Storm chasing and the 2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

May 18, 2013
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IBM/Weather Channel has an interactive map of COVID-19 cases: https://weather.com/coronavirus/ (not very up to date at least in DFW area)

One thought I had today - State wide restrictions seem to be mainly staying out of the plains (for now). There are still a lot of counties in rural areas with no cases, and governors seem to be reluctant to issue state wide restrictions that would also apply in the rural areas with no cases. The metro areas in the plains are seeing county or city based restrictions, but many chasers generally stay out of heavily populated areas. So except for passing thru metro areas where one might violate a local order, it might be possible for one to chase without violating orders. Having said that, I can't help but think that if many chasers show up in rural areas that local law enforcement might not take kindly to that (in that they may perceive out of towners as a threat to the health of their community). If I was to bet, I suspect at least one chaser gets crossways with LE somewhere this season (of course lately that has been happening even without a virus around).
 
Mar 6, 2019
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Mesa, Arizona
FYI for all - I've been reading in multiple places that using gloves for gas pump handles is not advised. If you don't remove a glove properly, you could easily contaminate your hands. If you're using the *same* glove each time, you could be spreading the virus from pump to pump not to mention wherever you're keeping it in your vehicle.

I saw a guy a couple days ago with a mask pulled down around his chin smoking a cigarette with gloves on. I was thinking “you know, those gloves and mask are not going to help you if you are touching your cigarette with your dirty gloves....” It is crazy how people don’t seem to worry if they are “geared up”.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
994
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I saw a guy a couple days ago with a mask pulled down around his chin smoking a cigarette with gloves on. I was thinking “you know, those gloves and mask are not going to help you if you are touching your cigarette with your dirty gloves....” It is crazy how people don’t seem to worry if they are “geared up”.
That's why, always and way before coronavirus, I never thought it did much to have fast food workers wear gloves, because I would often see them touch other stuff with the gloves on, just as they would with bare hands!
 

Yvonne Bennett

Enthusiast
Nov 27, 2016
5
10
1
Milwaukee, WI
I'm really amazed how many storm chase tour groups are actually still taking people's money and booking them for tours. There is no way in hell this is going to be anywhere near over by late April or May. I closed down my private chIm weeks ago because I did not want to risk exposing anyone to the virus or take their money for a tour that would likely be cancelled.
I'm booked with SLT in mid May and shocked they are proceeding business as usual holding prepaid guests to their strict cancellation policies in spite of COVID-19.
 
Jul 5, 2009
994
759
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I'm booked with SLT in mid May and shocked they are proceeding business as usual holding prepaid guests to their strict cancellation policies in spite of COVID-19.
Wow, that’s unbelievable. I mean I’m still hoping to be able to chase myself in late May, so I‘m not saying SLT should cancel, but I certainly think they are wrong to not allow *guests* to cancel. Whether due to uncertainty (maybe wanting to save vacation time now, in the event the tour ends up being somehow restricted), desire to avoid close proximity to other guests, fear of staying in hotels, or whatever their concerns may be, these are extraordinary times and guest should be given extra latitude to cancel right up until the last minute. After hearing about last year’s escapades and how the aftermath was handled, this new information sours my opinion of SLT even more.
 

Yvonne Bennett

Enthusiast
Nov 27, 2016
5
10
1
Milwaukee, WI
Wow, that’s unbelievable. I mean I’m still hoping to be able to chase myself in late May, so I‘m not saying SLT should cancel, but I certainly think they are wrong to not allow *guests* to cancel. Whether due to uncertainty (maybe wanting to save vacation time now, in the event the tour ends up being somehow restricted), desire to avoid close proximity to other guests, fear of staying in hotels, or whatever their concerns may be, these are extraordinary times and guest should be given extra latitude to cancel right up until the last minute. After hearing about last year’s escapades and how the aftermath was handled, this new information sours my opinion of SLT even more.
Their entire position was about them and the money they'll lose in light of their overhead & expenses on vans, etc.

It was rather disgusting.

I was aware of the May 31, 2019 incident in KS but since I had booked & paid deposit in Dec. 2018, I was supportive and willing to give the benefit of doubt.

This situation and how they have responded has no doubt given rise to suspicion of their ability to properly care for guests who entrust their safety to them as well as the safety of the communities they chase in.

Even if all of the states involved (CO, WI & OK) lift "Safer At Home" mandates by then, it seems irresponsible to me to proceed.
 
I've refunded people at great business loss, but I've never liked taking people's money for nothing and it's one reason I also allow rescheduling if the season sucks. That's just me. I would never, ever again recommend any group that takes advantage of this situation. I would suspect they will issue credits of some kind.
 

LVblizzard

Enthusiast
Jan 19, 2020
1
1
1
Pennsylvania
I'm booked with SLT in mid May and shocked they are proceeding business as usual holding prepaid guests to their strict cancellation policies in spite of COVID-19.
I'm chasing with another company - Tempest Tours - for the start of June. Last week they sent me an email saying all tours are on as scheduled. I'm shocked they haven't at least canceled their first couple tours yet, or even shown a slight bit of concern about it. The tours in June/July seem like they'll be okay, but the ones in April/May have almost no chance of happening regardless of what they're currently saying IMO.
 
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Yvonne Bennett

Enthusiast
Nov 27, 2016
5
10
1
Milwaukee, WI
I've refunded people at great business loss, but I've never liked taking people's money for nothing and it's one reason I also allow rescheduling if the season sucks. That's just me. I would never, ever again recommend any group that takes advantage of this situation. I would suspect they will issue credits of some kind.
They offered (1) partial refund, retaining the $600 deposit; or (2) rescheduling for a later date.

Part of the reason for my taking the mini 4 chase day tour was it was the only time I could get away . . . and not for 7 or 10 days.

If I had that much time to be away from my job, I would have booked again with COD . . . which was a great experience back in 2017!

For now I'm waiting to see what happens. They'll either be shut down and have to give full refunds . . . or the tour happens and I'll consider whether or not to go chasing with them based on the COVID-19 situation at the time.
 
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Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
There have been reports of many businesses in this situation (wedding venues and caterers in particular) so it's not one unique to storm chasing tours. I have no insight into the workings of chase tour finances, but it's possible many of them treat revenue (over and above deposits) as cash flow that is then used for preseason expenses (insurance and vehicle prep for example), meaning enough of the money isn't availble to refund everyone if the entire season has to be forfeited. They might be able to recover some of that money, for example if the insurance company refunds their premiums, but I have no idea. The issue is probably fairly complicated.
 
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Yvonne Bennett

Enthusiast
Nov 27, 2016
5
10
1
Milwaukee, WI
There have been reports of many businesses in this situation (wedding venues and caterers in particular) so it's not one unique to storm chasing tours. I have no insight into the workings of chase tour finances, but it's possible many of them treat revenue (over and above deposits) as cash flow that is then used for preseason expenses (insurance and vehicle prep for example), meaning enough of the money isn't availble to refund everyone if the entire season has to be forfeited. They might be able to recover some of that money, for example if the insurance company refunds their premiums, but I have no idea. The issue is probably fairly complicated.
As someone involved in cancelling events since 3/12, I get the cash flow issue. This week I processed over $61k in registration fees.

I also know companies that spend prepaid deposits are running on a dangerous course. Don't spent it until you've earned it!

And business interruption insurance most likely will not bail then out!
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
2,893
2,642
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
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Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
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Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
Is chasing allowed in Illinois? That moderate risk tomorrow is gonna be tempting but I know IL has been on lockdown to at least some degree
There's not a black and white answer. It is shelter-in-place, so non-essential travel is not allowed and people are "ordered to stay at home or place of residence." Personally I'd say chasing is not considered an essential travel purpose within the state's or governor's conception of what they(he) considered to be an allowable example unless you are a local spotter or you are working for the media on assignment and reporting live from the field. The police are neither manning checkpoints nor arbitrarily stopping vehicles that I have heard of, however.

The governor has "asked law enforcement to monitor for violations and take action as necessary." There is a clause that allows for travel for outdoor recreation activities: "For outdoor activity. To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals comply with Social Distancing Requirements, as defined below, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, running, or biking. Individuals may go to public parks and open outdoor recreation areas. However, playgrounds may increase spread of COVID-19, and therefore shall be closed."

The subjective response, which I cannot answer, is whether or not someone who is tasked with enforcing this order on behalf of the governor, should you come into contact with the person by way of bad luck, would consider your chasing to be an acceptable form of outdoor recreation as stipulated in the executive order and/or whether or not your chasing fits within the allowed "essential travel into and out of the state" for purposes of carrying on those essential types of purposes or functions.

Here's a copy of the executive order: https://www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/21288-Gov._Pritzker_Stay_at_Home_Order.pdf
 
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Jun 12, 2019
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Michigan
Is chasing allowed in Illinois? That moderate risk tomorrow is gonna be tempting but I know IL has been on lockdown to at least some degree
That’s the debate. There’s been plenty of discussion regarding the letter of the law vs the spirit of the law, what enforcement action, if any, could/should/would be taken, and whether it is morally appropriate to chase in certain areas right now.

Like any polarizing issue, there’s the group who will not chase until orders are lifted, and there’s the group who is going to chase regardless of the restrictions, along with the full spectrum in between.

——— personal opinion below this line ———

This setup is relatively close to me. I’d normally be all over it, but I’m sitting this one out. While I would chase it locally if it were literally in my back yard, I can’t justify (to myself) interstate travel through other states with stay-at-home orders similar to my own state’s order. Also given the fact that Covid-19 cases are blowing up in my immediate area, I felt it’s best for me to stay put for this round.

——— facts below this line ———

...but it’s killing me.
 
Sep 25, 2006
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Minneapolis, MN
That’s the debate. There’s been plenty of discussion regarding the letter of the law vs the spirit of the law, what enforcement action, if any, could/should/would be taken, and whether it is morally appropriate to chase in certain areas right now.

Like any polarizing issue, there’s the group who will not chase until orders are lifted, and there’s the group who is going to chase regardless of the restrictions, along with the full spectrum in between.
It would obviously be pretty easy for LE to spot out of state license plates. That might be enough of a reason for any of us from out of state to stay away from IL, despite a 15% hatch.
 
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rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,128
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Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
It would obviously be pretty easy for LE to spot out of state license plates. That might be enough of a reason for any of us from out of state to stay away from IL, despite a 15% hatch.
Actually that should be an encouragement, because the stay at home order is specifically directed to those with in-state plates.

"With exceptions as outlined below, all individuals currently living within the State of Illinois are ordered to stay at home or at their place of residence except as allowed in this Executive Order. "
 
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Jul 5, 2009
994
759
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
Kansas is requiring anyone who has been in areas with high COVID-19 transmission (Illinois included) to quarantine for 14 days upon entering the state:
I admit to thinking a lot of the fears about chasing on this thread were overblown and at times bordering on handwringing, with restrictions having enough subjectivity to be open to interpretation and actual risk probabilities being extremely low. This news from Dan, however, is a true concern and leaves no gray area. I doubt any of us chase vacationers have the time (or long-range forecasting ability) to arrive in Kansas two weeks before a chase day. Imagine if this were implemented in other states, you would be unable to chase without a time machine.

I will continue to hold out hope that six to eight weeks from now most of these restrictions will be lifted. As I keep saying, we cannot withstand the economic and societal carnage that would result from keeping these restrictions in place that many weeks (considering it’s already been two weeks in many places, that would be a total of 8-10 weeks, it’s just not feasible).
 
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