Minimalist Chase Forecasting: Avoiding Analysis Paralysis and Separating the Signal from the Noise

Somewhat of a digression from information overload relative to forecasting, but still worth discussing here as a “minimalist chasing” topic and equipment-related is the extent of camera and video usage. I am always torn between wanting to capture the moment and have something to show people back home, vs living in the moment and savoring the experience, without the distraction of fumbling with camera equipment, or shifting back and forth from camera to video. Or fumbling between a DSLR camera and also an iPhone so that I would have something to more easily and immediately share with family and friends back home, instead of having to wait to get back to the hotel and download the pictures/video onto my laptop. Lately I’ve been taking 90% of my pictures and video only on my iPhone, just because it’s quicker and easier, and I can use it with one hand while driving if I have to. Curious as to others’ approaches!

Throughout most of my chasing years, I've focused primarily on stills, and only get video when I can "fire and forget", meaning it's either on my dash, or I'm going to be stopped long enough to put a camcorder on a tripod and let it run for a while. I feel a lot more "in the moment" when I'm working an SLR vs trying to get video, although this admittedly might be an artifact of both my preference for photography as well as years spent getting shots at races, and the setting manipulation to get the shots I want rather than having to go in post production to get it. In recent years, I've gone back to my photography roots and shoot as much (if not more) with my film SLR as I do digital.

What video I have gotten over the years just sits on hard drives and memory cards, and I have yet to actually upload anything anywhere. Stills, on the other hand, being where my passion lies, generally do get posted. It usually takes some time for me actually get things up, and my film work is hurt by there being nobody nearby who processes film like I had available in OKC (I still have a roll of film from last year's Indy 500 as well as one from 6/25 last year that needs developed), but it usually does get shared.
I chase solo and since I don't have people looking at data and helping with directions I need to make fast chase decisions myself. I look at surface obs and satellite imagery when I stop on the way to the target area and will also take a quick look at CAMs. I still use a large laptop with a Ram mount and I have navigation on that I use to take a quick look for roads. I run GrL2 or 3 with a mobile hotspot and cell booster but also have radarscope on to refer to. I use a front and rear dashcam and just started using the film tools mount with the AX53. It's a process of making the target area smaller as the day goes on and maybe while driving to that target. Looking at the mesoanalysis page info really helps in this area and when I get close I keep echo tops on to see initiation if I cannot see it with my own eyes. I stay off social media for the most part to avoid what others have said about other targets making me guess mine. I do talk to a couple people sometimes but I always give my target area and reasons first.
I have overall, simplified my setup and thinking over the years so that chasing remains as stress free as I can make it. I no longer chase everything, go too crazy forecasting, stretch too far on conditional forecasts, dork with too much gear or apps, etc. My tone is to try to keep it fun, relaxing and minimize the bad stuff. If a setup starts to feel like a chore or bust risk, I am likely to bail before or during, and be happy even if I miss something.

I use Pivotal Weather for forecast and GRL3 on a tablet in the field, with quad screen layout of reflectivity, velocity, echotops, 3-hour rainfall and a bunch of data overlays for hail, lightning, frontal positions, etc. I exclusively use SPC mesoanalysis page for surface observations and RAP analsysis in the field. I run navigation on the car screen; google maps or the native garmin map which calls out approaching sideroads for me.

In regards to specific question areas posed:

Analysis paralysis: I've had it many times in the past, born of stress of cost vs. reward failures, and wanting to prevent repeats. I began overthinking to try to improve success rates. In the end I found overthinking was stressful without significantly improving success. Instead, simplifying how I thought about chasing and focusing on the desired experience I want from it minimized costs and increased the success rate.

“shorthand” forecasting process: I use the same set of questions, in order, for every forecast: Will I chase in that area? Will sufficient shear and moisture exist and overlap? Is environment unstable but at least slightly capped? Will there be reasonable chance for initiation? If those ingredients are not all confirmed, or still appear stored separately on the 'shelves', it is clear we are not having supercell cookies worth eating. Forecast over, chase dismissed. If we are possibly having delicious cookies, I work harder on the specifics of how they will be prepared (long forecast).

how long forecasting an event:
For obvious 'classic' setups in terrain I like, < 1-2 hours. For subtle scenarios or those in my 'maybe' category, several hours, allowing for go/no go decision up to morning of. For longer distance or multiday chases, more effort before making the commitment. For monsoon, go outside and hope. For a backyward chase, go outside with little forecasting because why not?

reconciling competing model solutions (particularly HRRR):
Each model has to be consistent for many runs to gain trust in the member, and models have to agree with each other for me to gain confidence something will happen. If models disagree I consider biases and check how well each initializes to reality, pick a favorite, and ignore the others until they correct. For CAMs, I ignore completely more than ~24 hours out, remain skeptical until 12 hours out, expect a minimum of ~6 consistent runs before willing to make decisions weighted to them.

composite parameters as shorthand:
Not for me. This obfuscates initiation, quality, and so much more, etc.

data in the field: Almost no long term model use once in the field (maybe a peak at CAMs if there was a previous question of consistency resolving). I heavily use RAP model mesoanalysis and surface observation in the field to fine tune position before a chase starts. Once initiation starts I mainly focus on eyes and radar, and only return to mesoanalysis data if the storms available to me are not satisfactory and I need to relocate.

avoid biases: I don't go out of my way to avoid bias that relates to what I prefer. I do work a lot harder to remain aware of reality rather than forecast expectations after a few bad busts out of position from biased thinking.
I use a laptop with GR3 and expect to for the foreseeable future. My chase partner developed amazing surface ob placefiles (Brandon Vincent at Red Team WX). Combined with detailed road shapefiles and GPS puck allowing real time position on top of radar/surface obs I get most of what I need from a glance at a single screen. Will keep mesoanalysis and COD satellite tabs on the browser on approach but don't use them much after initiation. Maybe something will come along one day that negates the laptop but I haven't seen anything close to the one-stop-shop I have now.