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

  • Please note the forum rules were updated today. You may review them by clicking here
Then why did most states include recreational activity as allowed if we're only talking essential movement here? Do you obey the spirit of every single law when you go chase? If we're just arguing semantics here on following state orders based on terminology, and not debating ethics, then I hope you follow the spirit of every other law as it regards to chasing. Do you speed? Forget to use a blinker? Well you are breaking local and state laws. Again, that is a personal decision and interpretation.
The intent of the restrictions is to avoid "TRAVEL" but still allow recreational activity - the whole phrase "non-essential travel" should be your hint here - outdoor exercise sure, but avoid extended travel.

I've been chasing since 2002, and organising my own tours since 2011 - while I might have been speeding in my early days, keeping up with other vans driving for a commercial tour, on my tours I don't speed and I obey all local traffic laws <ask my guests - I always use cruise control on the open roads> - it's actually simpler and more relaxing that way - the time lost dealing with a LEO more than offsets any potential time gained by ignoring traffic laws - just plan your chase targets and leave earlier, so you have slack time to avoid the "need for speed". Of course, when you're in "storm fleeing" mode to avoid risk to your guests, all bets are off on the speed limit. :)

IMHO, anyone still going out chasing widely in the current pandemic has "lost their moral compass" by ignoring their civic responsibiity to support reasonable containment measures, and not encouraging other people to "find their own exceptions" by ignoring the spirit of the containment measures, and relying on narrow legal arguments to slip through a loophole.
 

Paul Bird

EF0
Aug 24, 2016
26
26
1
Xenia Oh
Yet another example of the “I’ll do what I want” self-justification, in the face of an increasing number of states banning non-essential “TRAVEL”, while still allowing you to go outside for “ESSENTIAL” activities and exercise ... what do you not get about the fact that storm chasing is travel for a non-essential reason? ...
Im going to take the word of officers that I've spoken with over yours. They have absolutely no problems with chasing or spotting. Eventually everyone is either going to get this or not. Theyre trying to curve the spread as to not overwhelm the hospitals. Chasing will make very little difference, if any, in the spread of this. Don't group up, be smart at gas stations and sleep in your car. You're blowing this way out of proportion.
 
Im going to take the word of officers that I've spoken with over yours. They have absolutely no problems with chasing or spotting. Eventually everyone is either going to get this or not. Theyre trying to curve the spread as to not overwhelm the hospitals. Chasing will make very little difference, if any, in the spread of this. Don't group up, be smart at gas stations and sleep in your car. You're blowing this way out of proportion.
Nothing “makes any difference” at the individual level - it’s the aggregate action of the community that will inhibit the transmission of this virus ... make an exception for yourself, and you just encourage others to do the same ...
 
Jul 5, 2009
1,082
897
21
Newtown, Pennsylvania
Yet another example of the “I’ll do what I want” self-justification, in the face of an increasing number of states banning non-essential “TRAVEL”, while still allowing you to go outside for “ESSENTIAL” activities and exercise ... what do you not get about the fact that storm chasing is travel for a non-essential reason? ...
Banning non-essential travel, but allowing outdoor recreational activities? Who’s to say which category chasing falls within? Clearly in the non-essential travel category. But no less an outdoor activity than fishing, hiking or running. Probably even safer, with more social distance.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Andy Wehrle
May 18, 2004
285
85
11
48
Centennial, CO
stormdoctor.com
Ok...Several points to discuss here.

I'm really busy, but my ire is up, so I'll post.

First of all, a lot of these "defending my behavior" and "it's riskier to be at a supermarket" comments just don't fly. None of you studies epidemics, none of you understands how serious this is. Unless you're an epidemiologist, infectious disease physician / microbiologist, or a hospital physician (including intensivists), you have nothing to hang your scientific banner on. And for the most part, most of these posts are dead wrong.
  • I saw a comment about chasers being a younger set and therefore at lower risk. FALSE. We have 17 year olds, 20 year olds, 30 year olds--all on ventilators. They will likely SURVIVE the illness, but that doesn't mean you're not at risk to end up extremely ill from this disease. Average time on the ventilator is 2-4 WEEKS. A fair number of these patients will go on to require oxygen indefinitely. This is VERY unlike influenza or other viral pneumonias. I and others worry we will see a generation of individuals who will mark this epidemic through their long-term use of oxygen. Yes, that is rare, but 5% of those who get the disease end up ventilated. Most are >65 years old (accounting for 40% of the ventilator use), but no one is out of the woods. 80% of individuals will have mild disease, but I will tell you from the front lines, I cannot predict whether a person will or won't end up on the ventilator when I see them and have intubated patients with NO prior comorbidities such as diabetes or hypertension.
  • The US absolutely will not be issuing certifications of COVID immunity. First, there is no antibody test yet developed commercially to document immunity. While we assume those who recover are therefore immune, there are data that viral shedding after symptoms stop can extend a few weeks. There ARE trials ongoing here in the US with "recovered individuals sera" to infuse theoretical antibodies into ill COVID patients and we believe this may help reduce or cure the disease in some. But there aren't a lot of data yet. There's reason for hope: this dramatically reduced deaths from Ebola, for example, but nothing will work shy of vaccination. Even then, as a seasonal virus, COVID is in the class of coronaviruses and we do not develop long-term immunity to them. Why should COVID be different? We're still 1-2 YEARS away from knowing the full extent of immunity and response. LAST: there have been several cases of COVID re-infection. We don't really know why that is happening (I believe personally that there are patients with undiagnosed immune deficiency such as CVID or hypogammaglobulinemia which are undiscovered until stuff like recurrent infections pop up, but we just don't know).
  • Because I'm sitting in my car and not doing anything but gassing up, I'm not a problem. Yes. Yes you are. Go back to my previous post. I don't care if your car has never needed winching out, or ever broken down, or that you've never been in a car accident...That's all noise to me. If you travel to chase, you are always a risk of needing help. I've been winched out before. I've had a rollover after I hit some hydroplaning. There is a world of difference between going to your park and touring the countryside. Don't minimize this okay? Corbin Jaeger died chasing 3 years ago when he was hit by a car. I don't think he anticipated that would happen to him either.
  • If I'm not out there then you know nighttime tornadoes won't get reported. OMG...this drives me nuts. YES spotting is exceptionally helpful given that landspouts aren't easy to spot, tornadoes occurring far from the radar sites due earth curvature, etc can't necessarily be seen.... But radar usually picks up on destructive tornadoes. Yes chasers help. But believe it or not, you're still not doing the world any favors. Spotters are local and can see these things, and this is an f-ing pandemic. You will save MORE lives by staying home. If you're TRULY INTERESTED IN SAVING LIVES, then STAY HOME. Holy crap?! How can you even type this with a straight face?! This is a DEADLY epidemic...even one more infection can outstrip many hospitals' supplies of ventilators! ARE YOU HEARING ME?! STAY HOME. If anyone says they're saving lives by chasing, I will scream. THE NUMBER OF DEATHS FROM AN UN-CHASED STORM IS MINIMAL. Period. Please show me data on how many lives you've saved personally, and I'll stack that against the number of lives I'm saving daily, okay?
  • We're all selfish. Period. This is as true for me as anyone. I want that great shot, I want that experience, I look forward to this all year too. I love the scientific thrill of the hunt. I want some video to remind of the experience. I want to sell my photos and offset some expenses from chasing. I get it. But y'know what, it's because we're selfish, it's about what we get out of the hobby. This isn't an altruistic hobby (see point above). I don't want to miss out either. This epidemic isn't about you. It's about getting control of the damned epidemic. Here is an image that shows just how easy this to get across. Also see my previous post about asymptomatic carriers. How do you know you have COVID? You might not know at all. If you really want to show your compassion for humanity, help save lives for real. If you think I'm any happier about what I'm posting right now, I'm not. I want to chase. After the stress I've been dealing with for 6 weeks, a chasecation would be spiritually rejuvenating. But here we are. When I'm not working, I am at home.
stream_img.jpg

While LEOs may be hesitant to pull people over, and most like chasers (I know!), there have been numerous sheriffs who've spoken out about chasing in the past. But, these aren't normal times. Don't count on the same treatment this year. I really like Warren's posts above about how easy it is to think you're safe because you're wearing gloves--you have to doff them properly and most people don't. These are uncharted waters. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read what I'm writing.
 
Jul 16, 2013
266
173
11
Joplin, MO
Ok...Several points to discuss here.

I'm really busy, but my ire is up, so I'll post.

First of all, a lot of these "defending my behavior" and "it's riskier to be at a supermarket" comments just don't fly. None of you studies epidemics, none of you understands how serious this is. Unless you're an epidemiologist, infectious disease physician / microbiologist, or a hospital physician (including intensivists), you have nothing to hang your scientific banner on. And for the most part, most of these posts are dead wrong.
  • I saw a comment about chasers being a younger set and therefore at lower risk. FALSE. We have 17 year olds, 20 year olds, 30 year olds--all on ventilators. They will likely SURVIVE the illness, but that doesn't mean you're not at risk to end up extremely ill from this disease. Average time on the ventilator is 2-4 WEEKS. A fair number of these patients will go on to require oxygen indefinitely. This is VERY unlike influenza or other viral pneumonias. I and others worry we will see a generation of individuals who will mark this epidemic through their long-term use of oxygen. Yes, that is rare, but 5% of those who get the disease end up ventilated. Most are >65 years old (accounting for 40% of the ventilator use), but no one is out of the woods. 80% of individuals will have mild disease, but I will tell you from the front lines, I cannot predict whether a person will or won't end up on the ventilator when I see them and have intubated patients with NO prior comorbidities such as diabetes or hypertension.
  • The US absolutely will not be issuing certifications of COVID immunity. First, there is no antibody test yet developed commercially to document immunity. While we assume those who recover are therefore immune, there are data that viral shedding after symptoms stop can extend a few weeks. There ARE trials ongoing here in the US with "recovered individuals sera" to infuse theoretical antibodies into ill COVID patients and we believe this may help reduce or cure the disease in some. But there aren't a lot of data yet. There's reason for hope: this dramatically reduced deaths from Ebola, for example, but nothing will work shy of vaccination. Even then, as a seasonal virus, COVID is in the class of coronaviruses and we do not develop long-term immunity to them. Why should COVID be different? We're still 1-2 YEARS away from knowing the full extent of immunity and response. LAST: there have been several cases of COVID re-infection. We don't really know why that is happening (I believe personally that there are patients with undiagnosed immune deficiency such as CVID or hypogammaglobulinemia which are undiscovered until stuff like recurrent infections pop up, but we just don't know).
  • Because I'm sitting in my car and not doing anything but gassing up, I'm not a problem. Yes. Yes you are. Go back to my previous post. I don't care if your car has never needed winching out, or ever broken down, or that you've never been in a car accident...That's all noise to me. If you travel to chase, you are always a risk of needing help. I've been winched out before. I've had a rollover after I hit some hydroplaning. There is a world of difference between going to your park and touring the countryside. Don't minimize this okay? Corbin Jaeger died chasing 3 years ago when he was hit by a car. I don't think he anticipated that would happen to him either.
  • If I'm not out there then you know nighttime tornadoes won't get reported. OMG...this drives me nuts. YES spotting is exceptionally helpful given that landspouts aren't easy to spot, tornadoes occurring far from the radar sites due earth curvature, etc can't necessarily be seen.... But radar usually picks up on destructive tornadoes. Yes chasers help. But believe it or not, you're still not doing the world any favors. Spotters are local and can see these things, and this is an f-ing pandemic. You will save MORE lives by staying home. If you're TRULY INTERESTED IN SAVING LIVES, then STAY HOME. Holy crap?! How can you even type this with a straight face?! This is a DEADLY epidemic...even one more infection can outstrip many hospitals' supplies of ventilators! ARE YOU HEARING ME?! STAY HOME. If anyone says they're saving lives by chasing, I will scream. THE NUMBER OF DEATHS FROM AN UN-CHASED STORM IS MINIMAL. Period. Please show me data on how many lives you've saved personally, and I'll stack that against the number of lives I'm saving daily, okay?
  • We're all selfish. Period. This is as true for me as anyone. I want that great shot, I want that experience, I look forward to this all year too. I love the scientific thrill of the hunt. I want some video to remind of the experience. I want to sell my photos and offset some expenses from chasing. I get it. But y'know what, it's because we're selfish, it's about what we get out of the hobby. This isn't an altruistic hobby (see point above). I don't want to miss out either. This epidemic isn't about you. It's about getting control of the damned epidemic. Here is an image that shows just how easy this to get across. Also see my previous post about asymptomatic carriers. How do you know you have COVID? You might not know at all. If you really want to show your compassion for humanity, help save lives for real. If you think I'm any happier about what I'm posting right now, I'm not. I want to chase. After the stress I've been dealing with for 6 weeks, a chasecation would be spiritually rejuvenating. But here we are. When I'm not working, I am at home.
View attachment 20215

While LEOs may be hesitant to pull people over, and most like chasers (I know!), there have been numerous sheriffs who've spoken out about chasing in the past. But, these aren't normal times. Don't count on the same treatment this year. I really like Warren's posts above about how easy it is to think you're safe because you're wearing gloves--you have to doff them properly and most people don't. These are uncharted waters. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read what I'm writing.
Well said, and even though these words are spoken from not only a storm chaser, but also a physician dealing directly with the COVID-19 pandemic, you still have James Hilger laughing and taking it as a joke. I've been storm chasing since 1996, no clue who James Hilger is but apparently this is all a huge joke to him since he's laughing at every post.
 
Feb 21, 2012
169
211
11
Wichita, KS
Because I'm sitting in my car and not doing anything but gassing up, I'm not a problem. Yes. Yes you are. Go back to my previous post. I don't care if your car has never needed winching out, or ever broken down, or that you've never been in a car accident...That's all noise to me. If you travel to chase, you are always a risk of needing help. I've been winched out before. I've had a rollover after I hit some hydroplaning. There is a world of difference between going to your park and touring the countryside. Don't minimize this okay? Corbin Jaeger died chasing 3 years ago when he was hit by a car. I don't think he anticipated that would happen to him either.
Let's say we can't mitigate that one in a billion risk that I am hospitalized while driving and simultaneously an asymptomatic carrier that transmits the virus to EMT that have to help. Because the rest of the risks seem mitigatable with clorox wipes and social distancing, or me calling my girlfriend if I break down 2 hours out of town.

So then where do we draw the line, in your opinion, for where it is just local travel and "outdoor sight-seeing" vs. "traveling the country-side"? Again I appreciate all the info, just legitimately trying to have a debate here on what's ethical.

Just because I'm having this discussion doesn't mean I'm going to chase the country side. I just think if we "wait for this to all be over", there will be no chasing until 2022, so as others have mentioned I'm trying to define what's reasonable. By the logic I'm seeing here, I shouldn't even go on a walk because there's a chance I fall or have some medical emergency and someone has to come help me. Again, trying to determine what's reasonable, because I didn't make a career change, move to Wichita, and sign a contract to chase for a local news outlet (considered essential by the federal government by the way) for me to sit out chasing until 2022 chase season when a vaccine is developed for a nearly negligible risk, if managed properly.
 

Shane Adams

Nobody is going to tell me a 300-mile trip with a single gas stop and ZERO human contact is more dangerous than a trip to the grocery store where I pass at least 3 dozen people to and from the car. If I get this fucking virus, it won't be because I drove to Altus and sat in my car all day. It will be because I have to go to work/the store every day. If I had the luxury of sitting at home without going broke, I would. But because I have to risk my life daily to LIVE, I'll be goddamned if I'm going to deny myself the one thing that still brings me pleasure in life that IS LESS DANGEROUS than living my life right now.

I'm not apologizing to anyone for my decisions. If it's a problem for you, please see yourself out of my life.
 
Nov 4, 2008
119
26
11
28
Norman, OK
texasstormchasers.com
My personal chasing decisions continue to be based on the day-to-day progression of COVID19. I chased back on 3/18 in the eastern Big Country and western North Texas. However, I will be maintaining a far lower social media presence before and during my chases. An exception to that rule will be any reports to the local WFO. I don't plan on any long-distance trips for April, but I'll probably head out on local chases (within 4 hours or so) if they look good enough. No hotels, no restaurants, and no 'gatherings' in the field.

Have I considered the possibility that I won't be chasing as the virus continues to worsen? Yes, but I also believe it is up to each individual to make that choice for themselves. I'm not interested whatsoever in dictating a 'chasing policy' for anyone besides myself. However, I would encourage those out chasing to maintain a lower public profile as we head toward the peak of the virus and to follow local laws. It'll be up to future historians to judge our actions as a society.

Stay safe and remember that we are truly living history.
 
May 18, 2004
285
85
11
48
Centennial, CO
stormdoctor.com
So then where do we draw the line, in your opinion, for where it is just local travel and "outdoor sight-seeing" vs. "traveling the country-side"? Again I appreciate all the info, just legitimately trying to have a debate here on what's ethical.
I wish I had an answer there. I don't think we'll know. I just know that every time I chase this year, I need to gut check. That image I showed shows what happens when you infect one less person, you drop the 6 week total by nearly 1,000 people. Should we completely abstain? I don't know. But right now, while we're on the steep end of the curve, I don't think it's a great idea to be chasing. Again, I'm not the chaser police. I'm here to inform and provide input. It's up to each person to search whether what I've posted hits home.
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
3,252
1,948
21
Broomfield, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
  • The US absolutely will not be issuing certifications of COVID immunity. ... LAST: there have been several cases of COVID re-infection. We don't really know why that is happening (I believe personally that there are patients with undiagnosed immune deficiency such as CVID or hypogammaglobulinemia which are undiscovered until stuff like recurrent infections pop up, but we just don't know).
Can you link to press releases or papers that discuss this? I looked up this issue a weekend or two ago and could only find anecdotal cases. And in those cases, there were always lots of uncertainties associated with false negatives in intermediate tests (i.e., after the person had stopped showing symptoms) where someone still had the virus in their system but the test did not detect it. I have not since heard of any cases of true re-infection, and pretty much every talking head I've seen on TV (which includes plenty of medical personnel) have seemed to arrive on a consensus that you have at least several weeks to several months of immunity following infection and recovery. If, however, you really can get re-infected right away, then there isn't much point for us to be discussing storm chasing anymore because we're all pretty much dead except for the lucky 5-20% (total guess on what that fraction actually is) of people whose immune systems are robust to repeated infections of this coronavirus. We will each keep getting re-infected until our immune systems can't handle it anymore, and then we're looking at a significant world population loss (guessing ~50+%).

I know you're a medical doctor and know more about this than pretty much anyone else on this forum, so I wish to respect your advice. But honestly, a lot of it sounded like blanket statements that are starting to sound tired to me. This community contains plenty of smart enough people to be able to make finer scale decisions than just, "don't ever go out...period." We don't need to be treated like the common public that is full of ignoramuses (willing or not). I'm not saying you are treating us like that, but I have to believe an expert like you can offer more nuanced and smaller scale advice for a very specific purpose such as driving your car in rural areas to see atmospheric phenomena than just, "DON'T DO IT!" People aren't as likely to heed ultimate and umbrella statements of advice like that in a time like this. They are more likely to respond to personalized advice, however.

---------------

For the record, I am generally in agreement with those who don't see it as a truly big deal to be willing to venture a few hours away from home to chase, provided they minimize time spent at gas stations or truck stops, and don't stay in hotels or eat in restaurants (in states that have not yet closed restaurants to in-person dining). This is a chief advantage of living in-near Tornado Alley - you don't have to go far from home to chase, and you don't have to cross non-chase-land to get there. For those who would have to come from far corners of the US or from outside the US, I can see this being a much bigger issue because of the requirement for overnight hotel stays and air-travel (or some other level of travel by public means where you stand a much greater risk of exposure to COVID-19), and I would generally recommend such folks "take one for the team" and be willing to sacrifice chasing (maybe one trip is okay) in 2020. My own situation kind of isn't that big of a deal to me, however, because my chase season is still weeks away from starting in a practical sense, and I have found it difficult to get out much the past few years anyway. I probably won't chase more than a handful of times the whole year regardless, which has become more-or-less average for me. And if a chase setup came along that would require me to drive more than a day's drive away (i.e., requiring an overnight stop or more food stops than I can sensibly pack in a car), then I would sit out such a setup.

By the way, I've been chasing for 12 years (including out-of-state chases and chases on unpaved roads) and have yet to have a need to be towed out of a ditch or off a mud road or needed to have someone else come bail me out of a situation I could not escape myself. So don't lump me in with others who have been unfortunate to befall such incidents. Not every one of us are reckless yahoos flying down dirt roads at 80 mph with blinding rain 200 yards away from tornadoes with our eyes off the road. Some of us actually know what we're doing and are very judicious about our road choices and are still successful at chasing. That comment of yours really rubbed me the wrong way, because again, it sounded kind of like a blanket statement.
 
Jul 16, 2013
266
173
11
Joplin, MO
But honestly, a lot of it sounded like blanket statements that are starting to sound tired to me. This community contains plenty of smart enough people to be able to make finer scale decisions than just, "don't ever go out...period." We don't need to be treated like the common public that is full of ignoramuses (willing or not).
Maybe because the "don't go out, stay at home" being said over and over by pretty much every medical expert means just that, stay at home. I'm not sure what more you're needing to be told? This is a new virus. There is no treatment, there is no vaccine. You get COVID-19, go into the hospital and ask the doctor if you will survive while struggling to breath, the doctor will probably just say "I don't know". Right now, your best chances of not being infected is by staying at home, washing your hands and distancing yourself from others. You don't go out and give it to anyone - you stay at home and you don't get it from anyone. Common sense, no?
 
Jul 16, 2013
266
173
11
Joplin, MO
By the way, I've been chasing for 12 years (including out-of-state chases and chases on unpaved roads) and have yet to have a need to be towed out of a ditch or off a mud road or needed to have someone else come bail me out of a situation I could not escape myself.
Fantastic. I've storm chased since 1996 and never had to been towed, in fact since I started driving I hadn't been towed. But then one day a month ago I ventured out and the first time ever, I had to be towed. Up until that point, I was you; I never had a need to be towed, yet on that day a month ago, there I was being towed. There's no guarantee that going forward you'll never need to be towed, to think that is plain arrogance and you trying to justify chasing during this pandemic.
 
Mar 2, 2004
2,308
398
11
Wichita, KS
www.facebook.com
I have been sitting on this for a couple days, and I will make this longer than most will care to read, and will probably bow out of this conversation after I express some thoughts here. I am in no way endorsing any action against this community. I may say that a time or two as well. Everyone in this forum, and everyone OUT of this forum, can do whatever they feel they want to do. Where I am trying to hit the brain at is just trying to open your eyes. So many of you have blinders on right now, and you don't realize it only takes that ONE set of circumstances, which whether any of you want to admit it or not, is very much within the realm of possibility in what we do out there. It goes beyond wearing gloves at gas stations, it goes beyond social distancing when you're on the road. It goes beyond sleeping in your car or pooping in a bush on the side of the road (BTW, do NOT flaunt the toilet paper). There will be chasers and spotters and people on just about every storm everywhere. Are you essential for that storm? Are you necessary?

Lets get this out of the way now, I chase as an employee for a station. I have all the credentials I need to do my job. I get a paycheck to be out in the weather. It's my job, it is my livelihood. So yes, before you all go nuts on me saying "but you're chasing", yes, I am. But with great limitations. I will not be out every chance that presents itself. I am going to heavily weigh that setup at hand and the impact it may have and I alone have that final call to decide whether I go out. I won't be taking joyrides across the state for low-impact events. I certainly won't be going out of my DMA if it is not part of my job (which I am very grateful to still have one right now). Those weekend chase trips out of state, not this year. Not during this. That's not essential to my livelihood. My sanity, my pleasure, yes, absolutely. But there is (hopefully) next year for that. I have not chased yet this year. Period, even here locally. That will change at some point, but in a typical year, I would already have mileage under my belt. I cannot recall a season that I did not have a chase before April... I've already sat out a blizzard and a couple of low-end severe weather setups in western Kansas. All of which, in a normal year, I would've chased. I will get out, it's going to happen. But I am cutting back as far as I can. And that's what I am asking YOU to do. I am NOT telling you to NOT get out and look at weather. I am asking you to think about what is really necessary for you. And pleasure, fun, doesn't count. We're all losing out on that right now.

The more miles your drive, the more you subject yourself to things you cannot plan for. What if you hit a deer on a rural road? What if another person hits a deer? What if it's another chaser? One you may know? What happens when you are faced with an auto accident? I bet Corbin was only hit once in his life like that. All these inherent risks we take in chasing, we all know them. We're not dumb to the idea that these things can happen (or at least we weren't before all this). But they are multiplied in earnest right now. And they can, and will happen. No amount of sanitizer and hand washing and gloves can protect you or others in those moments you cannot plan for. Every extra mile you drive adds to that risk. That thing you said would never happen to you, can you think of a worse time for that one time for it to happen to you? Every extra mile you drive is another opportunity for that to sneak up on you. You drive 100 miles round trip verses you driving 800 miles round trip. You are mathematically more likely to have any number of things happen because your time in that exposure is that much longer.

So let me ask you, what happens on one of these moderate to high risk days, the setups that will likely draw the most attention, and bring most people into the field. Fortunately this last event in Illinois didn't pan out the way it could've, but what happens, say you get a bonified tornado outbreak, and suddenly those 15, 20, 30, however many chasers are all filming this tornado ripping through a town? Then what? What happens then?

So many of you say the it is riskier to go to your local store... and you're right, it absolutely is. And my guess is that most of you hitting the road probably stopped by up your local store to stock up on all those items for your chasing so you could avoid getting food on the road, right? I mean, you had to get that food somehow? All that food and stuff you said you were going to pack. I assume you're doing that within a day or two of your trip. I mean, did you have that stuff at home already, or did you make an extra trip to load up? So you take that bigger risk to do that shopping, then perhaps you asymptomatically go out on this moderate risk day, and you that storm you're chasing makes an impact on a rural population center. Most have already said it themselves, but you probably subjected yourself to a bigger risk of exposure on that shopping trip you took to that semi-crowded store to stock up on supplies. So yeah, no biggie, right? Sure, you on your own, probably a low risk. But multiply that by the 20, or 30, or more chasers that went to their local stores to stock up on that food (some of them coming from very large cities, maybe even hotspots that we haven't seen explode yet), and suddenly you all converge in this area. It's not just about you... lets say that one in, just call it 100,000 suddenly turns into 10 in 100,000, or 1 in 10,000... maybe there's 20, 30 and then you're getting into the 1-in-3000 range... I mean, people will already be out there, right? The odds are already beyond you as a single 1. And again, it is not just YOU that went out anyway. It's the 20, 30, 40 other people that went out too!

What are you gonna do? Are you going to turn your back and leave? Literally wash your hands of the situation? Did you see your tornado, but now you don't want to risk COVID, so you're off to go sell that video? Are you even thinking about it in that moment? Are you, the casual or typical, non-EMT chaser, going to have the mindset to even acknowledge it, or are you going to rush in and start helping people? You gonna wipe down everything you touch in that disaster scene? Again, remember, you likely subjected yourself to a much higher risk days earlier or even hours earlier to stock up on all those supplies to make your lengthy trip. You definitely won't know you're carrying anything. Hell, do you know if THEY are carrying anything? What about the EMTs, emergency crews, all those people that will be rushing in to help? You think you can keep that 6 foot distance from them? I promise you, they're at a MUCH higher risk of carrying it than you are. But there you are, face-to-face in the damage path. Again, who has the level-headedness to start taking those preventative steps in the midst of a disaster.

I do not endorse any formal actions against this community, not in any way imaginable. We all know our views on this and we all are going to act upon those views in whatever manner we see fit. And while I do not agree with the mentality or reasoning shown here by many, I respect your decisions as adults to do what is best for the interest of the situation at hand. I am simply wanting to plant a seed in your head to think about, and hopefully you take this, digest it, and act upon it somehow. I am not trying to fan any flames, I am not trying to justify my own reasoning, I am not setting limits to what is acceptable verses what is not. Every person here is capable of determining their own level of risk. What I am asking you to do is think about it. Many of you on here are hand-waving at what is presented, and many of you think you're magically going to have ZERO effect on this situation. That's wrong. We all are. And you need to realize this and understand that risk you take every time you go out, not just chasing, but in doing whatever you're doing. We, as a country, are being asked to limit our exposure out there. And while you, a solo person in one car, may not have any effect, multiply that out by many single people in many single cars in any given situation that is highly likely to occur in a remote part of this country that you're so far from home at, and suddenly Walmart looks a whole lot safer. You seeing a tornado is NOT the same as you getting food at your grocery store. You need to eat. You do not "need" to see a tornado. Perhaps you do need the paycheck, perhaps it IS a job for you, or perhaps you are part of the county-level emergency team. Whatever... but again, YOU know that.

Please people, be smart... I've said it here before, and I will say it again before I put my views to rest as I've already thought way to much on this. If you do not have to be out, if you do not have to be roaming the country for bad weather, don't. This will pass, and we'll all get back out there in hoards before you know it. And be thankful cause you can cram a bunch of people in ONE car. Imagine that traffic jam come late April when there is one car per one chaser ;)

Stay healthy everyone, that's the goal. This virus, this pandemic, will eventually settle down. We will get our lives back. Storms, tornadoes, they're always gonna be there. Be blessed, because a lot of people are losing out on events in their life that will NEVER have the chance to do again. All of us, we will have that chance again. We are lucky, and we oughta take a moment to appreciate that and do our part to help those who don't have a choice in the matter right now.

Stay healthy, safe, and sane... and most of all, stay the hell away from each other!
 

Jeff Duda

Resident meteorological expert
Staff member
Oct 7, 2008
3,252
1,948
21
Broomfield, CO
www.meteor.iastate.edu
You get COVID-19, go into the hospital and ask the doctor if you will survive while struggling to breath, the doctor will probably just say "I don't know". Right now, your best chances of not being infected is by staying at home, washing your hands and distancing yourself from others. You don't go out and give it to anyone - you stay at home and you don't get it from anyone. Common sense, no?
Except that's not true, from the now-oft-quoted statistic that about 80% of people who get infected will not need to go to a hospital (which, btw, is well into the category of "majority"). And not everyone is going to be infected, even among those who go out into public frequently and interact with others. So...yeah...blanket statements are not helpful for some.

Joey Ketcham said:
Fantastic. I've storm chased since 1996 and never had to been towed, in fact since I started driving I hadn't been towed. But then one day a month ago I ventured out and the first time ever, I had to be towed. Up until that point, I was you; I never had a need to be towed, yet on that day a month ago, there I was being towed. There's no guarantee that going forward you'll never need to be towed, to think that is plain arrogance and you trying to justify chasing during this pandemic.
I'm sorry to hear that happened to you. But the actual odds of that happening were likely pretty low (I can only guess how low since you gave insufficient information...for all I know your car badly needed maintenance that you did not perform and it broke down as a result...or perhaps it was a one-in-a-million shot that a bolt vibrated enough to shake loose from something and allowed a cascade of events that led to the breaking down of your car and you needing a tow). The point is, there is some non-zero level of risk in pretty much any activity any human being can participate in. I'm arguing the nuance is coming in at comparing those risk levels among certain activities. And again, making blanket statements basically covers over any discussion of differences in risk levels, which I argue against.
 
  • Like
Reactions: James Hilger
May 18, 2004
285
85
11
48
Centennial, CO
stormdoctor.com
Can you link to press releases or papers that discuss this? I looked up this issue a weekend or two ago and could only find anecdotal cases. And in those cases, there were always lots of uncertainties associated with false negatives in intermediate tests (i.e., after the person had stopped showing symptoms) where someone still had the virus in their system but the test did not detect it. I have not since heard of any cases of true re-infection, and pretty much every talking head I've seen on TV (which includes plenty of medical personnel) have seemed to arrive on a consensus that you have at least several weeks to several months of immunity following infection and recovery. If, however, you really can get re-infected right away, then there isn't much point for us to be discussing storm chasing anymore because we're all pretty much dead except for the lucky 5-20% (total guess on what that fraction actually is) of people whose immune systems are robust to repeated infections of this coronavirus. We will each keep getting re-infected until our immune systems can't handle it anymore, and then we're looking at a significant world population loss (guessing ~50+%).

I know you're a medical doctor and know more about this than pretty much anyone else on this forum, so I wish to respect your advice. But honestly, a lot of it sounded like blanket statements that are starting to sound tired to me. This community contains plenty of smart enough people to be able to make finer scale decisions than just, "don't ever go out...period." We don't need to be treated like the common public that is full of ignoramuses (willing or not). I'm not saying you are treating us like that, but I have to believe an expert like you can offer more nuanced and smaller scale advice for a very specific purpose such as driving your car in rural areas to see atmospheric phenomena than just, "DON'T DO IT!" People aren't as likely to heed ultimate and umbrella statements of advice like that in a time like this. They are more likely to respond to personalized advice, however.

By the way, I've been chasing for 12 years (including out-of-state chases and chases on unpaved roads) and have yet to have a need to be towed out of a ditch or off a mud road or needed to have someone else come bail me out of a situation I could not escape myself. So don't lump me in with others who have been unfortunate to befall such incidents. Not every one of us are reckless yahoos flying down dirt roads at 80 mph with blinding rain 200 yards away from tornadoes with our eyes off the road. Some of us actually know what we're doing and are very judicious about our road choices and are still successful at chasing. That comment of yours really rubbed me the wrong way, because again, it sounded kind of like a blanket statement.
Hey Jeff--I'm sorry these blanket statements seem tiresome. If the US could perform mandatory quarantine, that would truly be the ideal tbqh. If we did that we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now. The only way to defeat a pandemic is STRICT quarantine. The Chinese had several advantages in that they are an authoritarian government. I know some of their data are falsified, but the reality is that mandatory quarantine is the single best way to stop a pandemic virus. If we could do that for a month and a half, the virus would fade out as the last infections faded. Just imagine for a sec if we had immediately quarantined every single foreign traveler coming into the US back in January? That would have been fabulous.

But we're Americans, and so we abhor any crackdown on our individual rights. So here we are. You wanted personal advice: I've given it. You're not special nor are any of us. The idea that you are alone out there chasing storms isn't reality. I would favor mandated quarantines. That is the only thing that works well. This isn't a blanket statement, it is fact. The infographic I posted above shows exactly why that is the case.

In a population study two weeks ago out of Iceland they found the background community infection rate was around 1% but of those positive only 50% had symptoms of COVID (asymptomatic shedding). Most impressively 5% of the population was studied there--that would be a shocking amount of tests here. Given marked differences in culture here and differences in population, it's not clear that we can draw too much hope just yet about their low infection rate. That said, the 50% asymptomatic shedding is stunning.

Having spent time watching a ton of my patients crash and burn I just can't emphasize how much even one additional infection affects the system. I don't know what makes you think you're different? The blanket statement of stay home applies to you too.

I also take issue again with the statement that I was referring to Yahoos driving poorly. Guess what? I'm not a Yahoo either, but things happen. What if one of those Yahoos wreck into you? You're in the exact position I'm talking about. I don't care if you know whether you're a fabulous driver or not, there's a lot of room for things to go wrong.

The cases of reinfection may be related variations of the concentration of the virus in the nasopharyngeal tract. These areas are hotbeds of viral loads through about day 10 when they drop off as a spot of viral infection. They are then easier to find in the lungs via tracheal or deep suction aspirate samples.
 
May 18, 2004
285
85
11
48
Centennial, CO
stormdoctor.com
Except that's not true, from the now-oft-quoted statistic that about 80% of people who get infected will not need to go to a hospital (which, btw, is well into the category of "majority"). And not everyone is going to be infected, even among those who go out into public frequently and interact with others. So...yeah...blanket statements are not helpful for some.
Except for any one person there is NO WAY to figure out whether that person will be an 80%'er or someone who will require hospitalization. Maybe I look at odds quite a bit differently, but a 20% chance of having an adverse or potentially fatal illness seem horrible. And if I am one of those asymptomatic people who spread it to others who die from my actions...man, I don't want any of that on my conscience. You're a scientist, for God's sake Jeff, you're looking at the same data I am and blowing it off?
 
Jan 14, 2011
2,941
2,744
21
St. Louis
stormhighway.com
I'm making a simple reasonable request for anyone who: screencapped my post here, cropped out the context and posted it on Facebook, then accused me of hypocritically violating the travel orders by going out inside the STL metro (when the rules explicity allow for that).

If that isn't retracted or clarified, I will be forced to release a public video (non-monetized, no videos like this will be monitized) correcting it if it continues. In that video I will explain the situation fully as I have here, which will have the effect of my previous plan to bring attention to the original concern and increase the chances the LEO, EMs and others will see it.

I forfeited tornadoes in my home state that I could have easily seen because I didn't want to *travel* (that is, go outside of my home area) - the least you could do is include that part as well as the fact that I haven't left the STL metro in 3 weeks. I accept that you can disagree with me, but at least be intellectually honest while doing it.

Non-emergency services workers who are public sector state, county or municipal employees, in some cases, have been told that the governor is the chief executive officer of the state and that willful and deliberate defiance of a stay-at-home order will be treated as a dereliction of one's professional ethics, i.e., an immoral and unprofessional conduct breach, even when done on one's own personal time and when the travel is or was not job related, and will be met with disciplinary action as appropriate (assuming your superordinate or HR finds out about said excursions). Even if you have a good union there may be little they can do other than guarantee you a modicum of due process in how your discipline is meted out.
I mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating. While most inside of the storm chasing community are raking me over the coals for freaking out about this/wanting to report violators to maintain the community integrity, virtually NO ONE *outside* of our community is. They are all appalled at the fact that so many intend to outright violate or skirt the orders. I know my experiences are anectdotal, but Jesse's post above is a good illustration how most everyone else in the country feels about it.
 
Last edited:

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
2,152
548
11
39
Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
Hey Jeff--I'm sorry these blanket statements seem tiresome. If the US could perform mandatory quarantine, that would truly be the ideal tbqh. If we did that we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now. The only way to defeat a pandemic is STRICT quarantine. The Chinese had several advantages in that they are an authoritarian government. I know some of their data are falsified, but the reality is that mandatory quarantine is the single best way to stop a pandemic virus. If we could do that for a month and a half, the virus would fade out as the last infections faded. Just imagine for a sec if we had immediately quarantined every single foreign traveler coming into the US back in January? That would have been fabulous.

But we're Americans, and so we abhor any crackdown on our individual rights. So here we are. You wanted personal advice: I've given it. You're not special nor are any of us. The idea that you are alone out there chasing storms isn't reality. I would favor mandated quarantines. That is the only thing that works well. This isn't a blanket statement, it is fact. The infographic I posted above shows exactly why that is the case.
Absolutely anyone exposed or presumed positive or possessing other risk factors has to quarantine for at least 14-days for sure. It's worth noting though that South Korea has thus far managed the situation very well sans any forced national or regional lockdowns.

South Korea monitors anyone entering the country from their moment of entry over the course of the subsequent 14 days. In the last month or so every inbound traveler from Europe and all remotely symptomatic persons from the U.S. are required to be tested upon arrival and, as of yesterday, almost everyone entering Korea is being required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Obviously they have been one of the most aggressive countries with testing, having done almost half a million tests (most sources online are quoting over 400,000 to date), and they tested anyone with close contact and dispatched teams of agents to track down possible patients. Their government vets the whereabouts of confirmed cases based on their credit card use history, CCTV, as well as mobile phone location and discloses them publicly to prevent additional infections, though without (supposedly) exposing personally identifiable information (probably privacy concerns even with this that may not be allowed here). Even the travel histories of confirmed patients were made public. Granted, we've largely failed to aggressively combat and deal with the prevention and detection phases, so the horse is now out of the barn.

I have an account, so not sure whether or not non-users see a paywall on this one: South Korea keeps covid-19 at bay without a total lockdown
 
Oct 10, 2004
1,129
189
11
34
Madison, WI
You guys do realize the irony and challenge of trying convince people who prefer to be in the general vicinity of tornadoes (which are dangerous in the first place, at least in the eyes of the public) about taking an abundance of caution and avoiding something because of the risk right?
Right, but when you go see a tornado are you unknowingly spreading the tornado's destruction and potential death to who knows how many people for several weeks?

Tornadoes at least you can see coming (or if they're rain wrapped, and it's dark; you have multiple sirens, wx radios, phone alerts, and broadcast stations all warning you it's coming) and take immediate action to protect yourself. That's a lot harder to do for a microscopic pathogen that could be anywhere, anytime.

I would also like to thank Dr. @Jason Persoff for taking the time to give us his detailed front-line take, and for the heroic efforts he and all the doctors and nurses around the country are making to save lives despite the risk to their own health.
 
Right, but when you go see a tornado are you unknowingly spreading the tornado's destruction and potential death to who knows how many people for several weeks?

Tornadoes at least you can see coming (or if they're rain wrapped, and it's dark; you have multiple sirens, wx radios, phone alerts, and broadcast stations all warning you it's coming) and take immediate action to protect yourself. That's a lot harder to do for a microscopic pathogen that could be anywhere, anytime.
No I totally get it, it was more of a comment about how we are naturally wired to weigh the risk vs the possible outcomes.

I'm one of those who have been out, did the overnight in the truck and took preventative measures like taking my own food, avoiding stores as best as possible, taking back highways (low traffic areas) and using protection at gas pumps. But, if you don't think that being exposed isn't at the forefront of my mind at each stop you are crazy. You minimize the risk as best as possible, but is it worth it in the end? I don't know. I know it's pretty inconvenient and the PITA factor alone makes you reconsider somewhat.

I'm one of those who wish the President would just lock everything down because a) it would get this over with quicker b) it takes any questions of being out off the table, and although I would feel bad about missing events it wouldn't be due to my own choice.

But, as others have said there is a choice and most states aren't restricting movement as long as you are practicing social distance, so I will evaluate each setup and make an informed decision on how to best proceed.

You certainly won't be finding me chasing in any populated areas anytime soon though lol.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Andy Wehrle