Complete equipment for a storm chaser

Jun 26, 2004
Italy/Tornado Alley
Hi all
I'm starting this thread to put down every kind of useful thing that a storm chaser can bring up to chase, and to discuss each point that you want about the equipment of storm chasing.
Write down everything comes in your mind.
So far I thought of these things.

-NOAA weather radio
- XM Mobil Threat Net
- Davis vantage Pro 2/anemometer vortex inspeed
-Suv (possibly max size if you are more than two persons)
-Cell phone connection: cingular (so far)+ cell phone (Nokia 6820)
-Street atlas delorne
First aid kit
Rear facing warning strobe
ANSI Class 2 lime green raingear
Clear plastic tarps for covering cameras
Scanner or ham radios with local repeater guides
Kestrel handheld
(Product whoring) one of those awesome "The Weather Channel" black and royal L.L. Bean parka jackets

I know this may sound dumb, but I like to protect my investments as much as possible. I usually tie an old ANSI Class II lime traffic vest around the top of my tripod.
Guys, I was thinking that in my chasing experience, every year I came in the Plains to chase storms, after at least 10.000km (or sometimes also before) I had problem with the battery of the car(chevrolet trail blazer and impala). You well know that, using very often the laptop in the car, there's the risk that the battery goes KO (even if you use the laptop only with the engine turned on). So, I was thinking that, to avoid this truble, it could be very useful to purchase a rechargeable portable battery, apart, to use only for the laptop(and why not, you could charge it every night in the motel).

Anyone knows some kind of battery that you could use with this purpose?
I just bought a portable battery booster that looks almost like this one. I bought it at walmart for $40. It's small and light and fits neatly behind the seat of my truck.

Here are some items I carry when I chase:

*tools in case the vehicle breaks down
*A couple of good flashlights (I bought one that winds up to charge it so it never needs batteries.
*Some clear plastic sheeting and duct tape in case you lose a window
*Some extra motor oil, antifreeze, widshield fluid, etc.
*Car battery booster
*Make sure you have a good spare tire
*paper towels, rain-x and windex

*Cash, credit cards, checkbook, etc.
*A cooler with drinks and snacks (saves money and time)
*Extral clothes
*A good jacket
*Hygiene items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, etc.

*Still camera with charged battery, memory sticks, etc.
*Video camera with charged battery, tapes, and charger
*List of WIFI hotspots and libraries in tornado alley
*List of Holiday Inn Express motels in tornado alley
*Backup paper road atlas for TX, OK, NM, KS, NE
*Tripod, monopod, window mount
*NOAA Radio
*I have to have my XM radio for the long trips
*Tape measurer, golfball and baseball to measure that big hailstone that just took out your window
*First aid kit to patch up those nicks and cuts from the above event

Not sure how to link a thread on here but if you use the search function and type in equipment list, you will find a good thread by Bob Schafer called "chase essentials".
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Hi Andrea,

since we're going together next year I can tell you what all did I took/made/had this year for my trip (hopefully I still remember all those things):

- plane ticket
- health + baggage insurance
- SUV car + insurance
- Delorme Atlas 2006 + GPS
- GRLevel3 radar with AllisonHouse feeds for room access
- backup paper maps for tornado alley
- NOAA radio
- lists of motels and wifi access

- laptop
- digital SLR camera with extra lenses and tripod (+ extra batteries, memory cards)
- videocamera (+ extra cassettes)
- AC/DC adapters
- battery boosters for car

- passport
- international driving licence
- home pharmacy stuff
- sleeping bag
- some weather related books
- CD player

- credit cards
- enough money in socks if cards lock
+ all those living stuff (clothes, shoes, sun protection creams, hats,...)

I am glad you wrote Threat net, its hard to be out in the fields without it, even you might have cellphone access! Also I have to get those pastic bags for camera protection Jason mentioned.

You well know that, using very often the laptop in the car, there's the risk that the battery goes KO (even if you use the laptop only with the engine turned on).

If a laptop is running down a vehicle battery while the engine is ON, that vehicle has some serious problems with the charging system, provided you don't have a bunch of other stuff plugged into it as well. Once the vehicle is started, it shouldn't be pulling ANY charge from the battery if the charging system is healthy.
If doing the "tourist" thing (someone else is driving)-
Travel plastic bags (these are for packing clothes in and are awesome)
Cash station card, visa, health insurance card, drivers license
Friends addresses, postcard stamps, pens
Atlas, colored pencils, highlighter, clip board
Pocket knife
Twist ties
Duct tape
GPS, base, antenna, APRS receiver, serial port cable, power cable
Tripods, cameras, charged batteries, disp batteries (AA, CR123), camera bag with filters, extra equipment
IPOD, charger
Laptop, charger (car and wall), PC cable, antenna, PC fire wire card, jump drive, blank CDs
Video camera, charger, cables, charged batteries, tapes x10
Cell phone, charger, batteries
Hail calipers
Kestrel, extra AAA batt
Water bottle
Alien (silly good luck charm)
Squirt gun (pranks)

I find my clothes bag is getting smaller and smaller each trip and my electronics bag is getting larger and larger.... HMMMMM.
And ALWAYS CHARGE the batteries BEFORE you go!
I draw a large amount of power from my car's battery with chase equipment, usually just one laptop and a few camera chargers - but in worst cases when I have people chasing with me, 2 to 4 laptops at a time with numerous camera chargers, cell phones, etc. The worst thing I have experienced is having to replace the battery every year or so (around $35-$40). The symptom of the battery going bad is always it losing charge when the car is sitting for a long time (more than 24 hours). No adverse effects any other time. I can stand $40 a year as opposed to installing something ten times as expensive to prevent it.

In fact, my inverter is the only thing that seems to have trouble carrying all of that stuff, and I've only had to replace the inverter once. It is direct-wired to the main fuse panel up front to be able to handle the load.

I asked a Ford master mechanic about this issue once, and he said what I was running in my car paled in comparison to some of the stereo systems and amps that some kids have in their cars. If a car battery can handle a tricked out stereo system, it can hande a few little chase-related loads.
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I'll throw my list into the mix. My suggestion is to keep it neat and organized so it's easy to find what you're looking for when it's GO TIME.

Extra vehicle fuses
Good full size spare tire
Credit card(some small towns in T.Alley close their gas stations early, usually when I really need gas, but do allow after hours pay-at-pump).
On board radar
Cell phone(charger)
Ham radio or cb
Equipment that allows you to plug items in and charge things in your car
Food and drink
Maps(laminated to protect from coffee spills)
Jumper cables
Camera equipment(chargers and tapes/dvds)
First aid kit
Proper I.D.
Extra vehicle fluids/funnel
Warm jacket/sweatshirt
WX radio(batteries/adaptor)
Chase partner
Personal hygiene items
Spare car battery

Always remember to signal and pull safely off the road before getting out of your car to get photos. Make sure you shut your door especially if it's near the passing traffic.
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Old school chaser list

Sling psychrometer
Skew-T chart
2 hr. old sfc/radar obs
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Thanks Jason for the link: it looks fine;)


Jason, only a question: can I use this battery only for the alimentation of the laptop?

This battery booster will charge your battery in your car enough to start it without using jumper cables. It won't solve the problem of the battery being drained by a laptop or any other device.
Hi Andrea, we take a battery booster pack along with us.We also take a small tv to pick up any local stations,sometimes they have usefull information and the pack will run the tv if needed.