywhere love talking about weather; especially storms.

Once there's a storm it's rarely ever an issue.
 
Nov 6, 2011
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Elmore, AL
Has anyone ever stopped into a Truck Stop wearing a Skywarn shirt? I set myself for failure with that. I walked in to get another belt clip due to one breaking for my HT, next thing i know i'm there talking with 1 driver, then 1 became 3, then 6. Don 't get me wrong, It was good conversation expresing concerns over weather in their direction of travel. What should have took five minutes ended up taking me one hour.
 
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Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,475
2,129
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
That's what I found with a high-profile vehicle. The inconvenience you save from people stopping to check on you at night on the side of the road is overshadowed by the times you are stopped by people at gas stations, grocery stores and everywhere else to talk at the most inconvenient of times. It seemed like every time that happened to me, I never had the time to sit there and chat. More often than not, I ended up feeling somewhat like a jerk for seeming a little standoffish while trying to go on my way.
 
Apr 14, 2011
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Alexandria, LA
I spot from home mostly; the one or two chases, such as they were, that I've been on I didn't have any stickers, special plates, lights, or magnets on my vehicle. Just another car on the road; nothing to see here folks...
 
I'm sure other chasers have experienced this same irritating situation: It is a high or moderate risk day. There are hundreds of chasers filling up the area. The sky is growing darker by the moment and the wind is picking up. It never fails. Someone will come up and ask: Are we going to have a storm? Here's your sign!

W.
 
I'm sure other chasers have experienced this same irritating situation: It is a high or moderate risk day. There are hundreds of chasers filling up the area. The sky is growing darker by the moment and the wind is picking up. It never fails. Someone will come up and ask: Are we going to have a storm? Here's your sign!

W.
This wasn't a moderate/high risk day, and there were maybe 3 or 4 trained spotters observing this storm from varying locations, but I think it deserves a similar forehead slap.



We'd been following this cell for about 45 minutes (we'd made the first reports on it about 30 minutes prior) and it had a tornado warning. We were stopped there with cameras out photographing this thing, when the guy across the street comes outside and starts mowing his lawn, the giant rotating wall cloud clearly visible. He mows out there for about 15 minutes as this storm creeps along the horizon at <20mph. Finally he decides to come over and ask "are we going to have a storm?"