Chase Association: The Proposal

Dec 8, 2003
Kansas City, Missouri
NOTE - please reserve this thread for proposals only. Discussion and debate should continue in the debate thread. Thank you.


This is primarily conceived as a representative organization to the media, with a secondary function of monitoring and assisting chasers with safe practice. The fact that it is structured in the form of an association - or non-profit venture - does not mean that you are going to see storm chaser booths at the next Lawn and Garden show in your local civic arena. Remember, Stormtrack by all definitions is an association … if you are a member of this message board, then you already belong to an 'association' of storm chasers.

However, the goals of Stormtrack are for the benefit of chasers only … this is known as 'the chaser resource,' not a media or public information resource. Stormtrack and its editors do not spend time editing news releases and sending them to media or other contacts. They spend time reporting on the weather and the items that are of interest to chasers themselves, not to the general public or government agencies.

In all of the concern raised around safe chasing practices (especially lately), we simply recognized a need and were making an attempt to fill that need. Nothing more … no big money here, no big corporation. No big deal … period. Here are the examples that I had in mind. I am anxious to hear Amos' take as well, and I think that we are somewhat on the same page as far as goals are concerned.


Need No. 1: Trends in the media have been shifting away from any of the beneficial aspects of chasing, and trending toward the sensational following several incidents, including the appearance of multiple vehicles who are now chasing with the intent of driving into a tornado.

Response: Distribute pre-emptive media packets following newsworthy events, reporting on some of the tangible benefits that chasers had during the event, written and distributed by those who already have a background in writing and reporting.


Need No. 2: Emergency responders, law enforcement and government agencies have been trending toward negativity about having chasers in their neighborhood, rather than feeling like they are a beneficial element to have around during severe weather. We have noticed a trend that EMS responders are now disavowing any relationship to chasers in their area, instead reporting to the media that chasers are a hindrance to their personnel (even though no hard evidence of this can be found to support this claim).

Response: Train responsible chasers who are already located in each area meet with EMS officials with a program that has been designed to bridge the gaps that currently exist by providing information. This is already being done in some locations to an extent, but there are a few rural areas that have no ties with chasers who continue to see them as more of a negative factor. So we have a simple program where a few key chasers living nearby can go to yearly SKYWARN training and present a video or slide show demonstrating what the chasers will be doing in their area this year.


Need No. 3: A few chasers - possibly those who are newer - have been engaging in dangerous chase practices, including parking in the middle of the road, driving recklessly and putting others at risk.

Response: Send out a packet of information to those who request it that addresses how to chase responsibly and ethically, possibly with a copy of Dr. Doswell and Roger Edwards' papers on the subject, possibly with a training video of some type. As Shane suggested, show responsible chasers how to address the subject if it becomes evident during a chase. 'What to do if you see someone doing something unsafe,' for example. Or 'ways to help local residents during a severe weather situation.'


Responding to a few questions:

Yes - this idea is SIMPLE - there is nothing complicated about it … as Amos mentioned, when we try to do something by committee it's easy to take a simple idea and make it into a huge, unworkable, confusing mess. The simplicity of the idea was perhaps the most attractive thing about it.

No … this idea has nothing to do with trade associations. Chasing as a whole is not a trade, even though it may be such for a few. There are no goods and services to market here … no trade shows, no t-shirts, pens, etc. etc. It comes down to finding a method of addressing a situation that has arisen, primarily this year, but one that can be foreseen for the coming years as well.

No … this idea does not represent a select few, while leaving out other chasers. It is designed to encompass chasing as a whole, and representative of the community as a whole, no matter what reasons people have for engaging in the activity.


As time permits I am interested in putting together a more detailed proposal and plan. That plan and the necessary research involved will not be posted online. Rather, we are using these threads as a means to obtain practical ideas. It was assumed ahead of time that the debate would be strong and that we would have to sift through any negativity and emotionalism that might present itself to just reach some kind of 'bottom line.' I definitely wanted to get the idea out in the open air at some point, simply so that chasers could be aware of the issues and explore the possible ways to address them. If any of you feel angered by the proposal for whatever reason, I have no reason to feel that way toward you and naturally have no reason to cultivate any hurt feelings on the subject, whether anything ever comes of any of this or not.

So will any of it help? Who can say at this point - maybe it will, maybe it won't. Will it hurt? As Kevin S. mentioned, I just don't see how it possibly could. It will not affect the way you currently chase, unless you are unsafe and unethical - in which case, someone will probably be addressing the concerns with you personally at some point.
I'm still working on putting ideas on paper, but wanted to show an example of what Mike and I and others are talking about. Today on WX-CHASE, I'm sure many of you read Sam Barricklow's post concerning the family from Mulvane whose home was destroyed and who asked for copies of chasers tapes. Shane Adams and his chase partners that day also spoke with this family and are distributing their address information to chasers interested in donating copies of video.

This is EXACTLY the sort of thing that I'd like to see publicized more widely than our little private lists and websites. Not because Shane and Sam want to be famous or congratulated, but because a well-crafted press release--looking and sounding very much like a feature story--would help reporters to 'come up with the idea' of a piece that shows what chasers are REALLY like. Why not let the media know about this side of what we do instead of remaining silent until they find the worst things possible to say about us?

I agree very much with what Mike has written above. I think we'll have more productive conversations about this when the season winds down and people are home, rested, and prepared to think about what's happened this season.

My two main ideas for an association are still to provide positive news targeted to local and national media, and resources with which to expose (not indoctrinate or demand) newer chasers with ideas about chasing safely and responsibly. Joining such an association would only mean that you think those two objectives are worthwhile.

So, more later, but I wanted to step up because of what I'd read on the other list. And my hat is off to Sam and Shane and the others for their good works.

I really believe THIS is who we are, not the maniacal daredevils in Snoopy aviator goggles that the media represented last month.
Originally posted by Amos Magliocco

So, more later, but I wanted to step up because of what I'd read on the other list. And my hat is off to Sam and Shane and the others for their good works.

This made me think of other chasers help that I heard of regarding the May 12th Attica tornadoes. The group MESO claims to have been there and assisted in relief with those victims struck as well as assisting the local fire dept, and emt's.

I heard a story where the Attica residents were rounding up goats that had strayed off into a nearby field as another lowered funnel / potential tornado approached. Meso member's ran out into the field at their own peril and hustled locals to safety in a basement until the danger had passed.

I don't know the full details and wasn't there to witness it myself, but I am aware that a large part of MESO's charter is dedicated to educating the public in member's local communities through Skywarn training programs and also educating young children in the public schools with severe weather awareness training programs. Many of Meso's members are Skywarn spotters, fire department personell, and EMT's.

Here is a quote taken from one of their field updates concerning this day:

"Just as that tornado roped out and dissipated, we noticed a large debris cloud down the highway to the east and the associated tube hanging down from the ominous supercell. We learned that there was significant damage to some homes in the town of Attica, and thought perhaps we could be of some assistance. Upon arriving at the site, police and ambulances were just arriving as well, and they eagerly accepted our help.

One couple had lost their house completely, and we assisted at that scene first in damage assessment, and ultimately in sticking with the survivors as yet another tornado approached their home. We hustled them into the basement, determined what would be the safest place for them (and us) to be, stood sentry over them, their dogs, and goat until danger had passed. They had shelter they could go to for the night.

Everyone did exactly what they do to near perfection. Our forecasters determined where to be almost within feet, our drivers busted a gut to get us there, and our firefighters and EMTs took command of the disaster scene with such authority that the locals were somewhat awed."

Anyway I just wanted to pass on and share the concept that there are chaser related groups that do good deeds for the public. As you say the media needs to know about this. Also having a chaser association which sponsors severe weather public education, public assistance, and chaser safety is a good idea. Probably if we don't band together in some form of association eventually we will be regulated by those who do not have our interests in mind.
it's funny Amos used me in his example...I made the comment a few times on video that day about "this will help the reputation [stormchasers in general]."

Not only the situation with the Mulvane tornado victims/family/friends, but also locals in general. During the Rock, KS tornado later that day, David was calling it in but in the confusion of getting positioned in the middle of BFE, KS, none of us knew exactly where we were (or the tornado either). A group of locals who had been sitting there watching the storm when we pulled up helped out by giving us our exact location, which David then relayed to the weather service in ICT.....without those locals and their knowledge of the area, there's no way we could've given an accurate location on this tornado.

Now.....I'm still not into the whole "let's actively put these positive things into the spotlight" mentality (because I'm lazy), but I have zero problem with being an example for others to write/talk about.
Also, quickly...

I didn't mention it before in my original chase report, but the ICT guy who was taking our reports all day commented that we were the only ones calling the tornadoes in, pretty pathetic considering how many of us were out there.

Here's some shameless self-promotion for the sake of the greater good: During the first tornado just SW of Mulvane, I was searching rabidly for the ICT report number, which was in a satchel in a bag behind me, which meant that my video suffered some while I fetched the number so Dave could call. This isn't anything new for me, but the recent talk of a positive image made me think about it more than I would've normally.

We have a TON of video from that day showing examples of how chasers really do care, and will put down the camera to call in reports and break off a killer storm to check on victims. Again, nothing hero-ish at all, just another day at the office......except we decided to TELL about it this time.

If anyone needs anything from me as far as a reference or material for some positive campaign, PM me.
Originally posted by Shane Adams
I didn't mention it before in my original chase report, but the ICT guy who was taking our reports all day commented that we were the only ones calling the tornadoes in, pretty pathetic considering how many of us were out there.

Yeah that is wierd especially since I got out of the vehicle and was talking to a group of guys later that night west of Moline that had Skywarn stickers (so I assumed they were local spotters) and they said they had seen all the tornadoes. Odd that they'd be spotters but not calling stuff in.

Here's some shameless self-promotion for the sake of the greater good: During the first tornado just SW of Mulvane, I was searching rabidly for the ICT report number

Yeah I was looking for my list from Chris Novy that had all those numbers too. I had put it in the vehicle week's earlier so I'd have it in case I needed it, but can't find it anywhere. I can only assume it blew out the window? I dunno.
In the past week, I've spoken by phone or emailed a handful of chasers whose support I thought would help get something like this off the ground (no pun intended). The responses have ranged from lukewarm to nonexistent.

While I don't mind challenges, I don't have time to play the patron saint of lost causes. I'm spending nearly all my time this summer on another project which is more important to me than stormchasing. I know Mike is busy too, as are the others who were willing to volunteer their time to help organize this. I'm still willing to pitch in, but I think the support ranges from thin to the sort of misrepresentation like I read on WX-CHASE today.

The bottom line is that this would only work with at least some segment of support from chasers. If that's not there, then obviously people have judged there isn't yet a real need.
I think Mike and Amos have a great idea going! Not being able to chase I do have a journalism background and would be willing to lend a hand where needed. Let me know if I can help!
I am the Director of Operations for the Sooner Information Network, and recently on our msg board someone posted the follwong in a "Storm Chasing Thread"
I write for the Daily and I would love to write a story on stormchasing. If you are involved in this, or know anyone else who is, I'd like to hear from you!

[email protected]
This may be an easy way to get good publicity. If you are an OU student(as I think this is the req.) feel free to email her
Originally posted by Steve Udick
If you are an OU student(as I think this is the req.) feel free to email her

That's a bummer, would've been nice to be involved. Hopefully there are a few OU chasers who can give good descriptions of what chasing really is, and I'm not talking about 6 people piling into a Saturn at 4pm headed to Moore, OK.

I know there's some good ones up there, just hope they participate.
The OUDaily does storm chasing articles about once a year it appears. For example:

From 2004:
"OU storm-chasers work to help warn Oklahomans of tornadoes sooner. "

2003 article about Simon Brewer called "Storm chasing: a dangerous hobby"

From 2002: "On a stormy path OU Storm-chasers and spotters risk all in attempts to learn nature's fury"

As you might expect...not the ideal perspectives on chasing in these articles.
That's too bad. Maybe this "add" should've run exclusively in OU forums, since that's all they're interested in apparently. I hate those "hey, you wanna do this.....but only if...." proposals.

I guess what we're left with is a perspective from a person who won't be chasing in 5-6 years (because their degree says so).

Hooray for originality :headbang:
Just read all three Not only does the OU paper do annual stories on chasing, they do the same one every year, changing only the names. You've got guys most people have never heard of before (or in years) telling the paper how many "posers" there are chasing. Gimme a break.

In the future, I'd appreciate it if OU could handle their requests for content within their own backyard; I don't need to be bothered with emails and posts requesting interviews from chasers, only to find what they're really wanting are students.
Well, let's cross our fingers and hope they write something positive.

/me clicks his heels and chants "There's no place like Thayer County....there's no place like Thayer County"

In the future, I'd appreciate it if OU could handle their requests for content within their own backyard; I don't need to be bothered with emails and posts requesting interviews from chasers, only to find what they're really wanting are students.
I said that was an assumption, feel free to write her, and in the spirit of this topic, this is a possible way to spread positive publicity? Has anyone checked to make sure? Why wouldn't a journalist(or aspiring one) want information from the best available sources. I am not affiliated with the Daily, and a matter of fact the Daily is more or less a competitor of ours, so I was not advertising, merely providing the opportunity for students of OU that use this board(and there a quite a few), or maybe even non-students if you check, to spread a positive message about chasers.
Isn't that the point of the Assc.????