'Not Feeling It' Chase Burnout?

Joined
Mar 2, 2004
Messages
2,379
Location
Northern Colorado
Hey all... if you follow me on my storm chasing Facebook page, you've probably seen a couple posts regarding my feelings about this storm chasing season, or lack thereof. From the get-go, I haven't been 'feeling it' all season. I've chatted with a few chasing friends, and it seems many, to some extent on way or the other, are also 'not feeling it'. I wanted to share my thoughts here, perhaps a bit more in-depth than I did on an open social platform since we're all in this storm chasing boat. Thsi will be a long read, so prepare yourself hahaha

For the first time in several years, I had an off-season coming into the start. My last chase in 2023 was back in October, and aside from a couple Midwest winter events, I barely left my home. 2023, as many of you saw, was arguably my best season to date with several amazing events, headlined by the June 21 Akron event. I was quite happy with what I got last year, and was able to enjoy a relatively uneventful off-season.

Cue March, gearing up for the season. While I felt the excitement at the surface, I definitely wasn't as gung-ho as I would've been in previous years. I have been pushing for several chase-related projects, but I didn't really have my heart in them. I wasn't really fully aware of my 'not feeling it' going in and I just pushed it aside. I had been working through a few personal issues (both good and bad) over the previous weeks, including a major basement remodel among other homey type stuff.

The first chase was on March 24, the Garden City spout day. I had missed that tornado by a few minutes as I was eastbound out of Garden to get on what I thought were better storms. A bit of a slap in the face considering I passed through the intersection where the tornado hit less than 15 minutes prior. While I did enjoy a good pounding of hail, I was already down for a wiff.

Several ho-hum chases bring us to the April 26 outbreak. This would be an 8-tornado day for me and my chase partner, including the back end of the Harlan/Defiance wedge. This was one of my biggest TV wins as we went wall-to-wall with this tornado for nearly half an hour on the network, the first time that had ever happened. I was feeling pretty good about that. But, despite the impressive number of tornadoes, we missed the big story, which was Lincoln, as we were further west north of Kearney on the surface low nabbing low-contrast, but close intercepts of large tornadoes there early before shooting across the river to get on several of the Iowa tornadoes. This would be a theme for me that dragged on through the season. Decent days, but never on the big story.

I am very fortunate that I have made a career out of chasing; it's been a main focus of my job description since going into TV weather/news full time. The gig I work now is a literal dream gig; paid to chase. And I am fortunate that I am able to make the go/no-go calls. I have a lot of control over when and where I go, and that's amazing in this business. Going into this season, we lost two of our correspondents and our big-name freelance chaser, so I think immediately, I felt like I needed to be all those people including myself. I put a ton of pressure of me to be everywhere at once, and of course, that's impossible, but the human brain is stupid sometimes.

Thus began the chain of misses... not feeling it translates a bit to being off your game. On paper, I've had a solid season. But every single day I was out, I'd be on the B/C-story while younger, more "dedicated" chasers were constantly snagging the A-stories. I think part of my issue became a mid-life crisis type of thing. I'm still young, relatively speaking, but definitely not young like I was when I could drive hundreds of miles day-after-day with winks of sleep mixed in. I just don't have that kind of hustle in me anymore. Not by choice, mind you, so it's rough on me to see these kids out-performing me in ways I could do once upon a time.

And it was worse because they're scoring. I wrote on my Facebook page about the 'never stop chasing' life and how its so dangerous, and honestly a lot stupid. But several folks who have been going non-stop are being well rewarded with weather. Many of them having a season that would dwarf mine from last year. Big time storms, incredible tornadoes, all the while I barely scrap the bottom of the barrel to get something on TV. And of course, our network is getting all that on air. I had a serious case of imposter syndrome. And it just kept piling on with every event. Either I'd be out and see something minuscule, or I'd NOT be out and miss a big event. I just couldn't get that win. And between social media and the network, I was constantly reminded, day after day, that I suck haha

Up to bat came May 23... I woke up in Salina, Kansas and drove up to Concordia for breakfast. I was feeling okay, had a nice down day the day before, and was leaning heavily to the southwest Nebraska play. While at breakfast, I was looking over models, and southwest Oklahoma caught my eye. The more I looked at it, the more it sold me to make that play. It looked like the bigger setup, more risk to it than the Nebraska play, but I just felt it. Running the logistics, I knew I could get down there in time with no major hurry, so I pulled the trigger and made the play. Southbound on 35 to OKC, then west on I-40. As I was making my way, two storms fired in the TX Panhandle, one aiming for I-40 (which I was ignoring), and the one that would be the southwest Oklahoma play. That was my target.

My plan was to dive south out of Sayre, Oklahoma. I estimated I had roughly a 15 minute window to get south in front of the storm before the core would come into play. I was feeling pretty good. As I was literally getting off the highway, the I-40 storm suddenly was tornado-warned. Seeing as I had that window, I decided I'd give it a quick peek before I ventured south. I went to the next exit and that storm was spinning a wall cloud so hard I thought a portal to another dimension was about to open up. I can't leave this, it's gonna plant a hog right here on I-40. So I stayed with it, literally right up next to this thing, great lighting, awesome view, I was about to make my season. So for the next, oh say 45 minutes, I drifted east with this inter-dimensional portal til it literally spun itself from the updraft, drifted north as the anvil orphaned overhead to my east. At this point, it had been an hour, and I got back in the car and the first thing I saw was the imagery of the southern storm that was beginning a tornado event that would last an hour. Oh, and the southwest Nebraska target also produced several photogenic tornadoes. Mother Nature just trolled the hell out of me, and I was sitting at the Sayre exit with my head in my hands and just drove myself defeated to the OKC hotel.

I took the next day off, the northern TX/southeast OK hailers. Saturday (the 25th) was my next event, but I just wanted to sleep Friday. Saturday I got up and was debating between the NW Texas target and the southern Kansas target. Given the higher-end setup in MO/IL the following day, I opted for the southern Kansas target. It was a solid day, got a couple brief tornadoes near Anthony among a dusty storm, but the left splits out of Oklahoma silenced what otherwise would've been a loud chase day. And yes, I also saw the tornado in NW Texas. Also in the midst of the blinding dust, a chaser in a green Subaru decided in the zero-visiblity to attempt a three point turn in the middle of a narrow dirt road. Fortunately I was going slow enough when she emerged into view, I was able to avoid t-boning her. It was close, and I was a bit rattled. But fortunately no harm done.

I drove myself to Topeka for the night and was intending to get up early to haul over to my Sikeston, Missouri target. I left and hauled all the way to St. Louis when my back passenger side wheel bearing starting going out. My car sounded like a cement mixer. I got off the highway in southern St. Louis and I just kinda quit. I've driven on a bad wheel bearing before for longer than I should've, but I just had an eerie feeling about this. I had just replaced it a few weeks earlier, so something was just not happy down there. I called my boss and explained the situation and I told him I just wasn't mentally there and I was going to turn around and head home. It was only the second time in my career I have abandonded a chase enroute (the first was May 20, 2013 - the Moore day). Immediately after the phone call, I hauled all the way back to Hays, stayed there overnight and was home by lunch the following day.

That was the sequence that kinda undid me... I got home and actually had several days in a row of low-end events within a couple miles of home. A decent lightning night and a heavy hailer literally down the street from my house, a low-key two hour drive east for some marginal storms, then the northeast Denver hailer which was amazing in its own right. I disconnected starting that weekend and didn't look at anything til the structure-fest chase on June 7 in Nebraska. My latest trip was kinda nice as I was field-training our new correspondent, so I had fresh comany to distract me from another series of wiffs, including targeting Minnesota from Sioux City and missing the massive storm that blew up just south of there and rolled down I-29 into Omaha, then biffing the 15th in Nebraska playing the southern target while Pilger-area storms produced.

I must give credit to my work... after I opted out in St. Louis, I felt pretty low. I am suppose to be the severe weather, and I bailed on a day when they brought additional crews in to go live and they ultimately did it without me. But despite that, many of my bosses reached out, unsolicitied, and offered a lot of support to me and reaffirmed my worth to the network and the company, even going as far as to give me formal recognition for my efforts all season through the company accolade system we have. They have been fantastic with me, and again, it was all self-pressure. And they were ANIMATE about reminding me how valued I am, the work I do, and all that. They deserve a lot of credit for that, and that did a lot of good for me in a professional sense, even as my personal feelings were still a bit meh.

The tl/dr version... I haven't been feeling it... I can attribute this to a number of issues, but even as I have plucked through a lot of them via various methods (including a therapist), I'm still just not with it. I think the underlying reason, at least for the present, is I just haven't been personally successful in chasing all year, and I am definitely feeling the lots of effort for little reward. Again, that's probably amplifed a bit coming off last season's success. My last trip, despite it's laughable results, was a little nicer for me as I didn't let myself feel the pressure of work, and that helped that I didn't miss TOO much, but still sucked lol I'm hoping to sneak a few 'backyard' chases in through the summer, and hopefully one of them yields a "one day makes a season" as I'm sure that would certainly help. But I'm more eager to face next season, because if I "am not feeling that" again, then I start looking at the big picture a bit more. I don't feel like I need to do any soul-searching at this point in the game, but if I am like this next year, perhaps I look at what lies next for me. I've been in this game since 1997, and I've had some amazing times and seen some mind-blowing events, and I hope I still have many years left in me.

So I guess I'll open this up to discussion. As I mentioned, several chaser friends have expressed various levels of 'not feeling it' this year. One friend, in particular, has yet to go out. I'm curious to hear others stories and open up discussion a bit.

BTW, I'm 642 miles away from logging my half-a-millionth chasing mile. And given the overall down tone of this post, I will leave a few of the better images I've accumulated so far this year... Thanks guys for letting me air out some laundry...

fbLaubach01a.jpg

fbLaubach02.jpg

fbDefiance.jpg

fbElba2.jpg

fbNessy.jpg

fbSesser.jpg

fbWoodrow.jpg

fbRed.jpg

fbStanton.jpg

fbHaz.jpg

441939036_1000552908112697_2909927256734025808_n.jpg


448090056_1005116370989684_3825641475306881338_n.jpg


447503025_1005992824235372_3662308842312513867_n.jpg


447898779_1006770244157630_5007810545180777782_n.jpg
 
It definitely does get tougher the older you get. It only takes a few days to get me tuckered out and I’m one of the first people to call it a day when a storm gets messy or it doesn’t look like it’s going to produce.Thoughts of getting some food, drinks and a hotel room start to take precedence over sticking with a storm longer in hopes of it producing. I’ll feel the tug of home pretty hard, but after a few days at home I’ll be itching to go back out.
It’s completely normal Tony to feel a bit burned out when you’ve done anything a long time. The young guns have all of the energy and drive you had when you were younger. Realizing you aren’t that young anymore can sour a mood a bit too.
Getting paid to do something you actually like to do is priceless. Maybe forcing yourself to look at all the positives you might be taking for granted will help get you out of your funk.
 
This was a tough season for me also, and I too have not been as excited about chasing. I think a lot of my problem was - that despite some of the best chase weather in years - I wasn't seeing it. I either couldn't chase that day, or picked the wrong storm, or just made bad decisions. I had my first total blue sky bust ever in over a decade of chasing. I only say 3 tornados - all the same day - and they all were poor visibility/contract, messy, had to squint hard to see it tornados. Couple that with getting older and having some knee and hip issues, and being in a car for long hours just wasn't fun. The lack of success also led to tension in my vehicle with my long time chase partner. I needed a break and I haven't chased since mid May (but hey - I'm a day chaser in TX and OK - so that is just a little short of normal).

As I look at your amazing photos you posted above, I fell energized. I'll be out the next time I have a target within reasonable range for me. We all have slumps.
 
Well, you're definitely not an imposter! Remember, somebody somewhere's going to get the great shot, even if you don't, maybe ma and pa on their back porch in the middle of nowhere with no chase required. And seemingly the best jobs can become a bit of a grind when you get paid, and you feel like you have to deliver the goods. I might mention that accomplishing a goal, for example, "the best chase year ever last year," can routinely be followed by a down feeling from the completion of that goal. Continue to acknowledge that spark within that led you over the years.
 
Your success is something I could only dream of simply because I'm not willing to make the sacrifices.... those images are incredible. There's a lot to be said here on many points, but I'll keep it simple... do it for your own enjoyment, and social media will make you feel like crap almost ever time. Someone, somewhere is always doing better than you, and comparing yourself is a sure fire way to be disappointed. Nothing wrong with being burnt out either... you can only go so hard, for so long before something gives out. Go at your pace and you'll find the desire again.
 
This seems to be what happens when you pin the worth of what you are doing on how others view you. I used to be like that, then dropped socials and stopped giving a flying F what any dipshit thought.

The fact is, we're all a bunch of mids. Some years we are on fire (James Wilson, I am looking at you this year) and some years you can't see a tornado no matter how many miles you drive. While you were having the year of your life last year (and plenty others) I was constantly watching from the sidelines at my hell hole corporate job working on shit I wasn't hired or skilled to do. While I did salvage the season on 6/21 with Matador, I definitely did not have the season some of y'all did.

I spent a lot of time thinking on April 26th as I sat looking at a pretty much fully blue sky in Seminole. I wondered if I just had lost it. I doubted myself. It's good to be lucky or the HRRR be correct and spot on. But the feeling of knowing you saw something that wasn't so obvious is a lot more satisfying. At least I answered that question in May. Which is the other point, it only takes 1 Wynnewood Tiger to turn around a season.

I had come to the conclusion years ago that I would blow days that I was distracted. So I got rid of the distractions and quit my job and proved to myself I could see tornadoes again. I also don't have social media, so I don't know what "everyone else" is thinking and it probably is helpful in the long run. It's easy to see a target looking better if Tim Marshall posted that as his target already. Speaking of, He was just down from me Saturday so I am guessing he busted south with the rest of us in Nebraska.

We were both young and hungry once. We wanted what we didn't have, and that was photos & videos of awesome tornadoes of every shape size type. These young guys are coming in, and have that same hunger. And social media has made it look super easy. Also there is likely inhibition that someone like you or I have to chasing some setups. We've seen S shaped hodographs before, we know how that ends. When you're new, young and dumb you're a lot more likely to chase and occasionally score something.

And car troubles ruining chases is par for the course. I don't think anyone escapes those.
 
Chasing will always be a realm owned by the young, like we all once were. I remember Chuck Doswell lamenting on his blog many years ago that "storm chasing has passed me by". I increasingly feel that same sentiment now. It's a rite of passage, I think. Everyone will wind up in this sort of place between ages 30-50 (sooner if you have kids).

Today's youngsters who are on top now will be going through the same thing in 15 years. They'll be dealing with the teenagers of their day scoring *everything* with the advanced weather models and 3d 20K-resolution AI cell phone drones and who knows what else that will make our stuff today seem as worthless and uninteresting as black and white film reels.

So few of my peers from the early 2000s are still out there. For most of them, it's because life happens and pushes chasing out of the way by necessity. And indeed, 95 percent of my successes (and ability to chase as much as I still do) in the past 15 years are a direct result of not having kids. It's the #1 reason longtime chasers have to step so far away from the way they were at their peaks.

To echo Tony, I'm increasingly feeling that a major crossroads is on the horizon regarding my own participation in the hobby. I've been blessed to see and capture everything I've ever dreamed of and more. I've met all of my lifetime chase goals. What more is there to do? I haven't reached that point yet, but I realize that if I stopped even now, very few would notice. My web site's traffic is a tenth of what it was 3 years ago. Even when I try to play the fool's game of posting on social media, it's like shouting into the abyss, never producing anything meaningful.

Case in point: most probably haven't noticed that Gene Moore's iconic web site chaseday.com went offline some time ago, like so many others have. It vanished with no fanfare, no news articles, no social media posts about it from others wondering what happened. If the online presence of one of the greats in storm chasing ends like that, we can all expect the same for ourselves. Our era, at least as we've always known it, has passed. Like the veterans of the 70s, 80s and 90s have, we have to each figure out for ourselves what is next. And there is nothing wrong with it if that includes *not* chasing.
 
Last edited:
I wrote a post with similar sentiments a couple of weeks ago here. My general blah approach to chasing these days stems from my dad passing three years ago and I just haven't seen the world the same way since, although I'm trying hard.

On a less personal level, the competition aspect will suck the fun right out of everything and I've made major moves to avoid that trap. No social media, no outside influences on chase day, etc. Making it an immersive and personal experience not based on anything but what I loved about chasing in the first place, which is the weather and how it looks (the beauty). I take time to soak it in and I don't see what anyone else has caught unless they post it here. Seeing people score here has such a different vibe than SM and I'm happy to see everyone here have success. But, there is no envy and that's the difference.

I allow myself to not go on chases I don't want to go on. I don't drive 14 hours a day anymore if I can help it. I stay in comfy hotels as much as possible. I eat good food and pass on fast food these days. That's the benefits of being older I guess.

As for the young guns, they are definitely bringing it. There's some advantages they have these days that we didn't when I was younger, but more than anything as Ben mentioned, they have the fire and something to work toward. When you've climbed the hill, you don't have to work as hard and there's no shame in not living, eating and breathing it 24/7 when there are so many other people and things that are worth your attention, especially when the time isn't as infinite as it was when you were 18.
 
Also as I take a step back, this thread (and my comments included) sound like the old amateur radio dudes did when I got into amateur radio. "No code tech" and such.

Dan, I think the traffic decline is more of a symptom of the app-ification of everything. I think a large amount of the population only uses mobile devices to access the web at this point. They're busy scrolling on facebook or tiktok.

I remember Gene mentioning that it was too much of a pain to keep up awhile back. I hope he is doing well, he has been notably absent from the plains.
 
Appreciate everyone's replies so far... thank you all.

I did place a lot of emphasis on the social media part of it... normally that's not something that bugs me much beyond the day or two following. It just was amplified heavily this year with the added pressure I was putting on myself to be three other people and feeling like I could barely do the job as a single entity. That's on me... and fortunately my working peeps were amazing, and did a lot to alleviate some of that. Unfortunately with the nature of my job, I don't have the luxury to turn off social media. I also have the added fun of seeing new (better) content on private work forums, so it's not something I can escape. But again, I think that just burdened me more given the situation I was in for most of the season.

Ironically enough, I have done talks where I have said the very phrase "someone will always shoot something better", and you have to be in your own little world. Oddly enough a lot of the advice you have stated is very similar to that I have said in public many times. But as you know, humans don't always take their own advice. And while on its own, its easy to move past, I let it add to a load I was already trying to hard to carry.

I think the mid-life crisis is where a lot of this comes from. The acceptance of getting older. Seeing people do what you use to be able to do and can no longer do (and may not even want to do to begin with). Again, each of my reasons on their own don't add up to much, but for some reason, everything just combined into one big ball of tension that became too big to carry. The car trouble was the trigger to finally put up the white flag as I was probably passed the point where I should be NOT out roaming. It was my excuse. I woke up that morning with the mentality "its just one more day", but sometimes 'one more' is one too many.

And maybe it is true burnout. Maybe I have "seen everything" (particularly true after Akron last year). Maybe the passion has waned, perhaps the lure of being at home more with the wife and cats is pulling me away a bit. I don't know, all these things I'll weed through. It just feels like it came out of nowhere this season.

I dunno... it's a weird place for me to be. It's not the first time (you can imagine what it was like for me to even think about chasing after Tim, Paul, and Carl were killed). That was a pretty obvious reason there. This one, while I can list various reasons, doesn't reach back to any particular one. I did listen to myself through the season, taking periodic breaks at home (anywhere from a couple days to a week), and while I had a shot of excitement leading in to the next chase, the 'not feeling it' settled in pretty quick.

I'll be anxious to see where I am this time next year. As I said, I'm not ready to hang it up at this point (maybe internally I am); just hoping its an off year. Baseball players have MVP seasons, then slump the next year. They never come back to that form (nor do I expect myself to), so it's just whatever level of acceptance to continue in some fashion, or in worse case (for lack of better words), start to consider my next chapter. And as I and a couple of you said, that shot in the arm may just be a good, high-quality chase day.

It's weird being the old guy now... LOL I feel more like Doswell every day. We all run the same path, even as the front of that path is vastly different from the one I took in my younger years. While I envy kids for the ease of chasing compared to when I got into the game, I almost pity them as they'll never know the pure joy that was the end of the golden years. Guess you can't miss what you don't know.

Anywoo, it's good to air the brain out a bit to a bunch of like-minded folks. Like I said, it's got the feel of a mid-life crisis in my own mind. If you see me strutting around a supercell in a late 80s Firebird, you know I hit rock bottom :D
 
BTW, great shots, better than anything I got this year.

I just turned 67 this year and I'm hoping I can chase another 15 years without a chauffeur. I had the death flu for the first two weeks I was out chasing. I mean really sick, ended up in an Amarillo ER. I had a client with me during the third week and my wife's mom passed away the fourth week and I headed home.

The only reason I bring up my own season's issues is that I still managed to have a good time chasing because I am well-aware that I don't have another 20-30 years, except for armchair chasing at some point. The time I spend with friends while chasing, like Jason, is what I enjoy the most now days. I truly enjoy seeing other chasers pics and footage. Like others noted, it was a pleasure working during the golden age of chasing and releated professional photography, before the concept of chasing turned to entertainers, stunt people and ass clowns. Fortunatley, they have no effect on my current chase psyche as I have no desire to die remembered as Darwin-Award-Winning idiot.

I kind of felt like chasing was losing it's lackluster when my chasing empire bit the dust years ago when the stock business collapsed and sponsors fled after Storm Chasers. In some ways it was blessing because I now have ZERO pressure to produce anything, beyond personal satisfaction. I would care less what more aggressive chasers achieve, because I'm not in competition with them anymore -- or I would be a social media terror to deal with. I realize there are hundreds of chasers (hardcore / amateur / locals) and the odds of one of them being in the right place at the right time is based largely on luck. There were times I would go nuts thinking I had made target errors, but realized I cannot be everywhere and my choices were complex and correct at the time.

I do not "feel it" if there is a need to drive 300 miles for a long shot chase, or if chasing requires my presence anywhere near major cities, like OKC on a high risk day. I certainly don't feel it when I see a million red dots on Spotter Network in my way, so I find another route or storm. In other words, I have removed all pressure and most frustration from my chasing life and still manage to enjoy it. I'm not sure if this is what you are feeling or if removing such pressures will change your outlook.
 
Last edited:
Another thing you might be feeling, Tony ...When your profession, meteorology (or journalism) appears to get overrun by other people with less credentials & experience, it can feel like they're stepping into (and on) the very things that you've worked so hard for. You put work into becoming a degreed meteorologist, there's likely expectations. (Dentists don't have to worry that just anybody will venture into their profession and start drilling and pulling teeth!) All the things that veteran chasers have had to learn in school or in the field seem less relevant or necessary as time goes on. Technology has allowed incredible access to chasing. Perhaps it doesn't feel special or unique anymore, but...we still like it. :)
 
Last edited:
I had been thinking about starting a thread on aging and chasing, but this is close enough so I will post what I have to say here. Thanks for starting this thread, Tony, obviously it has struck a chord and there is a lot of interest. I am now 74, maybe older than anyone else who has posted here. While I am still chasing, my age has definitely affected many aspects of the experience. I have never been a big fan of long drives, but they are literally harder for me now, and increasingly not worth it unless the reward is really good. Which, of course, you do not know when deciding whether or not to undertake a long drive. And from a storm standpoint, I have been pretty consistent in making the wrong decision when it comes to go and no-go for long drives this season. But maybe not from a personal standpoint. A couple examples. I was already on a chase trip when the big day on April 26 happened. But even so, I sat it out and had a leisurely down day in western KS, seeing a sight I had not even known existed when I got up that morning, the Monument Rocks. As many of you recall, April 26 was not really more synoptically obvious ahead of time than either April 25 or 27 - arguably less so. I had ended up in Oakley, KS after a mildly disappointing chase in western KS on the 26th. Without much internal debate, I decided to sit out the 26th, because at my age I simply did not have the energy to drive all the way to eastern NE or to IA then back to western KS or OK again the next day. Of course, of the 3 days, the 26th naturally turned out to be the big day. Would love to have seen those tornadoes, and I am guessing I would have seen some of them if I had made the drive. But I do not really regret not doing the drive. Congrats to people like Dan who did - Dan, you can still keep up with a lot of those young guys in your ability and willingness to do really long drives on repeated days! The next day, of course, the 27th, was another disappointment. Yes, I likely saw the Calumet tornado, my only one this season, but it was brief glimpses through trees and hills while trying to catch up in a high-speed chaser parade on I-40 after having been caught in the massive chaser jam south of Hinton. I had not intended to violate my no-go within 50 miles of OKC that day, but after it became clear that was the only way I would have a chance of seeing a tornado, I did. Ended up driving over 500 miles that day with little to show photographically (I sure was not going to get a picture of the Calumet tornado in that situation, and to this day have not seen a picture of it from anyone). Then the next day another 500 miles back to our condo in Santa Fe. Even without having made the trek to Nebraska, I was so exhausted when I got back that I tripped and fell into a sharp corner in our condo, and still have the scar to show for it 2 months later. That experience made me really re-evaluate the utility of long, multi-night chase trips. I did do another one in late May/early June, but with lesser distances. Part of the problem is that I no longer sleep in motels as well as I once did, and at my age lack of sleep takes a bigger toll. So I increasingly favor short trips closer to home, mostly on the eastern plains of NM and southeast CO. Yesterday was probably my best chase day of the season, and coincidentally the lowest mileage.

Since May 23 has been mentioned in this thread, this is another example of my changed attitude toward chasing. I seriously considered chasing that day, but in the end did not because even from Santa Fe it would be a fairly long trip and it was far from a slam-dunk forecast. So I sat it out and of course spectacular tornadoes happened. I feel a little worse about that one than April 26, which I still do not regret skipping, especially after how exhausted I was at the end of that trip even without it. I do now wish I had chased May 23, but realistically I know I probably would have ended up with a story like Tony's, given my biases about driving.

Anyway, along the lines of this thread, I am interested in how aging has affected others' feelings about chasing. I know it has changed mine - not so much on whether to chase but definitely on how and where.

One other thought on Tony's post - it strikes me that part of your issues, Tony, may be that chasing is work. I know it is the dream of many on this list to be able to make a living chasing. But that WILL change how you think about it - it becomes a job, with expectations. And even if your boss is understanding, you are still aware of those expectations and may think about how hungrier and probably younger competitors are always lurking. Just one more piece in the mix of factors influencing your feelings about chasing if you are in that situation.

I remember at some point being amazed that David Hoadley was still chasing at the age of 76. I remember at the time thinking, "How does he do it at that age? And I know some of the time he chased solo, as I do, because we ended up together and had a chat in the inflow of the same storm once in eastern Colorado. I know at some point he did start chasing with his daughter, not sure if he is still chasing nor not. David, if you see this thread, I would love to hear your thoughts. Anyway, I realize that now I am within a couple years of that age where I was thinking "hod does he still chase?". I still hope to chase a number of years more if I can, but as I said, how and where I do it surely will be different than it was at times in the past.
 
Speaking for myself, I feel just as motivated to chase these days as I did back in 2000 when I started. Granted, back in 2000, I would chase anything west of I-35. These days I try to keep it fairly local since I chase and get paid to chase for a TV station in Amarillo.

One of the biggest changes with me as I've gotten older and retired is the way I chase. I no longer place myself right in the center of the obvious target due to all the yahoos and traffic. I'm no longer aggressive like I used to be. I'm out there for pleasure and relaxation, not getting stressed out all day. I'm no longer too worried about getting the shot on my camera. Hell, sometimes I don't even take my camera with me on chases anymore. I use my phone camera because that's what makes me money when I'm in and near the stations viewing area. The most relaxing chase for me all year was the Beaver county tornado warned storm from 4 or 5 days ago. It was a surprise slow moving storm with no cars around. I was on it for 2 hours and never saw another car, much less another chaser when I got north of Darrouzett. I was with it by myself and it felt great!

Eating right and exercising has helped me stay healthy and motivated to chase. I just wish I had more money to chase some of those not so local chase days. I've been chasing with Warren since 2011 and our chasing style is pretty much identical. We never take chances, and safety and well being is our #1 goal while out in the field. Like Warren said, being with good friends while chasing is what it's all about. I may not see a tornado on a given year, but being with friends and making memories is more important to me.

EDIT: I also forgot to add that life is passing by quickly, so I have learned to drive slower to and from chases and just take in the fresh air and sights and sounds as much as I can. Gone are the days when I just cared about blasting to the target area, and then blasting home after the chase. A successful storm chase is more than just seeing a monster storm/tornado. It's seeing that bird perched on a fence as you drive by. It's smelling the air after it rains. It's seeing that beautiful sunset. It's seeing that deer run through a wheat field. It's seeing that old rustic barn on the side of the road. It's whatever makes you happy!
 
Last edited:
Back
Top