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

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Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
One of the main reasons I didn't take a chase vacation was because of the logistics (figured a lot of restaurants and bars would be closed, limited capacity, or takeout only) and the overall weird, dystopian "feel" of everything. From @Jesse Risley 's post it sounds like maybe that needn't have been as much of a concern; probably a perspective created by the fact that I am in the Philadelphia area where most all restrictions are still in place and only beginning to be eased (but far from "reopened") this Friday. Also didn't want to deal with cleaning a hotel room every night after getting in late; didn't even think of just using Lysol as @JeremyS did, I was thinking I would have to wipe everything down. Hard to find either Lysol or wipes these days anyway, at least around here. Anyway, other factors were work and not wanting to make my family's life even more difficult after they have already dealt with 11 weeks of lockdown. My earlier TLDR post is somewhere above if you care to read it. It took me a while to find peace with missing this season but obviously it has gotten much easier given how bad the season has been.
 
Mar 5, 2010
314
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Cascade, CO
So I will jump in with my experience. So I did go out two weeks ago. I left Colorado and spent 3 days chasing in OK, KS, and TX. My only interactions with people would have been gas pumps. I wore my mask and used a disposable glove to fuel up. I packed a cooler of food and beverages, and have a twin mattress in my car. Websites like www.freecampsites.net offer really good options for sleeping. Both nights I found dispersed camping and literally was the only car for miles. The bathroom is the tricky part for all of us. I will admit that I did use the side of the road for the easier part of that. Hey isnt that why we chase on dirt roads anyways? For the "more difficult" part I found a few parks that still had their bathrooms open or actually found a portajohn. Both of them looked like they hadnt been used in days if not weeks. Made me feel a tad better.

So yea its a different chase year for me, normally I chase and then off to the Hampton Inn....maybe next year!
 
Jun 1, 2008
533
473
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Chattanooga, TN
www.linkedin.com
I'd recommend disposable gloves, or at least a paper towel, to pump gas. Still use hand sanitizer after (before a real soap and water wash).

Some recommend wiping down fast food or delivery containers. Hot food inside should be safe. We get a lot of take-out locally just to support restaurants. Hotels, motels and masks are covered above. Masks are mainly for the other people, not the wearer, in case of asymptomatic carry. I use one grocery shopping or standing in line for take-out, nothing else really (still WFH).

I just want to chime in about pumping gas with protection. It's such a shared surface. Otherwise, don't lick doorknobs and it should be OK.
 
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Bobby Little

Supporter
Mar 18, 2013
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eagle, michigan
Ive been using good leather clean gloves. After touching things i just go out and rub my gloves several times against the grass. I really dont think you have to do anymore than that. Viruses cant live on most things long ( i know..they found it on surfaces after so many days and hours) but really 99% of the time they cant.Just like when you touch things without sanitizing..all you have to do is rub your hands togather till they get hot. That has been proven to work most times. So really i dont think people should get too worked up...just common sense.
 
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Jun 14, 2009
80
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11
Brooklyn, NY
I'm planning to head out next week. My car is too small to sleep in and I don't like to deal with camping late at night after a long day and potentially downstream of storms. Someone here mentioned airbnb, which of course usually isn't practical with last minute booking/planning. But this year, to minimize interactions, I'm thinking of getting a place as a base in Kansas and using it as a base and chasing out from there, maybe getting a hotel occasionally if I end up in western SD or something. I've been looking around Salina or Hays in the middle of the SPC general probabilities and on good highway intersections. Places are cheap and I could afford something better than I usually get even if I only am there for a couple days. I want a place where I have the whole thing. Any suggestions for towns/places around there? Also it would be nice if there was other (socially distanced) stuff to do in that area in case there's no storms.
 
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Jun 1, 2008
533
473
11
Chattanooga, TN
www.linkedin.com
Much as I'd like to promote my home state Kansas, this late in the season Nebraska might be a more central base. Omaha is good but a little far for Front Range action. Grand Island is farther west, and sizable enough to find an adult beverage after the chase.

Farther north Sioux City, Iowa is closer to the Upper Midwest. Then Sioux Falls, SD is even farther north if it looks like action will keep that far north. I think Sioux Falls is a nicer town, but it's hedging pretty far north.
 
Jun 14, 2009
80
37
11
Brooklyn, NY
Much as I'd like to promote my home state Kansas, this late in the season Nebraska might be a more central base. Omaha is good but a little far for Front Range action. Grand Island is farther west, and sizable enough to find an adult beverage after the chase. Farther north Sioux City, Iowa is closer to the Upper Midwest. Then Sioux Falls, SD is even farther north if it looks like action will keep that far north. I think Sioux Falls is a nicer town, but it's hedging pretty far north.
Thanks! I guess I'm always wishcasting for Kansas (my first real tornado was Rozel). But you're right. I think what I'll do is head out that way and then look around and maybe pick a place for a few days based on what's going on. With the current situation, sadly, there's tons of amazing places open.

John
 
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Mar 16, 2004
119
27
11
New Jersey
I'm planning to head out next week. My car is too small to sleep in and I don't like to deal with camping late at night after a long day and potentially downstream of storms. Someone here mentioned airbnb, which of course usually isn't practical with last minute booking/planning. But this year, to minimize interactions, I'm thinking of getting a place as a base in Kansas and using it as a base and chasing out from there, maybe getting a hotel occasionally if I end up in western SD or something. I've been looking around Salina or Hays in the middle of the SPC general probabilities and on good highway intersections. Places are cheap and I could afford something better than I usually get even if I only am there for a couple days. I want a place where I have the whole thing. Any suggestions for towns/places around there? Also it would be nice if there was other (socially distanced) stuff to do in that area in case there's no storms.
Interesting article on hotels vs AirBnBs. The article is not chasing specific, but it does have application to your chasing plans as you described them:


Sean
 
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Despite all the issues, it would appear that we all got through the COVID spring and early summer of 2020 without any major issues. I have not heard of any chasers getting sick from travel-related ventures. Obviously, the bust season may have played a part. Now I have to figure out a way to cover the hurricane season. There is no way I will fly. I've heard numerous horror stories from friends about flights. I might have to limit my tropical intercepts to the Gulf, where I can drive to in 2-3 days.
 
I have not heard of any issues involving travel among chasers either, but it is still possible. I saw a LOT of chasers June 26 on the storm near Colorado Springs. Most surprising thing was seeing three tour vans that appeared to involve at least two different companies, though I am not sure which ones. Two were unmarked and the third was decorated with the name of a tour company, but I don't recall which one and not one I was familiar with in any case. I would NOT want to ride all day in a closed van with people from everywhere, but to each their own, I guess. Though I had some thought of out-and-back in one day, I did end up staying in a motel as that seemed like the less unsafe option relative to driving home at night through areas with high populations of deer, elk, and other big game. Outdoor exit to the room, sanitized all surfaces, individual AC, etc., so probably about as safe as motels can be. I was a little surprised at the number of travelers in general, some hotels full, and packed bars and restaurants - before Colorado closed the bars again. But I got all my food from drive-thrus.
 
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As my good wife the attorney reminds me, the tour groups run a great risk of liability if someone contracted COVID while in their care. No release will exempt you from stupidity during a known pandemic. My hat's off to those who acted responsible and cancelled tours. It's not just people getting sick on the tours, but those would could be exposed down the line, like older people and medical workers. There are good "van" tour groups, but there seems to be a growing number of very aggressive, reckless groups. It's just a matter of time before you see one of those ads on TV..... "Have you or a loved one been injured during a storm chasing vacation......." The clock is ticking once more.
 

Mark Blue

Owner
Staff member
Feb 19, 2007
3,081
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Colorado
It probably wouldn't hurt for the person traveling to keep a meticulous journal of times, dates, activities and so forth. Otherwise it would be very difficult to reconstruct the timeline several months after the fact. Although ballpark at best, the latest spike around some states' Memorial Day fun in the sun and the peak times for the protests would put the time from exposure until getting sick at around 3-4 weeks. I imagine if we snooped around we could find some statistics for that but it would be a hard case to prove. That's why attorneys make the big bucks!
 
Sep 5, 2019
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Newtown, PA
My hat's off to those who acted responsible and cancelled tours.
During one of my tours, someone in my van had a slight cold. By the end of the week, I was so congested I could hardly breathe. Fortunately, it was only a cold & nothing more than an inconvenience, but it doesn't require a medical degree to recognize how easy it is to spread germs when you're cooped up in a van with 6 or 7 strangers for a week.
 
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How would that be proven? Can you sue Delta Airlines if you get COVID on your trip to Florida? Can you sue Hertz if you get COVID on your drive to Oklahoma? That seems like a stretch.
I agree, but it's the way the legal system works. If multiple people became infected during a tour, it would not be very hard to prove that someone from the group infected everyone else. In addition, a tour operator is "well aware" of the dangers posed by closed quarters traveling, people flying in from outside locations, asymptomatic presentation risks, and the dangers of hotel infections, but they decided to operate in such a hazardous environment, especially if they did not offer alternatives like rescheduling or refunds. Again, I'm the messenger here and there are a TON of lawsuits being filed for similar complaints.