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

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Jan 14, 2011
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In reference to March 28th, while out there I never saw large groupings of chasers, most were from only one or two states away, and the chasers I met were being very cautious and keeping a good distance between. It wasnt a sh*t show by any means.
My point there isn't really the chaser behavior, just that by chasing in the state at all means breaking the non-essential travel ban.
 

Jesse Risley

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Apr 12, 2006
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OK, fair point, but it's been rare for me to only be in Kansas for one day on a chase trip, much less being in and out in one day. Wouldn't even a single night's stay be categorizable as being a temporary visitor?
Yes, if you stayed temporarily, at least one night in the state, I think they can legally enforce the quarantine against you. Anything short of that looks to be protected as "interstate travel" because they virtually have to absolutely protect that that right unless the feds are going to get involve and try to play their hand at restricting travel across state lines.
 
Jan 14, 2011
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For reference, here is the relevant clause in Wyoming's new order:

WHEREAS, it is essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the State of
Wyoming during the ongoing public health emergency that all travelers, including Wyoming
residents, arriving in Wyoming from another state or country for a non-work-related purpose
immediately self-quarantine for 14 days or for the duration of the individual's presence in
Wyoming, whichever is shorter.
Full PDF:
 

Paul Bird

EF0
Aug 24, 2016
26
26
1
Xenia Oh
My point there isn't really the chaser behavior, just that by chasing in the state at all means breaking the non-essential travel ban.
I understand. And i made sure to verify with law enforcement in IL; essentially they told me what we were doing there was fine. As long as we isolated and never formed any large unnecessary groups. Not all LEOs might feel that way; I feel as though they are looking out for just that. Unnecessary gatherings.

Reading the order for Illinois, outdoor recreation is permitted. It is not my intention to cause any harm, outside of my job, I leave home for nothing. Not meeting with friends anymore, isolated as I can possibly be. By mid May we could very well be seeing some of these orders lifted, as the downward trend of cases will likely be on the slow decline at that time.

Chasing will be the least of anyones worries should orders remain much past early May. Life has to continue at some point.
 
May 31, 2019
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Sudbury, Massachusetts
I agree @Jesse Risley, they should be urged (not forced) not only by the government but also by their parishioners to adjust to minimize the risk. Do sermons online, limit the number for any service to comply with social distancing guidelines, do more services to accommodate more people but in smaller numbers per service. I think it’s unwise and irresponsible to hold services in large numbers but I defend their right to do it and would be appalled if a swarm of officers descended upon a church and busted everyone for violating orders…but I doubt in reality anything like that will ever happen. If it did then that would be one HUGE case in front of the Supreme Court!
Michael, speaking as someone who is an employee of a church (an organist/choir director, to be precise), my line of work requires me to be familiar with church/state issues. I'm going to try as best I can to address your post without threadjacking or running afoul of the forum rules regarding political and religious discussion, bearing in mind that people of many different religious persuasions are members of this forum, as well as people who are not religious at all.

There is NO constitutionally-guaranteed freedom that is absolute. The oft-used analogy "your right to swing your fist ends when it hits my face" applies here. You may do as you wish provided you do not infringe upon the life and liberty of another, and this applies to freedom of religion no more and no less than any other liberty guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

The Mormons had to stop practicing polygamy as a condition of Utah being admitted to the Union. Snake handling is illegal in many, though not all states. There are sharp limits to the right to physically discipline one's children, and a claim of sincerely held religious belief will not stop a state's child protective services from removing a child who has been beaten within an inch of his/her life from a home. Many Catholic priests who have molested children truly believed God approved of what they were doing. For decades the Catholic Church as an institution has claimed the right to deal with abusive priests internally and tried to exempt itself from civil law, to no avail.

More recently and relevant to the matter at hand, several state attorneys general have taken action against the Rev. Jim Bakker to force him to stop selling a fake cure for the coronavirus.

Most houses of worship around the country (Catholic, mainline Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, etc.) suspended in-person gatherings without a moment's hesitation when the stay-at-home orders were issued. My own congregation has a number of city government employees as well as medical professionals (both practicing doctors and nurses and college professors) among its members, and they advised our leadership to close our doors when it was clear that the pandemic was immanent. We did so on our own initiative two full days before my state (Massachusetts) mandated that we do so.

I know of several situations when one can legitimately seek a religious exemption to civil law, such as conscientious objection to compulsory military service during wartime. It's legitimate because it causes no harm to another save in the unlikely event that one's service would make the difference whether or not the nation wins the war. Even when the exemption is granted, one is not entirely off the hook; one still has to perform some sort of alternate service such as serving in a military hospital.

It would be great if we lived in a world where everyone did the right thing without coercion, but we don't. You can make a compelling argument that church members have the right to gather in large numbers and get each other sick if they want, but not that they have the right to subsequently disperse among the populace at large and sicken those who do not share their beliefs. If they insist on doing so, it is not only legally but morally justifiable for law enforcement to take action.

There are plenty of ways people can practice their chosen religion outside of the confines of churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, etc. I myself am availing myself of many of them. Houses of worship may be mostly empty now, but if we completely empty them there will be more people alive to fill them again in a few months when the pandemic subsides.
 

Lori Ferguson

Enthusiast
Aug 6, 2017
2
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Plantation, FL
Yes, if you stayed temporarily, at least one night in the state, I think they can legally enforce the quarantine against you. Anything short of that looks to be protected as "interstate travel" because they virtually have to absolutely protect that that right unless the feds are going to get involve and try to play their hand at restricting travel across state lines.
The order doesn't say anything about staying temporarily, nor does it define temporarily. It says "... all travelers including Wyoming residents, arriving in Wyoming from another state or country for non-work-related purpose immediately self-quarantine for 14 days...". Someone used the argument that Section 6 of order would support the argument for chasers being excluded from any quarantine because chasers would be only traveling in Wyoming to chase a storm and would leave and not stay in Wyoming overnight. However, if you read Section 6 it states, "These quarantine restrictions do not apply to individuals traveling through Wyoming EN ROUTE TO ANOTHER DESTINATION ..." (caps are mine). If a chaser is chasing a storm in Wyoming, their destination IS Wyoming as that is where the storm is located. I think the meaning behind Section 6 was to exclude interstate travelers who are literally passing through Wyoming on their way to a destination outside of the state. And look, I'm extremely depressed that I won't be able to chase in the Plains this year because I live in Florida and I doubt many hotels are available and most restaurants are closed. I've been going to the Plains each spring since 2009, so this is killing me. I'm glad most of you live in the Plains and you'll get to enjoy some awesome backyard chases. But don't put yourself in a state with wording in their orders that rather clearly state if you come here and we see your out-of-state plate we will stop you and most likely force you to quarantine or make you leave immediately. It's not worth the hassle.
 
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Jun 28, 2007
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Churches can conduct services via Internet and, in many cases, TV. So I see no issue with keeping large numbers of people from congregating in one place. A lot of people have already gotten sick and some died as a result of religious services going on even when it was clear that gathering more than a few people together in one place was a very dangerous thing to do. And I would add that such wanton disregard for life is contrary to the principles of most religions. As to guns and ammo, the LAST thing we need with everything else that is going on, including overwhelmed law enforcement, is people stocking up on ammo and arming themselves to the hilt. Nobody is coming to take your guns away.
Regarding churches I agree and I'm sure many have adapted like you described but for those that don't I'm against it being criminalized, be it either due to a wanton disregard or simply out of ignorance. As for the guns I never said anyone was coming for them, I was strictly referring to access...and think this has strayed way too far off topic already so I'll defer so as to not get into a gun control debate!

There is NO constitutionally-guaranteed freedom that is absolute. The oft-used analogy "your right to swing your fist ends when it hits my face" applies here. You may do as you wish provided you do not infringe upon the life and liberty of another, and this applies to freedom of religion no more and no less than any other liberty guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
I agree that there are legal limits to which religions are not exempt. My argument is simply there should be no law or order restricting the gathering of people to practice their religion, virus or not.

Sorry to bring this off thread!
 

Jesse Risley

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Apr 12, 2006
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The order doesn't say anything about staying temporarily, nor does it define temporarily. It says "... all travelers including Wyoming residents, arriving in Wyoming from another state or country for non-work-related purpose immediately self-quarantine for 14 days...". Someone used the argument that Section 6 of order would support the argument for chasers being excluded from any quarantine because chasers would be only traveling in Wyoming to chase a storm and would leave and not stay in Wyoming overnight. However, if you read Section 6 it states, "These quarantine restrictions do not apply to individuals traveling through Wyoming EN ROUTE TO ANOTHER DESTINATION ..." (caps are mine). If a chaser is chasing a storm in Wyoming, their destination IS Wyoming as that is where the storm is located. I think the meaning behind Section 6 was to exclude interstate travelers who are literally passing through Wyoming on their way to a destination outside of the state. And look, I'm extremely depressed that I won't be able to chase in the Plains this year because I live in Florida and I doubt many hotels are available and most restaurants are closed. I've been going to the Plains each spring since 2009, so this is killing me. I'm glad most of you live in the Plains and you'll get to enjoy some awesome backyard chases. But don't put yourself in a state with wording in their orders that rather clearly state if you come here and we see your out-of-state plate we will stop you and most likely force you to quarantine or make you leave immediately. It's not worth the hassle.
They can't just randomly stop individual drivers with out of state plates, that's already been discussed.

Traveling through Wyoming en route to another destination would put you in the state "temporarily," even if that verbiage is not explicitly used. You're in the state using the highway(s), but you're not a resident and you are not staying overnight, nor are you a permanent resident.

If your interpretation is correct then why are they not also ordering quarantined all people traveling through and stopping in Wyoming for the day, as I described above, who then end up in Colorado, Nebraska, or Montana as their stop for the night? They are not doing that although those people are basically doing the same thing as someone who spent the whole day following a storm around the state.
 

Lori Ferguson

Enthusiast
Aug 6, 2017
2
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1
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They can't just randomly stop people with out of state plates and force them to quarantine, that's already been discussed.

Traveling through Wyoming en route to another destination would put you in the state "temporarily," even if that verbiage is not explicitly used. You're in the state using the highway(s), but you're not a resident and you are not staying overnight, nor are you a permanent resident.

If your interpretation is correct then why are they not also ordering quarantined all people traveling through and stopping in Wyoming for the day, as I described above, who then end up in Colorado, Nebraska, or Montana as their stop for the night? They are not doing that although those people are basically doing the same thing as someone who spent the whole day following a storm around the state.
Sorry Jesse, but you are adding words to that order that aren't there. And yes, they can stop you with out-of-state plates. Florida is doing that right now at their state borders. My main point is that it's not worth it to challenge a state with an order whose wording is clear. Not sure where you live, but I hope Mother Nature blesses you with some amazing local chases. Cheers and stay safe.
 
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As pertains the the Wyoming order specifically, it says "for 14 days, or for the duration of the individuals presence in Wyoming, whichever is shorter." That seems pretty clear in wording.

Not that I'd ever have occasion to test it. I don't get enough time off work under normal circumstances to ever chase that far from home; I'm happy ANY time I get time off work right now. Nor do I have a desire at this point to drive that much when I do so for my job 60-70 hours a week right now.
 

Paul Bird

EF0
Aug 24, 2016
26
26
1
Xenia Oh
Sorry Jesse, but you are adding words to that order that aren't there. And yes, they can stop you with out-of-state plates. Florida is doing that right now at their state borders. My main point is that it's not worth it to challenge a state with an order whose wording is clear. Not sure where you live, but I hope Mother Nature blesses you with some amazing local chases. Cheers and stay safe.
Florida and New York might do that, because they're major population centers. Ive see many out of state drivers all week and not a single stopped car anywhere in sight. And we have those same orders here in Ohio. Im afraid you're misinformed.
 
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This is not part of the official order, but the Colorado governor made it clear today that he wants people to do outdoor activities close to home. He said that does not include getting in your car and driving 40 miles to do outdoor activities. Will you get stopped and arrested if you do? Almost certainly not. Does doing so violate the spirit of the stay-at-home order? Per the governor, pretty clearly yes. As always, your state, if it is not Colorado, may vary.
 
This is not part of the official order, but the Colorado governor made it clear today that he wants people to do outdoor activities close to home. He said that does not include getting in your car and driving 40 miles to do outdoor activities. Will you get stopped and arrested if you do? Almost certainly not. Does doing so violate the spirit of the stay-at-home order? Per the governor, pretty clearly yes. As always, your state, if it is not Colorado, may vary.
I cannot speak for Colorado as I don't live there and am not familiar with the specifics there. But here, activities such as fishing are allowed. Where I live within the OKC area, it's a 30 minute drive to the nearest place I can legally fish. Do I forego that because I don't happen to live 5 minutes from Lake Stanley Draper or Overholsen?

I'm a truck driver. I'm seldomly home right now as it is, I get gas for my personal vehicle once every other week because I'm never home, and that's with me never letting the tank get under half. On the rare occasions that I am home, I either go to the grocery store (you'd be amazed at how difficult it can be for a truck driver to resupply on the road), or I go fish, or go to an outdoor range, all alone. I haven't seen a single friend of family member in a month now. Other than shippers/receivers (always behind glass panels), and the occasional grocery store clerk (I use self checkout), I've had no human interaction in that time. For that matter, I've forgone needed repairs on my backup vehicle because I've been avoiding going to the parts store for a fuel pump.

I doubt I'll leave even the metro on a chase (if I'm even home for anything), and certainly won't make it out of state. I get what you're trying to say, but at some point, some common sense should be applied. Now that Dan has clarified what he's referring to, I at least understand his view, even if I don't agree with his proposed actions.
 

Lou Ruh

EF2
May 17, 2007
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SE PA
Florida and New York might do that, because they're major population centers. Ive see many out of state drivers all week and not a single stopped car anywhere in sight. And we have those same orders here in Ohio. Im afraid you're misinformed.
Well ... Delaware (not exactly a major population state) has taken a slightly different approach. They set up a roadblock at a liquor store near the state line. PA state liquor stores are closed (they recently opened their online sore but the demand overloaded it). They were talking to anyone with an out of state plate. The disappointing thing was that the officers were wearing NO biohazard PPE. Made me wonder if their goal was truly to limit the spread ... could very well have been doing the opposite.
 

Mark Blue

Owner
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Feb 19, 2007
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If you go back several pages it became obvious earlier this week that Dan backtracked on the reporting chasers claim and has taken a stance to reason with people much the same as @Jason Persoff MD did. We as a forum couldn’t be more blessed than to have a hospitalist - who worked at the Mayo Clinic at one time no less - on our forum sharing his personal experiences and professional advice for flattening the COVID-19 curve and not catching the virus by staying home just as every expert has recommended. Dan has contributed positively to ST for years and has always been reasonable and easy going. Let’s cut him some slack because this pandemic has apparently shook him to the core, so much so that he went bonkers for a short while but eventually regrouped and sounds more like the person we know. Everyone has a breaking point, so rather than stirring the pot a little more let’s just consider it water under the bridge and move on. We need to come together as a community - despite our differing opinions - and show care and concern for each other during a once in a lifetime pandemic. Before it’s all said and done we could lose a few members to this viscous virus and that’s the last thing we need.

Footnote:
This thread has really run its course and is on the brink to being closed. It basically has one foot in the lock and the other on a banana peel. With that thought in mind I’ll close and wish everyone a good weekend.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
Yes, if you stayed temporarily, at least one night in the state, I think they can legally enforce the quarantine against you. Anything short of that looks to be protected as "interstate travel" because they virtually have to absolutely protect that that right unless the feds are going to get involve and try to play their hand at restricting travel across state lines.
Just curious, but what does that mean as a practical matter? Would you be required to quarantine yourself just because you stayed one night, OR if you wanted to go home back to another state the next day wouldn’t that be permissible (poor even welcomed, just to get you the hell out of Wyoming)?

EDIT: never mind, after posting this I read Dan‘s post where he put the actual text saying the quarantine is the shorter of 14 days OR the stay in Wyoming. So it seems as though you would most certainly be allowed back out. In fact, this language seems to make it perfectly OK to stay overnight, because you would effectively be quarantining yourself for that period - although you then couldn’t go to a restaurant or even fill up for gas the next morning.
 
If you go back several pages it became obvious earlier this week that Dan backtracked on the reporting chasers claim and has taken a stance to reason with people much the same as @Jason Persoff MD did. We as a forum couldn’t be more blessed than to have a hospitalist - who worked at the Mayo Clinic at one time no less - on our forum sharing his personal experiences and professional advice for flattening the COVID-19 curve and not catching the virus by staying home just as every expert has recommended. Dan has contributed positively to ST for years and has always been reasonable and easy going. Let’s cut him some slack because this pandemic has apparently shook him to the core, so much so that he went bonkers for a short while but eventually regrouped and sounds more like the person we know. Everyone has a breaking point, so rather than stirring the pot a little more let’s just consider it water under the bridge and move on. We need to come together as a community - despite our differing opinions - and show care and concern for each other during a once in a lifetime pandemic. Before it’s all said and done we could lose a few members to this viscous virus and that’s the last thing we need.

Footnote:
This thread has really run its course and is on the brink to being closed that it has one foot in the lock and the other on a banana peel. With that thought in mind I’ll close and wish everyone a good weekend.
I think this thread is VERY important and hopefully it will not be closed. This is one of the most important topics we have ever had in the history of storm chasing. I think we can all appreciate the level of stress people are going through right now, from both medical concerns and financial issues. I have to repeat myself, but this is a key point: The issues of chasers breaking "do not travel" or "stay in place" orders will be individually policed on their social media sites. I don't know if there is a way to prevent specific people from posting if they go over the line, or simply removing posts, but hopefully this thread will remain open. Thanks!
 

J.W. King

Enthusiast
Feb 7, 2020
4
2
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Little Rock Arkansas
RI modified its order after both the ACLU and the state of NY (Cuomo) threatened to sue them. It's an interstate commerce and interstate travel (liberty) issue. As of right now they are only stopping passenger vehicles and applying the quarantine mandate IF the driver is intending to stay in RI for any period of time. The ACLU was also maintaining that it still violates the Fourth Amendment to arbitrarily stop random passenger vehicles simply for having New York plates, but checkpoints stopping all non-commercial vehicles seem to be legal (or happening) for now.
Rhode Island ends specific restrictions on New Yorkers — by making them national
I got the same info from my contacts in CT. Again, thanks for the info. Let's see what happens in The Alley.
I think this thread is VERY important and hopefully it will not be closed. This is one of the most important topics we have ever had in the history of storm chasing. I think we can all appreciate the level of stress people are going through right now, from both medical concerns and financial issues. I have to repeat myself, but this is a key point: The issues of chasers breaking "do not travel" or "stay in place" orders will be individually policed on their social media sites. I don't know if there is a way to prevent specific people from posting if they go over the line, or simply removing posts, but hopefully this thread will remain open. Thanks!
I think this thread is VERY important and hopefully it will not be closed. This is one of the most important topics we have ever had in the history of storm chasing. I think we can all appreciate the level of stress people are going through right now, from both medical concerns and financial issues. I have to repeat myself, but this is a key point: The issues of chasers breaking "do not travel" or "stay in place" orders will be individually policed on their social media sites. I don't know if there is a way to prevent specific people from posting if they go over the line, or simply removing posts, but hopefully this thread will remain open. Thanks!
One thing doesn't seem to mentioned here; the reactionary responses of Joe Public when he sees a chaser filming in his home state of (add an Alley state here) and that chaser has (as I do) Connecticut or (Heaven Forbid!) New York plates. Or Indiana, Illinois or Hawaii. Thrown insults, bottles, and fists might just result from people, who, lets admit, are generally reactionary clotpolls. Okay, SOME are. Let's not discount them. The public, especially those who don't realize that this is NATIONAL and not just something from New York, won't think before acting.
Warren is completely right; this thread is acutely important. Let's see if we can discuss it reasonably and come to positive solutions, admittedly a difficult thing. But we don't chase because it's easy. It takes dedication and hard work. I'd hate to see our discussions denigrate to what I used to experience back in the early Oughts when ST used the MIRC chat (which I kind of miss). I actually stopped my activity with ST back then because it became more than testy between chasers. Keep up the skeer, and look to the sky in more ways than one.
 
Jan 14, 2011
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Governor Mark Gordon said the directive is designed to discourage people from visiting Wyoming until the COVID-19 outbreak is over.

“We know that travel from another state or country is a source of COVID-19 infections in Wyoming,” he said. “Visitors from neighboring states have strained the resources of many Wyoming communities, so we are asking them to do the right thing to protect the health of our citizens and the resources of our rural health care facilities.”
Governor orders quarantine for visitors to Wyoming as state’s COVID-19 cases rise to 166
 
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Jan 16, 2009
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Please do not close this thread I mean it is as good as TIGER KING with similar cast members. :)

Seriously though this thread has opened my eyes to the subject A LOT more than they would have been without it. Though I disagree to how some things have been done or said I respect the rights of people to say them.

I for one will be REALLY thinking about what I will do when a real chase chance comes up.