What is the definition of an experienced, veteran chaser?

Saw this in a discussion elsewhere and wanted to know what the concensus is among the community as to what defines an experienced, veteran chaser, what one must accomplish to be "accepted" as an experienced, veteran chaser and if there is a difference between "experienced" and "veteran". I personally am indifferent, just curious and thinking what the opinions are.
 
I would say an experienced chaser is someone who's weathered an entire chase season on their own, chasing on all the days they could get out and generally getting a few good storm or tornado pics under their belt.

A veteran chaser has traditionally been considered to be someone who started in the 1970s-1980s, though that definition is probably changing to include the 1990s. Really I'd have to say anyone who's been out ten seasons or more.

There's some interplay between them though... I wouldn't call them hard & fast rules.

Tim
 
I brought this over from the other thread, thought it more appropriate here:

Would it be fair to ask EXACTLY what defines an "experienced, veteran chaser"?

This is really splitting hairs, but I'll remove the word "veteran".

Wasn't meaning to split hairs, but these are terms that are attributed to various individuals at various times in various ways. There doesn't seem to be any sort of community accepted definition as to what should make one "expererienced" or a "veteran". So a person that goes out every chance they get one or two season and then hardly goes out much other than big events becomes experienced, are they moreso than someone who is able to go one solid week ever year and has done that for several years. Is there a tornado capture count that should come in to play? How many years should one have chased before they can consider themselves a veteran? Can we just take their word for it when they state they have chased a number of years, or do they have to be acknowleged by one of the "chase gods" to be legitimate? Or should they simply show proof in the form of images taken?

Those very terms, "experience" and "veteran" do not seem to apply evenly across our community and it's one of the things that I think brings in that whole elitist talk.

I know of people that I know for a fact who have chasing in some capacity since the 80s that aren't considered "veteran" chasers by the ones that consider themselves "veteran" chasers. I know some proclaimed "experienced, veteran" chasers that hardly ever chase any more.

IMHO it appears to many that all it really boils down to is "Did you make a "name" for yourself in the 80s chasing? If you didn't or aren't friends with someone who did, then you are really a nobody and no amount of windshield time or tornado photographs will make you "experienced" or "veterans" in the eyes of the "chaser gods".

The really IRONIC thing about it though, is that many of these lesser experienced, non veterans are bringing home a heck of a lot more tornado and storm images than most if not all of the self proclaimed vets in the last 2 or 3 years.

So you then becomes the real expert you have to ask? The person that does it here and there over many years and brings home 5 tornadoes a year, the person that does it every chance they get but has only been at it 3 years, yet consistently bags 20+ tornadoes a year, or the guy sitting at a desk somewhere with letters behind his name forecasting and rarely ever gets out in the field? Or how about someone that has been going out every chance they get for 10+ years, consistently bags a fair number of tornadoes every year, but isn't really "politically correct" generally speaks their mind on various chasing issues? Does that preclude them from the elusive "experienced, veteran" status?

I pose a lot of things for thought, but I think some of these very things are what make some of us peon chaser feel like we are supposed to be second class or something to the "elite". There just seems to be no general standards of acceptance other than who you know.
 
Seems to me that the whole idea of a veteran elite is pretty subjective at best. It's not like there's some sort of graduation ceremony at some point that qualifies someone to suddenly be considered in this category, and many times I think we've all found that it tends more often than not to be a matter of people attempting to qualify themselves in this light. It's also been my personal experience that the chasers who actually did get started early on and have managed to stick with it all these years do not for the most part put themselves in this category, and many times hate the term as much as the rest of us seem to.

So for that reason, I believe that what qualifies someone as a veteran chaser is the way they are seen in the eyes of their peers and no one else. It's someone who has put in the time and made a contribution, but it is never a self-imposed title.

For me, chasing is more like skiing. As you get older and do it more often you graduate from the green slopes to the blue to the blacks. For some people this happens faster than others ... but chasing is all about a process of continual growth for everyone much more than it is about attaining a certain title, status or label. Labels get in the way too much ... base your opinions on good judgment instead.
 
I totally agree with David. You are trying to achieve the impossible and in the meantime pissing everybody off and creating a rift in the chaser community. I don't know anybody who would fit nice and neat into the box you are trying to create. You are walking through a minefield if you try.

Alot of success depends on how often a person can go chasing. Those who don't hold a steady job and with mortgages as well as a family to take care of are going to bag more tornadoes. Does this make them the better chaser? How about those chasers whose job (full or part time) is to chase storms? What about chasers with gobs of money running every gadget in the world including wx-worx and cellular internet? I'm sorry, but those with wx-worx have a serious advantage over those who do not.

My point is that there is no realistic way to FAIRLY "measure" a chaser and then apply a label to them. There are way too many variances in the equation to be solved. If you can't do it fairly, then you shouldn't do it at all....unless you are in favor of separating the "haves" and "have nots". Of course, it's a free country...but it's lonely at the top.

Wait, maybe we could start something like the Boy Scouts. New chasers could come in as Cub Scouts and then through performing a series of tasks or accomplishments, you could get a merit badge or other such denomination to mark your progress. You'd get merit badges for hand analysis, nailing a traget area, miles driven, for each video sold, and for how many Allsups burritos you cram into your mouth and then survive the next day. Special awards for each tornado bagged and windshield knocked out by hail. :)

Then when we all get to become Eagle Scouts, we can join the elite chaser forum! Gee willickers! That would be so nifty! LOL!!!
 
I totally agree with David. You are trying to achieve the impossible and in the meantime pissing everybody off and creating a rift in the chaser community. I don't know anybody who would fit nice and neat into the box you are trying to create. You are walking through a minefield if you try.

This was simply and totally a question based on verbage used. I dont see how this creates a "rift" and torks off people due to a simple question. When I post a question, I only post a question that is designed to solicit intelligent and spirited conversation amongst the community. Now, I regret doing so, and shall keep silent.
 
Tim's definition of a veteran is bang on. As for 'experienced', thats a bit subjective and depends on your point of view. In my opinion, being an active chaser over three season makes you experienced.
 
Don't regret it Jeff. I go to extremes to make my point, but my whole point was summed up by Steve in this statement:

My point is that there is no realistic way to FAIRLY "measure" a chaser and then apply a label to them. There are way too many variances in the equation to be solved. If you can't do it fairly, then you shouldn't do it at all....unless you are in favor of separating the "haves" and "have nots". Of course, it's a free country...but it's lonely at the top.

There is just wayyyyyy too many variables into what people know, can realistically do with other things going on in their life. With a lack of any formal "chasing education' ladder, lack of any "career" ladder, and the entire HUGE blend of types of chasers (i.e. hobbiest, media, photographic, etc etc) when all is said and done you can't really consistantly quantify any one chaser over another as to whether or not they fit into "experienced" of "veteran". While Tim's over generalized definition presented is a good "average", it can't be logistically applied to everyone. Yet, that seems to be EXACTLY what is taking place in the form of this private forum area.

When that happens, SOMEONE has to qualify based on SOMETHING as to whether anyone allowed there falls into those very definitions as was already stated in the polling post about it. When that happens, it really comes down to a matter of who your friends with and who they aren't.

I challenge any of the member of that area to come and state unequivocally that any person with X amount of years of chasing or X amount of time chasing would be asked to come there, EVEN IF THAT PERSON WAS DISLIKED BY THE MEMBERSHIP THERE FOR SOME REASON OTHER THAN THOSE QUALIFICATIONS.

And that is where the problem lies and the elitist tags are coming in. It's subjective solely based on the personal opinions of those that are members there.

In the end, no one wants to feel second class and IMO that is what the private area does make most people feel, whether they admit it or not.
 
I agree with what David and what everybody else said about how you can't establish criteria to determine chaser status because there are far too many variables.
There could be somebody who has chased for 15 years, but they don't get out that much, they don't get extraordinary video/photos, and they don't put in the extra time during the off-season to get better at forecasting/chasing. They would be considered an experienced veteran chaser. Then you could have somebdoy else who has only chased for 5 years, but they are a hardcore chaser and get out chasing every chance they get, bag a lot of tornadoes and get good photos/video, and they work hard in the off season to study up on forecasting. This person would more than likely not be considered a veteran experienced chaser by the so called "elites".
I don't really care how long somebody has been chasing. That doesn't mean much to me in most cases (there are exceptions). I look at what they accomplish each season and how they do it.
 
This was simply and totally a question based on verbage used. I dont see how this creates a "rift" and torks off people due to a simple question. When I post a question, I only post a question that is designed to solicit intelligent and spirited conversation amongst the community. Now, I regret doing so, and shall keep silent.

First my apologies...I was on the wrong forum...LOL!!! I'll take that particular part back. But, there is defnitely a rift being cause by the "elite" list as being discussed elsewhere and by the ongoing poll.
 
Well, all I know is that I am not a good chaser. I had some success last year, and marginal success this year, but I made many, many bad decisions (that should have been no-brainers) this year. 2005 was my 6th consecutive chase season, so, I definitely won't be a "veteran" for a while. :p LOL

There is definitely an advantage to technology, and I think a great many of the most successful chasers (of late) have access to the best technology. Also, more importantly, is how much you can actually chase (as has been mentioned).

Even so, I'd say greater than 10 years of consistently chasing (say, more than 5 days every year) would qualify someone to be a veteran of chasing (IMO).

Gabe
 
What does getting a tornado every year have to do with being a veteran chaser?

Take an NFL q-back that's been in the league for 20 years. Maybe someone like Vinnie Testaverde. He is a true veteran q-back. Say he threw a touchdown pass every year he played except in 1992. So does that automatically take him away from the "veteran status"?

Remember that we are not tornado chasers...We are storm chasers.
 
I would say an experienced chaser is someone who's weathered an entire chase season on their own

Tim

What does being on their own have to do with anything?? Surely the passion for severe weather, forecasting severe weather, chasing and learning the meteorology of chasing far outweighs "weathering the chase season on their own".

Just curious...... 8)

KR
 
Maybe this should be its own thread - but I'm curious as to how you would define someone as being a chaser? Seems you might need to define that before trying to tackle what a veteran chaser might be.

This web forum is supposed to be for the service of storm chasers - but of course most anyone that reads many threads around here knows, we have a large number of members who have little or no actual storm chasing experience. Should you need to have chased to be called a storm chaser? Should you need to be a storm chaser to be a member of this forum? What if you are very enthusiastic about storms and severe weather - but for whatever reason it isn't possible to really chase (age, geography, etc...)? Would you qualify if you've been on a tornado chasing tour? Should you call yourself a storm chaser if you don't chase with the intent of seeing a tornado (for instance, what if you only pursue lightning, or chase hurricanes only)?

I don't know that I'm a veteran chaser by some of the definitions set above - but I am a veteran of the US military. Can I combine the two and call myself a veteran chaser? Just curious.

Glen
 
Karen I think being on your own is important because if you aren't the one forecasting and making decisions then you don't have to go through the process of trial and error that we call "experience".
 
I'd have to agree with Michael. I've always felt the stakes being much higher when chasing alone (or with a non-chaser)... it feels like the only time my "sixth sense" clicks on and I get more out of the forecast experience. The learning experience might be different for others though.

Tim
 
Karen I think being on your own is important because if you aren't the one forecasting and making decisions then you don't have to go through the process of trial and error that we call "experience".

Well - I can understand your point of view.

I could go into hours of post-wine Saturday evening conjecture on why I chase and what I get out of it. But I'll spare you all...... :?

However - I think with a dedicated chase partner (such as rare husband & wife teams like us), you actually HAVE to still go through the motions of debating about forecasting and targeting for any one day. Some would ask "what's the point?", I guess, in me making my flawed forecasting before going out chasing - as I am inevitably going to go whichever way Gene does - and adding to the argument the fact that being where Gene is IS a HUGE part of why I chase.....things get even more complicated.

The answer is that - after 2002 which saw my first and most green year out on the Plains - I suddenly tapped into the vast reservoir of learning need that I had. I wasn't just interested in looking at pretty clouds. I had a need to learn and grow and postulate with my peers. That's why I'm here (not here at ST - just "here").

Seeing as I will never chase alone - that's not what chasing's about - and seeing as I attend workshops, talks and meetings every year and read text books and papers in the off-season, AND considering the discussions and debates I have participated in (on and offline) regarding chasing strategies and meteorology, AND reflecting upon the endless stretches of road I have seen and the states I have traversed, AND the memories of some of the things I have seen.....and things I shouldn't have seen........I would say I don't really understand the premise of having to have chased alone to have gained experience.

There is no greater learning tool than applying the education and theory you have gained through discussion, reading and conferences on storm chasing to what you see out in the field. Suddenly everything you have worked through on paper comes alive. Suddenly you understand. There is no finer moment than the one that you experience while standing under your first crashing RFD - tornado or no tornado.

But I can understand the opinions of others who disagree. I'm not trying to inflate my own ego. I just like defending my stance on this particular issue........while keeping it entirely civil. The fact remains that there have been less than kind remarks made about this subject, and it's always of interest to me.

KR
 
As someone that fits the profile of a Veteran chaser I will give my two cents worth on all this. I have been chasing storms since 1984, (I am 38) now that being said did I chase EVERY season??? No, because do to things that happen in life sometimes one just can’t. Like getting married, having kids, finishing up college, having money problems, etc…whatever life throws at you. Never the less, I have seen my fair share of storms, such as the Hesston tornado in 1990, the Andover tornado in 1991 and many others over the years. Jim Reed was a neighbor of mine for years, before he moved to South Carolina to chase hurricanes; (granted he still lives in Wichita part of the year but not in the old neighborhood) I ran into Jim and John Davies in the filed this year and spent 20 minutes shooting the bull with Jim and catching up on old times. I have chased with no one and with others over the years, most of the time just by myself, I have chased with nothing but a camera and my car radio all the way up to day with almost everything one can think of that goes into chasing. (Laptops, Wx Works, ham radio etc…..)

Does this make me an experienced chaser? Yes, because I have the drive to go out and chase and no, because I don’t really know JACK about weather. ( I mean I know some basic things I am not stupid) but I don’t know how to forecast all that well, and the terms and things such as wind mill bars and LCL and the list is endless all you guys throw out in the TA forums area, man I get lost. But I am LEARNING thanks to a guy I got to know through Storm Track I now have Tim Vs book and leaning MORE about weather and how to forecast. My degree is not in metrology but business. (I was planning to go to law school but now I run the family business) That is one reason I like Storm Track, I mean guys come on, some of the video and pictures I have seen on here are SOME of the best , when I see what everyone else has taking a pictures of makes me try harder. I have quite a bit of video, old analog, that I can’t get into my computer, I lost all my pictures a few years ago when my computer died that need to be rescanned and I know my web site needs help, (that is what I get for waiting on help from my wife’s little brother). Other than my family no one has really seen my footage or my pictures from the last 18 years granted that is my fault but sometime there is no time for your passion or hobby.

As many have said before in many different forums, I am a storm chaser, not just a tornado chaser, I have had more busts than success, and does that stop me? No. This year was the first year I went totally digital, SLR camera and video. But my wife with her $100 point and shoot digital camera can take a better picture than I can with my high dollar Nikon set up, sheessh I tell you. But in that 20 minute time frame I had with Jim Reed this season he gave a few tips on how to use my camera and they worked! I wish I had more time to devote to, not just storm chasseing, but to photography and video so I can take a better picture and get as good as some I have had the privilege to witness on Storm Track.
 
Quite an interesting discussion. As the original question is posed, it is a matter of nomenclature, so let's step back and consider how these terms might apply.

Now, "experienced" would mean, in normal practice, as being capable of reacting to a normal range of events within the area of interest, in a proficient manner. For those on a reasonably dedicated pursuit, a steadfast two or three year learning curve towards storm chasing, involving earnest field experience and a well-grounded understanding of the nature, evolution and behavior of severe thunderstorms would likely qualify a participant as experienced. As another poster pointed out, perhaps the more problematic portion of the definition is - what is a storm chaser? Does the ability to forecast the location and time of tomorrow's severe storm qualify? Well, single-minded pursuit and boundless energy can easily make up for a 200 mile forecast error 24 hours out. Just as with professional sports, a game-day elevation can overcome superior preparation - sometimes, but not always. So, any definition of storm chaser should be oriented to results, and stear clear of a bias towards forecast ability only. We live in a cyber age, but I would hope the community would generally accept that storm chasing involves physically chasing storms - bringing your own body to within proximity to a storm such that you are in a position to report unique and valuable observations based upon your own five senses. Now, the definition of chaser comes to a finer point, as involves the subject of photography. If we accept that a first-hand storm report of high quality represents the pinnacle of storm chasing, then how shall a quality photograph weigh against a just-as-true, but nontheless verbal report? Well, as the visual (and, at times audio) effects of this phenomenon of storms is quite descriptive, I would suggest that even an average, or most assuredly a well-done, photograph or video sequence, would carry quite artistic weight to the value of any storm report. The excellence of storm chasing should not boil down to photographic skills in isolation, but certainly an excellent photo contributes to an excellent report and should be given due credit.

Now, with regard to experience, I think also we must consider the importance of intellecual honesty. As I paused to consider this from my own experience, the thought dawned upon me: I've never actually been behind the wheel on a chase. I've been riding shotgun, reading maps, forecasting along the way, shooting pictures, etc., but over the next one or two years of learning, to consider myself an "experienced" storm chaser, I think I probably should actually be the driver one of these times! It seems that would be a visceral part of the chase. So, to answer one of your questions, Glen Romine - YES, to consider one an experienced storm chaser, I think yes, one must actually chase the storms! Man's conception of storms, man's tools used to measure and predict storms are one thing - but the storm itself is of overriding import, and to physically chase the storm is the essence of the hunter. So, while an earlier post suggesting "a season on your own" as one criteria might not be literally sensible, I think the spirit is well-taken: to assert yourself as a chaser, it is fair to expect you would have trialed all the mechanical and intellectual exercises involved in chasing. Perhaps not in isolation for an entire season, but at the very least entrenched yourself in each and every role. "I ignored the maps all day, but shot great photos when my partner got me there" or "I don't actually ever go out, but am a reliable nowcaster" are an entree; but not the description of complete chaser. Likewise, if personal or financial circumstances have prevented one from fully pursuing the hobby in initial concerted effort for 2-3 years, or if the atmosphere has proven unusually dry during one's chosen immersion, then honesty demands extending the annual dues.

The next question concerned the definition of "veteran." Unlike merely experience, for most careers veteran implies a participant who has been consistently at it for a good while - most likely at least half of his "career span" and more commonly, at least two-thirds. Normally, then, this wouldn't be much of a problem to consider, except for the unique fact that storm-chasing itself is relatively young. For this reason, it's hard to define what a normal "career span" might be. We read tales of the pioneers in the seventies, some towards retirement from the pursuit, but considering the influx, and the part-time nature of the pursuit for many of us, it's kind of hard to pin down the chronological point of a veteran to this emerging hobby, or even more elusive is how long the mass of us expect our collective career lengths to be. However, it seems the hobby has matured past the point where only the pioneers may be considered legitimate veterans. No hard and fast rule of thumb, but it seems that if one introduces themselves to me as having chased storms for 12 years or more, I would accord them the status of veteran.

Now, someone brought up the distinction between "storm chaser" and "tornado chaser" which must be given consideration. The broader definition cannot be given slight. However, when we think of storms, I believe it should be in the context of 'that which is worth pursuing.' I mean, the ratio of common thunderstorms to tornadic events must be quite high. A garden variety thunderstorm will hardly catch the attention of a domestic animal, so why should it be glorified in the human sense? That which is rare is to be glorified, and the tornado is the most prolific exemplar. To be included, however, would be spectacular lightening, raging flood, and mighty hurricane. With regard to flood and hurricane, the practical chasing problem becomes one of specialization, due to lack of opportunity. It seems, though, that a common sense standard can be applied, neither exluding non-tornadic storm reports from the fold, but maintaining tornadic reports as the exemplar of storm pinnnacle.

So, "experienced" should not be so much trouble for us to understand and accept in discourse. Those on the upside cusp will not be quick to claim the distinction before they are ready, those on the downside cusp will have an assured knowing which needs no artificial prompt. "Veteran" is a little touchy subject at the moment because the hobby itself is relatively young, but in time the distinction will naturalize itself. What would be approprite at the current hour, though would be the establishment of a "Storm Chaser Hall of Fame." This distinction would generate some real excitement, some real debate and also begin to establish a standard of excellence and achievement which seems to be a yearning, and rightfully so at this point. This is just a suggestion, any details would of course be the subject of a different thread. I think this pursuit has reached the point where individuals deserve recognition in the right of a chaser, and enough events have taken course such that honor and distinction is due.
 
I'd like to think that I'm a somewhat experienced chaser being "out there" since 2000. I try to make positive contributions to the community both online and in the field.

Well, all I know is that I am not a good chaser. I had some success last year, and marginal success this year, but I made many, many bad decisions (that should have been no-brainers) this year.

However, I do not claim to be a good chaser. Gabe, I think it's safe to say you're at least above my level. I think my unsuccessful exploits are well known and probably becoming the stuff of legends....I know they are in at least 2 cities of the Southern Plains.
 
However, I do not claim to be a good chaser. Gabe, I think it's safe to say you're at least above my level. I think my unsuccessful exploits are well known and probably becoming the stuff of legends....I know they are in at least 2 cities of the Southern Plains.

Hey Chris, at least you got May 29th, 2004. You ended the streak and did it in style. Some people thought that you had an aura of CIN around you. As far as your legendary status......one guy had a paramter for your CIN, it was called the N3 (cubed, I don't know how to make a little 3) index. "Nuttall 'Nader Nullification" index. I'm glad that you finally got a tube, or 7! Good luck in 2006, maybe we will actually have tornadoes in Oklahoma again. Wouldn't that be strange?


Back to the topic: I really don't have a set of standards that somebody has to meet to become a veteran chaser. Most of the people that I think of as veterans were the people that I looked up to while I was growing up. For me, they reached a "larger than life" status, and still hold it for some reason. For me, a veteran is somebody that has put a lot of time and effort into the hobby. It could only be 5 years worth, but they might have chased 20 times a year, so they are a veteran in my eyes.
 
A VETERAN CHASER is a chaser who calls themselves a veteran, which means they are about to blow a knee and get benched for a season, get traded, and then retire only to be seen doing brief appearances on The Weather Channel shows like "Storm Stories" or something of the likes, and maybe they will get a small comercial contract with Michelin Tires.

But David Drummon has a good point as well.

Simon
 
I've always felt the stakes being much higher when chasing alone (or with a non-chaser)... it feels like the only time my "sixth sense" clicks on and I get more out of the forecast experience.

Tim

100% in agreement. Chase with a group too much, and get the group mentality, and ones own forecasting skills and instincts drop consideribly.

I chase from the gut, but most chasers are not willing to base a target on that alone.
 
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