Anyone quit chasing? Know someone who has, why?

Mike Johnson

Just thought this might be an interesting SDS topic, since I
always notice a number of people come and go in the chasing
world. Why did you (or they) quit or retire from chasing?

Mike
 
I think that a few have quit and become "armchair chasers" due to the cost of being on the road. Plus add family, work and other aspects of life into it and sometimes a "hobby" has to be put on the back burner.

I know that work, family and finances is what keeps me a limited local chaser. Wish I had the $$ to head up to OK, NE or KS or even N Texas when the atmosphere is beckoning. I am tired of chasing squall lines and want to go after a supercell (think I have seen 1 the entire 5 years I have been down here). Hopefully in a year or two or three, I will be able to come out of SE Texas and do some real chasing. :lol:
 
This is a GREAT topic and should probably be in the chasing forum rather then the everything else one. I've heard of a few chasers shutting off the everything else forum. It's a really interesting long subject I think. I thought about quitting just last night, lol. Seriously. Then last night in my sleep I had a dream I was chasing with my parents and uncle in WI. It turned into a nightmare as my dad wouldn't believe me there was a tornado forming right over the hill(I had to run up on foot). He wouldn't get in the car and I couldn't decide to leave him there or to die with him...LOL. I remember screaming so hard for him to listen to me. I woke up right as it hit us. One of the more odd dreams I've had stormwise. According to my thoughts as I sleep I will be chasing next year(hopefully not in WI though).

It's interesting I want to quit semi-frequently. Sometimes I feel like I'm missing out on other aspects of life because of my strong desire to chase and the money and time it takes up. So I start thinking it'd be wiser to just enjoy more of life and enjoy the storms as I did as a kid, as they come into town. I don't think the love of storms goes anywhere when someone quits, if it was there to begin with. You'll probably also notice a trend among many "quitters", that many of them come back, sometimes not even gone for a season.

Instead of all out quitting, I'm pretty sure I will do much like I did this year and settle for "closer" chases, no matter where the year wants to take place. I no longer know if it's worth it to me to drive to say TX. Mileage is a goofy thing. If you live here year round I think it's really understandable to not make the longer day trips, when you will have a much larger number of days to chase then someone vacationing. I got some crap for my chases this year as they were so 'close'. Some will look at distance travelled as a badge of honor. Many will disagree with that, but I think they really feel that way. I am a perfect example. I pretty much looked at it that way. Which is fine, but it's wise to be careful of not letting the act of chasing become more to you then the storms. For some reason I'd love it if chasing became less of my life. Just because it is basically my life 24/7 and that can't be good.

I think many of us that drive and chase like crazy get burned out on simply driving those longer hours. I used to LOVE it. I remember my first chase to TX clearly. I was happy as you could get at 5:30 a.m. when I set out from Blair NE for Childress TX. It was all about anticipation then. Excited about what you might see. You do a couple of those where you don't see much and it becomes gaurded excitement on the longer ones. You also get used to what you typically see. You chase alot and if you aren't careful you can learn to forget what it was you loved. Like lightning for instance. That was always so amazing to me to just go up on the hill in town and watch it and oooh and aahhh at many of them. I no longer have any passion to watch lightning. I used to sit in the doorway at home and record out the window just incase a close one hit. Sit there for hours sometimes till I couldn't hold my eyes open any longer. Now I never ever watch it. You really can spoil yourself chasing alot. Sure every storm is different, but most are very similar and get less and less exciting. I think it comes down to either learning they weren't that thrilled to begin with, or they chase so much and see so much they feel satisfied and look to something else...that's life. I myself can't stand the thought of missing something special and look at nearly every chase as having the potential to be that. I can chase some really stupid setups that way, but I think it tells me when I feel like quitting to just shut my hole and realize it's pretty unlikely for some time to come. Money and other issues are of course more obvious.

I now often chase in hopes of not only seeing a tornado but being very close to an amazing tornadic event. My silly imagination always has to paint this picture of what amazing thing is out there to be seen yet. I don't want to miss that. And the closer you are to tornadic winds the more impressive they become. Shame on me, I know. A small part of me has the desire to be close enough to throw a bottle into one...lol. Man it's sad that is a serious comment. The good thing for those of us that feel this way is that when you are confronted with the actuall situation you are much more hesitant. I will start another thread on that one. Sorry for my answer going off into what I think will keep me chasing.
 
I really think Mike has hit on something in his comments above. To a certain point, what he said is true of everyone, we all get burned out to a degree. But the serious consideration of quitting has never entered my mind. I've thought about it, and those thoughts were quickly snuffed out by the thoughts that followed, which consisted solely of "then what am I supposed to be doing instead?" I always hear that when this subject comes up: "I'm missing out on other things in life." What things? Vacations? Travel? Culture? Aren't all of those things just OTHER things (like chasing) to induldge oneself in? Maybe it's not about wasting your life chasing, maybe it's about change.....I dunno.

When I first started, I had this constant glow of excitement that I couldn't control. If I was awake, I was excited and always thinking about the next chase. Because all I knew was "I want to see a tornado." But I think that excitement wasn't stifled by time, but rather controlled by experience. As you learn and experience more stuff out in the field, you start to understand it. This understanding brings more emotion into the equation beyond pure, raw excitement/revel/wonder. I still get as excited today as I did in 1996 when I'm ON THE STORM, but from the moment I wake up until I first see the storm, what used to be unbridaled, freaky excitement has now been replaced with calculative, calm, controlled optimism. I know not to expect a tornado every chase; the difference now is, I actually believe it.

My passion for chasing grows stronger with each passing storm, tornado, year. I've said for years that chasing is my drive, my life, my very reason for existence. I haven't just been blowing smoke up people arses the past eight years with this talk to sound special - it's true. Experience has taught me to expect less, but enjoy more. I now accept that my entire year may only consist of 15 chases instead of 30. But I also now know that I can take those 15 chases (with the experience I have now) and turn them into as much (if not more) success than I could with 30 chases five years ago. I've learned that it's about quality, not quantity. I've learned to be patient, even after the storms fire. I've learned that focus doesn't have to mean you lose the moment; I can concentrate on getting the best video possible and still enjoy the tornado for what it is, right there in front of me.

I have often thought about what life would be like if I didn't chase. I would have no identity, no connection, no purpose. It's true that chasing is what I must have to have all those things, and I believe that to be a wonderful thing. I don't fear looking back when I'm 50 and thinking "I saw a lot of tornadoes, but other than that, I didn't do much." I fear quitting at 35, then looking back at 50 and thinking "I didn't go with my heart, I went with my head. And I regret it all."
 
I took my first lightning photo almost 20 years ago when I was 15. http://www.oklahomalightning.com/MiscPhoto...s/Firstshot.jpg After that I was pretty hooked on storms. I spent several years where all I did was shoot lightining every chance I got. There was a time when I used to read NWS forecast and it would say 70 or 80 percent chance of storms and I would get so pissed when it did not do anything that I thought about throwing in the towel. Here is a web update from a time when I was about to give up. http://www.oklahomalightning.com/Pics/April2001.htmNow I know not to look at those. Since the lightning seems to have dried up here in Oklahoma I decided to start going after tornado's, but I sure do miss the lightning. Funny how I saw more CG's near Mulvane on June 12th this year then I saw all year in Oklahoma.
 
Hobbies and Passions come and go. I think it's normal at some point in our life to step back from a hobby and give it a rest for a short or long period of time.

I've been doing astronomy since 1985, it's even my work, since I work in a telescope shop here in Montreal... but even then, since the last 4 years, I've pretty much put aside observationnal astronomy. It's for sure because of my work that I still do a little bit of stargzing, but my passion for weather & chasing has grown much bigger than my passion for astronomy...

Who knows, maybe in 20 years, I'll be putting aside weather & chasing and go back to astronomy or even to a completely new hobby, who knows? Anyway, all this just to say that quitting or taking a break is completely normal.
 
I have so many hobbies that I'm almost always occupied. I have a small business I am starting on eBay building and selling computers (which I hope to expand from eBay to a regular business), which I consider a hobby (also makes good enough money to pay rent and chase). I then have the weather - And I enjoy ALL aspects of it, from winter weather to severe weather. Photography is also up there (nature photography), and I will probably buy a better camera for that. I am also becoming interested in astronomy as well...

I have often thought about what life would be like if I dropped interest in chasing storms or weather in general. Then, like Shane, I realize that what else would I be doing? Everything else is there for satisfaction as well - computers, games, going out and having fun, vacations, etc.. Sometimes I feel obsessed when it comes to meteorology - A prime realistic example: If a snowstorm is predicted 72hrs away, I will be GLUED to the computer, waiting for the next run of the models or the next NWS AFD, sometimes to the point that I will stay up just to get the NWS 3AM AFD, lol (guess it's good that snowstorms are relatively rare, at least the big ones)... After reading, then I feel bad for the guy who had to actually type it at that early (or late) hour.

I did little research, just out of curiousity, on my family tree, and found that I am related to Dr. Kenneth Dewey, a meteorology professor at the University of Nebraska - (also related to Thomas E. Dewey, the republican presidential hopeful in the Dewey/Truman election). Talk about weird, I thought I was the only one in the family with such an interest, so it appears that met/weather runs in my blood, and will always be there...
 
Some that come to mind:

- Barbara White (noted 1980s chaser, former partner of Jim Leonard)
- Lan Lamphere, who was pivotal to that 1997 "UFO specks in chase video" enigma, went on to dabble in related fringe hobbies.
- Tom Grazulis, I think -- he kinda disappeared after ~2001; I haven't been able to reach him or his wife via E-mail.
- Allen Rosenberg, went on to create the Gilbert [Sebenste] Zone cartoon and then vanished to other pursuits in New Jersey. I heard from him briefly around 2001 when gathering his old Gilbert Zone cartoons and he mentioned they were gone (we recovered them off archive.org).

Tim
 
- Tom Grazulis, I think -- he kinda disappeared after ~2001; I haven't been able to reach him or his wife via E-mail.

If the e-mail I got from him in April is any indication, he's got a colossal task aheead of him. Significant Tornadoes 1680–1991 went out of print in about 1999, and he was going to reprint it this year to coincide with the launch of Significant Tornadoes 1996–2003. However, when he went to the printing place that hadled the Big Green Book, he was informed that all the pages' and photographs' printing screens had been thrown out two years before (act of new management). He has to reassemble the book now — recovering text from 5" floppy disks, and he also mentioned flood damage . . . not only that, but he was/is going to make a CD-ROM version of it, too. I haven't received any further updates, so I don't know how it's going now. Sounds painful, to say the least.
 
Good topic. Of the core of about 10 or so chasers I knew personally when I first started chasing, they have either took some serious time periods off from chasing and came back or have all together quit. Some quit because of career moves to less favorable chase areas. Some simply lost interest. I don't think any of them really burned out on chasing, it just wasn't that serious of a part of their lives and they moved on.

Chasing has become much more popular since those days and no not because of the movie Twister but because of the internet. It's so much easier to achieve success with all the data available now. To me that makes it that much harder for someone to give up cold turkey on chasing, knowing you can put very little effort into it and have good success. You see it all the time now. I guess the big reason I see people quiting these days would be burn out or having a near death experience and saying to themselves "Forget this!" Other then that, why would anyone?

As for me, I don't see myself quiting any time soon. Even though there are always days I miss and wished I could have chased, I have pretty much leveled off to a moderate number of days to keep me fresh. Living in Nebraska where your chase days are spread out over several months instead of one or two also helps.
 
This was the first chase season that I subordinated chasing to another project. When I came back to Indiana in early June, I resolved that I wouldn't chase again until the project was done, and but for one August jaunt to Kansas, I didn't. I skipped some prime June chases and other chances and discovered that I could survive. I realized that my other vocation was more important. Some close friends of mine are chasers first and foremost and I respect that—I admire it—but I'm not, and it's fine.

This season I've thought more and more about reducing the importance of chasing in my life, or at least managing it more efficiently. It interferes with other goals, stresses or kills relationships, and costs a ton of money. It happens during a time of year when I'd like to see other places--Italy in May for example. I remember reading something Charles Doswell wrote about the danger of building a life around chasing and I believe it more than ever. Chasing lasts about six weeks. For all the power it holds in my life, (and I think my friends would say that my commitment to chasing is pretty solid) it isn't as important as human relationships, as building a stable family life or career. It can deliver none of that satisfaction and, for everything it brings, it also abandons you for ten months of the year.

So I have this entire rationale down pat. I could convince a roomful of ‘normal’ people that chasing is as destructive as crack cocaine. Yet when a big yellow circle appears on the SWODY2 map, and the southeast wind picks up with that scent of Gulf moisture, my reaction is outside the reach of logic. I wish it were not so. It is entirely visceral and impossible to suffocate. This is probably an addiction of some kind. I guess it's safer than heroin.
 
As my wife says to me a lot, there are a lot worse things I could be addicted to than video games and storm chasing. Don't smoke, and about the only time I ever drink is when Graham and I go for Margaritas and Mexican Food! Could care less for drugs. :D

I did burn myself out a little this year on a number of chase related fronts. One person's actions this year almost single handedly killed my passion for chasing, but after some time had passed and distancing myself from that, it's coming back. I feel like Shane says, it's my identity, it's who I am, it's what I do.

My current plan is to lay off the heavy chasing for 2005, probably only go chasing with Graham a few times, or get in something local in west Texas (assuming we ever have anything in west TX again). The chase van has been disassembled. During 2005 I will be putting together another chase vehicle with all new stuff I suspect. All my old stuff was just plain worn out. Taking care of wrapping up a few other big projects in my life I started. I also suspect I will be doing a LOT of nowcasting for folks in 2005. :wink:
Expect I will be back in force in 2006! :wink:

Of course when 2005 is over and we have a repeat of 1988 I will be happy I used that as a year to take off! :lol:
 
I am just the opposite from most of the people here. I have been interested in severe storms for over 30 years, but just started chasing in the past couple of years. A little over a year age I was able to take retirement, and now I don't have to fit what I want to do around my job. I hope to get to know a lot about chasing and get to go more often than before.

I do agree with the earlier post that said hobbies and interests change, and they do, for many reasons, and it is a real shame how expensive ANY hobby can be, but if you are interested in chasing now and have to fir it around a job, hopefully in the future, you will have the time to do what you want!
 
One of my chase partners over the years for the most part no longer chases. He became an on-air radio personality back East and can longer get the time off work to chase.

Another former chase partner who used to come out here with his son stopped taking trips with us after a disagreement with another member of our group. None of us are sure if they're still chasing or not....we haven't heard anything from them ever since.

As long as I live in the Plains I doubt I'll ever quit chasing....living here I don't need to make as many personal or financial sacrifices as someone who lives outside Tornado Alley coming out here only a few weeks out of the year....there's enough opportunites around here throughout the year I rarely have to take any extended time off work, and many times I've been able to get in a full days work and still be able to chase after I get off work. So as long as I'm able to get in other things with my life and still be able to chase I don't see myself quitting.
 
I dunno if im really qualified to answer this post, as I havent had the opportunity to chase before, but I'll try to anyway.
I have many interests, sometimes I feel that I have too many. I wont list them all, but I'm fairly certain I have at least 7 or 8 major interests (interests that I have invested both time and money in pursuing). Also, I am bad at organising things/budgeting my time. So what ends up happening is I will focus on one thing for a while, then I will get burned out and focus on something else. I know it's a bad habit, and I am trying to throw out all of the clutter and unimportant things and figure out what I really want to focus on.

Right now, im not really focused on storms, but Im sure I will be back to it eventually. I just moved out to California, so the odds of me chasing anytime soon have been dramatically reduced. I'm trying to figure out spme way to get interested again, but I dont know how lng I can maintain that interest being so far away from all of the "action", so to speak.
 
and about the only time I ever drink is when Graham and I go for Margaritas and Mexican Food!

Margaritas? Mexican Food? I'll be right there! LOL!

Quit chasing? Do I ever think about it? Hmmm...I don't think I can. I simply don't think I can. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with chasing combined with other aspects of my life. In the end analysis for me though, I have a hard time turning my back on it.

I've always loved storms. They've always been a part of me. I've always had a bit of a poet in me too and reflecting on nature and life is just something I do. Perhaps someday I'll change, but that is hard to imagine because I would certainly be someone else, and I believe I would have lost a spark of life, that curiosity that sends us down the road time after time.
 
I could never quite chasing. I've "threatened" to quit once, after I had a few busts and bad luck during 2003. One of my crappiest years. But then I just look at it and say "There's always next year!". I could never quit something that I have a real passion for. If I could, I'd do even more of it!

I do believe in "burn outs" though, where you might get tired of chasing. It is a lot of work and can take a lot out of you, including your wallet for food and gas :silent: but I think it's quite normal. I don't know anyone who has ever quit chasing. Well, I guess there was Erik Rasmussen, but he doesn't chase as much anymore because of his work on researching storms. He still has his passion for weather, I'd assume, but I don't think he chases just for fun on his own anymore. I don't know if it has to do with the number of Yahoos out there or what.
 
Some that come to mind:

- Barbara White (noted 1980s chaser, former partner of Jim Leonard)
- Lan Lamphere, who was pivotal to that 1997 "UFO specks in chase video" enigma, went on to dabble in related fringe hobbies.
- Tom Grazulis, I think -- he kinda disappeared after ~2001; I haven't been able to reach him or his wife via E-mail.
- Allen Rosenberg, went on to create the Gilbert [Sebenste] Zone cartoon and then vanished to other pursuits in New Jersey. I heard from him briefly around 2001 when gathering his old Gilbert Zone cartoons and he mentioned they were gone (we recovered them off archive.org).

Tim

There was a guy name of Blair Kooistra (whom I had known about for years before from his work as a train photographer). He got a job at BNSF in Foat Wuth to be close to the action, even had some storm content on his website. Now that's gone and he hasn't posted anywhere that I've seen in about 2+ years.
 
There have been tons of folks who have come and gone on the lists over the last five years or so ... how many of them were actually known to chase, like Tim V. listed, I don't know ... for the most part I think most of the listers were mainly just interested parties and local chasers.

At this point for me, quitting would be like asking Peter Pan to leave Neverland for good. I don't see myself growing up anytime soon. If something were to happen to my family or a loved one like someone else pointed out, I can't say how I would be affected by such a tragedy. I always try to factor in the human element to these things, but really have no idea how I'd react to something like that. Would definitely alter my perception, if nothing else. I've known plenty of folks who have lost homes and property, but don't have anyone close to me who has ever lost their life during severe weather.
 
Originally posted by Damon Scott Hynes

There was a guy name of Blair Kooistra (whom I had known about for years before from his work as a train photographer). He got a job at BNSF in Foat Wuth to be close to the action, even had some storm content on his website. Now that's gone and he hasn't posted anywhere that I've seen in about 2+ years.

Blair has two kids now and is loving the 'chase' of fatherhood. He still pays attention to the sky and I have no doubt that as soon as Mary gives him the green light, he'll be back in the warm sector. He's an excellent photographer who many of us have seen jump from a car, run to a spot while simultaneously unfolding and deploying a tripod, then attaching the camera within a few seconds, like an Olympic sport. LOL.
 
My friend Tom quit chasing after the Catoosa, Ok tornado of 1993. He came across the victims shortly after the tornado hit Bruce's Truckstop and it really got to him. He still works in meteorology, but chooses not to chase.
 
Originally posted by Justin Teague
My friend Tom quit chasing after the Catoosa, Ok tornado of 1993. He came across the victims shortly after the tornado hit Bruce's Truckstop and it really got to him. He still works in meteorology, but chooses not to chase.

I thought it was Red Rock, 1991 that made him quit. More likely it was the lack of all you can eat buffets in tornado alley that did him in.... HA!
 
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