Bad Chasing Behavior Hurting Both NWS and Chaser Image

The following is an email I was forwarded from within the NWS...

All,

I am asking for suggestions for handling this situation.

We just received a report from Rooks County, Kansas. During our severe weather last night we had a large supercell move out of Graham county. This system produced a large, long-track tornado which caused significant damage to several farmsteads, numerous trees and a couple of towns. We have a crew conducting the survey. They contacted the Emergency Manager and stopped at the EOC before venturing into the countryside.

During their visit, local law enforcement officials mentioned that there were large numbers of "chasers" in the county. I am not certain the exact number, however from all accounts they disregarded all emergency vehicles, were driving at excessive speeds and generally were reckless and endangering the lives of others. A number of these "chasers" were pulled over and when confronted by the law enforcement officials, commented that they were on official business and had been sanctioned by the National Weather Service.

----------- (survey crew member) informed them that we do not, and will not endorse these activities from the local NWS office. This is not the first time, and I am sure not the last time that the NWS will be 'utilized' by the chase community. I was wondering if it would be appropriate for me to compose a letter to send to the local law enforcement and/or emergency managers stating that we do not endorse, or support chasing from the local office. It's the Japanese Proverb - "The reputation of a thousand years..."

I'd hate to think that the reputation of WFO Hastings would be negatively impacted by the rash and irresponsible actions of a few "chasers".
 
Anytime I run into anyone in the field I state that I am observing storms, not on behalf of anyone (of course if somthing significant is spotted I would report it)

I hate to say this, but would'nt the law enforcement personal request some sort of credentials to back up those claims???

I am not a cop, but If someone told me that I would want some sort of ID, ect..... :roll:
 
Didn't a similar event happen to the south of Garden City , KS involving some tour group? If I remember from a recent thread, I believe they ran a couple of cars off the road on June 3rd. Such chasing ethics should be reconsidered even in the heat of the moment.
 
I agree... I've been pulled over a couple of times while chasing, and I've NEVER said I've chased FOR the NWS. Chasing/spotting is a completely optional activity, and, as the email mentioned, the NWS does not sanction chasing/spotting. I even had a cop ask me a few weeks ago in the TX panhandle if I was chasing for the NWS, to which I said I wasn't. Please don't put blame on the NWS for being out chasing...
 
I too have been asked before if I was chasing on "official business". I think a letter to local law enforcement might be in order if some chasers are answering yes to this in order to avoid tickets etc.... Not sure if this will start the proliferation of skywarn magnets on the sides of chase vehicles - but agree that some form of documentation should be required - or be in a government vehicle in order to qualify as an "official chaser", not to be confused with the prior thread on professional chasers... ha ha.

Glen
 
Hmmm, one would think that even if they WERE chasing for NWS, they would be subject to the same traffic laws as the rest of us..................Unless you are local law enforcement or emergency management you are not on "official business" in situations like these.
 
I've been pulled over once while chasing. Of course there were radio station logo's on the truck, but I never did try to get out of a ticket, nor imply that I was somehow on "official governement business". The only reason I got out of the ticket was that the Deputy was also a Skywarn Spotter and knew what I was doing and whom I was doing it for.

Last week during the Osage County event, I was asked to help out with Damage Assesment for the EOC at the site. Here, all cameras were off and no reports were made except to ask that people stay out of the areas affected. I had on a different hat and was working under the auspice of the Emergency Operations Manager on the scene.

I would think that "impersonating" a Government Official will get you arrested in most states and may even be a Federal Offense as well. I haven't researched it out, but someday, someone is going to get nailed for doing something stupid like that.
 
chaser behavior & law enforcement

One of my chase partners is also a state trooper and Skywarn spotter. A few common courtesies can go a long way: a) when trying to make ground on a storm, we always plot a course where we can intercept it some distance down the road without speeding. Sometimes you have to resign yourself to missing some of the action. That's part of the deal. B) we ALWAYS offer assistance if we pass through damage, even something as simple as offering a victim a phone to call a relative. c) On roadways with a significant number of law enforcement vehicles on the roadside, we SLOWLY proceed past or stop altogether, and sometimes make brief conversation with the officers present (it helps when my partner introduces himself as a trooper) to see if any spotting or other assistance is needed (as former EMT's) in surrounding areas. These are sincere offers, which are typically turned down, but DO help to temper the situation and put us in a better light. -DC
 
Im really disappointed to read this. First, I find it's usually a couple chasers that act that way and it gets reflected on all the chasers out there. During the event in South Dakota on Tuesday there were a couple chasers that kept parking on the Interstate and on the on and off ramp to the Interstate. With the highway patrol around I could not help but think they might view chasers as a safety hazard rather than a safety asset. The reason I say this is there are quite a lot of chasers who call in to the NWS with vital information. And probably just as many chasers who have the skywarn stickers and don't. Im a little confused by the report, was the highway patrol just pulling up on people who were watching the storm? Or is this refering to people getting pulled over for an infraction? I think it's pretty pathetic for any chaser to claim they belong to something they do not. No one needs to do that its not illegal to chase yet!

It's not unusual for there to be some real issues with chaser image, we had the same thing last year a little earlier in the year. And im sure inherently some highway patrol officers will be no doubt be upset about 30-40 chase vehicles descending around a tornadic storm. I think Hastings WFO should write the letter and let them know that.

-Scott.

EDIT: It would be helpful if some people who chased this storm can address what they saw. Was their really reckless disregard for emergency personel? I just can't imagine all the chasers over there blocking emergency vehicles and endangering the public. I wasn't there though..
 
I would think that "impersonating" a Government Official will get you arrested in most states and may even be a Federal Offense as well. I haven't researched it out, but someday, someone is going to get nailed for doing something stupid like that.

Up to five years in federal prison and a maximum $250,000 fine on impersonating a Federal employee.
 
On those tornadoes in Kansas Thursday, there was some great footage sent to CNN. Unfortunatly, there was a lot of hooping and hollering from these particular chasers (like they were on Spring Break or something) as the the tornado was on the ground. Has anyone else seen this? Does anyone know who they were? Shameful, I think.
 
My wife and I overheard a conversation on a scanner about
a week ago near DDC about the State Police looking for a
group of white vans passing on the right side of traffic.

This is getting out of control. We need to name names and
not be afraid to openly ask those responsible to get their
act together before someone is killed.

Mike
 
My wife and I overheard a conversation on a scanner about
a week ago near DDC about the State Police looking for a
group of white vans passing on the right side of traffic.

This is getting out of control. We need to name names and
not be afraid to openly ask those responsible to get their
act together before someone is killed.

Mike

Absolutely, it's up to us to put the spotlight on chasers that are being reckless and careless. In one thread someone posted a picture of a chase car blocking the road and another account of F5! Safari trying to pass on the shoulder. If I see someone doing something like that you can bet my camera will be on their license plate. I know most chasers at one time or another speed a little but I have seen chasers going 30+ miles faster than the speed limit swinging into the other lane to pass other cars. And the one that bothers me the most is people parking on the interstates. I actually saw a chaser who got into trouble with the highway patrol because he pulled over on the interstate to take a picture of a severe cell moving in. I of course went two miles further got off the interstate and found a beautiful spot by the Missorui River very photogenic and not illegal.
 
On those tornadoes in Kansas Thursday, there was some great footage sent to CNN. Unfortunatly, there was a lot of hooping and hollering from these particular chasers (like they were on Spring Break or something) as the the tornado was on the ground. Has anyone else seen this? Does anyone know who they were? Shameful, I think.

I've seen this particular clip, and the tornado is in an open field at the time. Chasers get excited during tornadoes (well, some of us do), and being that the tornado was clearly not threatening life or property, I see no problem with the hooping and hollering. Sometimes it's just innocent excitement, and in this case (at least in the clip I saw this morning), the tornado wasn't harming anyone or anything during that time
 
On those tornadoes in Kansas Thursday, there was some great footage sent to CNN. Unfortunatly, there was a lot of hooping and hollering from these particular chasers (like they were on Spring Break or something) as the the tornado was on the ground. Has anyone else seen this? Does anyone know who they were? Shameful, I think.

I've seen this particular clip, and the tornado is in an open field at the time. Chasers get excited during tornadoes (well, some of us do), and being that the tornado was clearly not threatening life or property, I see no problem with the hooping and hollering. Sometimes it's just innocent excitement, and in this case (at least in the clip I saw this morning), the tornado wasn't harming anyone or anything during that time

And sometimes, it's not the chasers, but other people who have stopped near the chasers to watch the show. I have had that happen on SEVERAL occassions and the audio ended up on my video. Don't always assume any whooping and hollaring you hear are the chasers themselves. At one point the other day on one of the tornadoes, there were about 50 cards stopped along the hwy where we were watch, and quiet a bit of noise going on.
 
This topic seems to come up every year. Since we in the chase community are unwilling or unable to band together and find a solution for reckless/foolhardy chasing behavior on our own (is there one?), I'm 100% sure that our government will find a solution for us. That's a prediction you can take to the bank.

A chasing organization will never happen (and I don't want to begin another long, tired discussion of it), but a well-run, professional organization would seperate frequent, serious chasers from Joe Bob Smith who acts stupid around storms.

there was a lot of hooping and hollering
Hate to mention this, as it is unimportant in light of what we're discussing, but the word is spelled whooping.
 
Newb opinion - I think you should rename it Storm Racing

After recently returning from my first chase during which I followed some well known experienced chasers.........

We were consistently 15mph over just positioning.
When in chase mode I think they were doing 25+mph over - I couldn't keep up nor did I want to.
Passing on blind hills.
Lead vehicle was going through yellows in towns...........

As an auto engineer I have watched too many crash test and investigated enough accident scenes.
Have to be a lot more selective in chase partners in the future.
I hope this was just an isolated incident.

JT

Does speed replace forecasting skill?
 
I dont know of anyone in the chaser community who gets off on the fact that people lives are in danger, just the shear power of a significant severe weather event.

I think people are too uptight with the aforementioned issue.

As with anything, you must use your best judgement
 
Re: Newb opinion - I think you should rename it Storm Racing

After recently returning from my first chase during which I followed some well known experienced chasers.........

We were consistently 15mph over just positioning.
When in chase mode I think they were doing 25+mph over - I couldn't keep up nor did I want to.
Passing on blind hills.
Lead vehicle was going through yellows in towns..........

Sounds like a normal day in Denver, to me! :lol:
 
Chasing

When I'm chasing in Iowa and talk to a law enforcement official (not about getting out of a ticket but about what the storm comming into my area is doing as I'm pulled over safely along side a road) I do state that I'm a mobile spotter for the NWS in Desmoines/Quad Cities (which I am) and a storm chaser for KWWL Channel 7, plus its my hobby/obsession to chase these beautiful giants. I have never used my NWS spotter membership to try and get out of a ticket etc. and wouldn't out of respect for the NWS. I feel it is a TOP PRIORITY to stay in good standing with the NWS by giving them quality storm vidoes for spotter training/severe weather warning verification, excellent storm spotting information and by staying out of trouble while chasing. I am known on a first name basis by many at the Desmoines/Quad Cities NWS offices and am not worried about the few idiots who think they can go 100 mph through small towns, pass lines of cars on the shoulder, etc. As long as I keep keep providing SAFE, RELIABLE, storm chaser videos/spotter information I feel that my reputation and that of other chasers who do the same will be fine while what ever happens to the yahoos will happen, there is nothing I can do about them. I let my ACTIONS judge me. Also, about the chasers/regular folks who were whooping and hollering as they watched a tornado travel through a field, whats wrong with that?? If the tornado is tearing up homes/farms I would frown on that kind of behavior but when a tornado such as this one (as Shane stated above) is not threatening life nor property I see nothing wrong with whooping and hollering, they probably spent a TON of money and traveled very far to see this storm and have earned the right to get a little crazy. :D
 
Craig, I could be completely wrong here, but I understood that the NWS is not ever directly associated with storm spotter groups in terms of managing them. NWS leaves storm spotter groups and SKYWARN to the emergency management/civil defense of each individual town. Are you saying you volunteer DIRECTLY for the NWS, or do you actually go through your city or county civil defense?

NWS spotter membership
THe NWS gives out spotter membership? Again, please let us know if this is membership in the NWS or your local emergency management.

Not picking on you, Craig, just curious.
 
In the Twin Cities, MN, there is a non-profit group called Metro SkyWarn that deals with Skywarn spotter operations in much of central and southern Minnesota. This group is not directly associated with the NWS, so again, I wouldn't say that I used to spot for the NWS, I'd say that I was spotting for Skywarn. Even down in central OK, where NWS directly lead skywarn classes, I wouldn't even say I was spotting for the NWS to get out of a ticket, etc.
 
NWS

I volunteer directly to my local NWS offices. By membership I mean't I am a trained MOBILE storm spotter for the NWS in Desmoines/Quadcities, with a spotter number, etc. Also, I must reiterate the FACT that I have never used my storm spotter position to get out of a ticket etc. and no problem Bryce, I should have made myself more clear about what I was saying, this is a very important thread.
 
Yes, in central Oklahoma the NWS directly holds spotter classes. But after class is over, if you want to spot for anyone you're going to be spotting for your local EM. The NWS here has directly stated that they do not recruit spotters or manage them. Unless I'm just completely wrong, no one ever spots for the NWS. You spot for your EM, who relays the report to the NWS, but your activity is not sanctioned by the NWS.
 
lol

Bryce wrote:
no one ever spots for the NWS

I spot for the NWS in Desmoines and the Quad Cities. I am a VOLUNTEER and am not paid. Not that any of this really matters because I have NEVER and will NEVER use my mobile storm spotter position to legally break any laws etc. I'm no more important than anyone else but when I say there is a tornado on the ground they listen to me and the sirens WILL sound.... Also, the MAJORITY of storm spotters both mobile and fixed are excellent people without whom the NWS could not possibly have a well functioning warning system for severe weather, the NWS would be thrown back into the "stone age" even with fancy technology such as doppler radar etc. and death rates from severe weather would probably show a dramatic increase. Many police officers have never attended a storm spotter training class in there life and I've seen plenty run for cover during severe weather instead of spotting for there community so no one is perfect. Just because you have a badge and a gun doesn't mean you know JACK about severe weather. 95% of Storm spotters and chasers should probably be given a "pat on the back" for the outstanding work they do every year FOR FREE and at there own expense, lets not forget this FACT. Not much you can get for free anymore......
 
Back
Top