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

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Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
@Jeff Duda I suspect my post(s) may be part of what prompted your statement, since your post immediately follows mine, and a similarly-themed post I made a few days ago was deleted. However, with all due respect, while this and my earlier one may appear to be a generic commentary on COVID-19 related shutdowns and reopenings, my intent was entirely chasing-related insofar as exploring concerns over logistics, support services, and how enjoyable a chase vacation might actually be in this situation, for those who want more than just storms for a fun trip. The availability of restaurants and other extra-curricular activities are definitely part of my decision criteria for a chase vacation. Maybe not as much of a concern for chasers that live on the Plains, but chase vacationers need to worry about flying, hotels and restaurants, not just travel restrictions. If my posts weren’t the cause for concern, then please disregard this :)
 
May 18, 2013
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I would like to hear more about the actual situation on the ground in the Alley, in the context of logistics - i.e., are a lot of hotels closed? What about restaurants, are they open for sit down? Takeout only? Or not at all? Have they reduced their hours due to lower demand?
@JamesCaruso I live in the DFW area and have chased a lot in TX and OK this year and here is what I have seen. Hotels: Some hotels are closed, especially where one company owns 2 or 3 properties next to each other, but there are a lot open. I don't think you will have trouble finding a hotel, but it may not be the brand or place you stayed last time. Restaurants: In Texas, the Gov allowed restaurants to reopen for dine in as on 5/5 at 25% capacity (was takeout only before). Bars are still closed. Despite the order, many restaurants are still doing takeout only, as may are worried (about health of workers and/or legal liability) and/or can't be profitable at 25% capacity. The steakhouses almost all opened up right away. Most fast-food is still takeout only with dining rooms closed. Most food places have reduced hours. In the small towns some don't look impacted at all by closings, others look totally shut down. OK has been more open than TX all along, but it seems much the same as TX to me - shorter hours, a few places closed, many still takeout only, more places opening every day. Bottom line - you can get food, but you may have to get it to go, and options are very limited the later it gets. I should also note that grocery and even many convivence stores are also closing early. Another item - a few places have closed their restrooms to the public.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
1,098
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I have "officially" bailed on my 2020 chase vacation. This may be TLDR for some, and may veer slightly off-topic, but I hope you will indulge me. It is profoundly disappointing to miss doing something I love and look forward to all year, so it is cathartic to write this. And who else could empathize except other chasers? The reasons for my decision are mostly COVID-related, which is why I am posting here. Perhaps it will be of help to others trying to make their own decisions.

I am a fan of the writings of Nassim Taleb ("Black Swan" etc.) and he says not to find more than one reason to do something because then you are convincing yourself. But in this case, it truly was the combination of multiple factors, and I needed more than one reason to not do something I love. Some aspects of my decision are directly COVID-related, others indirectly COVID-related, and still others not at all, so that's where it may go slightly off-topic, but I still think this is the most sensible place to post about my decision.

1. Actual COVID risk - I have been struggling to understand exactly how much risk there is. I don't think I am alone in finding this challenging (here's a good article that discusses this: The Horror of the Coronavirus Data Lag) I do think in general the risk is very low in normal daily life. But within the context of whatever the risk actually is, I don't think there is any question that it would go up by a multiple during a two-week storm chasing trip: flying, staying in a different hotel every night, eating out three times a day, and going in and out of convenience stores at gas stations and truck stops all day. It's hard to even do simple things like wash your hands - you walk out of the convenience store and an hour later you're eating nuts or pretzels out of a bag with your hands. Being with my chase partner in close quarters in the car in itself doubles whatever existing risk there is, depending on what exposures he is getting. I look at chasing pictures and obviously it's all about being outdoors in the middle of nowhere, but there are plenty of other activities that surround that. It's like a chaser friend said to me privately - it's like being in a war zone: the soldier with a clerical job is pretty safe but the combat soldier putting himself out there on the battlefield is obviously in more danger. The low probability of infection from any individual event or interaction is low but then multiplied by the number of events/interactions and becomes a higher probability. Is 10x the right number? If so, is it 10x 0.1% for still only a 1% risk? If so then maybe there is nothing to worry about. But what if it's 10x 1% Or 10x 2%?
(EDIT: FWIW, I am 52, so not quite in a high-risk age group, but not in the lowest either...)

2. COVID impact on logistics and enjoyment of the trip in general - This one might even be more of an issue for me than the direct COVID risk. For me a chase vacation is also just that - a *vacation*. I am not one of these guys who chases every storm at all costs. There are limits to how much I am willing to drive relative to how good a situation looks. I generally limit myself to favorable chasing terrain. I don't like staying out all night milking every last second of a storm; I look forward to a nice sit-down dinner and a beer (or something stronger), either to celebrate the day or soothe any disappointment/frustration. I am not going to sleep in my car. Then there are the down days. I have fond memories in the past of staying in places like Bricktown OKC or Old Town Wichita on down days, spending the morning reading at a Starbucks, spending the evenings enjoying the bars and restaurants I have come to know over the years. How much of that is practical this year? Each state is in a different stage of reopening, and even those reopened states may have capacity constraints at restaurants, restaurants may be closing earlier since their volume is down and they need more time to clean/disinfect, etc. It's hard enough to find places to eat late at night in some of these towns, or to get a seat if there are a lot of other chasers ending up at the same place. I assume the situation will be worse with capacity constraints and/or early closures. Some states have restaurants open, but not yet bars. @Randy Jennings notes some of this above, and also noted some hotel closures. Others have told me privately about restaurants closing at 6 in TX and OK. Yet others have told me privately they have had no trouble with restaurants. So I guess YMMV but it probably varies greatly from region to region. It just doesn't seem like it would be as enjoyable a vacation as usual; going out and hanging with my chase partner (who I only see this one time each year) doesn't seem like it would be quite the same. Again, if it was *only* about the chasing maybe it shouldn’t matter, but for us it is also a vacation.Even just having to wear a mask - maybe it's just a minor inconvenience, but I don't like even going to the grocery store locally, it feels like a dystopian science fiction movie. Restaurants aren't even reopened near me yet, but I imagine that's going to feel like an awkward clinical experience too. I don't think I would enjoy going out to eat if I feel like I'm in a hospital cafeteria. Let's face it, regardless of how high or low the risk is, there is an oppressive mood out there, things do not seem light, fun and carefree. Lastly, do I want to be bothered wiping everything down in my hotel room every night, when it's already late and I'm exhausted and perhaps frustrated with how the day went? Do I even want to have to pack masks and cleaning supplies? I usually sit for hours in the hotel lobby in the morning, drinking coffee after coffee. Can you even serve yourself coffee anymore? Will there be a lobby breakfast? If not, it's just one more thing to do each day, go find breakfast somewhere, now that means coordinating schedules or use of the car with my chase partner. Just seems like a pain in the a$$. Clearly, things are just not "normal" out there yet. If I lived on the Plains I would definitely chase, and I probably wouldn't hesitate to stay in a hotel a night here or there. But on a chase vacation you are entirely dependent upon these types of services and activities, which may be restricted or at least *different*. Just a general lack of normalcy that I don't feel like being immersed in for two weeks. I can barely tolerate it in my hometown, let alone in unfamiliar places.

3. COVID impact on my family - less directly related to COVID but still a function of the times we are in - my wife and kids have been sequestered here at home with me for 9 weeks already. It's a difficult situation for my wife, caring for three kids, with no break because they are not in school and can't go anywhere. How can I in good conscience leave them for two weeks, making an already difficult situation even more difficult for them? I am working from home but at least can make the weekends a little more fun for them with BBQs, bike rides, etc. I'm the one running all the errands so that my wife (who tends to be more concerned about COVID than me) doesn't have to go, but this would force her to do all of that. Meanwhile we have to cancel a family cruise in July because of COVID (our in-laws were supposed to come and they are in the high-risk category; so even IF the cruise sails, we are not going). Just doesn't seem appropriate to disappear on them for a week or two to take my own vacation this year...

4. COVID impact on my job - I work in a health care business. I'm in finance, not health care itself, but it's a busy time because of all this. Not sure it's appropriate to be away right now. Looks especially weird to be working from home along with other office personnel all this time for safety reasons and to adhere to state government orders, while the actual healthcare professionals are still out in the field, and then suddenly go gallivanting all over the country. Appearances matter.

5. Work in general - this one's not COVID related but it's sort of all tied together. I am involved in a big project at work that always threatened to put this year's chase vacation at risk. When COVID hit in mid-March, the project was put on hold. At that time, I actually thought that would help with chasing: the project was on hold, and COVID would not be an issue on the Plains come late May. Fast forward and the project is now getting restarted, AND coronavirus is still an issue on the Plains, if not in terms of infection rates then at least insofar as status of reopenings and general lack of normalcy. So now it's the two things combined - it's a bad time to be away from work, and just doesn't seem to be worth the added hassle and discomfort of heading out this year. It's also hard to push back on the work obligations because there is, I think, a general point of view on the part of my bosses would be “what kind of judgment would a person have to have to go traveling all over the country during a pandemic?" Not saying that's how I would feel, I'm saying I think that's how I think it would come across to the various people I answer to (CEO, investors, lenders) who don’t really understand what chasing is like. Again, appearances matter, at least if you care about your job standing...

6. Now this one is not at all COVID related and is not even an actual reason I made this decision, it's more about trying desperately to find some positives in the decision. The last few years' chase trips have been very, very frustrating and disappointing for my chase partner and me. I won't go into all our tales of woe here. But last year after missing Canadian, Waldo/Tipton, etc. we talked seriously about quitting. I would never really quit, but I think my chase partner might. We had a serious discussion about the pros and cons, costs and benefits, of chasing. Now, again, I would never actually quit. I would rather play the game and lose, than not play at all. I would never refuse to play just to avoid losing. But if I'm not playing for other reasons, then why not enjoy a break from losing this year? Why not focus on the positives of no disappointment, no frustration? Sure, I feel profound disappointment not being able to chase, but I feel that same sense of disappointment even on a chase trip, oftentimes combined with sheer frustration. I hate that feeling when a chase trip is winding down, with nothing to show for it so far and few opportunities left in the remaining days. It's an awful feeling that I can appreciate avoiding this year. I'm also glad to be rid of the agonizing decision of *when* to head out, riding an emotional rollercoaster with every model run. Perhaps a year off is just what I need; I think it is definitely what my chase partner needs to reinvigorate his own enthusiasm. Similar to taking a week off from the gym or any other pursuit when you hit a plateau. Only problem is it means waiting a whole year, but that's always the case between trips. Again, none of this is a reason not to go, I'm just looking for positives here. I'll probably be on an emotional rollercoaster anyway, regretting my decision when the forecast looks good and feeling at peace with it when the forecast looks bad. I will say, I am *not* entirely at peace with this decision yet, which is partly why I am writing so much about it. Again, it's cathartic.

Well thanks for reading. Anxious to hear what other chase vacationers have decided and what your actual experiences are out there. Don't be afraid to tell me I made the wrong decision :)

EDIT for minor grammatical changes and clarifications
 
Last edited:
May 18, 2013
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@JamesCaruso you made the right decission if you wanted an enjoyable vacation. Besides what we have already tasked about, this season has been a difficult one for chasers given a generally unfavorable pattern. Despite numerous attempts I am still at 0 tornados this year and probably only 2 structure days. If you did go you would probably have lots of down days or would be chasing very marginal setups. It also is hard to be spontaneous on down days too. Stuff is either closed or limiting operations. One example is state parks in Texas. They have reopened, but all are requiring advanced reservations and are limiting numbers.

Another interesting thing is some of the lower population areas in the plains have much worse COVID numbers per captia than you would expect. For example, Amarillo TX and the TX and OK panhandlers are hot beds. NYT reported that 1 of every 41 people in the county Amarillo is in have or have had COVID-19. That is way more than much bigger cities like Dallas. John Hopkins says 1,738 cases/100k people in Amarillo vs 275 cases/100k people in Dallas.

 
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Jun 1, 2008
533
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Chattanooga, TN
www.linkedin.com
Kansas Governor introduced a Phase 1.5 starting Monday. Previous was Phase 2. For chasing purposes it's still Phase 2. Unless you really want to go to a public pool or drinks only bar. Both are not opening yet. Otherwise, take-out is open.

I follow Kansas because it's taking it slower than Oklahoma and Texas. If you can do something in Kansas, you can do it in TX/OK. Not sure about Nebraska. One can Google Ad Astra and/or KS Health Dept.

Then there's the weather pattern, which can only be described as an absolute debacle. Makes covid a moot point if one does not chase.
 
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Aug 27, 2009
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@JamesCaruso, interesting read and it has been interesting to follow this thread although I haven't read it all. For us Europeans, the decision has been made for us as we cannot enter the US at all and I never had to get into the ethical and risk assumption aspects of chasing this season. It is interesting though, after chasing every season since 2012 I haven't really understood how important chasing has become to my life. It is a part of my yearly pattern nowadays, where certain smells, certain food etc remind me of the season. This is usually a part of the "getting excited for the season"-bit but this season these things have just been a sad reminder.

Even though I miss chasing this season, I find myself almost missing that getting excited-part even more. It is like a sweet caramel that gives me pleasure from January to May/June every year. It is a feeling that just lingers there and fills me with joy. Although I didn't pull the plug 100% until about 10 days before my departure I only got to have that feeling in January (when I booked my flight) until early March when I started realizing the season was in jeopardy.

The fact that the season as a whole and "my" chase week has not been good at all helps a bit, but as an analogy I used before. It is like being grounded during the best party of the year and just read about it on social media. No matter if the party sucks, you still would have liked to be there.

I hope the end of May and June is going to be great for all of you!
 
Jun 28, 2007
304
126
11
Machesney Park, IL
Possible checkpoints could turn away traffic heading into reservation lands in parts of South Dakota due to COVID concerns. I’m really hoping this turns into something I need to take into account because that would mean I’m chasing in South Dakota!

 
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Mark Blue

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Feb 19, 2007
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Colorado
As far as the SWODY3 is concerned the target for Saturday has shifted north and very well might bring the reservation issue into play. The natives there gave us the old hairy eyeball the last time we were up that way. I don't think they're used to seeing a ton of outsiders coming through their land.
 
I have "officially" bailed on my 2020 chase vacation. This may be TLDR for some, and may veer slightly off-topic, but I hope you will indulge me. It is profoundly disappointing to miss doing something I love and look forward to all year, so it is cathartic to write this. And who else could empathize except other chasers? The reasons for my decision are mostly COVID-related, which is why I am posting here. Perhaps it will be of help to others trying to make their own decisions.

I am a fan of the writings of Nassim Taleb ("Black Swan" etc.) and he says not to find more than one reason to do something because then you are convincing yourself. But in this case, it truly was the combination of multiple factors, and I needed more than one reason to not do something I love. Some aspects of my decision are directly COVID-related, others indirectly COVID-related, and still others not at all, so that's where it may go slightly off-topic, but I still think this is the most sensible place to post about my decision.

1. Actual COVID risk - I have been struggling to understand exactly how much risk there is. I don't think I am alone in finding this challenging (here's a good article that discusses this: The Horror of the Coronavirus Data Lag) I do think in general the risk is very low in normal daily life. But within the context of whatever the risk actually is, I don't think there is any question that it would go up by a multiple during a two-week storm chasing trip: flying, staying in a different hotel every night, eating out three times a day, and going in and out of convenience stores at gas stations and truck stops all day. It's hard to even do simple things like wash your hands - you walk out of the convenience store and an hour later you're eating nuts or pretzels out of a bag with your hands. Being with my chase partner in close quarters in the car in itself doubles whatever existing risk there is, depending on what exposures he is getting. I look at chasing pictures and obviously it's all about being outdoors in the middle of nowhere, but there are plenty of other activities that surround that. It's like a chaser friend said to me privately - it's like being in a war zone: the soldier with a clerical job is pretty safe but the combat soldier putting himself out there on the battlefield is obviously in more danger. The low probability of infection from any individual event or interaction is low but then multiplied by the number of events/interactions and becomes a higher probability. Is 10x the right number? If so, is it 10x 0.1% for still only a 1% risk? If so then maybe there is nothing to worry about. But what if it's 10x 1% Or 10x 2%?
(EDIT: FWIW, I am 52, so not quite in a high-risk age group, but not in the lowest either...)

2. COVID impact on logistics and enjoyment of the trip in general - This one might even be more of an issue for me than the direct COVID risk. For me a chase vacation is also just that - a *vacation*. I am not one of these guys who chases every storm at all costs. There are limits to how much I am willing to drive relative to how good a situation looks. I generally limit myself to favorable chasing terrain. I don't like staying out all night milking every last second of a storm; I look forward to a nice sit-down dinner and a beer (or something stronger), either to celebrate the day or soothe any disappointment/frustration. I am not going to sleep in my car. Then there are the down days. I have fond memories in the past of staying in places like Bricktown OKC or Old Town Wichita on down days, spending the morning reading at a Starbucks, spending the evenings enjoying the bars and restaurants I have come to know over the years. How much of that is practical this year? Each state is in a different stage of reopening, and even those reopened states may have capacity constraints at restaurants, restaurants may be closing earlier since their volume is down and they need more time to clean/disinfect, etc. It's hard enough to find places to eat late at night in some of these towns, or to get a seat if there are a lot of other chasers ending up at the same place. I assume the situation will be worse with capacity constraints and/or early closures. Some states have restaurants open, but not yet bars. @Randy Jennings notes some of this above, and also noted some hotel closures. Others have told me privately about restaurants closing at 6 in TX and OK. Yet others have told me privately they have had no trouble with restaurants. So I guess YMMV but it probably varies greatly from region to region. It just doesn't seem like it would be as enjoyable a vacation as usual; going out and hanging with my chase partner (who I only see this one time each year) doesn't seem like it would be quite the same. Again, if it was *only* about the chasing maybe it shouldn’t matter, but for us it is also a vacation.Even just having to wear a mask - maybe it's just a minor inconvenience, but I don't like even going to the grocery store locally, it feels like a dystopian science fiction movie. Restaurants aren't even reopened near me yet, but I imagine that's going to feel like an awkward clinical experience too. I don't think I would enjoy going out to eat if I feel like I'm in a hospital cafeteria. Let's face it, regardless of how high or low the risk is, there is an oppressive mood out there, things do not seem light, fun and carefree. Lastly, do I want to be bothered wiping everything down in my hotel room every night, when it's already late and I'm exhausted and perhaps frustrated with how the day went? Do I even want to have to pack masks and cleaning supplies? I usually sit for hours in the hotel lobby in the morning, drinking coffee after coffee. Can you even serve yourself coffee anymore? Will there be a lobby breakfast? If not, it's just one more thing to do each day, go find breakfast somewhere, now that means coordinating schedules or use of the car with my chase partner. Just seems like a pain in the a$$. Clearly, things are just not "normal" out there yet. If I lived on the Plains I would definitely chase, and I probably wouldn't hesitate to stay in a hotel a night here or there. But on a chase vacation you are entirely dependent upon these types of services and activities, which may be restricted or at least *different*. Just a general lack of normalcy that I don't feel like being immersed in for two weeks. I can barely tolerate it in my hometown, let alone in unfamiliar places.

3. COVID impact on my family - less directly related to COVID but still a function of the times we are in - my wife and kids have been sequestered here at home with me for 9 weeks already. It's a difficult situation for my wife, caring for three kids, with no break because they are not in school and can't go anywhere. How can I in good conscience leave them for two weeks, making an already difficult situation even more difficult for them? I am working from home but at least can make the weekends a little more fun for them with BBQs, bike rides, etc. I'm the one running all the errands so that my wife (who tends to be more concerned about COVID than me) doesn't have to go, but this would force her to do all of that. Meanwhile we have to cancel a family cruise in July because of COVID (our in-laws were supposed to come and they are in the high-risk category; so even IF the cruise sails, we are not going). Just doesn't seem appropriate to disappear on them for a week or two to take my own vacation this year...

4. COVID impact on my job - I work in a health care business. I'm in finance, not health care itself, but it's a busy time because of all this. Not sure it's appropriate to be away right now. Looks especially weird to be working from home along with other office personnel all this time for safety reasons and to adhere to state government orders, while the actual healthcare professionals are still out in the field, and then suddenly go gallivanting all over the country. Appearances matter.

5. Work in general - this one's not COVID related but it's sort of all tied together. I am involved in a big project at work that always threatened to put this year's chase vacation at risk. When COVID hit in mid-March, the project was put on hold. At that time, I actually thought that would help with chasing: the project was on hold, and COVID would not be an issue on the Plains come late May. Fast forward and the project is now getting restarted, AND coronavirus is still an issue on the Plains, if not in terms of infection rates then at least insofar as status of reopenings and general lack of normalcy. So now it's the two things combined - it's a bad time to be away from work, and just doesn't seem to be worth the added hassle and discomfort of heading out this year. It's also hard to push back on the work obligations because there is, I think, a general point of view on the part of my bosses would be “what kind of judgment would a person have to have to go traveling all over the country during a pandemic?" Not saying that's how I would feel, I'm saying I think that's how I think it would come across to the various people I answer to (CEO, investors, lenders) who don’t really understand what chasing is like. Again, appearances matter, at least if you care about your job standing...

6. Now this one is not at all COVID related and is not even an actual reason I made this decision, it's more about trying desperately to find some positives in the decision. The last few years' chase trips have been very, very frustrating and disappointing for my chase partner and me. I won't go into all our tales of woe here. But last year after missing Canadian, Waldo/Tipton, etc. we talked seriously about quitting. I would never really quit, but I think my chase partner might. We had a serious discussion about the pros and cons, costs and benefits, of chasing. Now, again, I would never actually quit. I would rather play the game and lose, than not play at all. I would never refuse to play just to avoid losing. But if I'm not playing for other reasons, then why not enjoy a break from losing this year? Why not focus on the positives of no disappointment, no frustration? Sure, I feel profound disappointment not being able to chase, but I feel that same sense of disappointment even on a chase trip, oftentimes combined with sheer frustration. I hate that feeling when a chase trip is winding down, with nothing to show for it so far and few opportunities left in the remaining days. It's an awful feeling that I can appreciate avoiding this year. I'm also glad to be rid of the agonizing decision of *when* to head out, riding an emotional rollercoaster with every model run. Perhaps a year off is just what I need; I think it is definitely what my chase partner needs to reinvigorate his own enthusiasm. Similar to taking a week off from the gym or any other pursuit when you hit a plateau. Only problem is it means waiting a whole year, but that's always the case between trips. Again, none of this is a reason not to go, I'm just looking for positives here. I'll probably be on an emotional rollercoaster anyway, regretting my decision when the forecast looks good and feeling at peace with it when the forecast looks bad. I will say, I am *not* entirely at peace with this decision yet, which is partly why I am writing so much about it. Again, it's cathartic.

Well thanks for reading. Anxious to hear what other chase vacationers have decided and what your actual experiences are out there. Don't be afraid to tell me I made the wrong decision :)

EDIT for minor grammatical changes and clarifications
I know we talked privately, but I think you made the right decision. A poop sandwich season is not worth the risk, especially when you have a family.

For me, it was torture today watching the live feeds from the Alley (except for the baseball hail). It will be this way until the season farts-out after Monday, likely for good or an extended period according to a model consensus. No one can say for sure if you would contract COVID while chasing, but obviously you won't be exposed to the possibility if you are not chasing.

Bring on the monsoon!
 
Jun 1, 2008
533
473
11
Chattanooga, TN
www.linkedin.com
Yeah today was my final, really final decision after two others Wed/Thur, to not chase the Plains this year. Last 36 hours of NWP have made it a much easier call. Saturday is conditional. Dewpoints mix out Kansas, which is either cap bust or gust out. Sunday looks sloppy, though still west of I-35 in spots. Because I'd have to be driving out there now, but I'm at the keyboard, this is my final no-go decision.

That said, I'll root for whoever is out there chasing. I will contribute to target threads if I have something to add. Likes count as agree. Love is strongly agree. Sad is agree with debacle. Also might nowcast on the Discord App.

Kansas Phase 3 starts June 8, unless it's delayed. That's pretty much everything open with caution. A late season, and unseasonably south trough would make that relevant info. Otherwise, check the northern Rockies/Plains states.

Check for updates the Kansas covid-19 site from the Health Dept. I find the news releases helpful, along with the original Ad Astra PDF.
 
Yeah today was my final, really final decision after two others Wed/Thur, to not chase the Plains this year. Last 36 hours of NWP have made it a much easier call. Saturday is conditional. Dewpoints mix out Kansas, which is either cap bust or gust out. Sunday looks sloppy, though still west of I-35 in spots. Because I'd have to be driving out there now, but I'm at the keyboard, this is my final no-go decision.

That said, I'll root for whoever is out there chasing. I will contribute to target threads if I have something to add. Likes count as agree. Love is strongly agree. Sad is agree with debacle. Also might nowcast on the Discord App.

Kansas Phase 3 starts June 8, unless it's delayed. That's pretty much everything open with caution. A late season, and unseasonably south trough would make that relevant info. Otherwise, check the northern Rockies/Plains states.

Check for updates the Kansas covid-19 site from the Health Dept. I find the news releases helpful, along with the original Ad Astra PDF.
I am also rooting for those who are braving one of the worse seasons on record, if not the most bogus of all time. Hopefully someone will capture a great event -- but it's going to take a lot of driving. I really lucked out with my forecast from Wednesday through Monday. I don't recall ever going over so many models and data in all my years of chasing. My wife finally told me to "take a break." It was an excellent learning experience. I'm hoping the second week in June becomes active, but I'm not so sure the climatology will agree. It would not appear that the usual NW flow and eastern New Mexico / eastern Colorado orographic events will occur given there is no usual transition in the jet configuration as in most late May periods. At this point, I'm monitoring the NCEP models which have done a good job this year with longer range sorcery.
 
Aug 19, 2005
248
55
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Atlanta, GA
Here is what I am thinking regarding me personally chasing this season. The pattern goes to crap for at least a week according to all ensemble guidance after this weekend, with a massive western ridge. However there are signs that the far northern Plains are going to get better, especially one of my favorite states, Montana (which by the way is probably the safest place to be during this whole mess). My biggest concern is actually the drive out and back -do I stay in motels or sleep in my car? If I sleep in the car I still have to go to the bathroom- and that worries me since public bathrooms in truck stops are not a good place by all accounts. Also, if I car camp- what is the best place to do that? Wal-Mart parking lots? Rest stops? If anyone has any insight it would be a big help. Food does not worry me as much, I will be bringing a big supply and there is going to be plenty of take-out and drive-thrus.
 
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Here is what I am thinking regarding me personally chasing this season. The pattern goes to crap for at least a week according to all ensemble guidance after this weekend, with a massive western ridge. However there are signs that the far northern Plains are going to get better, especially one of my favorite states, Montana (which by the way is probably the safest place to be during this whole mess). My biggest concern is actually the drive out and back -do I stay in motels or sleep in my car? If I sleep in the car I still have to go to the bathroom- and that worries me since public bathrooms in truck stops are not a good place by all accounts. Also, if I car camp- what is the best place to do that? Wal-Mart parking lots? Rest stops? If anyone has any insight it would be a big help. Food does not worry me as much, I will be bringing a big supply and there is going to be plenty of take-out and drive-thrus.
I've revised my thinking about hotels after talking to some friends in the hospitality business. I believe the smaller mom and pop operations are safer than the large chains. The more that is learned about COVID; the biggest dangers are COVID droplets in the air by either person to person contact or as a lingering aerosol. Surface contamination is an issue, but one that can be managed with cleaning the surfaces and your hands. The large hotel chains have several issues. One is the high turn over level of occupants -- with high volume traffic in the hallways, lobby, elevators, stairways, etc. Most major hotels are located on the main highways where there are more travelers. Larger hotels have elevators, which are a big no-no. You have zero idea if the last person in the elevator sneezed and was COVID positive. In elevators, the virus could remain as an aerosol for a very long time. The alternative is using the stairs. I would only stay in a small, one story motel that has a front door that can be opened to exchange air. I would place a cheap plastic drop cloth over the bedding and use my own pillow and bedding. I would wipe everything down with sanitizing sheets. I don't think it matters if you have a cleaning crew from a large chain or a smaller mom and pop. I'm still going to sanitize everything myself, and in reality, either establishment could have COVID-positive cleaning personnel spreading germs. I think you would be 99.9 percent safe. There have been some physicians commenting about flushing toilets and creating an infectious aerosol. Don't knoiw if that is true. Regardless, I'd flush the toilet once before I leave and run like hell out the font door. (I sometime do that anyways).

I had planned to sleep in my SUV only if I could not find a safe hotel. But if you sleep in a vehicle, you need a comfortable set-up, a portable camping toilet, a safe location and a Glock.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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As mentioned by Warren, I would be less worried about hotels since the latest CDC guidance now backing off on transmission from surfaces. I would be more concerned about the workers, e.g. the spouse of someone from one of the meat packing plants?

Warren are you sure abut the "aerosol", my understanding is there is a big difference between an aerosol (which I believe the measles, which is more infectious, is) and a virus where droplets remain in the air, which my understanding is more accurately describes the coronavirus. So they stay suspended in the air less time. Doesn't really change your point, but thought it might be an important distinction.

Agree on the glock comment. I would never want to be out in the open in a Walmart parking lot. When are you more vulnerable than when asleep? With 30+ million Americans unemployed, there could be some desperate people out there...

I love chasing, but it's not worth it enough to me to sleep in my car. But to each his own.
 
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Reactions: Jeff House
As mentioned by Warren, I would be less worried about hotels since the latest CDC guidance now backing off on transmission from surfaces. I would be more concerned about the workers, e.g. the spouse of someone from one of the meat packing plants?

Warren are you sure abut the "aerosol", my understanding is there is a big difference between an aerosol (which I believe the measles, which is more infectious, is) and a virus where droplets remain in the air, which my understanding is more accurately describes the coronavirus. So they stay suspended in the air less time. Doesn't really change your point, but thought it might be an important distinction.

Agree on the glock comment. I would never want to be out in the open in a Walmart parking lot. When are you more vulnerable than when asleep? With 30+ million Americans unemployed, there could be some desperate people out there...

I love chasing, but it's not worth it enough to me to sleep in my car. But to each his own.

I was referencing Harvard Health: "Aerosolized coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours."
 
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Mar 2, 2004
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So I'm curious... and considered starting a new thread for it, but will keep it here since it directly relates to the title, but I am wondering, we're officially through 2/3rds of what we'd consider peak severe weather season/chasing season and as we get into June, I know a lot of folks did brave the pandemic and took some extended chasing time. So it has aroused some curiosity as I am a week out from what was going to be a "chase vacation", one of which I am leaning a bit more to spending a couple days on the road for as most of the "legal" restrictions have been eased if not completely lifted and we seem to have better understanding of the virus itself (better in terms of what we knew when this all first came about).

So again, directly mostly at those who DID go out for a few days at a time (or longer). How did you fare? What precautions did you take? Where did you primarily stay? Did you do anything different? Are you/did you get sick? What was it like for you?
 
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Todd Lemery

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Jun 2, 2014
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I’ve spent the better part of three weeks down in the Southern plains, but only chased a few days. Most of the time was spent with my family at my brother’s house with his family in Kansas. On the days I chased I didn’t really see anything obviously different from other years other than employees of businesses wearing masks.
The one big difference for me was the sanitizing I did at every fuel or food stop on the way. I’d sanitize before and after every time. I’d also wipe down the pump handle and keyboard every time I fueled up.
I’m recently retired so I would have been chasing a lot more if the conditions were favorable. In my limited time out I didn’t get sick though.
 

Mark Blue

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Feb 19, 2007
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We only went once on May 23rd and I've been itching to spill the beans that once we left Denver we never saw a mask or gloves again, except for the staff at Taco John's in Ft Morgan. I checked the data for the smaller communities on the John Hopkins website and there aren't very many cases or deaths there so I believe the people in these smaller towns think it's a problem in the larger cities only.
 

Jesse Risley

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Apr 12, 2006
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I've been out locally 3-4 times. For purposes of "locally" I consider within several hours of the house to be relatively local, somewhere within relative proximity to the house where no overnight accommodations are required, although one could also say "regionally proximal to home" too. I did play around in Kansas on my way home from Arizona, where I spent a month (04/12 - 05/12) finalizing some necessary issues with my late father's estate. In that case I drove straight out and back, only stopping for fuel, packing my own food, etc.

Outside of Illinois I don't see very many people wearing masks. Social distancing still seems to be pretty entrenched within private venues open to providing services classified as public accommodations facilities. I've avoided hotels completely. I use hand sanitizer after pumping gas. People in Wichita were looking at me with awe for wearing a face mask in KwikTrip. All in all I would say the so-called social end of the pandemic (this differs from the medical end, which has NOT happened), vis-a-vis quarantine fatigue, has arrived for all but the most vigilant persons, and most of those vigilant persons are sheltering in place and avoiding social contact. It's almost as if the virus never happened at this point, at least in my own anecdotal experience.
 
Mar 2, 2004
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All in all I would say the so-called social end of the pandemic (this differs from the medical end, which has NOT happened), vis-a-vis quarantine fatigue, has arrived for all but the most vigilant persons, and most of those vigilant persons are sheltering in place and avoiding social contact. It's almost as if the virus never happened at this point, at least in my own anecdotal experience.
That's a terrific way of saying it, and I would totally back you up on that... quarantine fatigue has definitely set in a bit. No lie, even with me. I'm coming up on 10 days off (originally scheduled chase-vacation), and if I can't find a few days to get out, I may scrap some of that time off and save it for later cause I'm not about to blow a week's worth of vacation being stuck at home. I'd rather work. Again, depending on how the Sunday-Wednesday timeframe shakes out, I may make the best of it. We'll see.

It was the reason I brought this up, cause I know there are a handful of folks who did spend some extended time out there, some of them probably braving hotels. Knowing what I do of the virus, I feel like with a few precautions in the room (i.e. bringing your own pillows, cleaning surfaces, etc), you can largely avoid person-to-person contact which seems to be the biggest threat to spreading the disease. I've become quite adept at pumping gas cleanly locally, so I don't fixate so much on doing that remotely. I have carried wipes and sanitizer in my car and have utilized them both on local chases. So really, the biggest question for me comes down to lodging as I'm not likely going to do more than one night "camping" should I string a couple days together.

For me, most of it was legal/logistical issues early on... clearly, the logistics are easing a bit, and I don't think we're seeing travel restrictions as tight for state-to-state commuting as we were a couple weeks ago, so that's factoring in a bit less than it was say back in April and most of May. Clearly, it helped there was hardly anything to go out for, so in a sense, it's been a blessing for such a down season. Obviously still a lot of places closed, but it's definitely an improving situation in regards to logistics.

So that's where I am at... again, leaning toward taking a few days, but we'll see if the pattern supports that decision. It's not entirely out of the question I can up and back most of it if absolutely needed, but I'm trying to keep it real with how it would ultimately unfold for me if I were to be out. That said, we'll see how the pattern etches itself out for me starting Sunday and play it by year.
 
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Mark Blue

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Feb 19, 2007
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One very important point that a friend of mine (he's an MD) mentioned is most hand sanitizers are usually only effective at killing bacteria and not viruses. If you want protection against COVID-19, you need one that is alcohol based. They're out there so you just have to read the label. This one is 62% ethanol based and works either on bare hands or medical-type gloves.

20200601_110721.jpg
 

JeremyS

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Mar 12, 2014
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So I'm curious... and considered starting a new thread for it, but will keep it here since it directly relates to the title, but I am wondering, we're officially through 2/3rds of what we'd consider peak severe weather season/chasing season and as we get into June, I know a lot of folks did brave the pandemic and took some extended chasing time. So it has aroused some curiosity as I am a week out from what was going to be a "chase vacation", one of which I am leaning a bit more to spending a couple days on the road for as most of the "legal" restrictions have been eased if not completely lifted and we seem to have better understanding of the virus itself (better in terms of what we knew when this all first came about).

So again, directly mostly at those who DID go out for a few days at a time (or longer). How did you fare? What precautions did you take? Where did you primarily stay? Did you do anything different? Are you/did you get sick? What was it like for you?
My chase partner and I chased from 5/20-5/23 everywhere from Wyoming to Kansas to Texas.
Here's what we did. We brought food with, but still ended up getting a couple of meals through drive through at a McDonald's, Taco Johns, etc.
We brought along hand sanitizer, gloves, and Lysol. Everytime we filled up it was with gloves and then used sanitizer after. We both had masks that we wore whenever we were around other people like at a gas station or hotel.
We stayed in hotels all 3 nights. We stayed at a Hampton and a Holiday Inn and Suites and a Comfort Inn. All three nights we arrived after midnight and then were up and gone by 9 so we were just there to sleep and didn't use the elevators or lobby.
When I arrived in my room each night, I took a can of Lysol to all surfaces I could potentially touch.
Most people in the small towns weren't wearing masks, but at a truck stop along I-70, probably 75% were.
Neither one of us have had any kind of symptoms since getting home 9 days ago.