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

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Nov 27, 2016
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Milwaukee, WI
<<SNIPPED>>

So for about an hour now, I’ve been sitting here in my garage/man cave trying to understand and process this. I don’t know how. I’m not good with showing real emotion outside of my family and I don’t care to. But this is different.

I’ve sat here going over everything that has transpired in this thread, my posts, my replies. How others have replied etc... And I’ve come to the conclusion that I owe you an apology, Dan.

While I still don’t agree with the threatening overtone first initiated, I do truly see your concern.
I’m not saying that I didn’t see it when this discussion came about. In fact, it was just the opposite. My only real concern was what I have been mentioning from the start, so no point in hashing or rehashing.
All of that said, I may not agree with the thought process you had or may even still have - I do understand the fear. Thus, I wanted to make a public apology to you directly because I made my actions/verbiage in a public light in this forum.

This is a hard pill to swallow. That’s all I know to say.
-Lanny
WOW . . . that is truly humbling Lanny. It's terrible when this affects people we know . . . our friends, guests, family. Thank you for sharing this sad & stark reality of the times we're living in. Sympathy to you and all who have lost someone to this horrible virus.
 
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Jul 2, 2004
1,781
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Hastings, Michigan
www.stormhorn.com
I wanted to make this post public for a few reasons - but most importantly because I felt the need to address @Dan Robinson directly.
Okay, this is the second member post I've made a bollix of replying to, and I'd remove it if I could. It has been a long time since I've posted on ST, things have changed, and I'm obviously very rusty. The reply I intended to make is below; this here is just me eating crow, and mods can delete it. Hopefully, next time around will be the charm. :oops:
 

Kevin M. Smith

Enthusiast
May 12, 2019
9
11
1
Pocatello, ID
I've been watching this discussion for a few days now. Many things I would be tempted to say have already been said, multiple times, AND discussed at length. At this point, I want to offer just a couple thoughts.

When I first stumbled across this thread, it was at 19 pages, and I spent a couple hours carefully reading every post and getting caught up. (After all, I'm in the same position many of you are. Peak chase season is upon us. Chasing is one of our absolute favorite passions...something that we have already spent many months preparing for, upgrading equipment for, securing time off from our jobs for, and just looking forward to with building anticipation. And now, all of that is suddenly threatened, with the added impact that once the season is gone, it's gone for a whole year.) When I finally reached the last post on Page 19, I remember thinking to myself "Wow...I just read 19 pages of people spending paragraph after paragraph after paragraph desperately trying to rationalize and justify their chases." Picking apart the exact wording of each state order and each news article. Closely analyzing quotes from law enforcement. Looking for loopholes. Putting legality under a microscope. Comparing the risk to a plethora of other possible activities. For the most part, I don't think that has changed between Page 19 and Page 28.

I get it. We are all different people, with different priorities and different experiences that have shaped our worldview. We vary as far as what level of risk we personally find acceptable. Even looking at storm chasing specifically, we vary as far as WHY we chase, and whether or not we are required to as part of a job, or whether chasing is how we make our living or not. As with many things, this isn't 100% black and white. And at the end of the day, we each have to arrive at a final decision we feel good about. (And even then, our decision could be wrong in hindsight.)

For ME personally, most of the details that have been discussed and debated at length in this thread aren't the point.

For me, a broader, "5,000 foot view" offers more clarity.

We are in the middle of a severe and historic global pandemic. We are in the middle of an event...the magnitude of which we may not see again in our entire lifetime. In the words of my dad, this is like when grandma talked about the Great Recession, rationing during the world wars, and the disease outbreaks of her time. Large numbers of people are dying. Large numbers of people are losing their jobs. The economy is suffering. Everyone is sacrificing. And there is still so much we don't know yet.

The White House has strongly urged no unnecessary or discretionary travel. The CDC has strongly urged no unnecessary or discretionary travel. Numerous states are passing Stay at Home orders, and quarantining those who have recently traveled. Respected medical professionals across the country are begging us to stay home unless we need to venture out for absolutely essential needs such as food or medicine. Heck, I've even seen recommendations that for a family of 3, only 1 person should be designated as the person to run to Wal-Mart to pick up essentials for the rest of the family as needed for the rest of the pandemic, because limiting our exposure is that important.

Can a technically logical and scientific argument be made as to why storm chasing is fairly safe as far as social distancing goes compared to many other trips that people like to take? Yes. But at the end of all of that...after adding all of that up...I just can't justify taking a storm chase at this point, an activity that is NOT essential for my well-being and survival. I just can't risk being part of the problem in any small way. Finer details and loopholes aside, the magnitude of this event is clear, and the spirit and intent of the various orders and recommendations are clear. And this is without considering how taking an extended chase will appear in the eyes of others.

If there was EVER a year to skip chasing, this is it.

Yes, it pisses me off. BIG TIME. I've been extensively chasing for going on 13 years now. I'm slated to chase for almost the entire month of May this year. (Right?!) I've been preparing for months, including some major equipment upgrades. This chase was also "the light at the end of the tunnel" as a break from a busy and stressful period at work right now (I'm an NWS Meteorologist). I haven't officially cancelled my leave yet...I'm still somewhere in the grieving process I guess, and perhaps holding out a fading glimmer of hope that something will magically change by the end of April. But what I need to do is becoming clear. I can also take some solace in the fact that I'm reasonably healthy, I haven't lost my job, and this is something that is affecting everyone that I don't have control over.

I hope at least some take a moment to ponder this perspective as you all make your decisions. @Jason Persoff , I appreciate your perspective and position on this, and tend to agree with erring on the side of caution. @Lanny Dean , your story brought tears to my eyes. If anything, it reaffirms to me that I am making the best decision for now, and makes me think of members of my own family who are at risk.

Good luck everyone.
 
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Let me say thank you all for the kind words and comments. But this isn’t about me...please keep those folks and everyone in your thoughts. I wanted to update...Doms daughter called me again just to verify they did receive their refund. I asked her about her Mom and Dad - she said that they can’t even get into see them in the morgue and they will not allow a funeral at this time. I guess I never really thought about that part - this is shitty. They couldn’t be with them at the end and they can’t have a funeral. I am at loss of words for these people and ANYONE who has to deal with this....dying by yourself. She also said that she and her husband took the test today as she “also now has some symptoms“. I don’t know what to say.

When I held the lady’s hand in Greensburg and talked with her trying to sooth her, and then she passed away, that was tough and was a mind fuck.
This is a worse feeling as I knew these people.

I will be taking a break from this forum for a while.
@Dan Robinson I hope you will accept my sincere apology.

Please be safe everyone.
 
Jan 14, 2011
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2,744
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
@Lanny Dean I am heartbroken to read your posts about your friends and can't imagine what you are going through. I deserve the reaction I got for my post, I hope all can understand it was driven by seeing the absolute horrors that are going on all over the world right now. Like all of you, I've never experienced anything like this and am struggling to process it. Please stay safe everyone, let's get through this thing so all of us can enjoy the 2021 season together.
 
Jan 16, 2009
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Kansas City
Another thing that is impacted by COVID-19 is first aid/CPR classes. My certification ends 4-17 and I had a class scheduled for that day and of course it is cancelled. So now I would be working off an expired certification if I had to stop and help during a possible storm chase which I am not comfortable going.
 

Lou Ruh

EF2
May 17, 2007
178
34
11
SE PA
Sounds like Texas DPS is starting to check drivers as the enter Texas from Louisiana:

I did not see in the article, but, if they are doing this the same way as the state of Delaware (roadblocks, no biohazard PPE, no decon between encounters), this could actually INCREASE the chances of virus spread. I hope they gave this some thought.
 
Jan 16, 2009
639
629
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Kansas City
If your job requires CPR certification, you should be able to arrange a session with just you.

If your job does not require CPR, then the expiration date is meaningless legally.
It does when IN THE OFFICE for the reaction team but does not when working from home. What do you mean it is meaningless legally? Why have that date? They have always said a new certification was required at or before the date listed on the paperwork.
 

rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,213
772
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Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
The Red Cross CPR Certification is simply a notice that you've taken the class. If someone sues you because you did CPR and someone died, having or not having the CPR Cert has no bearing. Some states legally require life guards or employees like that to have a current CPR certificate, but that's what I mean by "your job." I would doubt that your employer is mandated by the state to give you CPR training otherwise.
 
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... received a notice from the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Oklahoma City that they have closed their doors until June 1st ... the Wyndham is our annual base hotel in OK City for our chase tours, and while we had already cancelled our bookings for the 2020 season, I do hope that all the management and staff will be able to get through this medical and economic crisis ok ...
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
... received a notice from the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Oklahoma City that they have closed their doors until June 1st ... the Wyndham is our annual base hotel in OK City for our chase tours, and while we had already cancelled our bookings for the 2020 season, I do hope that all the management and staff will be able to get through this medical and economic crisis ok ...
Well that does not bode well for those of us still holding out hope for a late-season chase vacation... Even assuming we are past the peak of infections and there is no health risk in chasing, this could indicate insurmountable logistical challenges. I am quite surprised that they would announce a closing all the way until June 1st; why not give themselves room to re-evaluate where things stand at the end of April and/or in mid-May? The IMHE site shows the projected Oklahoma peak before the end of April, with cases at nearly zero by end of May, and never exceeding hospital capacity. Admittedly, that projection assumes full social-distancing through May, but still seems like an unnecessary move by the Wyndham. Projections are only projections, models are only models. Washington state for example has not been hit by the predicted surge. What's the harm in seeing where things stand in a few more weeks or a month? I feel bad for those workers too, no chance of getting their jobs back for another seven weeks?!?

 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
It is probably financially easier to consolidate staff into fewer hotels. Even if April 30 turns into a magical date when the threat is reduced, most Americans aren't going to schedule a vacation in May. It's not a big deal to put people at the airport Wyndham and save money from the building.
Good point, hopefully that's what's happening and there will still be enough hotels open and available.
 
Just to give everyone a heads-up, there are multiple law suits (and inquiries) popping up from individuals who claim they were infected during some form of recreational or travel activity that exposed them to the virus. No agreement or release is going to cover a provider from this liability -- especially in the middle of a highly-contagious outbreak. I cannot believe any type of tour group, chasing or otherwise, would take this risk in the current environment, even if the restrictions were eased or removed. Someone could for example, make a claim that measures were not taken to test each individual participant, or the group stayed at lower quality lodging, thus exposing them to the virus. People could also argue they were not allowed refunds so they took the risk, the list goes on and those are just three examples. You could also be responsible for medical costs related to someone becoming sick. And no, it does not matter if the participant knew of such risks. I'm told none of the insurance policies issued to travel or recreational pursuits cover pandemics. Then again, if you are dumb enough to ride in a van full of people, traveling through multiple states, staying in all kinds of hotels, stopping for restroom breaks in germ-infested convenience stores, during a deadly pandemic, your IQ level might be just low enough to avoid any loss to society.
 
Yep, looks like they don't have any open tours during the time when non-essential driving is prohibited.
... you’d have to make the wild assumption that all the restrictions currently in place are going to magically be cancelled by early May - bookings are still open for a May 3rd tour ... also see Warren Faidley’s post re: risks during a pandemic ... that classification isn’t going to be revoked in time to not overlap with the rest of their open booking dates ... even as restrictions are gradually relaxed <when & if as new cases decline initially>, IMHO the authorities are going to be playing “whack a mole” with this virus until the foreseeable future, or until an effective vaccine is widely available ...
 
The restrictions will likely end or be relaxed in some areas over the next two weeks. I'm assuming individual states will end restrictions based on their level of infection for specific counties or cities. So what? The virus is NOT going to magically disappear. People are going to be infected, suffer and die though the summer into the fall. Will I feel comfortable going into a crowded restaurant or theater in the near future. No way. Will I fly in a commercial airliner. No way. Will I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express. Yes. If I can air it out while wearing a N95 mask, spray the room with sanitizer, place plastic sheeting over the bed, use my own bedding and disinfect the surfaces with a rag doused with the Everclear I bought last week. People are going to avoid the potential of being infected until they either test favorably via an antibody test or there is a cure / vaccine. In other words, the way we live will be altered for the next 12 to 15 months.
 
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rdale

EF5
Mar 1, 2004
7,213
772
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Lansing, MI
skywatch.org
... you’d have to make the wild assumption that all the restrictions currently in place are going to magically be cancelled by early May - bookings are still open for a May 3rd tour ... also see Warren Faidley’s post re: risks during a pandemic ... that classification isn’t going to be revoked in time to not overlap with the rest of their open booking dates ... even as restrictions are gradually relaxed <when & if as new cases decline initially>, IMHO the authorities are going to be playing “whack a mole” with this virus until the foreseeable future, or until an effective vaccine is widely available ...
I’m not sure it’s “wild” - remember that Stay Home orders are NOT intended to eliminate the virus. They are intended to ”flatten the curve.” The virus will be here for a while, long before we have a cure/vaccine. People will still get it this summer, and most expect it to flare up in late fall - winter. The point is that by then our hospitals will be able to handle it. Right now many can’t.

So back to my original point :) There is no need to cancel anything in May right now.