Will chaser congestion and unncessary risk taking lead to anti-chase legislation?

It won't be federal legislation. It will start with the individual states. Don't know if it will be Kansas or Oklahoma, but if I were betting, it will likely be Kansas. Like I said earlier, history shows many stupid state laws, but that doesn't stop them from trying. If and when it ever becomes a constitutional question, I doubt the Supreme Court would even hear such a case and also doubt that any individual or group of chasers could finance such a legal challenge. So, those of you saying legislation could never happen may be a little over-confident.

Mike, you are correct in that states can pass whatever legislation they want, and far more asinine regulations have been passed by states than this (note: I highly doubt anything like this would withstand judicial review given that it were actually enforced). However, I don't understand why some people think the states would seriously find a need for some sort of anti-storm chasing legislation per se. As I understand it the major problems here have historically been one or more of the following: reckless driving by chasers, chasers and locals possibly putting themselves in harms way and forcing rescue personnel to tend to their injuries as well as local persons impacted by the severe weather, and/or congested roadways causing traffic jams, largely because people are stopping, standing or parking improperly on roadways or otherwise driving too slow trying to observe what is going on. In all three cases, there are generally existing statutes that can be enforced to deal with the problem. Law enforcement has wide discretion to enforce a myriad of traffic laws for those infractions that are committed while operating a motor vehicle (or pedestrians walking/standing) on a public right-of-way, and some states have regulations that require people engaging in risk-taking behaviors and later needing the assistance of emergency personnel to compensate those agencies for time and resources if those services are needed. I sometimes take issue with how that last one is applied, but that's another topic. In short, I just don't understand why anyone thinks the states seriously believe there is a need for a carte blanche anti-chasing law of sorts. Why is the strict enforcement of present traffic laws not enough?

Assuming that no additional law enforcement officers or monies are allocated to enforce such hypothetical legislation, it seems like a moot point with not enough resources to enforce said legislation. They can't even seem to deal effectively with the problem given present resources and all the traffic laws already on the books, so the usual de facto solution seems to be rolling roadblocks, which is creating a new and potentially deadly hazard that someone needs to be addressing more than anti-chasing legislation.
 
I think you completely took my post out of context. I never stated a thing about whether anyone should engage in any activity. Storm chasing is inherrently risky, NASCAR is inherrently risky, skydiving is inherrently risky, mountain/rock climbing is inherrently risky, dirt bike motocross is inherrently risky. Now, take the number of participants in a given segment for each tasks, and ratio that number with the number of injuries or fatalities. Now bring the participants to an equal number and scale the number of incidents equally. Which out of any of those will have the fewest number of injuries/fatalities?

Except that storm chasing truthfully is more heavily regulated by the government than any of these outside of perhaps skydiving.

NASCAR, motocross, rock climbing - these are very largely self-regulated by corporate organizations or sport-specific associations, with only a few actual municipal laws applied directly toward them. There aren't even very many governmental regulations when it comes to spectator safety - read the fine print on any professional sports event ticket to see how little you are actually protected by law as a spectator. Skydiving is special because they use air and anything that uses air is subject to the FAA; but in a sense, storm chasing is exactly like that. The entire "hobby" consists of driving on surface roads, an activity which is already entirely subject to very strict state and local regulation - contrary to some chaser's demonstrated behavior, there are stated limits to speed, lane use, vehicle attitude and safety, and so forth, which no other law absolves chasers from following just because they're "chasing". Indeed, if storm chasing is ever directly legislated against, it would most likely be in the form of additions to the traffic code rather than new stand-alone laws.

Another problem we have is, storm chasers don't report accidents/fatalities the same way other outdoor activities are reported. When someone dies or is injured at say a motocross event, everybody knows about it because so many people are watching. They are reported to the governing professional/amateur sport association and media outlets who report on the events and participants, and the numbers are made public.

But who reports storm chasing injuries? To whom are they reported as such? The fatalities of last week were reported because the chasers were so famous even outside their field - but let's be pragmatic: if you or I are found in our rolled vehicle, that will likely be reported as a storm fatality, not a storm chasing fatality. If you or I get a blown out window that cuts us up, or we get rolled but not killed, that won't be reported as anything because there's nobody to report to - we go to the hospital, and that's it. We call the insurance company, and report "storm damage", and that's it. We get stuck in the mud or get a flat tire - once we're pulled out or change that tire, as far as the world is concerned it never happened.

And that's not even all of it. On this site not long ago somebody posted a video from a few years back where a chaser en route to intercept some storm activity had his car completely totaled by debris from a passing truck which was unrelated to the storm he was on the way to. Do we call that a chasing accident? He was in his car, driving, on the way toward storm activity. As a chaser, he would've remained in that car, still driving, with no tangible, recognizable transition - but where does "on the way to the chase" end and "the chase" begin? A certain proximity? A certain time? Some other condition? In order to avoid adding to "the danger of chasing", we can fudge that line in either direction to best suit our biases.

I don't think it's actually fair to make so many declarations about the safety of storm chasing, whose various incidents and accidents are never actually reported to some central body that keeps track, compared to other regulated activities wherein every slight incident is recorded and tallied up.
 
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..(B)ut in a sense, storm chasing is exactly like that. The entire "hobby" consists of driving on surface roads, an activity which is already entirely subject to very strict state and local regulation - contrary to some chaser's demonstrated behavior, there are stated limits to speed, lane use, vehicle attitude and safety, and so forth, which no other law absolves chasers from following just because they're "chasing". Indeed, if storm chasing is ever directly legislated against, it would most likely be in the form of additions to the traffic code rather than new stand-alone laws.

This is really reaching. You have to clock hours, go through fairly extensive training and do plenty of guided jumps before you can go solo in skydiving. With storm chasing, you don't have to do any of that. None. You can literally just jump in your vehicle with your iPhone and, voila, you're a chaser. Saying that storm chasing is just as regulated as skydiving is ridiculous.
 
This is really reaching. You have to clock hours, go through fairly extensive training and do plenty of guided jumps before you can go solo in skydiving. With storm chasing, you don't have to do any of that. None. You can literally just jump in your vehicle with your iPhone and, voila, you're a chaser. Saying that storm chasing is just as regulated as skydiving is ridiculous.

You need a driver license, don't you? There's educational and practice requirements for that, and they count. Since the physical act of storm chasing is entirely driving, I'd call that relevant.

At any rate, the first sentence of my post was

...storm chasing truthfully is more heavily regulated by the government than any of these outside of perhaps skydiving.
 
I hope I did not quote anybody. It has been my first post here in many years. I have been chasing for 20 years, and this incident has

really stirred some strong emotions. First I wanna pay condolences to those that perished in the storm. I did not know them personally, but

know of them since I chase as well. Many of the videos I have seen in which vehicles got hit or rolled due to the tornado, made some bad

choices in my opinion. I am not here to lecture on that though, you guys have beat on that topic enough.

There has been a lot of discussion on the storm's changing motion, and I would like to discuss that more. Many papers have been written describing the path a tornado takes with its parent meso

cyclone. I would encourage all of you to read it or at least peruse the diagrams. It increased my knowledge, therfore, my

safety. True when you look at a broad view map of tornado tracks they all are straight lines generally easterly and northeasterly. This

track has little meaning when you are <1 mile from the tornado.

Tornadoes are a smaller circulation of a much larger circulation, meso. A more simplified view is a moving merry go round. Lets say that

the merry go round (mesocyclone) is 5 miles wide and moving northeast. You, riding on mans largest merry go round in the history of merry go

rounds, are the wall cloud. You extend a piece of chalk(tornado) to the ground and record your path as you go around. The path will

generally be an S curve. The S will not be thr ones we all learned to write in kindergarten of course. You science and math majors out

there would call them sin waves, or osscillations. Another synoptic example, would be the surface low(chalk), the short wave (you), and the

upper level low(merry go round).

After perusing the above paper, and paying attention to my surroundings when observing a tornado, it really helped with my positioning around

tornadoes. This information is particularly important when you are <1 mile of the tornado. Even if being under the meso is not your thing,

it can definitely help increase your oppurtunity of a beautiful pic/video.

I am sharing this information to help chasers have a better understanding of the motions they observe. Whether from 3 miles away, or a half

mile away, understanding tornadoes' motions is half the battle. Stormtrack has always been a great conduit of information for the

meteorlogical community. In light of the recent events, more information needs to be shared on how and why we chase the way we do. The

information may save the reader's life.​
 
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Storm spotting -- the act of observing storms for signs of tornadoes, hail, high winds, etc. -- is somewhat regulated in that the NWS and networks like Skywarn require some degree of training to be recognized as an official spotter.

Storm chasing -- the act of traveling to an area of storms or expected storm development -- is not regulated and, as far as I can see, really can't be regulated any more than any other form of highway travel.
 
Hi CWhite,

I'm not seeing the paper specifically mentioned or linked in your post. Sounds interesting, but where can it be found?
 
I cant find the paper i am referencing. I saw it years ago. If you read the operational meterologist blog about the greensburg, ks tornado, he speaks about the couplet moving in the NE'ly fashion but swinging left and right across its mean path, and the way he described it was like clockwork. He is the one which coined the warning "tornado emergency." He is also credited and regarded , as a hero, in his community for his strongly worded tornado warning.
 
I cant find the paper i am referencing. I saw it years ago. If you read the operational meterologist blog about the greensburg, ks tornado, he speaks about the couplet moving in the NE'ly fashion but swinging left and right across its mean path, and the way he described it was like clockwork. He is the one which coined the warning "tornado emergency." He is also credited and regarded , as a hero, in his community for his strongly worded tornado warning.

If you're referring to who issued the Greensburg tornado emergency, that was Mike Umscheid, a highly respected meteorologist with NWS Dodge City. But that was not the first "tornado emergency" issued...that occurred on May 3, 1999 when the F5 was near Bridge Creek, OK, and moving toward Moore.
 
The left turn is a well-known behavior. In this case, the abruptness of the turn, rapid expansion and sudden acceleration - all together - was unprecedented and could not have been anticipated.
 
The left turn is a well-known behavior. In this case, the abruptness of the turn, rapid expansion and sudden acceleration - all together - was unprecedented and could not have been anticipated.

Yes, but - after the 31st we can't say that anymore going forward. Now it does have precedent and can be anticipated.
 
You need a driver license, don't you? There's educational and practice requirements for that, and they count. Since the physical act of storm chasing is entirely driving, I'd call that relevant.

Driving courses don't usually include how to handle your vehicle in extreme weather, just rain and flooding and maybe ice and snow depending on where you are. They certainly don't tell you how to handle your vehicle in high wind situations (other than, don't drive in them if possible), what's a safe distance to keep from the tornado, how tornadoes typically act, so on and so forth. So, again, there is no comparison to skydiving or any other hobby that is truly regulated.

At any rate, the first sentence of my post was

I don't understand how that is supposed to counter me. I'm taking explicit issue with that statement. It is certainly not regulated compared to skydiving or anything else for that matter.
 
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I doubt it. Unless it involves a minority, the ACLU wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole.

That's not true, the ACLU picks up cases from "non-minorities" all the time. I agree, though, that the ACLU wouldn't pick up this particular issue, because it wouldn't be a civil liberties issue.
 
Stormchasing is not regulated in any way. It is done within the confines of existing traffic laws, and the only regulation might be that it keeps those younger than 16 from doing it because they can't get a drivers license.

It's tough to picture hard legislation that could regulate or ban chasing. But, government money could be spent in public ad campaigns much like drinking and driving, texing while driving, etc. that may try to curb the number of people out on the roads...I could see this in OK and KS real easy. Maybe it works with the FCC to get a handle on the media side of it, issuing fines for anything considered over the line, or in response to the public danger it works with the media directly to tone down the sensationalism of it.

In the last three weeks, in most interviews I've seen with law enforcement they have been positive that there is a need for chasers and their eyes on the storms are necessary. I think chasers build awareness of situations with each of their individual followings through Facebook and Twitter, and in their personal circles that may get lost in the noise of constant media.

I also think this is an issue that will be formed around public perception and peer pressure, not individual laws. When the public starts looking upon those who have no business being out there as endangering others or preventing lives from being saved in some way that can have a huge impact on behavior. It wouldn't take much to make that distinguishable to the public after a few ad campaigns and possibly an endorsed training course.
 
I don't understand how that is supposed to counter me. I'm taking explicit issue with that statement. It is certainly not regulated compared to skydiving or anything else for that matter.

Skydiving is only regulated because it uses the air; so its regulations are all FAA regulations. The FAA was not created to regulate skydiving.

Likewise, storm chasing is regulated by the various state motor vehicle agencies. These agencies weren't made specifically to regulate storm chasing, but since storm chasing utilizes motor vehicles and public roads exclusively, the state DOT necessarily "regulates storm chasing" by the same token that the FAA "regulates skydiving". Perhaps not as extensively - but then I started out that post by saying that already.
 
Skydiving is only regulated because it uses the air; so its regulations are all FAA regulations. The FAA was not created to regulate skydiving.

This doesn't matter. The FAA has specific guidelines for skydiving, including chute riggers. There are also various hobby-specific organizations that issue their own guidelines, complimentary to the FAA. There's no such thing for storm chasing.

Likewise, storm chasing is regulated by the various state motor vehicle agencies. These agencies weren't made specifically to regulate storm chasing, but since storm chasing utilizes motor vehicles and public roads exclusively, the state DOT necessarily "regulates storm chasing" by the same token that the FAA "regulates skydiving". Perhaps not as extensively - but then I started out that post by saying that already.

This isn't the same thing. You're still reaching. Storm chasing is simply not a regulated hobby, much less "more" regulated than any other high-risk hobby.
 
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There would be no need to pass any kind of law to regulate storm chasing...LEO's just need to shut down sections of the highway in an emergency situation.
 
I agree that state motor vehicle agencies don't "regulate" chasing, per se, any more than they regulate any other form of highway travel.

That said, that may not stop state legislators or local city/county councils/boards from attempting to do so via ill-concieved legislation.

If this does happen, I have a few tips to offer based upon my day job experience reviewing state agency regulations and monitoring legislation.

At the state level, bills usually have to be heard/reviewed by a committee before they are voted on. The same may be true for many city councils or county boards/commissions with regard to proposed ordinances. The most efficient way to kill off bad legislation is at the committee stage, so that it never gets to a full vote.

Should a really bad anti-chasing bill come up in OK or KS or elsewhere, my suggestion would be for chasers living in those states to immediately contact the chairperson of the committee to which the bill is assigned, and express your concerns. If the bill is scheduled for a committee hearing, contact the chairperson well ahead of time and ask if you or someone else can testify on behalf of your group. (You can't just show up on the day of the hearing and expect to be allowed at the mic.) Make sure your testimony is written out ahead of time, and submit a copy to the committee chair for their records. If you can get someone from an official body such as the local NWS office to back you up, all the better.

Very few bills introduced in any given year at the state or federal level ever become law, because most don't make it past the committee hearing stage. I wouldn't hit the panic button just yet -- it's too early to tell whether any of these anti-chasing proposals have staying power, and many state legislatures are either already done for the year or won't come back into session until fall, by which time they will have moved on to other issues. But if anti-chase measures do get serious, this is probably the best way to quash them before they pick up momentum.
 
Guys - no. Due respect, but don't do this. Don't lie, don't try to BS people. "I'm here to photograph the weather event" - that's it. Be honest, be forthright about who you are and what you're doing if you don't think it's wrong. The whole "BUT SCIENCE" and "I'M SAVING LIVES" business - everybody sees through these obvious impostures and they are frankly an insult to people's intelligence, law enforcement or no, and that's a big part of our hobby's PR problem.

If you really are spotting to report or you really are operating in support of some university or agency's scientific program, that's fine; but if not, please don't go carrying around some cheap consumer-grade "instrumentation" so that you can pretend to be a scientist when you're actually not. It's puerile.



I am not saying to lie...but 1) science is NOT the exclusive domain of some "government approved" university or agency, 2) scientific models are developed to explain observations of nature, 3) field observations help validate/invalidate scientific theories, etc...Who knows, perhaps some new/modified theory will be developed from the El Reno tornado with supporting video observations from the chasers who were there. As an example from another field, 75% of comet discoveries have come from amateurs.

I'm simply saying that should the government do something as insanely stupid as trying to ban storm chasing (other than regulations that have merit like amateurs not using marine radar causing interference with mobile Doppler, people flying remote planes around storms without FAA certification, etc..), then there will always be some way to go around that roadblock and be prepared with whatever story you want to tell the 'authorities' if necessary (like making observations on the possible correlations of rear flank downdraft/XYZ/tornadogenesis which is all open for exploration at the current time since there are still many things about tornado formation that are still a mystery) - but do not accept such unconstitutional impediments like sheep.

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety - Benjamin Franklin

I would venture to guess that a number of people on this forum have probably set up various 'alias' email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. accounts - is not disclosing your full name on some of these sites "lying"? To me, it is common sense NOT to disclose a great deal of your personal information (as to why... take a look at the disclosures this past week of massive government data mining operations against *all* US citizens (OK - maybe not all, but anyone who makes a phone call), targeting of certain groups by the IRS, etc...).
 
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Well I am coming in on this topic quite a bit late here, but I feel I need to put my two cents in as well. I am NOT a storm chaser. I am NOT a thrill seeker. I am a photographer by hobby and I absolutely love storms. So I feel that I should not be getting anywhere near a storm. Nor should anyone else who doesn't know what the hell they are doing! These are mother natures fury.....and she will unleash them as she see's fit. Anyone who doesn't grasp that concept, should not be out doing this. I cannot consider myself a storm chaser because I can buy an anemometer and some other fancy gadgets, put a laptop with a hot spot in my car and go chase storms. You need to understand what is happening in the sky as well, and I don't (to a degree.)

I believe that getting close to a storm should be left for those who are doing research and anyone else needs to stay back. I know it won't happen. But it would certainly be nice, wouldn't it. Closing roads, again, asinine! You are trapping people who are trying to flee (even though they probably shouldn't), and legislation.....well as most have already said, they can try, but it won't happen. To many variables there, no proper way to enforce, and the police and others will be to busy doing damage control and rescue efforts to worry about chasers.

Just my opinions.
 
Well I am coming in on this topic quite a bit late here, but I feel I need to put my two cents in as well. I am NOT a storm chaser. I am NOT a thrill seeker.

I hope you know you that the "thrill" for most storm chasers is much more than an adrenaline rush. It's more a satisfaction in seeing and trying to know more about Mother Nature's ways. Being thrilled about accomplishing that is no vice. And storm researchers who isn't as giddy as little girls about a successful chase and a new data set probably needs a sabbatical.

I am a photographer by hobby and I absolutely love storms. So I feel that I should not be getting anywhere near a storm. Nor should anyone else who doesn't know what the hell they are doing! These are mother natures fury.....and she will unleash them as she see's fit. Anyone who doesn't grasp that concept, should not be out doing this.

Absolutely agreed!

I cannot consider myself a storm chaser because I can buy an anemometer and some other fancy gadgets, put a laptop with a hot spot in my car and go chase storms. You need to understand what is happening in the sky as well, and I don't (to a degree.)

Your knowledge level can change, Grasshopper. :)

I believe that getting close to a storm should be left for those who are doing research and anyone else needs to stay back. I know it won't happen. But it would certainly be nice, wouldn't it.

It should be left to people who can think quickly and well, all the while remaining a cool customer under fire. They possess excellent situational awareness. They get the hell out of the way of public safety personnel doing their jobs. Maybe bring them coffee, water and snacks. Donate money to relief aid. (donating blood is always a good thing, but remember it may not go to storm victims. That's okay, blood used for accidents and surgeries is still nobly used.)
 
I am not saying to lie...but 1) science is NOT the exclusive domain of some "government approved" university or agency, 2) scientific models are developed to explain observations of nature, 3) field observations help validate/invalidate scientific theories, etc...Who knows, perhaps some new/modified theory will be developed from the El Reno tornado with supporting video observations from the chasers who were there. As an example from another field, 75% of comet discoveries have come from amateurs.

Granted; but even so, you still can't call whatever you're doing science by default just because you might end up catching something interesting on video. When your chases are over, do you submit your video to the NWS or the local university, or do you put it up on YouTube? Are you using standardized instruments that the local met department or the NWS has said they'll accept data from, or are you just going online and buying what looks neat or is most cost effective for you?

Amateurs can certainly contribute to science, but there's rules. Buying a Kestrel and taking it with you on a chase is not "science"; and scientists don't get to pass LEO roadblocks any faster than amateurs.
 
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