Storm chasers drove into a tornado on purpose

Discussion in 'Weather In The News' started by Randy Jennings, Apr 3, 2017.

  1. Randy Jennings

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    Washington Post reports "Storm chasers who intentionally drove into the teeth of a tornado Sunday are now facing scathing blowback from their peers. The chasers got too close to the twister, the critics say, setting a dangerous example.
    ...
    When a small tornado surfaced near the town of Lena, about 25 miles northwest of Alexandria, storm chaser Bart Comstock and his crew showed no restraint. After spotting the tornado, video from Comstock and his crew (below) shows the chase vehicle take off at a high speed straight for the twister."

    Full story at:
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...id=hp_hp-more-top-stories_storm-chasers-345pm
     
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  2. Warren Faidley

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    Well.... so what?

    That's been done how many times now? In the voice of Homer Simpson..... "Boring."

    Other chasers have been doing this for the last 7-8 years and no one even bated an eyelash.

    Again, if this disturbs anyone, be smart, don't go after the chasers. Report it to insurance companies, rental car companies, sponsors, employers, law enforcement, etc. That's the Achilles' heel of live video!
     
  3. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Resident meteorological expert
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    I saw this, and I had mixed reactions to it. From a personal standpoint, I don't care. It wasn't a particularly strong tornado (not that they knew it wouldn't spin up on them in a hurry or take down a tree and throw it through the windshield), but if they're willing to take the risk, I say let 'em. If they get hurt or die as a result, I won't shed a tear or bat an eyelash.

    However, considering myself as something resembling an ambassador to the storm chasing community (in the sense that basically all of us are), I think it was probably not in the best of taste for them to make public mention of it the way they did. Was it bragging? not particularly, but they still posted about it, not just on social media, but made an SN report specifically saying they had been hit. It felt like an attempt to gain popularity and likes and follows, and especially given the events of last week wherein the storm chasing community suddenly got a bump in attention, it was not the best-advised move they could've made. Getting hit by a tornado is one thing whether you purposely drive into it or get caught unintentionally (if the latter, you're still being risky by putting yourself in a dangerous position even if you're not imminently in the path of a tornado), but it was the fact that they seemed to brag about it (and their media manager posted a video on YT showing the incident from like 3 or 4 different cameras...but all in the same damn place [wtf]) that made me stop and go "hmm...mayyyyyyyyyyyyybe not what they should've done"
     
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  4. Matt Hunt

    Matt Hunt EF3

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    Am I the only one that saw that video and thought, "cool," and then just moved on with my life?
     
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  5. Warren Faidley

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    I think the chase community and the public (to some degree) don't find any of this entertaining anymore and deaths are just part of the pursuit. The overall lack of sustained outrage over what happened last week is proof. Dangerous chase stunts are old hat. The next time someone bites it there will be even less attention. I think Dave's prediction that chasing would become a sport someday has been verified. Just like deaths in mountain climbing, racing and other high-risk sports, it's now all part of the game and the news cycle is brief.
     
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  6. Justin Hassie

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    My concern with actions like this is the fact that they celebrated it like it was some big achievement. Seeing how little the vehicle moved it was obviously a very weak tornado, we all know that. However, not everyone that watches the video will have the same understanding of tornadoes that most of us do. I would hate for someone with little or no knowledge of storms and tornadoes to see this video and think they can strap a camera to their dash and go driving into tornadoes. This video isn't the first of it's kind, I saw one from the Kokomo, Indiana tornado last year where the guy was following it through city streets, then had to back up (rather quickly) in a residential neighborhood after realizing how strong the tornado was.

    We can't stop stupid people from doing stupid things, and I guess that's just part of natural selection, but I also don't think we should be doing things to encourage, directly or indirectly, stupid behavior.

    Now, where are my pants?
     
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  7. Trey Thee

    Trey Thee EF2

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    I saw and thought dumbasses, it became pretty clear the guy was driving into it/through it on purpose. Days like that could easily be volatile with all the dynamics in place, a storm anchoring and/or spinning up could quickly go from 60-70 mph winds to 110-120 or higher and everyone in the car dies. It also makes the community look worse on top of what transpired last week.
     
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  8. Jacob Higgins

    Jacob Higgins Lurker

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    Considering what just happened several days ago, I feel like it was in poor taste to take such a risk. Sure it was their risk to take but at what point does the thought of 'I wonder what this could do to the rest of the chase community,' cross his mind. Judging from his quotes he seems to be more about himself and the video that can be captured than others around him. Say all those in the car died because the tornado rapidly intensified. That would be two negative stories in the media in a very short time and if they keep piling up I worry that those who are safe in this endeavor will have to suffer due to crackdown by law enforcement.
     
  9. John Farley

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    All I can say is that I can't believe such utter stupidity just a few days after the deaths of 3 storm chasers. Even in a weak tornado, debris can come flying through your window and kill or seriously injure you. And as others have pointed out, the tornado could have intensified. I guess if you want to go out and get a Darwin Award it is your business, but when you post it online and brag about it to national media, you bring down heat on all storm chasers and make us collectively look even worse than we already looked after last week's event. And when that happens, it is my business, and I will speak out. And henceforth, if I see such stupidity or the kind that caused last week's deaths, I will report it.
     
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  10. Matt Hunt

    Matt Hunt EF3

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    Why does public opinion of storm chasers matter? If we "look bad" to the public, does that mean we can't chase anymore? I don't see anything changing based on what some people might think. Shoot, half the people I tell that I chase storms already think I'm nuts, and I've never been closer than a mile or so.
     
  11. Nace Gerhart

    Nace Gerhart Lurker

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    If they would have been injured, the local community would have to divert emergency resources to come to their aid. Considering Lena, LA has a population of less than 1500, I would have to imagine their emergency resources would have been extremely limited.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Stormtrack mobile app
     
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  12. Warren Faidley

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    You are right. Public opinion does not matter a lot. However, LEO in specific areas may not be as understanding. For example, ten years ago if you were clocked going 5 over the speed limit, you might get a verbal warning or nothing. In some areas today you might end up with a $300.00+ ticket. Rental car companies are also cracking down on chasers in some areas and they might not issue coverage for damage if you are chasing. For me, sponsors and other commercial interests began cancelling commercial deals and shying away from sponsorships after witnessing the deceptive lunacy on Storm Chasers. No matter how or why you were chasing -- it was too risky for them. So I guess it depends on your involvement in chasing. If you are just having fun and obeying the rules, nothing will change.
     
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  13. Greg Flint

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    Warren - where is this happening? Any confirmation first hand? Just curious. Thanks
     
  14. Warren Faidley

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    There was a prior discussion about rental car companies not covering "negligent" damage. I also believe a chaser had to pay for hail damage despite having the full damage waiver. Insurance companies do investigate extensive damage and it's not automatically guaranteed they will cover negligence when a renter abuses the property.
     
  15. John Farley

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    I am not so sure that is true. For example, if LEO sets up roadblocks, we are impacted even if we are obeying the rules. And the more negative LEO and public opinions of storm chasers become, the more likely things like that are to happen.
     
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  16. Jesse Risley

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    I worry more about harassment from LEOs than anything else, because it is essential to be able to use public right-of-ways to chase, but being on the receiving end of captious citations simply because you happen to be a chaser can be financially taxing. The problem, as others alluded to, is nitpicking for minor violations just to prove a point, when non-chasers would probably never even be targeted for these infractions (e.g., speeding a few miles over the posted limit, not signaling exactly X number of feet before turns, stopping slightly over the stop line, having a tire cross a center line when making a turn, etc.). It's essentially legal profiling, because while you are technically breaking a traffic law, they are selective enforcing those traffic codes against chasers to make a financially retaliatory statement. I received a citation for driving 35 mph in a 30 mph zone, and I'm pretty sure it was related to being a chaser, because he made some remarks about chasers and I was extremely polite and cooperative. Some other chasers have reportedly had citations for having video equipment in their dash or having open laptops while the vehicle is on the road. Obviously this is all anecdotal, because others, including myself, have also had very positive interactions with law enforcement over the years too.

    Roadblocks have already happened, but I'm not so sure that's punitive against chasers as much as it is in the interest of public safety. Pretty much as long as I have been chasing on the Plains I've encountered roadblocks, especially in Kansas, so that's not exactly a phenomena born out of the last 4-5 years of Youtube driving antics caught on camera. There was a discussion posted from one of the law enforcement equivalents to Stormtrack several years back and it was pretty damning.
     
  17. Marshall Stoner

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    It isn't even that interesting. It looks like they got hit with a sub-EF0 whirl. Of course, it isn't like that tornado couldn't have suddenly spun up a much stronger suction vortex right overhead. I wonder if their car actually got blown off the road they would still post it on youtube. Probably. They'd be even more famous. Everyone should admit they'd probably watch it.
     
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  18. Brian Brachel

    Brian Brachel Lurker

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    If this stuff keeps happening, insurance companies will require chasers be Certified and not by a simple Skywarn class. Also, if you chase, you'll be required to carry special insurance! I think the chasing community NEEDS to police itself, so the irresponsibles are somehow called out. Just my opinion.


    Sent from my iPhone using Stormtrack
     
  19. Jamie G Cox

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    Pretty stupid. They claim to see debris, yet drive straight into it. If they could see debris, what makes them think it won't fly through the windshield and kill them. Or a host of other deadly problems could have occurred. Pretty irresponsible considering it wasn't just one person putting his life on the line. He was tempting fate with other people's lives in his hand on a split second decision he made.

    I also wonder how insurance companies know that people are using their insured car for storm chasing purposes. If you don't tell them, how do they find out? How can an insurance company claim that a car was damaged while intentionally getting in the path of storms, versus getting caught in one while doing something else?
     
  20. Brian Brachel

    Brian Brachel Lurker

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    It's like anything else. If you have an accident while chasing the police will request Certificate. The insurance company will find out. They always get a copy of the police report before paying a claim. As soon as the insurance companies figure they are loosing money, you can bet it will become a requirement. Just ask an attorney! Anyway to milk a buck.


    Sent from my iPhone using Stormtrack
     
  21. Shane Adams

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    They do that shit because they can. Fish finder technology points you right to the tornado, and then you just drive into it. Before all the gizmos that drag chasers' asses to the tornado, nobody did this. Not because they didn't want to, but because they couldn't find a tornado in a barrel. Tech is like money - it makes those who lack ability relevant.
     
  22. James Hilger

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    I've asked. If it's not a business, nothing they can do. At the moment. They are somewhat treating it as a business, so some valid points.

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Stormtrack mobile app
     
  23. rdale

    rdale EF5

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    Sorry - that's just conspiracy talk... There won't be any "spotter certification requirements" from any organization.
     
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  24. Chris Kerby

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    Well I guess the fame part worked because I had never heard of Burt Cornstalk before this.
     
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