Chasing license?

Sarah Berling

So this is an idea that is running through my head. I realize that I don't have everything figured out, but here's the basic idea:

The number of chasers has been increasing (sort of like bacteria increases in a petrie dish :)), with some of the, er, irresponsible ones making the responsible ones look bad. What if there were a chasing license that one had to obtain in order to chase? Like, if someone had said license, they could get through roadblocks (or had some other privileges that are a little more reasonable). But with the privileges came responsibilities (I haven't thought this part through yet...maybe mandatory spotting for whatever area you're in?) I realize that the whole idea is not entirely feasible. For instance: if licensing becomes a governmental thing, then it will either a) be issued only to NWS members and spotters or B) become a power play.

And I'm not talking about needing a meteorology degree to become licensed. It would be sort of like the driver's exam: basic common sense and courtesy.

On the plus side: it would (probably) cut down on idiot chasers.

What do you guys think?

Enforcing a law like that would be almost impossible. Everyone would just stick to the back roads to avoid law enforcement. The only vehicles that they would know were chasing would be the ones with all the weather equipment mounted on them. It would be like the law against drugs. If you are that type of person then you are going to use drugs or chase regardless of any laws. I know that I will still chase if they ever come up with such a thing.

Yeah, I dont think something like this would work - mainly because of the enforcement issues. We dont want one more thing for local law enforcement to worry about when there is damage they have to protect.

Maybe some more training would be nice, and there are already spotting classes held every year throughout the US. Maybe something a little more advanced (past most adv spotting classes) that teaches people more first aid and other ways to help in an emergency situation.

Come to think of it, isnt that what EM have to do?
Will someone please explain peoples need and desire to always REGULATE activities in this country?
Sorry, but bad idea. Every time the government gets involved in something it gets incredibly screwed up.
Besides, they already regulate chasing through state, county, and local traffic laws and city ordinances. What are you wanting, to only let a select few get into their cars and have the freedom to move about the country and watch, photograph, study severe weather.
Your papers.....give me your are not authorized to view this storm.....Klink.

A license still would not stop locals from going out to view storms and they (locals) are the ones that many times get confused with REAL chasers and cause trouble for law enforcement, emergency management etc. There are already WAY to many laws on the books and I definitely think trying to regulate storm chasing would be a BIG MISTAKE. In short, BAD IDEA....... :D
While I understand wanting to cut down on irresponsible chaser behavior, trying to do so by regulation is a terrible idea for many reasons both on constitutional as well as practical/logical grounds and leads down a very dangerous path.

Just the thought of trying to "classify" citizens and then assign appropriate freedoms smacks entirely of a strict communist society or even a page out of a George Orwell novel.

Let's pretend for a moment that storm chase licenses are issued. Can you imagine the the amount of effort needed to track those licenses as well as review all cases of reported violation to consider revoking licenses? Who administers the testing? I could go on but you get the idea.

Instead, one of the best ways to cut down on bad chasers is to police ourselves. The way to do that is to stop turing a blind eye to those that are truly wreckless on a continual basis or pulling a stunt that is clearly dangerous or very stupid. I won't try and speak for all chasers, but all of theones I know have done some a couple of isolated things that would fall into gray areas like speeding a little above the speed limit (dangerous/wreckless speeding would be like 90mph in a 60mph zone in my opinion....not 70 in a 65).

I'm talking about the very blatent and intentional crap like blocking the middle of the road, passing when it clearly wasn't safe, pulling out onto the road without looking (this is utter stupidity in my opinion), etc. If somebody is continually acting this way, we MUST make it an issue and even publicly identify and condemn that person or persons and clearly separate ourselves. You can also catch their actions on video.

After saying all of that, I personally havn't seen this really being an issue outside of the Rooks County, KS fiasco and that appears to be an isolated incident and I suspect those that were involved have caught wind of how everybody feels about it or maybe caught some heat. I've seen a few massive chaser convergence events, two this past year, and about 99% of the time see everybody acting responsibly and being considerate. Yeah, it can get a little crowded, but if everybody is cautious in these situations, we'll be fine.

However, talk to me again in 10 years when 5000 vehicles show up around an isolated supercell. :)
Not even! NO. In fact, not just no, but NO!!

Law Enforcement has planty enough on their hands without having to check on every chaser that blows by. How would you enforce such a law? Basically a License requirement would give LE yet another excuse to pull over someone with an extra antenna, don't even mention the obvious folks with instrumentation. Anyone with a HAM Radio or CB, would now be suspect in the vicinity of a storm.

Self policing of the Chaser Community is a better answer. Storm Track only shows a very small part of the total Chaser Community. What about us Media Spotter/Chaser folks? Those of us that chase for local media would now be required to spend both time and money to get a "license" just to go out and view Nature and report back what we see? Who's going to pay for all this? OK, let's add a tax on the books to pay for all the volunteer spotters out there who will also be required to have this "license" or risk getting a citation for doing what the public asks of them.

Nope, this would be a very bad idea.
I just can't see anyway that storm chasing will ever be regulated unless something absolutely catastrophic happened. Then again, how could you prove that someone was storm chasing if the camera was in the backseat and your car had a lack of external instruments/magnetic stickers advertising that you were a chaser?

Honestly, I would like to see the other local yokels and yahoos shape up a tad, maybe read up on ettiquette and courtesy. A few spotter courses wouldn't hurt either, IMHO.

EDIT: I forgot to add that all the really dangerous stuff (speeding, erratic driving, etc.) is already illegal, so chasers already have to check that stuff while intercepting.
I agree with most of the discussions that licensing would not be a good idea or it simply would not work. This would be like trying to license mountain climbers.

My gut feeling is when the first chasers are killed, it will be big news and chasing will be regulated on some level, either through local, county, state or Federal governments. It would not be that difficult to make such
a law and there are many ways to write it. Small counties could enforce
such laws if they wanted to.


I think instead of regulation, you'd see "selective enforcement" by various agencies. In otherwords, a zero tolerence attitude and lots of harassment. I'm sure now that if you are a chaser just casually driving through Rooks County, KS and that sheriff pulls you over, he could be pretty motivated to write you up for every little thing he can find...even take you to jail. LOL!!

I think they could also invoke and legally put you in jail if you are doing anything wrong around an ongoing tornadic event citing anything from interferring with a public peace officer to interferring with aid/assistance.

You can argue the rights and wrongs about this on here until you are blue in the face about whether or not they could legally get away with it, but you know what? You'll still go to jail...right or wrong. That's something to argue about AFTER you get out of jail and pay lots of money to get your vehicle out of impoundment. Then you can have your day in court. But if that judge is also biased against chasers for some reason, good luck there too.

Anybody that wants to argue that something like that couldn't or wouldn't ever happen ain't living in or paying much attention to the real world out there.
From a law enforcement perspective it's silly and unenforceable, not to mention probably unconstitutional as well.
Yes, but doesn't that description apply to a large percentage of the laws on the books today? :lol:
Lol, I'm beginning to see a pattern here. Just remember, it was only an idea and a half-baked one at that.
Other folks have pointed out some of the biggest concerns. For me, these come to mind:
- There are probably a miniscule number of times where a legitimate chaser would actually benefit from a license.
- In a real emergency when highway patrol is blocking roads, letting people in on a recreational basis will probably be seen as a bad idea
- The reckless "real" chasers will still probably drive recklessly
- The reckless yahoos will probably never have heard of the licensing program and probably won't chase enough to even get pulled over
- Who would administer and set standards? Chasers are an independent lot, and rarely is there a unified viewpoint on any major issue. The national chase organization debacle from last year kind of drove this point home.

Chasers are an independent lot, and rarely is there a unified viewpoint on any major issue. The national chase organization debacle from last year kind of drove this point home.
haha! Sorry I missed that! :lol:

Is it still in the archives here?
LMAO! Thanks, Nick!

Just reading Chris' opening post, I can tell it's going to be interesting!

Or, should I say entertaining? :lol:
From a law enforcement perspective it's silly and unenforceable, not to mention probably unconstitutional as well.
Yes, but doesn't that description apply to a large percentage of the laws on the books today? :lol:
Legislators have been known to pass laws with no prior input from those who are charged with enforcing them. :)
Folks this is a good idea that will only go if someone starts it and stays with it. As with any group you have to market it to those that would be members. You will never get everyone to join such a group,and not everyone that joins will stay. If you want it start it and let those that wish it join. I would be in line to join. I also think alot of others would be to.
I always suggested some sort of voluntary certification program, like auto techs have called the ASE

Taking from that, it's certainly something that isn't required to by an auto-tech, but it is something many of them voluntarily get certified in because it has become widely recognized as someone that has the credentials is serious about their craft, and it's something most autotechs are proud to get.

On the basic level, all that is required to get it is to take a test in the various section of interest and pass it (a test that is required to be retaken at certain intervals, just to make sure your staying up with things) and to provide documentation of X amount of experience.

The benefits is something to display with pride that you showed a willingness to confirm your knowledge and experience and you have something to outwardly show for that. In the case of ASE it can mean a better paying job, which really wouldn't apply to chasing.

But I think something like this, which is totally voluntary and aside from having something that you can show your serious about your craft and that you have put forth some knowledge and experience effort would certainly be of benefit to each other as chaser, when we saw whatever chosen symbol, we would recognize that chaser and would know what he had to accomplish to get that. Over time, other people like spotter groups, nws people, even media would come to recognize it as a standard of excellence for the storm chasers they deal with. It would give new chasers a level of achievment to work towards and once all the guidelines where setup to achieve it, there wouldn't be anyone else trying to control what others are doing, which I think is the biggest fear when something like this is brought up.

It would have to be something held to a higher standard, and accomplished level of achievment and something that those holding it would indicate a level of integrity withing the chasing community.
... and to provide documentation of X amount of experience. ... and accomplished level of achievment ....
Here's where the analogy falls apart (aside: oh no, we're going to have another 80-pager, aren't we?). What is considered achievement? An auto mechanic has a relatively level playing field. Sure there are more cars in urban areas, but there are also more mechanics...most mechanics can find plenty of cars to keep them busy. On the other hand, the same is not true for chasers. While a chaser who lives in Nebraska may be able to drive 45 minutes to see a tornado, a chaser from east of the Mississippi may require 2-3 days of travel to see the same tornado - which often isn't an available option. Over time, the chaser who happens to live in the plains (or who can afford long chase trips) is going to see a lot more than the one who doesn't (unless, of course the eastern chaser makes up tornadoes :roll: ). That doesn't mean the plains chaser is better necessarily, just more advantageously located. So number of tors can't be the defining metric.

How about percent of successful chases? Again, there's a geographic bias. Chasers in California may be so storm deprived that they'll go after any TCu that forms. Does that mean they don't have as high a level of a achievement? Of course not. Plus then we get into the definition of success, which varies for each chaser. And what is a chase? If you drive for 30 min then realize there's nothing going on, does that count? What if you happen to be on the road to granny's when a tornado forms 1/2 mile away? Is that really a chase? Obviously, the percentage of successful chases is a poor metric as well.

Okay, so let's switch away from the meteorological and move to safety. If you've never gotten a speeding ticket while chasing, does that make you a better chaser? No -- you're just lucky you haven't been caught. Have you ever caused an accident while chasing? No -- well the same goes for most of the rest of us (I'd imagine), so that's not saying much for excellence. As important as safety is, it is not an achievement so much as a lack of anything happening (an "unchievement", if you will).

I could rant more about the content of a test, but I've said enough for now. I agree in principle with the idea of a certification ( NOT a license ), but I've yet to be convinced that it would be practically implemented.


Edited immediately: ...because I can spel gud