Young chasers

I was curious about the general consensus in the chasing community of "younger" chasers, i.e. kids around college-age. From reports I've read, many self-proclaimed "chasers" in this age bracket are immediately labeled as yahoos, which I'm sure is entirely accurate (sample footage from comes to mind).

However, I'm more curious about younger chasers who take chasing seriously and act responsibly. Are they few and far between? In fact, are there some younger chasers on this forum?

Just curious.

(Those young-at-heart may consider themselves in this demographic if they so desire. :wink:)
There seems to be a considerable number of college-age chasers/aspiring chasers on this forum-myself included. Most of them come across to be reasonably knowledgable, responsible chasers. I myself have not done any true "chasing" yet, but when I do I certainly will make every effort to be courteous on the road and call in storm reports to the NWS (I will be taking spotter training in the spring).
I am a young chaser. I am 16 years old and I chase with my dad. We have been chasing for several years now. We are always careful on the roads and we are very responsible. I do not have extensive knowledge about weather, but I am reading books and I am learning. In fact I would like to become a meteorologist when I get older.
I'll be 18 in a couple months...

I'm typically immature to a point...But, take chasing quite seriously (while stil having fun of course) I wouldnt think of myself as a yahoo, though, someone else would have to answer that. But, I've been into severe weather since I was old enough to be interested in anything. I had tons of help on that, as my dad has been into this as well since he was a county storm spotter at age 18, and one of his best friends/coworkers is the chief meteorologist at the public radio station he works at. Of course, that same guy is now by boss, as I work part time in the weather office as a weather assistant, which has helped me a lot in gaining knowledge on a more broad aspect of weather, bridging out from the storm chasing interest. Obviously, I've only been able to drive for a couple years, so I'm still new to actually storm chasing myself though the interest goes way back. Anyway, long story short, yes I'm one of the younger ones on this board to my knowledge, and do get very excited about chasing, whether its forecasting an event, or, witnessing one unfold. But I would like to think no one actually considers me a yahoo. Correct me if im wrong of course... :wink:
Give it time folks. I'm 42 and still haven't personally met any of the folks on this board.

Yahoos and wannabe's tend to weed themselves out thorugh natural selection. Those that are serious,contientious and really enthused, will tend to stand out over time.

There's always some kind of discussion about who's doing what to whom, and at times, can get rather intense. Buck up and bear with it as the dust seems to settle down after a period of time. Once Tim, Shane, David and the rest of us have long gone to pasture, there's got to be others out there to carry on the tradition.
I'm definetely in the younger age category, as I'm 18. BUT, I will answer your question as good as I can:

No I am not a yahoo, not anymore than a lot of the folks on this board, and I don't see them as yahoos, so the feelings are back at me I hope. I chase with a couple of friends, I'm always the driver, and I have a ton more weather knowledge than any of my partners, but they have all been through skywarn spotting classes before they come with me, as that's my golden rule, I gotta have another skywarn class "graduate" in my car with me so my tunnel vision on the task of driving doesn't lead to danger, which rarely happens because I know my limitations and I never do anything overly wreckless to put anyone in the car or the car itself in danger, not to mention other drivers.

I chased with local Skywarn and Spotter nets from the age of 14, and I chased my first time driving when I had just turned 16. So my advice to any overzealous 16 year old, make sure you have done a few things: had a season of spotting under your belt with someone who knew what they were doing, have gone to a skywarn class yourself, and feel completely comfortable with your ability to drive in bad weather with a million things going on at once. Failing to do any of these only put yourself, other chasers, your vehicle and any ride-alongs in danger. I'd also advise to only chase locally (your county) the first few times so you at least have a general understanding of where everything is, as getting lost and hitting a dead-end can be a bad thing if you have a monster hail-shaft coming, I promise Mom and Dad will not be happy.

Which brings me to my next piece of advice, make sure your mom and dad know what you are doing and are fine with it. You do NOT want to lie to them and have them find out the hard way, with a broken windshield from baseball sized hail (although I can't speak from experience as I let my plans be known from the get-go, but I'm sure its not good). Another thing GET A JOB! This is an expensive hobby, I spend around $100 per chase on food, gas, and other odds and ends. Asking for that much money from parents won't fly forever. Also make sure you know how to do basic car repairs and have the tools with you, this is something that could mean a lot if you get a flat tire 5W of Cheyenne, Oklahoma (that's FROM experience). Lastly, read through the topics here and learn basic forcasting, and the technical aspects of storms, I did this before 2004 and it paid off a TON. There is a lot to learn, don't go out thinking you know everything, you'll get a negative vibe from the guys that have been at it 10 years or more. I have been chasing 2 seasons going on 3, and I still have more than I can think of to learn. And lastly, be safe and have fun!
I'm 28 and I'm a yahoo. It has nothing to do with age. Why am I a yahoo? Cause, for one, I like to get close(the closer you are the bigger the thrill!!!!). Another reason, I do speed on occasion. I also went out and leaned "the hard way". That is all it takes to become a yahoo. Life goes on......
I agree with Mike H.

I'm soon to be 20, and have only chased in or around my state (MI).

Anyway, as long as you are acting responsible as far as other peoples safety is concerned, then you are doing nothing wrong. Being so close to a tornado that you can throw a bottle into it (while naked), is personal choice, and isn't harming anyone. Going over the speed limit sometimes isn't that bad either, as long as you aren't doing it recklessly.

I like the thrill, I like the rush, and the closer the better... I also enjoy learning about meteorology (all aspects), as well as the meso/micro physics of supercellular storms...
After nearly a decade of hearing the word, IMO 'yahoo' is the term used to describe any person who's not in the immediate, intimate circle of chasers that's having the conversation about the original person. Chasing is segregated much like high school, and every group has its moments where it looks down on others. I'm not convinced it's as much a chasing issue as a social issue, most of the time.

I'm experienced and reasonably successful. I also speed when I want to, I get excited and act a fool sometimes when I see a tornado, and I actually enjoy the experience. That will get you the "yahoo" brand on just about any jury, anytime. I don't really think "yahoos" exist, as far as the popular definition; it's just a made-up term for an unliked person, much the same as "nerd" or "geek" are used in school.

I've yet to meet a single chaser who pointed a finger at another chaser and called him/her a yahoo, that had a perfect record him/herself. We all screw up out there.
22 and a grad student in college. Plenty of college students from OU out there. I like to think most try and are curteous, but there are a few morons. Most of us are out there for all the same reasons as everyone else. AS far as 'yahoos' goes, they are both young and old etc. Doesn't have much to do with age/colleges. I know the stormgasm guys... they take a lot of shit, but from my eyes they are just extremely passionate about tornadoes. They are nice guys in general and would never mean harm to others... just simply get excited. Yahoos? Subjective term. They don't care what others think... they are out there to see tornadoes.

I think it is great that there are younger chasers as long as they act responsibly (important for chasers of any age).

I do have one word of warning. I think chasing is sort of addicting and it would be easy to neglect one's studies. I am glad I completed my education before the internet and starting to be a serious storm chaser.

Bill Hark
We've all been there.

Ages when began chasing (for those I'm familiar with):
Me - 19
Gene Rhoden - 16
Alan Moller - 22
Tim Marshall - 23
Charles Doswell - 27

I think chasing attracts a considerable number of young individuals, which probably skews stats & perceptions. The older ones are typically those who have stuck it out and found a niche.

However, I'm more curious about younger chasers who take chasing seriously and act responsibly. Are they few and far between? In fact, are there some younger chasers on this forum?

I think you'll find that a significant percentage of serious chasers are in their late teens or 20s - which makes sense, as they're less likely to have a family or a career to hinder their chasing. In a poll taken here earlier this year, 63% of the participants claimed to be 29 or younger.
I'm gonna be sixteen soon, and I've been chasing for the past three seasons with my Father and Jason Hetzel. I stay steer clear of danger; and while I do get close to some storms, doesn't everybody? :wink:

I take chasing very seriously and love to gather all the knowledge I can about severe weather forecasting (the little that I know so far...).
I do have one word of warning. I think chasing is sort of addicting and it would be easy to neglect one's studies. I am glad I completed my education before the internet and starting to be a serious storm chaser.

Very true... one must be able to set priorities. Those who don't will not last at OU for too long.

I missed out on Happy, TX a few years ago to study for a calc 4final that I had to pull a D up to a C in because of a crappy prof. End result... yes I missed the wedge action near Happy, but I also got a C... escaping my only narrow miss thus far.

On a side token, I think chasing actaully helped my class during the Spring of 03. Finals week happened to fall during the extremely active severe weather week.... even if not all of us were chasing numerous days (which some of us were), just the distraction of supercells on radar every day impacted many. I wouldn't be suprised if it lowered the means on the tests by at least 5-10% in some cases ; )

For example, I went into my numerical methods final with radar blips just going up on KTLX on May 8th... this is after listening to live broadcasts of NOAA weather radio and seeing the PDS watch out. Halfway through the final (which wasn't going so hot), the lights flickered. A few minutes later, we heard sirens. Any bit of concentration that was still with me was hosed at that point.

I've completed my first season of storm chasing and I turned 23 at the end of the season. Didn't really understand the term yahoo until read some of the literature on ST this past summer. I would say that I've had a few moments of yahoo-ness. But as far as safety during chasing is concerned, I've done all my chasing with the upmost safety in mind. I know that I am still building on my knowledge. So last summer I went out and chased a few storms, staying on the outskirts (if not farther) as much as possible. This was influenced by the fact that I was chasing alone. But now I've found a couple people in town here that I can call and see if they'll go out with me. Also working on increasing my knowledge - so I bought all of Tim Vasquez's books and am reading through them now. They're OUTSTANDING and I recommend anyone wanting more knowledge to read them.
nice one Aaron!

Anywho, I'm 19 and I'll qualify as a young chaser, and I think I'll fall into both categories. I'm a yahoo in the fact that do chase for fun any my own personal photographic gain. I'm a serious chaser in that when I do see the sh*t hitting the fan I'll call up both the Sheriff's office and the NWS. I've even gotten my hands dirty helping out after watching my hometown got smoked by two tornados on the same night. I tell ya, nothing makes you more scared and changes your outlook on chasing more than sitting a mile away from your home town...watching twin tornados rip through. I'd say that June 24th was the last time I chased as a yahoo chaser and started chasing for the warning of the public. I've even started doing research...I've seen enough tornados that I'm trying to notice patterns with storm structure and radar signature...i.e. those flat lenticular type clouds that form over an updraft...for a whole season the only time I saw those clouds was associated with the core updraft that spawned the tornado. I saw them at no other time until this year when I saw them on many storms that didn't produce. But anyways I still like to have fun while doing it and the part that makes me part-yahoo is that I'll still do almost anything to get an angle on the storm.

Anyways enough babbling. To sum it up I think I started as a 16 year old yahoo chaser and have developed into a serious chaser (with a little yahoo left inside).
I started chasing when I was 18 in 1998. I take my chasing seriously and don't think anything will ever get me to stop chasing, unless I can no longer see, hear or move.

Mike and Amos have made good points. Are we all considered yahoos at some point? When you think about it, no matter how often you (in general) preach chase safety, have you ever broken one of those "rules"? I am sure we all have. I've been close to a rotating wall cloud. I've been in the core of an HP supercell. I know what hydroplaning is like and once in a while we do speed. At the same time, I do report my findings and am courteous of others, and keep general storm safety in mind (i.e. don't stand outside when there are a hundred CGs striking the ground, etc). I will be turning 25 next month, and I sometimes look back on my past chases, and sure, I know I have made some stupid mistakes. Hey, it happens. We are all human, we can never be perfect.

Every age group has their own set of yahoo chasers. Age is only a number, but maturity is something different.
I agree that everyone has a little yahoo in them, some ore than others.

Not to stray too far from the topic, but what do you guys consider speeding? Surely you guys aren't cruising to the target area at 65 (or 75 in select states)? I got a nice speeding ticket near Storm Lake for doing 75 in a 55, yahoo! :oops:

Anyway, I'm 21 and thought I would separate myself from the common "yahoo" perception by obtaining my ham radio license and spotter training so that I could actually give something back to the community. I've chased at night (without data or experience) and punched a core or two though so I can't say I'm perfect. :)
My definition of speeding is when the speed you are going is dangerous for yourself and others on the road. Going 75 in a 45 in rain = bad. 75 in a 65 on the interstate in IL while the speed limit in OK for the same type of road is 75.... not a big deal.
Of course technically, anything over the posted sign is speeding.

"and punched a core or two though so I can't say I'm perfect."

Not sure why core punching is so commonly associated with yahooism. If you understand the risks, what is the big deal? I core punched the May 29 Mulvane storm. No harm done. It actually saved my chase from being a complete bust as I saw the Rock, KS tornado. It's all about situational awareness. I knew there was possibly large hail... I also knew from spotter reports that the meso was not rain wrapped. Not a large risk of driving into a wedge. Finally, we also had radar via portable TV which gave us a good idea where all the features were.

Would I core punch any storm? Heck no. It CAN be suicide in some cases.

Take 15 April 2004 for example...

I would not punch that... a rain/dust wrapped meso is loads of trouble. IT was a good thing we didn't either. A chaser 2 miles NE had great video of a stovepipe in that mess.

I have to agree with all the talk of everyone having a bit of 'Yahoo' in them.. I guess the question shouldn't be "Are you a yahoo?", but rather, "Do you, eh, YAHOOOOO".

I actually started chasing seriously back in 2000, in which case, I was 19. My first chase was when I was 16, and I obviously had a severe interest in doing it since. In the passed few years, I've began to get my name out and hopefully and looked upon as one of those serious 'Yahoos'. :lol: I think Shane brings up a point; its mostly a social thing like high school is. Most of your dedicated chasers have a serious side of them that wants to see chasing remain a more toned-down sort of thing. And by toned-down, I mean less idiocies, not necessarily less people. I think in a sense, you kind of have to prove yourself a bit in order to lose the "yahoo" lable, but that doesn't mean prove yourself to everyone else, but more or less you (can you handle all that comes with it). Those that don't prove themselves tend to be weeded out in a couple years for any number of reasons.

As to an above comment on chasing affecting your school; I am guilty of that like none-other. Doesn't make me a Yahoo, I don't think, but a bit of an idiot when it comes to school. Finals week in May tends to suck a bit cause you know where my attention is; I guaruntee you it isn't on the exam in front of me! :lol: But as it was said time and time again, we all do things that others may consider not-so-bright, but that's what happens sometimes. It doesn't make you a Yahoo, just remember, if you're alive to tell about it and no one was hurt because of it, it was a helluva time!
Wow. I'm really pshyched at reading these posts. This completely changes my perception of what kind of people are out there. I had no idea.

Lots of evil-doers?
Hmmmm.... After reading the posts here, I guess I would qualify as a "Yahoo" of sorts. Though I try to get into the "zone" with good forecasting, I have been known to be off a time or two and bend a speed limit trying to make up for it. That being said, I drive a fairly high profile vehicle so I am constrained to keep it under control or my station WILL get calls.

I'm also pretty limited to a particular area and most of the LE folks know me or know who I work for. That tends to help as they generally know I don't have a suicidal streak or plan to mow anyone down getting to a storm. A lot of them know I was once a Police Officer and understand the "rules". That's not to say they won't snap me up in a heartbeat if I'm being stupid. They will. I just can't get a bad case of the stupids while out chasing.

In my case, there are several things at stake. My reputation locally (I get the 'dumbs' and I lose credibility). My station's reputation (People won't sponsor a fool and the money stops coming in), and last but not least, I lose self respect (By doing what I advocate against).

Remember, that's my own situation. The folks that aren'taffiliated with anyone but themselves have a little different set of rules they can play by. My rules are just a bit tighter. The folks we all frown on are those that do stupid things all the time and give the entire chase community a bad name for their singular actions. It happens almost everytime we go out.

In my view, these are the guys that are "Yahoo's", Those that block traffic. Those that get into the faces of people with a video camera after the house has been blown away. Those that have no common sense and put others at risk.

Let me jump off my soap box now, or I'll ramble on all night.