• A friendly and periodic reminder of the rules we use for fostering high SNR and quality conversation and interaction at Stormtrack: Forum rules

    P.S. - Nothing specific happened to prompt this message! No one is in trouble, there are no flame wars in effect, nor any inappropriate conversation ongoing. This is being posted sitewide as a casual refresher.

Equipment for the newbie

Jen Harkins

Enthusiast
Hello,
Long time weather enthusiast and first season spotter here! I took the classes in an online format so I wasn't able to ask questions at the time, so my biggest question is what equipment should I get? I do have some radar apps, although Radar Omega is a little over my head.
 
I wouldn’t worry about equipment too much, although an App like RadarScope is pretty much a necessity. Any basic radar App to start would be good as long as it shows your location on the map. You’ll get pickier as you learn more.
The biggest thing you could do is spend time with someone you has experience chasing and that time preferably spent chasing. If you don’t have that kind of connection available, searching the archives on this site will provide you with tons of information and links to other stuff like videos.
Other than that, I always recommend going chasing with a partner even if they don’t understand storms. It’s super easy to get distracted from your main job (driving) when you have so much else trying to grab your interest.
 
Newbie equipment:

1) transportation
2) cell phone w/radarscope
3) someone with experience to guide

After you get comfortable add:
1) camera w/ tripod
2) cooler for drinks/snacks
3) warm clothes for after storm cold lightning shooting
4) bug spray
5) cell booster
6) gas money
7) gas money
8) paper maps

List can go on forever.

Cliffs notes: dont need shit to start but eventually youll be hauling around a bunch of stuff to make the whole experience more comfortable.
 
A lot of this is up to you, but any decent radar application is fairly necessary, and a vantage point to see storms (may require transportation). If you are joining a local spotter warning group and will be a stationary spotter, binoculars and a zoom lens camera could be useful right away.

I'll list what I take with me as a mobile storm photographer and leave it to you to decide which items may apply or interest you. You don't need some of this, it is just what I have come to bring over many years of watching storms. Safety items should be a priority, then weather and travel items, then comfort items.

My travel equipment includes weather related items and road travel related items:
  1. GRLevel3 radar software on PC tablet. This software allows stacked forecast, warning, navigation, radar products, storm reports, etc. all on one screen. Second to none for radar and storm info, but takes a while to learn to setup and is much more complex than a simple cell phone radar app.
  2. Mesoscale analysis and surface observations, plus forecast websites bookmarked and ready.
  3. PC tablet holder (center console cupholder mount type)
  4. Cell booster.
  5. Mifi (used to carry this with different carrier than my primary but no longer necessary as coverage is good most places)
  6. GPS Puck - generally more reliable and accurate than many phones.
  7. Cameras and lenses
  8. Lightning trigger
  9. 2 heavy tripods
  10. 2 GoPros and external power source
  11. HAM radio scanner, handheld (no longer used on most trips due to reduction in usefullness)
  12. Handheld anemometer or weather sensor (I rarely carry this but they can be useful both for chasing and reporting)
  13. Extra wiper set (keep old wiper set every change, use spares if one flies off or is damaged)
  14. Rain-x
  15. Basic roadside emergency kit
  16. Basic first aid kit
  17. Fire extinguisher
  18. Headlamps / flashlights with spare batteries
  19. Hard hat and vest (large hail / roadside protection, and or render limited aid on the road or after storm damage).
  20. Air mattress and sleeping bag
  21. Vehicle built in navigation software (two sources of navigation info can be helpful
  22. Warm clothing, rain layers
  23. Hiking Boots (in case of mud, rough terrain, etc)
  24. Food and beverages and fast snacks
  25. 12V freezer (this is really nice on multi day trips, but a simple cooler is fine).
 
Hello,
Long time weather enthusiast and first season spotter here! I took the classes in an online format so I wasn't able to ask questions at the time, so my biggest question is what equipment should I get? I do have some radar apps, although Radar Omega is a little over my head.
A good radar app that you know how to use well is essential, but never put 100% trust in it. Use your eyes in conjunction with the app. Also a good stand alone GPS (I use Garmin) is essential along with paper maps as a backup. If you have any questions about RadarOmega, I can help. I'm pretty well versed with that app and am a beta tester. Shoot me a message anytime!
 
Back
Top