Total Cost of Chasing

Dec 10, 2003
Great Plains
Am curious for many of you what your ideas are about what your specific Total Cost of Chasing is. Total Cost of Chasing is how much you believe you will have spent on chasing at the termination of the hobby, for whatever reason.

Things to consider with Total Cost of Chasing are:

1. Vehicle
1A. Maintenance
1B. Fuel
1C. Windshield/Damage replacements (hope not!)
1D. Gadgetry
1E. Mesonet/onboard weather station
2. Lodging expense
3. Food expense
4. Capture Equipment
4A. Camcorder/Accessories
4B. Digital Camera/Accessories
5. Computer Equipment
5B. Software
5C. Subscription costs to providers
6. Education
6B. Resource Materials
6C. Textbooks, etc.
7. Communication Equipment
7A. Cellular phone bills/equipment
8. Unintentionals (tickets, etc.) (can happen, again, hope not!)

This may vary from person to person. For those who do not want to give figures as they may, considering the above information, what do you estimate your total cost of chasing will be? I'll be figuring this out on my end as well.

Have I missed anything? This may also be an excellent place for newbies to look in the future so they can get a great idea of what the expense can be in this hobby.
Just for chasing? Pretty much gas/food costs. I use my cell phone for general communication, my photo gear is another hobby of mine, and I use my PDA with wifi for other tasks. Ok.. maybe the ham gear isn't used much outside of chasing (for me), but that is pretty much it. I suppose you could add on oil change costs due to the miles put on the car.

I'm assuming this is per year. So I will do a rough figure of what I probably spent last year directly related to storm chasing, aside from one time costs (like the purchase of a new camera), and only recurring costs...

1a) car maintenance (lube, other prev maintenance aside 30k service).. ~$200
1b) fuel (based on 16,000 miles per year and 1.60 gas price back in the good old days, LOL)... $1280. using 2.25 per gallon... $1800. Therefore, if I chase the same miles as last year w/o a chase partner in my vehicle, I need to budged a good $600 more.
2) lodging, based on 15 nights the whole season, using $35 average since sometimes I'm solo and not splitting... $525
3) food... $350
5) internet services (earthlink and weathertap)... $120
7) cell phone service... $525 (figuring avg bill of almost 150/mo for 3.5 months
8) misc items... $300 this is a wag.

For a grand total of $3300 for about 35 total chases, or about $100 per chase day... which sounds about right for my average, when you must consider I chased from central TX north to North Dakota last year, with no chase partner in my vehicle.

This year, with gas prices the way they are, I must improvise... probably more selective long distance chases, and if so, seriously think about sleeping in the car if it's just a one day long-haul and back. 3-day weekend chases, if my timing is right w/ work schedule, then will likely go with Motel 6s or something dirt cheap. Fortunately, Jay Antle and I will be using just one vehicle during our chasecation (which we didn't last year), so that will cut a lot out of fuel expense.

I suspect for many chasers who average 400 to 600 miles per chase (solo) during the heart of the season will spend nearly 100 bucks per chase when you figure most everything in?

Mike U
In 2004 I chased 14 times and drove 5474 miles.

Maintenance........about $500 (two oil changes, tire rotation, alternator replaced)
Fuel....................about $280 (about 160 gallons...avg price $1.80)
Windshield...........about $200 (damaged by rock on the way home from a chase)
Food.....................about $80
Videotape.............about $30
Subscription costs.............$0
Resource materials...........$0
Cell phone....................$220 (will not use this year)

So total for me last year was around $1300.....and almost half that was getting the alternator and windshield replaced. I figure if my vehicle doesn't need an expensive part replaced and I don't use my cell phone this year I can chase as much I did last year and still spend less than $1000 - even with the higher gas prices.
No way to know the exact amount, but I think it's safe to say with what I've spent on chasing since 1996, some chasers couldn't make it a year with.
So far this season, without even chasing 1 storm, i have spent ~$500.00 I estimate that this season I will spend about $1200-$1500.
Is this one of those lists where at the end you add

...being on target as the wedge drops from the cloud with no other chasers around......


:) (sorry, had to be done)
Assuming you aren't including cell phone, wi-fi, car maintenance, WXWorks, and other costs that are usually paid ahead of time then here is my bare bones assessment of a typical long chase.

* Gas for a 1000 mile trip: $70-$100
* Food: $5-$15
* Video Tapes: $10

* Driving 7 hours straight at 80 MPH to catch a 2 minute long tornado only to turn around and drive 7 hours straight back with a squall line chasing you.... PRICELESS! :lol:

Man...I wish this thread hadn't started. I haven't even thought about how much I have spent this season and only chased once. Okay, let's see...

New Laptop: $1,500
Jotto desk stand: $300(plus acc.)
Broken cell phone contract: $175
New cell phone: $100
Data plan and minutes: $100/month
Data cable: $50
New camera battery: $40
Ham radio: $360
AC/DC converter: $80

$2705...Yikes, I better not tell me wife how much I have spent. Although, about half the money I spent this spring came to me in a usual way. Last spring, I don't remember the day, I was leaving Norman to go chase and a pickup pulled out in front. Totaled my car, but got some good money for pain and suffering and what not. However, I wouldn't recommend funding your chase equipment this way...It hurts!! :cry: