Who were the first chasers and what's their story?

Gene Rhoden

OK I'll throw one in.

Who were the forefathers of chasing and what's their story??

Obvious ones to begin with: Al Moller, Neil Ward, Chuck Doswell, Howie Bluestein and others......and perhaps progressing on to the newer 'uns like Tim Marshall...... :lol:

(I could answer it but I don't have time to write an essay and I think it's much more meaningful if others chime in. A thread like this seems appropriate for the FAQ/new-user-begin-here section.)


EDIT: Think about posting information, links and stories about these people.
David Hoadley comes to mind, as does Gene Moore, Jim Leonard, just to name a few in addition to what you listed.

I guess anyone who was chasing as early as the 1970's to mid 1980's would qualify.

Originally posted by NOT Gene Rhoden
EDIT: Think about posting information, links and stories about these people.


Isn't there a link to the story about Roger Jensen that Gene wrote somewhere on this site?

First known chasers started in the 1950s! Jensen, Hoadley. There are probably others that we don't know about, and perhaps others were doing it before the 50s.
I'll take the initiative and begin with somebody who was (and still is) very near and dear to my husband's heart:


Roger Jensen's Story and his Photography (by Tim Marshall):

The Loss of Chasing Pioneer Roger Jensen (by Jason Politte/Tim Marshall):


"Roger Jensen was born in Fargo, North Dakota on September 5, 1933. He grew up as an ordinary child who liked planes, trains, and steam engines. However, Roger also loved storms. He became fascinated with the majestic thunderheads on the plains, especially when illuminated by the setting sun. To him, there was no better experience than seeing a storm out in the open, feeling the wind, smelling the inflow air, hearing the sound of distant thunder, or tasting the success of a great photo opportunity."

"Roger’s big tornado day was on June 28, 1975 when he photographed a large barrel-shaped tornado near Felton, MN that moved slowly north-northeast. The tornado traveled only six miles in 25 minutes! Roger filmed the tornado from the south. The tornado only destroyed a barn and was rated F-2. That same evening, Roger photographed the most brilliant, orange-colored mammatus at sunset and sent his stunning photographs to Weatherwise Magazine where they were put on the cover of the October 1976 issue. "

"Although I never had the pleasure to know or meet Mr. Jensen, I have the utmost respect for him as a true pioneer of his time. Not only was he a remarkable human being according to many, but he also played a large role in the development of this hobby that allows us to witness the magnificent beauty of nature." (Jason Politte)


People like Roger Jensen deserve to have their names and ideals passed down timelessly........and that includes on this modern-day board.

Karen Rhoden
When i first subsribed to Stormtrack magazine in 1997 there was a nice
whrite up about Roger Jenson in a dinner interveiw.I never met the man
but i did send him a letter.I told him i found it interesting that he lived in
Fargo North Dakota and how my grandfather Frank Carson lived in
Holding Ford Minisota.Also told him my interest in storms started down
there after coming home from a family reuion in Minneapolis in 1987.The
humid weather down there was in part the first clue of something rong
in the days leading up to the 1987 Edmonton tornado.
Those years when stormchasing was new must have been
somthing else You the only one on a storm and the fantastic pictures
you could get,,and at that time they are a rare sight to behold.No fancy
gear eather just you the camera and the wind.The aw of what you are
seeing.I think about this over and over and when i feel like i may have
not seen as much as other chasers,,and then think,,every storm you
get to see is something to behold.
OK I'll throw one in.

Who were the forefathers of chasing and what's their story??

The founder of Stormtrack magazine Dave Hoadley definately deserves more than just a passing mention in this thread.

From http://www.chasingstorms.com/history.html:
Another pioneer chaser considered by many to be the true "father of hobbyist storm chasing," is David Hoadley. Mild mannered and always the gentleman of chasing, David Hoadley's interest in storms began in the mid-1950's in Bismark, North Dakota where he lived as a teenager. He began to chase regularly in 1965. His first tornado interception occurred on June 25, 1965. In 1977 Hoadley started the first publication for storm chasers, Storm Track. Hoadley was one of the first hobbyist chasers to draw media attention when he was featured on a National Geographic special. Like many "pre-laptop chasers" David relied on an important talent -- often overlooked by modern chasers, a natural instinct to pick the right storm. Hoadley works as a budget analyst for the government -- taking time off to chase every spring -- with the same enthusiasm of 1965. Hoadley once commented that one of his fears was that storm chasing would become a thrill seeking sport -- like skydiving or base-jumping.

Another good read regarding Dave Hoadley's early years of chasing is Dave Hoadley: Chase Fever, The Early Years by Tim Marshall:

Some of Hoadley's articles and poems available in the Stormtrack Library. This is what chasing's all about.

Why Chase Tornadoes?

A New Season

Chase Thoughts for 1997

Dave's classic Funnel Funnies can be found at the bottom of the Stormtrack Library page and are not to be missed.

Another pioneer, Neil Ward, deserves more than a passing mention as well.

From http://www.stormtrack.org/library/people/ward.htm, a biography written by Gene Rhoden:
It was in the early 1950's that Neil began to show an intense interest in atmospheric vortices. On family outings out west, he would always keep an eye out for dust devils. If one formed close, he would try to intercept it, even if it meant giving the family a grand tour down an old dirt section road. He wanted to experience what it was like to be inside the vortex, to feel the tightness of it's circulation and savor it's fleeting existence. On one particular occasion, Neil sighted a large dust devil in a field beside the road. He left the car on foot and ran for the intercept...only to watch the circulation pass directly over his car which he left moments before! Neil also began "chasing" storms during this period as well, occasionally inviting neighbors along for the ride.

Of the many storm chases in which Neil Ward conducted during his lifetime, few were recorded or preserved in such vivid detail as the chase of May 4, 1961. On this day, Ward documented a large, multiple vortex tornado 3 miles northwest of Geary, Oklahoma. What made this account such a milestone was that Neil, after having made prior arrangements with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP), was able to ride in the patrol vehicles and remain in contact with the radar operator at Oklahoma City through the police radio system. This allowed Neil to correlate the hook-echo circulation, as seen on radar, with the visual sighting of a major tornado. All this was accomplished back in 1961!

Both of the above men were important players in developing chasing into what it is today, and their important contributions should never be forgotten.

Didn't I read somewhere that Benjamin Franklin chased storms on horseback, pursuing his theory of electricity?

Or was I imagining things?

Here's a quote from this website about Benjamin Franklin:


He was the first American storm chaser, or at least the first to report on a chase, when in 1755, he took off after a large whirlwind or dust devil on horseback.
The web site also mentioned other weather related things like electricity, the Gulf Stream. He even tried to observe an lunar eclipse, but to his dismay, it was cloudy and stormy. This led to his theory that weather moved in a SW fashion and the storm that night was actually a tropical storm in the Atlantic.

Happy Reading!! LJK.