Another news article about storm "tourists"

There were a lot of people out around Mulvane that day. But I seem to remember seeing things a bit differently. Every chaser I saw was pulled off the road and in the ditch with their tripods. K15 was shut down by a fire truck just before the tornado crossed the road presumably to keep the traffic that was still headed that way from dying in it. Got that on video in fact.

We went down the road where the worst damage was to check on people. There were some cars down there, mostly locals who went to help, and one fire truck that was leaving the scene headed to look for others. Got that on video too.

I did hear a couple of younger chasers that parked near us who were hooping and hollering cheering until I told them to shut up that this was a deadly storm. No gear on their car though, might have been locals.
 
I was on the Mulvane tornadofest also. Whenever we would pull over to take video it would be on a side road or parking lot. I never saw anyone blocking fire trucks. What they fail to tell is that the LOCALS are the ones who D*** around and end up screwing up things for the responsible chasers such as ourselves :twisted:
 
I think the local residents are more of an intended target of articles like this than the hobbyist chasers. When you think about it most of these towns where the alleged problems with traffic impeding emergency vehicles have occurred have much higher populations than the entire hobbyist chaser community. Over 99% of all the people who are ever going to see this article aren't hobbyist or scientist or media chasers. So I just see this media campaign as an attempt to convince more local residents to stay home if they're already there when the tornado warnings are issued.

Of course that doesn't mean I exactly agree with this media campaign - nobody has any more of a right to travel down a non-closed road than anyone else - but it's just my opinion on what I think articles like this are trying to accomplish.
 
Surprisingly good article

I think this one went out of the way to distinguish "Chasers" from "Locals". They've got quotes from people on both sides of the fence and they were pretty articulate about it.

John
 
Originally posted by Greg Stumpf
http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/9076360.htm


Comments?

Oh for damn certain I have some comments...

ON June 12, we called in every tornado we saw that day, sometimes screwing up video (as I did with the first Mulvane tornado) to scramble and find the report hotline numbers. We called in the second Mulvane tornado (which was the one that destroyed the two-story SE of town) about a minute after it formed (still west of the saddle club that was severely damaged) and ICT didn't even know about it.

On May 29, we witnessed a local ICT media satellite truck (I have this on video) scream past us like we were standing still, and we were doing highway speeds. Later in the evening, the same satellite truck tried to run a roadblock on KS49, a few miles north of US160, to the point where the officer had to run acros the road and physically step in front of their truck to stop them. I was about 20 feet away watching this, so I know.

Yet this article (like all the other crap coming from the Wichita area paper medium in the past few weeks) insists on targeting chasers as the problem.



WAKE THE HELL UP PEOPLE

Locals are your problem. These 'chasers' your sherriff and other authorities are encountering, they aren't chasers, they're locals who think they're chasers. They wait around until something's close and then they pounce on it like a panther, then claim experience and talent got them their prize......BULLSHIT. They are local yocals who sit on their collective asses waiting for storms to come near because they couldn't forecast their way to the beach in San Diego in July.

You reporters (and I know SOMEONE with Eagle ties is reading this) need to learn the difference between what a chaser is, and what a local is. Because if you ruin things for chasers through your HORRIDLY inaccurate reporting, I'll personally come up to ICT and set the record straight.....and when I'm done, you'll have plenty to write about.
 
Originally posted by Greg Stumpf
http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/9076360.htm


Comments?

This article does not point the finger at veteran or dedicated storm chasers, thus I do not feel like this article is talking about me, or Greg Stumpf, Shane Adams, or the many other dedicated storm chasers/videographers/photographers that make up our wonderful community. This is more of a slam at Joe Sixpack who is watching the news and sees a tornado warning or tornado on TV and wants to go out and see it for himself.

Wichita is a not-too-far-behind second to the OKC Metro for yahoo chasers, gawkers, whatever you want to call them... which is highly tied to the sensationalism brought on by the endless minutes of non-stop information brought on by TV and Radio media. The Wichita market is big big BIG on severe weather. Just like OKC. It shouldn't surprise anyone that the gawkers will be out around a 60 mile radius of Wichita... in droves... during the peak of the season... let alone after the fact that there were already two huge events before June 12th even happened.

This was not an article aimed at storm chasers... our community... IMHO. Just my thoughts.

Mike U
 
I can't imagine a more damaging article about an isolated incident that buries the history of chasing and all the good that has come from it. Nor do I understand the well-known chasers who contribute sound bites to these stories. Are they not also part of the mayhem? Should I get off the road becuase they've been chasing five or ten or twenty years longer? Sorry, we're all in this boat together, and we're most definitely taking water.

You think that story doesn't make local politicians angry? Hell, it made me angry and I don't write legislation for a living, or have any relatives in Mulvane.

We need the senior veteran leadership of chasing to come out of their coven and help organize a response to things like this before we all wind up the favorite new targets of the Kansas State Police. They're the only ones who can do it. Some of us down here in the fourth generation have already tried. All chasers have a stake in this. I doubt any potential regulation is going to 'grandfather in' people who were chasing before the Twister Era.
 
Originally posted by Shane Adams
Oh for damn certain I have some comments...

ON June 12, we called in every tornado we saw that day, sometimes screwing up video (as I did with the first Mulvane tornado) to scramble and find the report hotline numbers. We called in the second Mulvane tornado (which was the one that destroyed the two-story SE of town) about a minute after it formed (still west of the saddle club that was severely damaged) and ICT didn't even know about it.

Dude, I already replied to the author of that article and included info about what you and David Drummond were doing calling in the tornadoes first, along with good stuff other chasers were doing. I created a very, very long reply, and you probably know by now I can do it. I took almost every line in the article and debated it.

This is a crappy article and in my opinion is very damaging to chasers. It creates some new term 'Tornado Tourist'. I agree with Mike that they may be attempting to primarily describe the locals clogging the roadways but they don't make any distinction between them and other chasers. The Kansas police will not appreciate this type of info.

Also David, you mentioned that you didn't see people blocking the road at Mulvane. The article is a bit tricky in being sensational by opening with the Harper, KS tornado which is where the roads are actually blocked from people supposedly parking in the road, and the Mulvane tornado where the police had the roads blocked.

For those of you on the Harper storm - what did you see transpire? Are any of these allegations true?

Anyway it will be interesting to see what kind of reply I get.
 
Originally posted by Mike Umscheid
[
This article does not point the finger at veteran or dedicated storm chasers

Look at the title.....it's pretty much all-encompassing as far as the paper's audience is concerned. They may not be targeting serious chasers, but their misrepresentation of what chasers are makes it seem as if they are, which makes us all look bad in the end. And it's just another example of how the media screw things up for people.
 
A quick comment about 6/12 Mulvane... I can say with complete certainty that the vast majority of 'real' chasers that I saw practiced very good driving/parking habits! Many folks who I either recognized as a chaser or "looked" to be a chaser parked completely off the roads and did other safe measures to ensure they weren't a part of the problem. I was very impressed by many of ya'll that I saw out there...

The REAL BIG problem that caused me a 45-minute traffic mess in Mulvane involved locals. In fact, there was one intersection of two relatively large roads/highways that caused such great frustration for me that I was ready to do some hardcore offroading (in my pontiac bonneville LOL). Alongside the road, near the intersection, were no less than 10-15 cars parked in front of the stop sign. Given the very narrow shoulder and relatively steep drop-off beyond the shoulder, many of these people who parked here did so with their vehicles 1/2 of the way into the lane. Then, as I finally got to near the actual intersection, there were more cars/vehicles parked, this time I noticed that every corner of the intersection had cars parked alongside it. Many of these seemed to be locals, but there were also several media vehicles (KSN News off the bat) that parked their cars practically IN the intersection. This, along with the fact that most were driving like 15-20mph through this intersection, attributed to both gawking as well as needing to swerve around those walking around IN the intersection, contributed to the 30 minutes I was near this intersection alone... My lesson that I learned: I will NEVER again drive in, through, or near a town, no matter how small, that has been hit by a tornado. Why? Not because I don't think I could ever offer help, since I obviously would if I saw no emergency crews, but the insane traffic that can develop is ridiculous.

I'm not in the position to say who can and who cannot chase, but gosh darnit, the traffic is frustrating sometimes... Huge props to the safe chasers this day, and 'shame on you!' to those non-emergency crews who decided to park half-way out in lanes on highways and block intersections!
 
Originally posted by Amos Magliocco
We need the senior veteran leadership of chasing to come out of their coven and help organize a response to things like this before we all wind up the favorite new targets of the Kansas State Police. They're the only ones who can do it. Some of us down here in the fourth generation have already tried. All chasers have a stake in this. I doubt any potential regulation is going to 'grandfather in' people who were chasing before the Twister Era.

While I was totally against the proposal to create a chaser association dedicated soley to combating this type situation, I have to agree with Amos' sentiments.....you veterans need to bring your bright white asses out of the pre-1995 dark and into the spotlight that is 2004 chaser relations and get our backs. You've been CFDGing us to death the past several years yet are still quick to critique any and every move we make without your approval.....time to shit or get off the pot. So what's up veterans? You gonna chip in for the greater good/cause, or are you gonna continue to huddle in privacy as our ranks are dragged throuh the mud?

Remember, YOUR asses are on the line this time as well :wink:
 
Another tidbit on June 12th.... We had arrived on the storm as the sun was going down and managed to see the tornado during nightfall/duck SE of Atlanta. While We were off on the side of a dirt road tripoding some lightning and trying to get pics there was a couple of people that pulled up to us and asked us how to get back to Wichita. They said they had driven all the way from Wichita to see the storm. I wasnt really sure what to say to them. We basically just told them how to get back home and they went on their merry way. It just kinda took me afar that they thought driving to Atlanta was a long ways... and that they lived in Wichita and were locals there...

Also, we kept hearing about people flocking to see damage that was done in Mulvane on the local radio broadcast. That's just horrible with people flocking from nearby cities just to gawk at damage done by nature. Unless they are certified Emergency relief people EMT's, volunteers, or such, they have no business dawdling around. It is noble to try and help out, but you do get in the way at some point when it is not your community that is involved.

But as long as human curiosity is sparked, there will always be locals that will take a look around, and I am not one to say they are not allowed to, because it is a free country. They have as much a right of being out there as we do. They may not understand everything they are seeing, but they probably know the road network much better than any of us do and it is their area ;).
 
I agree there has to be something to counter this type of publicity. I don't think the article was fair in that it didnt really say the difference between locals and chasers, in fact I got the impression that unless you were out there with the media or a researcher you were who they were complaining about.

I thought Scott Roberts was supposed to do a positive story about keeping locals off the roads and putting chasers in a positive light. As far as not talking to the press to give soundbites thats kinda tricky because nobody really said anything that was bad about chasers. Its when people make comments that the media can twist to use against us there is an issue. Without those soundbites we really have no say and since the vets are not coming out of the closet on this issue its up to the people who are being quoted for media stories to be very careful in what they say so that it does not get taken out of context.

I really think there needs to be some sort of media campaign to set the record straight about the differences between local and chaser.
 
Originally posted by mrobinson

I really think there needs to be some sort of media campaign to set the record straight about the differences between local and chaser.

IMO we are the media campaign. There's lots of us. The guy left his name, email address, and phone number at the bottom of the article. If we disagree with it we should complain, or email him with our opinion of why we think he did a poor job and a disservice to all of us. We should ask for a retraction, clarification, or another article that makes the distinction between chasers and the rest of the folk that may be near a storm particularly around larger cities.

We all post all the time. It's easy to shoot the guy an email message, or even email the paper or editor instead.
 
Surely there are emergency management, law enforcement and NWS personnel who know and have experienced firsthand the benefits chasers provide, who would be willing to vouch for our credibility and the many examples of positive contributions chasers have been responsible for.

These articles are always quoting officials who have a negative perception, which I'd go out on a limb to say are in the minority. From all of the positive encounters with police/EMS I've personally had in the field, it seems to me that there should be plenty of good PR from the same types of sources, that is, people in 'official' capacities - whos voices would probably carry more weight than our own.
 
I don't think the person in the Harper EM vehicle that was behind me w of Anthony on 5-29 should have had a kid with them either but not my call.

I would like to see Kansas officials look into the tornado warning procedures followed at Belle Plaines rest stop on 5-29. I pulled in while a tornado warning had been issued for the area to relieve myself. I tried to enter into the store but the doors where locked with people walking around inside wanting to leave and people outside trying to get in and pay for their gas. Who are they protecting if people are in the open isles inside and people walking around outside unprotected in the open afraid to leave the area without paying for their gas. Not sure how long this went on that night, I left and went on towards Derby.
 
Originally posted by David Schuttler
I would like to know if this Mr.Loreg has a personal problem with chaser's.I'm sure he has seen some frustrating things but 65mph thru Harper viewing a harmless cloud formation? I followed that storm starting in oklahoma ( I'll admit I look at harmless areas too, it's all interesting to me.Didn't know it was such a problem for so many people) but I never had to drive that fast and the storm sure wasn't moving fast enough for anyone to need to go that fast. Just maybe it wasn't a chaser maybe someone was trying to get home knowing something was up.

I also don't think the person in the EM vehicle that was behind me w of Anthony on 5-29 should have had a kid with them either but not my call.

I would like to see Kansas officials look into the tornado warning procedures followed at Belle Plaines rest stop on 5-29. I pulled in while a tornado warning had been issued for the area to relieve myself. I tried to enter into the store but the doors where locked with people walking around inside wanting to leave and people outside trying to get in and pay for their gas. Who are they protecting if people are in the open isles inside and people walking around outside unprotected in the open afraid to leave the area without paying for their gas. Not sure how long this went on that night, I left and went on towards Derby

This is a common story. I've heard several instances where stores/gas stations lock their doors during impending tornadic situations. This makes absolutely zero sense. If I'm ever in a situation where a tornado is bearing down on me and the store/gas station I'm at locks its doors, there's gonna be a brick flying through some glass.

Maybe they're trying to lock the tornado out?
 
David wrote:

I would like to see Kansas officials look into the tornado warning procedures followed at Belle Plaines rest stop on 5-29. I pulled in while a tornado warning had been issued for the area to relieve myself. I tried to enter into the store but the doors where locked with people walking around inside wanting to leave and people outside trying to get in and pay for their gas. Who are they protecting if people are in the open isles inside and people walking around outside unprotected in the open afraid to leave the area without paying for their gas. Not sure how long this went on that night, I left and went on towards Derby

¿Qué?

Once when I was in the Belle Plaine Travel Plaza it was also during a tornado warning. People were hiding under counters, holding onto pipes and whatever they could in the hallway and restroom. A lady on the floor asked me if I wanted to “hide out” with them. Others were walking around in the open, like you said. I took one look at the place and said “no way”! (are you kidding?)

The entire west elevation is made of steel framing and huge panes of plate glass. I wouldn’t stand for it if someone locked me in there during a tornado warning. Twelve counties were warned on that night including BP and Wellington area, but the doors were not locked…are you sure this is procedure??

If they locked me in that place during a tornado, the door opens one way or another.
 
""Twelve counties were warned on that night including BP and Wellington area, but the doors were not locked…are you sure this is procedure?? """



It was around 9:15 pm or about that time from what I remember.

There was also another time on 4-22-04 in Checota, OK I wanted to get a big mac at the walmart drive thru but they where all locked up and keeping people locked inside ( at least better structure somewhat). The storm had about died but they only knew the warning had not been officially canceled yet. The manager was standing outside and I pointed her to the storm and that it was basically dead. Ended up across the hwy. and got a cupcake instead.
 
Here is a letter to the editor of the Wichita Eagle, reposted with the kind permission of veteran chaser Sam Barricklow.


greg


Originally posted by Sam Barricklow

Good morning Stan,

I'm writing to you in response to your recent article on storm chasing.

http://www.kansas.com/mld/eagle/9076360.htm

I am a storm chaser (since 1976) and a SKYWARN spotter (since 1974) who resides in Garland, TX, a suburb of Dallas. And, I chased and reported the Mulvane, Rock, Atlanta storm.

The primary reason for the traffic problem after the tornado in Mulvane was a police road block located just south of Mulvane, where the tornado had passed over highway 15 and had blown down a power line. The power line was laying flat across the highway. It was obviously not electrified (no sparks on a wet highway), it was flat on the road and not a danger to motorists. Instead of slowing and controlling traffic, the police blocked the road in both directions and required all traffic to make a u-turn. The resulting traffic jam blocked fire trucks and ambulances that were responding to the tornado.

I arrived at the downed power line a minute or two after the tornado crossed the highway and before the local fire and rescue teams arrived. Out of the 25 or so vehicles at the road block, I saw less than five other storm chasers. The other 20 plus vehicles had Kansas plates and were either local residents trying to check on relatives or people who were passing through town on the way to a destination unrelated to the tornado. Several of the people who were turned back had pleaded with the police to pass through and were visibly upset when they were turned away. Most simply bypassed the road block on a side road and proceeded on, clogging the side roads in the process.

I made the u-turn, consulted my Kansas road atlas, and chose a gravel road based on the most direct path to follow the storm. A few miles east of Mulvane, I stopped to watch the storm evolve. Shortly after stopping, we were passed by 30 to 40 vehicles, most of which had Kansas license plates and were occupied by teenagers or young adults. We (my wife Patti was with me) did see other storm chasers, but the bulk of those following the storm were actually local residents (per their license plates).

Since your article focused on traffic issues, perhaps you would consider writing about the service that storm chasers provide and how they benefit local communities.

As I said, I am also a SKYWARN spotter and a member of RACES (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service). See:

http://www.k5kj.net/skywarn.htm#RACES

Many other storm chasers have studied, taken the tests and received amateur (ham) radio licenses so they can check into local SKYWARN nets to report what they see. Since most storm chasers have a passion for weather and they observe much more severe weather each year than local storm spotters, most have considerably more experience and knowledge of storm structure and storm evolution than local spotters. Reports from storm chasers can be valuable. Some local nets welcome out of area spotters/chasers (to their benefit), and others don't (to their detriment), but that's another story.

Many chasers voluntarily provide free video and photographs to the National Weather Service for use during annual SKYWARN training sessions. And, some chasers stop to help people in the wake of a tornado. I know that storm chasers stopped to help pull residents out of their collapsed homes in Mulvane on June 12th and southwest of Jamestown (west of Concordia) on May 29th. Immediate help by chasers can be of critical importance, especially in remote rural areas where rescue teams and emergency responders, often who are volunteers, can't respond as quickly as in cities or larger towns. The chasers who stop to help and those who make reports to the local nets, directly to the NWS or via the local 911 dispatcher are not publicity seekers, resulting in the general public being unaware of their activities and service.

Another benefit that might go unnoticed, storm chasing has attracted the attention of young people. Forecasting where to go to possibly intercept a tornado is no trivial task. Forecasting requires knowledge of science, meteorology, storm structure and evolution, and the ability to read maps and effectively navigate around storms. In the age of video games and other trivial pursuits, the existence of a group of young people who are immersed in science should be commended.

If the driving habits of a few chasers leave something to be desired, then think of your average teenager or young adult in their early 20s and consider their age, or go to a large city anywhere in the U.S. and drive on their freeways. And, think of the ridiculous laws that have been passed. In Texas, a person can bypass the state administered driving test by having a parent or guardian sign a paper saying that the parent trained the applicant to drive (i.e., home schooling). With all of the illegal and quasi-legal aliens who drive on our roads and appear to have little or no previous driving experience, having potentially untrained drivers on our streets and highways should be a huge concern for everyone!

As you are likely aware, many towns across the Great Plains of the U.S. are declining. While the numbers of storm chasers has grown in recent years, it is still limited to only a few hundred serious chasers. These storm chasers spend money in small towns. They purchase food, fuel, supplies and they stay at motels.

Most chasers have developed a serious love for the Great Plains of the United States and have a strong feeling of affection and admiration for the people who live and work there.

Some chasers are meteorology students, others are photographers and videographers, a few are serious scientific researchers, a minority are thrill seekers and a growing number work as stringers for the news media, such as CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, The Weather Channel and local TV stations. Weather events and disasters in small town America that in the past might have only been covered in the local media, now frequently receive immediate national coverage and attention.

As I said before, many chasers report what they see, either to the NWS or to local authorities. While the added traffic may briefly clog local roads, local communities receive direct benefits from the presence of storm chasers. And, any chaser who breaks the traffic laws is subject to the same penalties as anyone else.

Please consider a follow-up article that covers some of the points that I have made.

All the best,

Sam Barricklow

Go here for more information:
http://www.k5kj.net/news.htm
 
That's telling them, Sam!

:lol:

Seriously, that was a very well written response.
 
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