Top five dangers of spotting

Nov 28, 2005
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Overland Park KS
vortex-times.com
I agree with Shane's #1 problem for spotters is a lack of storm knowledge and what will come next. The dangers of rain-wrapped tornadoes, lightning, over reliance on radar (often times that is several mins. old), and other distracted drivers falls on my list too. As the chaser population expands and spotters become more numerous...more eyes are on a given supercell and with that many conflicting reports. The media's overdoing the annual tornado count irks me to no end. They must counter this lip service with the fact that there are also probably 3-4 times the number of eyes on any given supercell updraft these days as compared to 10 yrs. ago. Stepping off my soapbox now....come on second season - get here already !! :cool:
 

J West

EF3
Jun 7, 2005
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It's a matter of location as well. Those who spot in the county have different problems that those who spot in a urban environment. City dwellers don't have cows in the road, where county spotters don't have urban sprawl to worry about.

Top of my list is traffic and crashes, second is storm structure identification (Too many people go to an hour-long spotter class and deem themselves experts), third is having the ability to correctly report what you see to the NWS, fourth is the overall environment in which you are chasing and fifth is "act of God" risks like lightning.
 
Mar 21, 2007
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I would have to say real-time storm behavior/structure, as Shane said long ago. I've heard from too many people who say they attended a class 3-4 or more years ago. Many spotter groups from towns in rural areas adopt fixed locations from which to spot, typically spots with good visibility. That's fine as long as they know when to move to safety, but unfortunately too many people do not recognize when they are in a bad spot.
 

John Diel

EF5
Mar 25, 2004
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North Central Oklahoma
This might generate a little debate..... :(

I won't give any order here, but for Storm Spotters (defined as persons with NOAA and other training affiliated with Local Goverment sponsered programs, i.e. Skywarn, HAM Clubs, City/County EM)

1. Traffic - In this area people go nuts at the mere mention of Severe Weather

2. Storm Chasers - This is the one that will generate something. But there's been plenty of debate about the Chaser vs Spotter.

3. Local Yahoos and Wannabes - This could go into the Traffic section

4. Lightning - Unpredictible

5. Inexperience/lack of training - Should be self evident

6. Shane Adams - Spotters should avoid this man like the plague. If you happen across him and don't recognize the threat, you may likely end up a statistic (Sorry Shane, I had to throw that in there. Alsups Burrito's having been covered) :D

I am both a Chaser and Spotter. Sometimes I have to walk a thin line and occasionally give up a good storm for less severe weather within my area of responsiblity.
 
May 31, 2004
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Peotone, IL
illinoisstormchasers.com
2. Storm Chasers - This is the one that will generate something. But there's been plenty of debate about the Chaser vs Spotter.
Explain please. How is this a danger?

You didn't really give us a reason why you thought so, so just wanted to know your thoughts on why chasers would qualify. (Keeping in mind whats already been said about this age-old battle)
 
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John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
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Maple Grove, MN
www.WxChaser.com
The number one threat (which has been stated) is inexperience.

No knowing when to leave can get a spotter hurt or killed, and no amount of classroom time can completely fill this gap, and for sure not just 2-4 hours every 2 years.
 

John Diel

EF5
Mar 25, 2004
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North Central Oklahoma
Danny,

Ask most Spotters about Chasers and you'll get a negative response. Ask most Chasers about Spotters and you'll get a negative response.

The answer was mostly tongue in cheek, so don't flame me (or go ahead and dog me).

I run in both Kennels, so it's interesting to say the least. In truth, Chasers aren't really a problem for Spotters unless they camp out in the Spotters assigned area. Even then it's not a real issue as watching them will give the Spotter a clue as to when to leave.

Take the answer for what it is. A little levity.
 
May 31, 2004
1,895
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Peotone, IL
illinoisstormchasers.com
Danny,

Ask most Spotters about Chasers and you'll get a negative response. Ask most Chasers about Spotters and you'll get a negative response.

The answer was mostly tongue in cheek, so don't flame me (or go ahead and dog me).

I run in both Kennels, so it's interesting to say the least. In truth, Chasers aren't really a problem for Spotters unless they camp out in the Spotters assigned area. Even then it's not a real issue as watching them will give the Spotter a clue as to when to leave.

Take the answer for what it is. A little levity.
I wasn't dogging at all. That wasn't my intent at all, I just wanted an open-minded, calm opinion without causing "Fall Flame War 2008." I just wanted to know as a whole how chasers would be detrimental to spotters. I would think the more eyes in an area the better......
 

Craig Schultz

My top 5:

1. Hydroplaning
2. Falling asleep on the way home (sometimes you're not smart enough to pull over soon enough)
3. Other drivers (you cannot control what they are doing)
4. Clay/Mud roads
5. Lightning

Especially a long way from home on a road you are unfamiliar with, hydroplaning is my biggest concern. Not all roads are built the same in all states.

Craig
WX0BUB
 

John Diel

EF5
Mar 25, 2004
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North Central Oklahoma
Danny,

From experience (and others will tell you this as well) there is a division between Chasers and Spotters. Whether or not there's a valid reason behind it or not, it's still there. Most storm spotters are not storm chasers. Most of them are volunteers that have been serving Skywarn, Local HAM group, or their local community for years. They have their areas of responsibility and pretty well stick to them.

Storm Chasers blow through with the wind. Sometimes in massive droves they come out, cause traffic snarls (Hence the local constabulary gets a little peaked), and generally get in the way of the local storm spotter (or, at least they are percieved to do so). Very rarely do all these folks running through the countryside or town contribute much to the community and virtually nothing to the local spotter group in the way of warnings or reports.

Now, I'm not saying that Chasers don't report what they see. In many cases they do. To NOAA. I noticed a couple of the posts are starting to list dangers associated with Chasing rather than spotting. Case in point:
1. Lightning
2. Hydoplaning
3. Local's wanting to see
4. The Core
5. Falling asleep
Hydroplaning, though a danger to anyone driving, is usually a Chaser related issue and they are traveling faster to keep up or ahead of the storm. Spotters are more likely to stay put.
Locals wanting to see. Well isn't that a Storm Spotter?
The Core: A danger to anyone not knowledgable enough to know what they are looking at.
Falling asleep. The Spotter goes home to bed after the storm moves from his area. Very rarely is he further than 10 miles from home.

Oh, I forgot the lightning. Basically a danger to anyone out and about.

Now, it doesn't really matter if any of the allegations are true or not. It's the perception. Many Chasers are firmly convinced that Local Spotters are a bunch of inept, hicks with wheat chaff for brains. Spotters take all the good filming spots. Spotters won't get out of the way and drive way to slow. Spotters don't know what they are looking at and call in Scudnadoes all the time..

See where this is going? It's perpetuated by the local EM's in many cases or by the local "old timers' who have been there for years. Local HAM groups will enhance this perception by closing Nets during severe weather. Even NOAA Met's have a say. Seems they are about evenly divided about those who chase being a threat or an asset. Chaser bashing is a local pass time.

S of one, half dozen the other. I do both and walk a thin line with my EM. He's not a fan of Storm Chasing. I generally don't tell my Chaser Buddy's that I Spot Storms locally when I don't have enough gas to make the upper plains or Red River jaunts. I'm not ashamed to be either Chaser or Soptter, I just get tired of the BS thrown by both camps.

JD
 
Jul 12, 2008
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Sulphur , Oklahoma
I do understand . I am a part of a Skywarn group down here and I do chase out of area . Are group cover a LARGE area lol. I am lucky and the group is cool with my chaseing . But the fighting between Spotter's and chaser's drive's me crazy.
 

Shane Adams

IMO the spotter issues revolve almost exclusively around territoriality. It's 'their' backyard, 'their' turf. Like any small town, anyone passing through who isn't a familiar face is considered a threat, whether consciously or subconsciously. This is on any given day, let-alone a situation (severe weather) when people are under duress.

I can understand this point of view partly, because I grew up in a small town and got used to knowing almost everyone I would see day to day. But this doesn't make a storm chaser the bad guy. Unfortunately, as John noted, it's only the perception that really matters. I understand this too, to a point, but I have a huge problem with how it paints chasers as the bad guy. It's the same thing as when a major crime hits a local town and outside authorities are called in to work the case; it's considered intrusive and threatening and it pisses the locals off. This isn't about chasing storms VS spotting them, it's about anyone not from the area being there in the first place.

And regardless of who/how many local feathers my presence may ruffle, I will not apologize for my proximity to anywhere when I'm observing severe weather. My town or not.
 
Since this is for spotters and not chasers, I think the only danger for them is lack of knowledge/storm experience. Many times last year and just recently "spotters" (including Fire, EMS and police) have been seen looking at the wrong (gust front/shelf cloud) part of the HP-themed years' storms and often report many false tornadoes. This will often times, make it into the record books, skewing climatology data. I've also been stopped and talked to spotters many times, who were very nice, but didn't have a clue of storm structure. It's pretty frustrating, while chasing, when there are several storms within reach and a report of a tornado or funnel cloud is made, get there minutes later, only to see an outflow-dominant POS storm that a spotter called in. Perhaps the lack of storm chaser reports are due to the fact that most value calling in accurate reports with 100% certainty and don't feel the need to be somebody, playing hero for their communities. And I realize that not all spotters are this way, some are very knowlegable and report accurate information, but from the impression they give off time and time again, speaks loudly for the rest of them...just as John has stated his stereotypes among chasers. Unfortunately, my opinion probably won't ever change, just as the storm chaser image that spotters have, will.

And while storm spotters do provide a service to their communities, they haven't raised money for victims of natural disasters for 5 years running now, but storm chasers have.
 
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May 31, 2004
1,895
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Peotone, IL
illinoisstormchasers.com
John,

I appreciate your response. Everyone has their own perception on things and I was just curious what yours would be given you are put in both situations. I've gone over this topic many times and nothing new has been said in anyone's case. It is a time-less battle between the "yahoos" and the "old timers" (stereotyping; Yah I know its bad, but it'll be okay)that will probably never be resolved. Some may say spotters number one danger is their own ego and sense of being Barney Fife, I've heard it before and it looks like others have as well. Personally since I live in a 3mil + city, the only negative chaser/spotter confrontation I had was when I was young(12 years old) at a spotter training class being verbally chastised by whomever it was that ran the spotter net at the time. Granted I had just started chasing the year before, however being told I was doing nothing good for my community and that I would get myself killed because all chasers act first and think later, in my opinion that was a bit unacceptable. It is a battle that won't go away, and like Shane said :
And regardless of who/how many local feathers my presence may ruffle, I will not apologize for my proximity to anywhere when I'm observing severe weather. My town or not ~ Shane Adams
 

John Diel

EF5
Mar 25, 2004
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North Central Oklahoma
Shane brings up a few points I overlooked. TURF. Us Vs. THEM

Yes, it's not "right" but it's there all the same. As one of the few who took the extra time to learn how to "read" a radar screen, took the time to learn how to read a Skew-T, and took the time to learn about structure, OFD, etc. It's hard dealing with the folks who's claim to fame are 4 or 5 Severe warnings each year. Occasionally they get a Tornado! I've seen the sirens go off when there was no reason to blow them (Both visual and radar) and I've seen massive rotating wall clouds roll over town with a beautiful radar couplet and no siren at all.

Personality enters so much into it, that the EM of a particular town won't take my reports at face value. Just because it's me that's calling it in. Does it make sense? No.

We are our own worst enemy. Those that went before us and the few who raised a ruckus giving us the bad taste. We are our own saviour as well. Many EM's appreciate chasers. Many NOAA Mets know Chasers and rely on them in the field.

Personally, I try to educate Spotters while in the field. If I happen on them, I'll stop and talk. I'll point out various structures and show them on the radar screen as well. I get to talk to far fewer Chasers though sa they are pretty much "on the go". I'm usually not around for the big convergence on a target area. I'd like to be though. The only Chasers I've met face to face from this site are Shane and Mick. Both of whom I respect and are really great folks.

I should say that I met a few Chasers in Dodge City last spring. I rolled in with the only window broken that day.

Take care all.

Now that all that's out of the way, The top 5 things I think pose the greatest risk for Spotters?

5. Overconfidence
4. Spotting at night
3. Too much reliance on the guy at the EOC looking at 10 minute old radar scans and directing people on that.
2. Not knowing when to bail
1. Not enough experience to know when to bail.

JD
 
Published statistics of dead spotters?
Where?
I'll take my chances with what I know about storms than to be hangin' with neighborhood gang-bangers anytime - any day. One can die at any time for any reason. I'm not sure what brings this concept out in the open, but the way people have been speaking of this subject - it sounds like dead spotters should recieve a posthumous Purple Cloud'- or a Congressional Medal of Thunder!
:D
There have been two that I know of. A law enforcement officer in Greensburg, and a volunteer firefighter in Seneca, MO named Tyler Casey. He was 21, married with an infant daughter. These are people, have some respect.
 
There have been two that I know of. A law enforcement officer in Greensburg, and a volunteer firefighter in Seneca, MO named Tyler Casey. He was 21, married with an infant daughter. These are people, have some respect.
Do you assume that I don't respect them?
Your assumption is far from the facts - I'm afraid.
I asked a legitimate question that pertained to this year.
Where do you get your inspiration from?!?

I respect and work with Law Enforcement and have worked with local Fire Dept Volunteers in the recent past.
This thread is about five biggest dangers to spotters; do you care to contribute to this topic?

I have one more that I would like to add: will they ever be able to get a one minute refresh to radar/GR3?
Now, THAT would be useful and allow for better results for spotters and chasers alike.
Doubtful that it will happen any time soon though...
 

Shane Adams

I have one more that I would like to add: will they ever be able to get a one minute refresh to radar/GR3?
Now, THAT would be useful and allow for better results for spotters and chasers alike.
I don't see the benefit this would have, especially for spotters who are trained to use their eyes on the sky, not a computer screen.

As for chasers, if you know what you're doing when you look at the sky, you'll know what the storm is doing before a radar does, whether the data is six minutes or one minute old.
 
There have been two that I know of. A law enforcement officer in Greensburg, and a volunteer firefighter in Seneca, MO named Tyler Casey. He was 21, married with an infant daughter. These are people, have some respect.

Correction Paul,

There was no law inforecment officer killed in Greensburg or from Greensburg proper.
The Sheriff deputy that was killed was actually from near the Macksville area on HWY 50 well north of Greensburg.
He was killed when he made a horrible choice and basically drove into the tornado (Greesnburg #2 tornado) after loosing his "bearings" and his correct location in relation to the storm/tornado.
 
Correction Paul,

There was no law inforecment officer killed in Greensburg or from Greensburg proper.
The Sheriff deputy that was killed was actually from near the Macksville area on HWY 50 well north of Greensburg.
He was killed when he made a horrible choice and basically drove into the tornado (Greesnburg #2 tornado) after loosing his "bearings" and his correct location in relation to the storm/tornado.
Lanny, thanks for the correction. Rob, I just found it a touch insensitive for someone to make light of or jest about awards to be given posthumously for people killed spotting or chasing. That's all I was saying.
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,528
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Kearney, NE
bigstormpicture.com
One of the least publicized risks of spotting is getting hit in the penis by lightning.

In all seriousness, though, gotta throw my chips in with driving. Driving, even during nice weather, is a far greater risk than that posed by severe weather. Even if all you do is drive out to some spot on top of a hill and sit there, the driving out there and driving home will be by far the most dangerous part of your entire severe weather experience.
 
Keep an open mind, use your instincts, believe what you see, don't discount anything

When you see something dangerous that might be brewing ( wallclouds, funnels, vicious thunderstorms, doppler etc) -even at night- don't discount anything , even if another spotter's information or law enforcement says its nothing

A couple of years ago, at night just outside of Louisbourg, KS (20 minutes south of Kansas City on I-69), I thought I could see a wall cloud looming just south even in the dark. A trooper came by and I mentioned to him the structure and pointed to it and he said " no nothing to worry about." So I did not follow it as it drifted east over into Missouri.

Well later when I got to Olathe, I found out that after it got into Missouri, it did put down a brief tornado .

So you never know. Trust your instincts and what you see not necessarily what other spotters see ( of course take reports into account though).