• 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.

Most Influential & Distinguished Storm Chasers

Mike H.

Id have to say everychaser has their own style and own strenghts and faults....it kinda depends on your own chasing style as to whom you like. With that being said id have to say Mike Hollingshead.....His style is alot like I want mine to be....get to the storm.....and bring home amazing pictures....simple but effective.....and just looking at his pics nobody can deny his skill even if you tend to be the "that isnt pure photograpy" group....who cares! They look awesome! He not only captures the intensity and raw power of nature but also its somewhat twisted beauty. He is also highly successful in capturing some massive massive storms. It is luck skill having the time as well as the patience. He doesnt take himself too seriously and I have never really heard any personal remarks from him about other chasers ideas and practices.
He has made me a much better chaser and photographer from jsut a few friendly emails......keep it up Mike.

Do I have a man crush? :p
Jeff Piotrowski The man has a nose for tornadoes, period. His knack for always being on the best storms has always amazed me. And for the success he's had, he is one of the most down-to-earth people I've ever met. Would give you the shirt off his back.

Tim Marshall As a huge fan of keeping statistics and records, Tim has always inspired me to take the time and care to log my chasing experiences. Not to boast, but for posterity. I've always loved how he keeps such detailed accounts of his entire chasing career....a goldmine of knowledge and history, for whatever institution or individual ends up with it. I like to think of Tim as an old man someday, sitting around with tons and tons of video, images, and text to choose from when he wants to relive the past glory...something I think a lot of chasers will miss out on and perhaps regret, by not keeping detailed accounts of their chase happenings.

Gene Moore For the pure knowledge and understanding of the forecast and chase, and his willingness to share it. He made a huge impact on me in 2000 when I just happened to bump into him in a small southwest Iowa town, after we both happened to stay at the same motel. I knew virtually nothing of real forecasting, and had been surviving largely on dumb luck and persistence. He asked me what my target was, to which I replied "somewhere between central Nebraska and central Iowa"....feeling like an idiot. Here I was standing next to one of the legends of chasing, and I had no clue what was going on with the weather...but here I was 1000 miles from home out chasing. It was suddenly obvious to him, from my response, I had no clue what I was doing. Instead of shunning me, he simply shook his head, chuckled, and said "Man...if you're gonna do 1000-milers, ya gotta have some data. I've got a computer, I'll show you a few things I use." He showed me a few basic parameters, including some of his personal "bottom line" numbers to watch for...the one that sticks in my mind the most is '30kts @ h5 is doable'.....I think of that piece of advice every time I forecast. He also gave me one of the best compliments I've ever heard, when he said "If you learn how to forecast, you could be dangerous." That one comment lit a fire underneath me to really try and learn to interpret models and understand what their data means.

Jim Leonard The one chaser who has influenced and inspired me the most. The guy that showed the world you could live to chase, the guy who made me believe I could do it too. Jim called me out of the blue back in 2000, and I was totally floored. We'd never really spoken before, besides a few email exchanges. We talked for over an hour, just about chasing storms. At the end of the conversation, he simply said "I've been watching you online and seeing what you say, and I just figured I needed to call you so we could talk about storms." I guess he saw in me the same passion he had. I was (and still am) so floored that this guy, a legend of his game, would give that kind of time to a nobody. That phone call is one of my most treasured chase-related memories. But it gets even better. A few months later, in the early part of the 2001 season, Jim came to Norman on personal business. He called again, and asked if we could have lunch and talk more about storms. I was speechless, and eagerly accepted his offer. When I walked up to him in the resturant to shake his hand, he smiled and said "THE Shane Adams, we finally meet." Man, you can't imagine the thrill that gives a newbie, being acknowledged by his hero. I was flabbergasted. We had a great conversation over dinner, and I picked his brain and asked every question I'd ever wanted to ask....all of which he answered eagerly and with great detail. It was another moment that I'll treasure forever, and one that inspires me to this day.

So those are my four, the ones who've made the most impact on me as a chaser.
Last edited by a moderator:
Total agreement Shane...you hit the nail on the head. I would have to say this duplicates my list almost exactly...although I would add David Hoadley, Tim Samaras, and Roger Hill to this expanded list as well. Jeff Piotrowski has come a long, long way as a chaser since I first met up with him near Wellington TX nearly 20 yrs. ago (March 1987), and have chased many miles with him through the years. We've learned a ton from just bouncing ideas of each other, and going over the various scenarios. This goes back to the day when the NGM and LFM were the big dog models...with a strong emphasis on dog !! :cool:
Last edited by a moderator:
My pre-chasing days, it was Warren Faidley whom I followed religiously. He's one of the few people I spoke of that my parents actually remember and know through me! LOL I've had the chance to run into Warren on a couple of occasions in the field and he's always been polite and fun to chat with.

Once I got into chasing for real, I got grouped up (probably by accident) with an awesome group of people. Two of them, Amos Magliocco and Blake Naftel, accepted me as the wide-eyed, Redskins-fan, bad sense of humor chaser I was and showed me the ropes of actual chasing. Not an easy thing to get in to at the time, but they got me going for sure. In my first big year, I was able to share two of the best days of 2004 with those two (Amos on May 12 and Blake on May 29). Sadly, Blake isn't out much these days and also sadly, Amos is a Cowboys fan, but I have certainly a lot of respect for them and a lot to thank them for in terms of my first years of chasing. When I do get out with either of them, its always a blast and I always make an effort to chase with either of them whenever I can!

And also, I've got to throw a bone to Doug Kiesling. He is certainly not one of the most well liked chasers, but he gave me the shot at shooting video and helped cover some of the expenses of chasing enabling me to get out more. I've put together a lengthy last few years thanks in part to him, so I want to give him a shout as well. We all know how expensive this hobby can get, and while I certainly will never make a living doing it, I at least am able to get out much more than if I were doing this all on my own. As a full-time college student, I never would've been able to afford the tens of thousands of miles of memorable traveling I've done in the last few years if it wasn't for the chance he gave me!

Lastly, I've got to toss a shout to Shane Adams. While I've never chased with him (met him for the first time during my short stint in OKC), I've always enjoyed following his work. Shane was a very passionate person and I feel as if I have that same passion, showing it in a different way. I think he's one of a few people who ever dedicated his life to chasing at some point, much as I have. To me, that's pretty damn cool! And I think its also safe to say we both enjoy the statistical aspect of our chasing careers! LOL
Last edited:
Good day,

Definitely will give a thumbs up to David Hoadley, he's been chasing more than any of us and still alive to tell about it.

Also, I appreciate Jim Leonard's work with typhoons, hurricanes, and ofcourse, tornadoes. Heck, he's been chasing tropical systems in the Atlantic AND Pacific!

Finally, Tim Samaras and his absolutely incredible work in getting in-situ tornado measurements and video.

This list is not limited, there are many chasers who I can also include, too many to list.
Oh yeah, how could I forget Blake? I bugged him everyday on AIM like 8-10 years ago and bought my first chase video from him (what'd you expect? I was around 12 at the time). Sorry about that, LOL

Anyway, there really are way too many to list. There are several people on this forum that I would consider to have an influence on me since signing up...

Mike Hollingshead's awesome photos and bi-monthly photo theft debacle, and his interest in most types of extreme weather (i.e. not limited to just tornadoes)

Shane Adams' blunt attitude and willingness to throw an opinion out there even when other's might strongly disagree. Also his ability to keep chasing as an "isolated" hobby, while not abandoning everything else - When it's chase time, it's chase time; when it's not, everything else matters.

Nick Grillo hasn't had an influence on me per se, but his age and motivation are beyond exceptional and I could see this having a big effect on younger chasers.
Doug Kiesling. He is certainly not one of the most well liked chasers,

Yeah well, it's a business, not a popularity contest. I could be well liked and let people walk all over me or I could be perceived as a jerk and focus on making a living as a freelance videographer with people thinking I'm a prick but still jealous of that fact that I succeeded.

Yes it is a fact that I don't focus just on shooting weather video anymore and anyone who does is a fool but the cold reality is that a lot of the people on this forum are chasers, spotters and simply just business competition.

Besides, if people knew half the stuff I have to deal with when it comes to the business of chasing with all the double crossing and back stabbing... Lets just say you would be shocked if not applaud. When I retire I should right a book about it.

But for now I'll just stick with the day job...
Last edited by a moderator:
Thanks for the kind words from those mentioning my name. It's cool to know you can largely suck at targetting and still get mentioned lol. I think I've had 35 chases or so since getting a tube. 1/35 should not get anyone mentioned and should probably prevent it.

While thinking of this thread one person came to mind as far as a present distinguished kind of thing. Anyone notice how many tornado days Simon Brewer had last year in the "crappy" year? http://www.stormgasm.com/ Look at the right hand side and add two from March and one from April not listed over there. NINE tornado days last year(at least, could be more for all I know). LOL I thought it was six before looking further into this. That is simply crazy. I'm not sure I can think of anyone chasing better than Simon is right now.

As far as influences, hmmm. Anyone that was putting images online before 99 would be mine, as that is what got me chasing. I loved storms, but seeing what they could look like online got me to chasing them(tornado videos rarely showed all the structures). It's sad I don't remember that well just whose sites they all were. I really never used the internet much till about that time, and the whole thing was rather new. Seems like it was Doswell, Prentice, Barricklow, and Moore as the main ones. I'm thankful they, along with others, took the time to do so.

I was always a fan of Jeff Piotrowski as well, since he seemed to be able to always get the craziest footage. The more footage I watched, the more a fan of Stertz I became lol. When they are together you can tell who is holding the camera(sorry Jeff). The April 8, 1999 sequence is classic, even if it is sooo painful to watch.

Bill Reid for his chasing and chase videos. It should be nice now that Bill has a site out/coming out, so others that aren't familar with his productions can become so.
Lets just say you would be shocked if not applaud.

I'm dying to know if that was a typo or if it was meant to be typed that way. lol That is potentially pretty damn funny, even if it is not.
Did Dr. Fujita chase? He made the tornado scale and probibly influenced alot of people to start chasing.
Im a big fan of Eric Nguyen (mesoscale.ws) and The whole Breaking News Video Network crew. The storm structure and tornado footage is extroadinary.

Im a fan of every stormchaser/photographer, but for me, these stood out the most.

Thanks to those who've mentioned me. It's very humbling. I'm a weekend warrior compared to most names in this thread.

I can't answer this post without first mentioning Steve Miller (TX), who mentored more than a few of us with his knowledge and enthusiasm. Sam Barricklow made a deep impression on me for his committment to reporting and public safety. David Hoadley elaborated a poet-chaser's vision and sense of awe, and has never stopped embracing the experience with words. Chuck Doswell and Al Moller modeled the value of fidelity to scientific standards with a zeal for precise language and a humble spirit of inquiry. Tim Marshall told us how important it was to do the morning's work right and then show up ("when it's May you chase!"). My friends Eric and Mike explained which way to point my camera, and Shane's passion proved that chasing could keep us young forever.
David Hoadley - To me the quintessential storm chaser is David Hoadley. Brian Stertz and Jeff Piotrowski allowed me to chase with them in the very late 90's and I heard them speak of David Hoadley with so much admiration and respect ... I just couldn't wait to meet this man. And when I did meet David Hoadley it was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. He holds so much excitement and passion for weather, great wit, incredible talent as an artist and a poet.

Brian Stertz - Brian's enthusiasm and comprehension of weather is inimitable. I couldn't even begin to count the times that Brian has helped me, taken the time to explain to me applications of weather that I am sure were very elementary to him but he never made me feel like I was asking a "less than" question. I have a deep admiration and respect for this man, Great Guy. One heck of a storm chaser!
I have learned a lot from Jon Davies, Jim Reed (on hurricanes), and Tim Vasquez has some pretty damn good books for intro. level chasers, so I think those guys are at the top of my list as far as obtaining knowledge from other chasers goes.
When it comes down to who I think the best chaser out there is (besides myself of course lol) when it comes to bagging tornadoes, I would have to call it a toss up between Wurman and his crew (I know he has other guys help forecasting for the DOW group) and the stormgasm guys. I think Simon Brewer and Jim Bishop never got the kind of respect or attention among other chasers that they deserve simply because they were young and they didn't used to post a whole lot on here, but IMO they can out forecast and out chase anybody out there. They always had that extra bit of enthusiasm that it takes to be a great chaser. It's not always easy to pick yourself back up after a bust and drive another 1,000 miles the following day, but those guys did it and they were sucessful because of it.
Well honestly I have many names that stand out in my head. This spring will be my 5th chase season across the plains and I'm only 20yrs old. The chasers I can really remember most that first inspired me were legends Howerd bluestein, Gene Rhoden, and Jim leonard lol and last but not least Val-Caster from KWTV in OKC. These legends are the ones who really inspired me with there breathtaking videos and cool tempers when they are in the hotzone as I like to call it.
But when the movie Twister came out I thought that is exactly how chasing was and would be, but when my 16th B-day came around and I started chasing for the first time LOL BOY WAS I WRONG!!!!! I would skip school to chase in Kansas, once in Nebraska, and all over texas. I almost failed High School for it. Was I foolish in doing this? Well I dunno. Maybe, but My pasion for understanding severe storms and seeing them in person instead of on video just kept growing and growing and growing, and still to this day it has never been greater. But I felt like an outcast because I never saw anyone else out there my age chasing lol.
But when I met Reed timer on 5/12/04 in southern kansas and then Shane adams the following year, I was thinking wow these guys are awsome and they were actually talking to ME!! I was so nervous both times that I couldnt talk much at all, I didnt know what to say. But then 10/19/05 roled around and I ran into Reed again along with his budy Joel at a library somwere in far NW oklahoma ( srry I dont remember the town) and they let me follow them throughout the chase until I lost them durring the insane core punch lol.
Then a couple months later i Ran across Reeds website and was like wow I've actually met him, and Shane well he is one of the coolest chasers you will ever meet he is real down to earth and funny.
These guys are the ones who have inspired me to chase and to Continue chasing.
If you really want to talk about "Most Influential" for me, it is not who everyone says is the big names in chasing which kind of look more like a brown nose contest.

I see a lot of people come and go in chasing with one hit wonders just like the music business but there is one old school chaser that puts almost all of us to shame when it comes to photography and laying the ground work to what a lot of us do now.

It is not even anyone on Stormtrack or Wx Chase or any of the billion other blogs, lists, chats and crap out there.

My vote goes to the only chaser whose photographic work hangs in my office and did stuff with a camera that some can barely recreate using CS2 for several hours now days.

David O Stillings. The Lightning Stalker.

He was chasing storms long before some on this forum were even alive.

http://www.gographics.com/lightning/stil36.htm Photographed in 1978.

Although is website is down, you can see a lot of his work here.

Granted some of the scans are kind of sub par by todays standards, they were done 10 years ago.
The two 'legends' who have most influenced me are Chuck Doswell for forecasting knowlege, and Roger Hill for chasing in general. Dr. D probably has taught me more about the wx than anyone else, i practically memorized all his papers when i was going to school. Roger's enthusiasm for chasing is second to none! Every year, my chase partners and i joke about secreting a tracking device on Roger's van, so we dont miss out on any of the action :)

But, since this is about recognizing people who have made a difference, I want to single out a couple names that probably less than 1% of this board has ever heard of, and yet these two could easily be 'legendary' chasers if they wanted the status. Eyad Atallah and Anantha Aiyyer
were two grad students when i went back to school to get my undergrad degree in 1997. We all studied under synoptic legend Lance Bosart at SUNY ALbany, NY. I don't know how much chasing these two have done since then, but back then they spearheaded the U Albany chases that got me started in this crazy hobby. This was before we had real-time data, and had to rely on pure chasing skills. While we were off driving aimlessly around, they had an uncanny ability to get the goods, and they have the video to show for it (just one example, driving 1000+ miles from Albany to be the first on the scene to video the Spencer F4). You wont find these guys trumpeting their accomplishments on the internet, but they're great chasers, and certainly gave me inspiration.
This is an OLD thread I stumbled upon but I can't read it without putting in my 2 bits for Roger Hill and Jon Davies.

Roger is one class act. He's the nicest guy you could ever imagine, is freakishly good at what he does, and is humble despite people like me who slobber over him like he's Oprah Winfrey. In my book he's the world's best... and even after chasing for 15 years myself am blown away by how much more there is to learn once you ride along with Roger Hill. If anyone else thinks they are good -- they are wrong! :)

I also have to vote for Jon Davies. Another all around great guy who has helped chasers and meteorology in general jump forward by leaps and bounds with his work with low level stretching (was ESP), low topped supercells, cold core tornadoes, his 700mb rule for capping which is one of those magic numbers I use religiously... and more. I cannot give Jon more credit for all his hard work and ability and eagerness to share freely his endless knowledge.
Actually back in 1999 or 2000, Warren Faidley laid the foundation for me. I was in an airport, and picked up a volume of Popular Photography (I believe this was the one) and saw and article about Warren Faidley and storm chasing. I was in awe of his photos and I wanted to be just like him.

When I met him back in 02, I knew then that I was destined to become a storm chaser. Even today, we stop and chat with each other when we have time. Other chasers helped me, but Warren laid the foundation for my interest and excitement for storm chasing.
Interesting thread in a way... I've only been here about a year and did not see this thread at all the first time it went around... I hate the idea of "best" at storm chasing but if you ask me who I respect, that's a different question... I respect people who chase with dignity, who show class on the road, and who understand that we are just humble observers of what nature offers. Yes, there is "skill" in forecasting and chasing, but we're just fortunate to observe it all. I've been chasing for 27 years now and I've learned from many people. Personally, I owe my passion to the late Travis Tull who passed away in 2003 and was my first chase partner. He was not one of the "greats" but I learned the basics from him and learned how he chased the odds.. From Gene Moore I learned how to perserve (never stop until it's over and get out there early)... From Tim Marshall I learned about "hope" -- there's always a chance (that comes from a discussion in Lubbock back in 1991). From Dave Hoadley I learned that there are no limits to our passion. From Howie Bluestein, I learned the science and the beauty of photographing it. From Lou Wicker, I learned to think "outside the box." Lou saw the science in a way most of us did not and we spent hours talking about it at OU. And a crazy as it may seem, I learned from a 14-year-old named Jesse who made me just appreciate the simple things in chasing --- like lightning and thunder and just standing there in the darkness and watching nature at it's best... There is no "greatness" in this field; yep, one of my influences is a 14-year-old who reminded me why I even went into this science. We do have influences and like many of the above posters I've listed mine..
Last edited by a moderator:
Howie Bluestein is my guy. When I was stationed at Altus AFB back in 1981, I read an article about Bluestein and the OU chase team. Growing up in CT, I was already obsessed with tornadoes (due alot to subscribing to Weatherwise and Storm Data) and knew eventually I'd somehow make seeing tornadoes a priority in my life. And that Bluestein article, seeing that other people actually did chase storms, pretty much was my calling and I've more or less made Oklahoma my home since then to chase storms.
Since it's one of those Sunny Boring Blue Sky days, I thought I would mention my most influential person. This guy quit his day job and moved to the tiny Island of Guam to chase typhoons back in the early 90s. Guam hadn't seen a decent typhoon since 1976, and how in the world did he know they were going to get clobbered by super typhoons like Omar and Yuri in the 90s is beyond me. In 1998, he flew down to Puerto Rico in the hopes of getting close to an "Island Grinder" Hurricane called Georges. Georges changed course and went right down the middle of that Island wrecking it good. His thirst for the raging wind not satisfied, he caught the first flight out to Miami and had another go at Georges in Key West. He stayed at my place in Marathon and the next morning I rode with him to Key West. That was to be my first lesson in the Jim Leonard School of Storm Chasing. I learned how to stay safe, stash the car, and not get downwind from a car dealer sign about to be shredded into pieces.

I lived in the Waterspout Capital of the World – The FL Keys and was always on the hunt for them. Man, they were allusive. Jim would drive down from Miami and on the way out would stop by my place in Marathon to show me a waterspout he had just filmed. I mean every time he drove down he would nail a waterspout! How the heck was he doing this? One time back in 1999 we were watching a cumulus line that had just crossed over the ocean from Key Colony Beach. I asked Jim where he thought the waterspout would form and he pointed right over there. We were running tape with our cameras pointed “over there” when Jim said, “shoot (well it did start with an S) I’m just about out of tape, I have to go back to my car and get another one. Watch as soon as I get to my car, a waterspout will form”. Sure enough, he got to his car about 100 yards away and I saw a beautiful spray ring form right “over there”. I yelled at Jim and said run quick. I can still hear those everyday flip flops of his snapping as he sprinted back to his tripod. The funnel dropped down and the spray ring turned to a golden color just as Jim got his new tape in. It was a spectacular sight.

Jim was always helpful not just with the storm chasing side but the business side too. Even though my footage might compete with his, Jim would say, “hey, so and so is buying footage – send them what you got” or “don’t dub your miniDV footage to Beta SP, send them miniDV and let them transfer it”. The latter saved me a lot of money and time by not having to drive 130 miles to Miami.

If you’ve been to the Jim Leonard School of Storm Chasing you know what I’m talking about. He was doing it for 20 years before you could make a buck at it. He’s got more tornadoes, hurricanes, typhoons, & waterspouts than all of us. I owe him.
Due to waiting until my kids was old enough , I had to wait awhile to start chasing . So I loved reading Eric Nguyen , Mark Robinson , Shane Adams Web-sites and talking with Rob Satkus. Sadly I have only meet afew of ya'll on here so far , but there is alwas next year.
Last edited by a moderator:
I had forgotten about this old thread. Gotta mention my good friend Lanny Dean. Lanny is a great chaser and an awesome friend. Sure, he gets sideways with folks at times, but he calls things as he sees them, and he is 100% honest:cool: His passion for chasing, and his compassion for the people that these storms affects is & has been inspiration for me.