What Will You Do Different in 2020?

So we have reached the half way mark to chase season 2020 -- if you consider May as your target month.

With all the recent discussions and issues regarding chase tactics, safety, convergence and technology, I was wondering what chasers plan to do different in 2020?

I stopped chasing HP's years ago, so no alterations there. The unexpected byproduct of having the still photography market collapse is being able to back off. I no longer have to drive 500 miles a day with my hair on fire to avoid missing a shot that has already been accomplished by me or others a hundred times. I do believe there will be new frontiers as the evolution of moving footage progresses. Just give me a 8k, low light, global shutter camera and my hair will ignite again.

I don't have any new technology plans other than a rear-facing, 4k camera and maybe a body cam.
 

Todd Lemery

Supporter
Jun 2, 2014
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Menominee, MI
One thing I vow to do next year is to take better pictures. I say it every year and am making baby steps in that direction.
When it comes to high risk days I may change things up just a bit. If the storms are going to be moving along at a pretty good clip, staying out ahead of the storm until a tornado becomes imminent seems to make a bit of sense. I always like to ride with a storm from it’s infancy, to watch it grow and mature. When there’s a bunch more chasers out on a high risk day it’s just too difficult to keep up with a good storm unless it’s relatively slow moving. I don’t deserve a square inch of the pavement any more than the next person so just limiting the amount of time caught in a parade might be a little more enjoyable.
Time permitting I’m going to take back roads as much as I can to my daily target area. I like seeing new things and there’s just not much I haven’t seen on the main drags yet. One bonus of the back roads is not having to wait until getting to a town to use the bathroom if necessary.
I also have a new target for getting someone their first tornado. I have an older lady who has never seen a tornado that would like for me to take her. The only problem is that it would have to be fairly local so the pickings are going to be really slim!
 
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My only real change would be to try to get out more than I could this year. A lot of things came together, some that I had some control over, others that I did not, to really curtail the number of days I could chase this year. So next year I will try to schedule things a little differently, but we'll see. As to chasing, of the three days I was able to get out on the plains and chase, I saw tornadoes on two, so I guess my biggest thing would be to try to continue whatever I did right this year into next year but with more chase days.
 

Dan Robinson

Staff member
Jan 14, 2011
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
Even though my big slow-motion lightning film this year was a total flop - getting no shares and zero viral traffic - I will probably focus more on high-speed lightning footage next season as it's personally one of the most fascinating and exciting things I've ever undertook as a chaser. I also have a new vehicle that supports car camping, and I plan to forego hotels completely in 2020.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
Like Warren, I always think of November as the halfway point to my next chase vacation. If you live on the Plains, you may have opportunities before then, but as a chase vacationer November is an important milestone. When I get back from a trip, the next year’s return to the Plains seems like an eternity away. Then November comes and we’re halfway there! Before you know it, it’s New Year’s and now chasing is “later this year,” no longer “next year.” In some ways it takes a long time to get there, in other ways the summer and fall months, and then the holidays, make time go by surprisingly quickly. But then time slows in the first few months of the year - cold weather, short days, busiest time of year for me at work. Then when spring is in the air and it’s a matter of weeks, time really slows to a crawl.

The first thing different for me next year is not a good one - there is some risk that I may not be able to take my chase vacation at all, or that it may have to be short and/or at a less-than-optimal time. This is because of a major project at work set to kick off next year, and the current timeline has some unfortunate critical milestones right in peak season. If I can get away at all, I may have to settle for a short trip, and may have to be firm about when I am going, without flexibility for last minute changes based on weather patterns. Or I may have to squeeze in a trip before or after the late May peak. I am gong to try not to worry about it too much, because a lot can change on the project timeline in the next six months. It’s easy during winter to not worry about it, but I know as the season draws near it is going to drive me crazy. It will be an internal battle between wanting to look forward to the trip and telling myself not to think about it, not to get my hopes up...

One of my aspirations is to find ways to take my knowledge to a new level. Though I have been chasing for many years, it doesn’t add up to much with just one to two weeks per year. I feel like I have hit a plateau in my chasing abilities, and I have had a pretty bad streak over the last few years. Rather than just absorbing whatever I happen to absorb in normal course, I want to take a more disciplined approach to studying and learning. I am reading a book called “Ultralearning” by Scott Young, about how to structure a “learning project,” and was thinking of using some of those techniques to take a more disciplined and academic approach. At the same time, I know that my time is going to be limited, especially with this big work project on the horizon. Like a New Year’s resolution, I say this every year and then break it. Knowing I may not be able to chase at all next year makes it even harder to embark on this. It’s not for lack of motivation, it’s because I don’t want to get myself amped up for a trip that may not happen.

If I can chase in 2020, one thing that may be different is for the first time I may have one or two people with me that have never chased before but want to experience it. One is actually my former boss, who is now retired. That should be interesting, to have him along in a situation where I am the one in charge 😜. Anyway I think it will be very gratifying to expose someone to the amazing and wonderful experiences of chasing. At the same time, it’s more pressure and stress to be successful; now a missed tornado affects not only me but someone else. Someone that has never chased before doesn’t realize misses happen all the time, and I don’t want to look like an inept moron 😒 Maybe it will force me to pick up my game, like in athletics where you enroll in a competition to force yourself to train harder. The other downside of having someone else along is it changes the great dynamic my chase partner and I have; going from just the two of us for many years, a trip that is obviously also a fun vacation together, will be completely different having someone else along. As we all know, temperament, risk tolerance, ability to be bored and patient, are all unknowns with a new chase participant.

Other than that, no major changes planned. I am considering getting a new camcorder as opposed to taking video with my Nikon DSLR, but again don’t want to invest too much time and money into this type of stuff with the trip itself being so uncertain. Also not sure if I want to go back to juggling two different devices.

Kind of curious as to how others handle uncertainties about being able to chase. Talking more about chase vacationers, not those who live on the Plains and may have to face chasing less but don’t have to worry they can’t go at all, they always have that potential one day to look forward to that itself can make a season - like the two such days John had last year. Does it affect your enthusiasm and level of preparation for the season? Do you try to tune it all out to not torture yourself - like a person on a diet trying not to look at food - or do you still do everything you normally would and continue to stay on top of events from afar, even though your desire to be out there is gnawing at you mercilessly???
 
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Oct 31, 2013
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Eastern TX Panhandle
Warren that body cam won't record anything other than urinals, blue skies, and Allsup's burritos! Got ya! LOL

Seriously though, not much will change from me. Just staying safety conscious and maybe making a few additions to the Xterra like a grill guard and upgraded headlights. Xterra's suck ass when it comes to lighting. My 2011 Camry blows it away in regards to that.
 

James K

EF2
Mar 26, 2019
190
77
6
Colorado
I'm not sure exactly what/how I want to do things differently, but: I'd like to actually get out & chase/see some storms (and hopefully see my 1st tornado).

This being the 1st year I've truly paid close attention to radar, storm locations, etc (and before last year I didn't even know storm chasing was a thing)
One of the things I noted this year is how far all the 'action' in Colorado is from me...my original thinking was I could simply drive a hour or so east, view an afternoon storm, then be back home in time for dinner..
Turns out (from what I've seen) that's just not the case:
* Its allllot farther out there (making it for me what I'd consider a 'long distance' - I never actually left the house to attempt going after a storm)
* The storms fire up late enough in the afternoon (and with the distance) there's pretty much no way to be back home by dinnertime (and I'd very likely have to deal with the traffic in Denver :eek: )
While I'm thankful for the fact we don't get stuff like tornadoes at/near where I live, it also makes it hard with the long distance if I want to actually go see something. I'm going to have to do some thinking on what/how I want to do there.
I know for one its going to mean being out longer, and for two getting home later .lol.

Another way I was originally thinking was...I can check radar at home before leaving, then head out in the direction of the storm (and hopefully find a store or something along the way with free WiFi to check again - using the (very limited) cellphone-plan I had wasn't an option)...that plan I just don't think is going to work, since there's no real way of knowing just where a storm is (& if for example there's 2, which one of them might be the better choice.. plus if its HP, I'd rather avoid it alltogether)

That all said, and how much I'd really love to see a tornado, I also plan to stay pretty far back (haven't decided on what's a 'safe' distance: 5 miles? 10 miles? etc), I'm not sure how much I'll see.


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I'd hoped to atleast see/video more good lightning this year - from home (but that's again another where its always been "we don't get too much here" simply a fact of mother nature)
I also found my camcorder sucks in the dark, and the trees behind me block allot of the view.
 
Nov 18, 2006
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Chicago, IL
Not a whole lot. I plan to revamp my social media pages that I have been neglecting the last 3 years while we work on Season of the Storm. All my efforts went into that and personal brand sort of slipped under the radar. I may re-enter the streaming game but only for facebook supporters.

On big thing that I'll be doing different is chasing in my own vehicle again since mine got taken out by an accident on April 7th, timing it out literally the entire year. Its finally fixed now (barring any new issues of course)
 
Sep 7, 2013
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Strasburg, CO
I'm not sure exactly what/how I want to do things differently, but: I'd like to actually get out & chase/see some storms (and hopefully see my 1st tornado).

This being the 1st year I've truly paid close attention to radar, storm locations, etc (and before last year I didn't even know storm chasing was a thing)
One of the things I noted this year is how far all the 'action' in Colorado is from me...my original thinking was I could simply drive a hour or so east, view an afternoon storm, then be back home in time for dinner..
Turns out (from what I've seen) that's just not the case:
* Its allllot farther out there (making it for me what I'd consider a 'long distance' - I never actually left the house to attempt going after a storm)
* The storms fire up late enough in the afternoon (and with the distance) there's pretty much no way to be back home by dinnertime (and I'd very likely have to deal with the traffic in Denver :eek: )
While I'm thankful for the fact we don't get stuff like tornadoes at/near where I live, it also makes it hard with the long distance if I want to actually go see something. I'm going to have to do some thinking on what/how I want to do there.
I know for one its going to mean being out longer, and for two getting home later .lol.

Another way I was originally thinking was...I can check radar at home before leaving, then head out in the direction of the storm (and hopefully find a store or something along the way with free WiFi to check again - using the (very limited) cellphone-plan I had wasn't an option)...that plan I just don't think is going to work, since there's no real way of knowing just where a storm is (& if for example there's 2, which one of them might be the better choice.. plus if its HP, I'd rather avoid it alltogether)

That all said, and how much I'd really love to see a tornado, I also plan to stay pretty far back (haven't decided on what's a 'safe' distance: 5 miles? 10 miles? etc), I'm not sure how much I'll see.


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I'd hoped to atleast see/video more good lightning this year - from home (but that's again another where its always been "we don't get too much here" simply a fact of mother nature)
I also found my camcorder sucks in the dark, and the trees behind me block allot of the view.
You'll figure it out James. When I started chasing in CO, I lived pretty far east in the metro area (tower/quincy), so I wasnt a challenge to get out. I started by going a few miles out, then a few miles more, then I realized I was travelling 20-30 miles away from home and it felt like a long way out. Now I live way out where I used to feel like it was far away from home and my easy chases will end at the Kansas or Nebraska state lines before I decide I've gone too far.

So yeah, you'll end up creeping further and further away from home base. Its inevitable. In any case, have fun and don't stress about distances/time. Just remember if you chase in Colorado, you're always chasing away from your house, no matter in you live in Denver or Strasburg or way out in Burlington.
 
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My tactics won't change. Mostly because of my time in the military, I've been unwilling to take big risks chasing. I feel like I tempted fate enough while I was serving, and have made a conscious choice not to tempt it further with my chasing. That said, most of my improvements have been with equipment and I've been working on that since June. All my ham radio stuff is now organized by CWA on commercial VHF and UHF radios for reporting purposes, APRS capability has been ironed out, and the cell booster now has a legit antenna other than the mag mount that came out of the box. Also, I'm upgrading to full frame for stills and will likely buy another camcorder before the spring. I'm hopeful that the main thing that will change (other than the equipment changes noted above) is that more opportunities will line up with my schedule, but at the same time won't affect my regular job (truck driver).

Hopefully I'm able to see many of y'all out in the field! I was able to meet a few (including a fellow mod on the Discord side) in the field this past year, and I'd love to be able to meet more this upcoming year.
 
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Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
My tactics won't change. Mostly because of my time in the military, I've been unwilling to take big risks chasing. I feel like I tempted fate enough while I was serving, and have made a conscious choice not to tempt it further with my chasing. That said, most of my improvements have been with equipment and I've been working on that since June. All my ham radio stuff is now organized by CWA on commercial VHF and UHF radios for reporting purposes, APRS capability has been ironed out, and the cell booster now has a legit antenna other than the mag mount that came out of the box. Also, I'm upgrading to full frame for stills and will likely buy another camcorder before the spring. I'm hopeful that the main thing that will change (other than the equipment changes noted above) is that more opportunities will line up with my schedule, but at the same time won't affect my regular job (truck driver).

Hopefully I'm able to see many of y'all out in the field! I was able to meet a few (including a fellow mod on the Discord side) in the field this past year, and I'd love to be able to meet more this upcoming year.
OT but belated Happy Veterans Day Drew, to you and all other Veterans on ST! Thank you for your service, if not for heroes like all of you doing what you do, we would not have the freedom and peace of mind to pursue hobbies like storm chasing or do much of anything else!
 
Aug 9, 2012
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Galesburg, IL
www.facebook.com
I'll take more photographs of storms and hopefully tornadoes in 2020 than I did in 2019. I didn't get many quality tornado photos in 2019. I hope to change that in 2020, pull over more for tornado photos when time permits. I like being close, but I also like having nice photos to show after the chase is over too. Its always a hard one to choose for me, I usually end up shooting from the car and end up with sub-par results.
 
I'll take more photographs of storms and hopefully tornadoes in 2020 than I did in 2019. I didn't get many quality tornado photos in 2019. I hope to change that in 2020, pull over more for tornado photos when time permits. I like being close, but I also like having nice photos to show after the chase is over too. Its always a hard one to choose for me, I usually end up shooting from the car and end up with sub-par results.
This is probably going to sound a little weird, but practice those type situations with your photography. Oftentimes when I'm driving somewhere, if I see something interesting and I have the camera with me, I'll pull off real quick, check my settings really quickly, and snap a few shots. I've gotten pretty adept at shooting out of my driver's side window over the years during situations where I don't have a lot of time to work with.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I'll take more photographs of storms and hopefully tornadoes in 2020 than I did in 2019. I didn't get many quality tornado photos in 2019. I hope to change that in 2020, pull over more for tornado photos when time permits. I like being close, but I also like having nice photos to show after the chase is over too. Its always a hard one to choose for me, I usually end up shooting from the car and end up with sub-par results.
Yeah that’s always a tough call, keep driving to get closer OR get out of the car, not only to take pictures but also to simply enjoy the moment/experience. In the past, I have usually chosen the latter, often out of fear that the tornado would lift. I think in 2020, if I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity, I might choose to get closer, especially to those tornados such as Campo or Dodge City that clearly are going to stay on the ground for awhile.
 
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Jun 24, 2010
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Norman, OK
I'd like to make a better effort at taking photos of storms. Most of what I share on this site were video grabs.

Speaking of video I also want to run a dash cam. I wanted to do it last year but circumstances beyond my control prevented that from happening.

Outside of those changes I don't plan on doing anything different.
 
As others have said, every possible photo / video has already been captured. News stations aren't really paying for media anymore (unless it's extraordinary), so the pressure is off. My goal is really to do what hasn't been done before, and to re-do something that hasn't been done in a long time.

For 2020, I'm going to capture more of the day-to-day experience of the chase. Try to bring back a little more of the "Storm Chasers" TV Series feel, where the story is the people, and not so much the weather. I've come across A LOT of people who want to storm chase, but haven't for any number of reasons. They want to know what it's like to chase storms, and so my goal for 2020 is to tell the story of what it's like.

I also have a little experiment up my sleeve. Nothing scientific (I'm not a scientist), but just a new way of capturing non-visual video from a tornado and the related storm structure and combining it with visual video to hopefully create a new kind of video that nobody has ever seen before. I have no idea how it's going to turn out, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Longer term (not 2020, but further out), my ultimate goal is to capture a 4K or 8K 360 degree 3D video of a tornado that can be displayed very realistically on a VR device. The cheapest camera I know of right now that is capable of recording this costs $10,000. So that's why I say further out than 2020. That's a lot of money to save up, and I know that even with a sale of that kind of video, I'll never recover the cost of the camera.
 

Bill Hark

EF5
Jan 13, 2004
1,270
190
11
52
Richmond Virginia
www.harkphoto.com
Not much difference in chase technique, though I plan on being a little more careful around HP storms. I also plan on trying to shoot more lightning and artistic storm structure shots even when tornado potential is low along with more general landscape images.

As for equipment, I'm still considering changing to 4K as I have been contemplating the last couple of years. I am quite comfortable with my HDV equipment, though everything is getting old (Sony Z1, HV20). A switch to 4K will also likely involve getting a new laptop and I'm not sure I have enough funds at present.

I'm also considering going back to updating my website in more detail as Facebook now doesn't allow me to give out a link to my photo galleries for non-Facebook members.
 
My forecasting/nowcasting approach definitely will be getting a revamp. I likely won't be able to chase much this upcoming season with a wedding coming in late June but I'd like to take a run at whittling down the forecast tools I use. This previous season felt like I was overusing hi-res convection-allowing models while ignoring basic forecasting clues that certain plays wouldn't pan out (going south on the Llano into worse shear on 5/23 towards Lubbock instead of sticking around east of Amarillo comes to mind).

For equipment, I'm hoping to finally add a DSLR to start doing better photography/get into doing some after dark shots of storms. Hopefully an improvement in camera will follow with an improvement in the quality of my season.

I think the final change will be getting back into doing chase logs, mainly for my own edification. It's getting to the point where I'm having trouble remembering precise details of chases pre-2017 and I'd like to get photos and details in more quickly this year.
 
Mar 2, 2004
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Wichita, KS
www.facebook.com
I have really found myself changing my tactics, how I approach storms, etc over the last few years, and I feel pretty solid in where I am at with that, so chances are I won't see a ton of change in that department. Obviously a lot has changed in regards to my job here in Kansas, so that may continue to evolve as well. But aside from that, I REALLY want to do a better job documenting the chase beyond just the weather. I have done that on a few days, but not as consistently as I would like. As Scott mentioned above, I want to show more of what goes in to chasing. When I worked at the TV station in Illinois, I was able to put together some very fun weekly segments that featured a lot of behind-the-scenes kind of stuff and I had a lot of fun doing that kind of stuff. My responsibilities here are more for live stuff, so that's tougher to do for me on my own, but I feel I can still do better than I have been. It's been a bit of adjustment in the new role, and I feel like after a couple of seasons, my comfort level has gotten much better, so now it's time to really get back to some of my roots a bit.

Over the last couple years, I have focused more on photography, and while I have a long ways to go, I have been very happy with my efforts, if not my overall progression. I have enjoyed much more the opportunity to shoot photos and I am glad I invested in better equipment several years ago. That will continue into 2020 and beyond.

I also want to be better about putting aside some personal time to get out and chase. It's amazing that I can make a living doing this, but it is also nice to get out on my own without the pressures of work and just get out and have fun. This past season, I had a couple long weekends that I was able to get out and play outside the DMA and I really enjoyed those chases a lot. I want to ensure myself a few more chances to do that as I have very good flexibility in my week-to-week schedule and paid time off.
 
Jul 5, 2009
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
I, too, enjoy documenting aspects of the chase other than the weather. I have kept a chase journal for every chase vacation I have been on for the past 20+ years.

Some years I was good about keeping up day-to-day, so there is rich detail about each individual day; other years, especially the more frustrating ones, I was less disciplined each day and in one sitting wrote a summary for a few days or even the whole one or two week trip.

Earlier years included very detailed, road-by-road, old school chase accounts; more recent years took a more summarized view of the chase itself (or I just copied-and-pasted my Stormtrack chase report) and talked about where we stayed, places we ate, a lot of rumination about mistakes and frustration, etc.

I would love to do something with it some day, maybe write a book about chasing. It's all just in Microsoft Word documents, nothing online, not even any pictures (of course I have pictures, just not embedded with the writing).