What inspired you to start chasing?

Anela Hamilton

I'm sure this question has been asked and maybe more than once. But what has inspired everyone to start chasing?
I have been fascinated about storms all my life. My very 1st experience with a tornando was on 4/24/1975. An F4 ripped through and destroyed a trailer park in Neosho Missouri. My parents were with Jasper County Civil Defense and were called there to assist in search and rescue... although I was only 11 at the time, I remember the damage very well... this was the real beginning when I got involved in storms chasing/spotting. I was with the Civil Defense till about 1986, I had then got a divorce and pretty much dropped the spotting and chasing .... then on May 4th of 2003 when Carl Junction and Peirce City Missouri got hit, My current wife (Dee) and I volunteered to help with search and rescue and this sparked my interest back into chasing.

A sheer fascination of thunderstorms started when I was around 13 or so. The beauty of mother nature sparks my interest. I use to and for that matter still do just stand out in the driveway watching the approaching storms come in. My family always can tell when it's about ready to rain, because I will always tell them I'm headed westward, usually to chase or spot, or I just go stand in the driveway and observe them coming in, just depends on how severe the storm(s) are.
Ever since I was a kid I enjoyed the storms, as I grew up in east central Kansas all my life.

May 4th, 2003 really jumped my interest in storm chasing when I decided I would go out and see this tornadic storm only about 20 miles from me at Basehor, Kansas, it turned out to be the fatal Kansas City, Kansas tornado producer (and my first tornado!)
The April 10, 1979 Wichita Falls, TX tornado ignited my passion for tornadoes.

Years of wanting to see a tornado but never seeing one ignited my desire to go chase one down. When I left on my very first chase, I wasn't planning on becoming a chaser, I just wanted to see a tornado. After I saw my first one, that ignited my desire to see more - and my chase career was born. Fortunately for me, it only took that first chase to get my first tornado.
My interest with storms dates as far back as I can remember, with my earliest storm memories being when I was 6 or 7, watching lightning and thunder from my front bedroom in Charleston, WV. A distinct memory I have from those 'stationary chases' was a CG with a loop in it that was shaped like George Washington's head - a phenomenon I called "George Washington lightning".

The 1985 NOVA special "Tornado!" sparked a deeper interest, and from that point on, weather/storm books were checked out at the library on a regular basis - sometimes the same ones over and over!

My prompting to begin actively chasing storms was Dr. Martin A. Uman's 1986 book "All About Lightning" that I received for Christmas during my first years of high school, around 1991-1992. In the book there was a section detailing lightning photography. I received my first 35mm SLR (a Pentax K1000) as a graduation gift from my grandparents in June 1993, and as I already had my driver's license, the first chance I had I went out after a storm in Washington, Pennsylvania. That first chase in July 1993 was spectacular, I came home with several nice shots, one of which to date, ironically, has been my most popular seller in 11 years.


Since that day I've been shooting every storm that is within 50 miles or more of me, with my usual 'home chase territory' being West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky. I cover about 3,000 miles chasing locally every year. As time goes on I've found interest in chasing other phenomena such as tornadoes and hurricanes. My trips to the Plains started in 2001 with the encouragement of Bill Coyle and Dave Crowley to expand my horizons beyond the Appalachian storm.

I hope to continue chasing as long as the Lord wills and I'm able to afford it.
I became captured by the power of mother nature when I was a child watching the storms with my dad and brothers. Growing up in southern Oklahoma and northern Texas you can't help but see the effects of severe storms. Like Shane, the 1979 Wichita Falls tornado got me hooked (as if I wasn't already). Chasing came about once I got my drivers license and has never stopped.
I saw "Twister" in 1998!

I'm joking!!! :lol:

Actually, I had some experiences with severe weather that sort of lead the way when I met David to go along on a chase with him. My first tornado warning, hail storm, and dust storm at the age of 7, after we moved to Lubbock County. A really good hail storm on our way back from a family visit in Dallas. Getting caught out on horseback by a microburst at 21.

Figured "what the heck?" when David asked me along on that first chase....I'd already been the "chasee" several times! He had me using the video camera, and that was that....I'm completely fascinated and in awe of watching towers go up, and mature. I like it all, but that's become one of my most favorite parts of chasing.
I've lived here in Kansas my whole life, as a kid I just couldn't help but take notice to the severe weather. My interest though really was a combination between the curiosity I had in tornadoes as a kid along with the fear of them.

I always had questions for my parents asking what a tornado was, how they formed, what created them. I was in disbelief that something could stretch from the sky and be destructive.

But one thing I remember is when I was about 13 years old I remember a tornado warning had just been issued to the north of our county. I rememeber I was out on the front porch and was looking to the north and I saw absolutely the most amazing supercell with a hard solid structure, anvil that stretched across the sky and an overshooting top. It was just amazing and instantly I took a very serious interest about the structures of storms and what goes on within them... so I began to study.

To this day I still love structures, I love to just watch a supercell form, watch the anvil spread out and just watch it go through the whole life cycle. It's an amazing thing to watch to see this one cloud that started out as a cumulus cloud shoot up to 10,000 - 20,000 feet in the sky.

So I was insipred to see more of these, of course I couldn't at the time due to lack of driver licnese... but as soon as I got my license I began doing it.
I've been fascinated with tornadoes and severe weather ever since I was four years old. My grandfather was a storm spotter and would give me the issues of Stormtrack Magazine he would pick up at his spotter meetings and training courses. I saw my first tornado at the age of six. I had my first uncomfortably up close experience with a tornado when I was 13 as it was busy doing damage a few blocks away from my home. Oddly enough that tornado came through town while I was watching The Making of "Twister" on HBO and it had just gotten to the part with the F5 tornado when the power and cable cut out. I stepped out on the porch and looked down the street to see a whirling mass of stuff down at the intersection of Grant and 6th (at the court house for those of you who have been through Beatrice). I remember that the lighting flashes were green. Not bright white. Green. I also remember how eerily calm it was for something so violent being so close to me.

The damage after that storm was spectacular, though. The State Home (my current employer) lost a ton of trees, some as old as 100+ years, and suffered some damage from a direct hit. I walked around town the next day and saw the supermarket it damaged. There were strawberry splats on the siding of houses surrounding the area. Closer inspection showed the seeds embeded into the wood/aluminum/plastic siding. Some lucky kids found video games that were still playable.

There was also a garage half a block behind me that was destroyed but the apartment building next to the garage suffered no damage at all. Strange thing.
As corny as it is, my fascination with weather started when I was very young and I watched (you guessed it), "The Wizard of Oz". That tornado fascinated me and I've been hooked ever since. I still watch that movie every year and get excited when the tornado shows up!
The Plainfield 1990 F5 was what set off my interest in weather, but what really set me off on chasing was last May's outbreaks.
Always been a weather weenie and storm freak, but internet contact with another chaser, Mark Hill, allowed me to realize that I could really do it.
Think there was always something in the back of my mind...can remember when I was small, that my mom, who was (and still is) terrified of storms would make my dad take us out driving around, I guess to get away from the storms that would come through at night. I would always be wide awake in the back seat looking at the lightning and making comments.
First kind-of up close and personal was an F1 near Knoxville in the Superoutbreak. I was on the disaster team, and we were in the field less than 1/2 hour after it hit...was kind of hoping another one would drop...yeeps!!
The one that got me was an F3 in my back yard (literally!!) in Feb.,1993. I was outside looking to see why the thunder sounded weird and turned around to see the funnel heading straight for my house. Luckily it lifted, and passed over our neighborhood. It did some significant damage a couple miles southeast of me.
Did a couple years of serious studying before I attempted to chase, and now, basically if it's convective, and I'm off from work, I go after it. Had the absolutely best day of my career on May 29 in Kansas this year. I'm just looking forward to finally moving out to Norman in a couple weeks to start school, and start my permanent chase vacation! 8)