Bio: Born and raised in Chicago, it was the raw power of severe storms that sparked my interest at a very young age. Unlike most it was not fear or a childhood encounter with a tornado. It was simply the chaos that ensued during storms. I wanted to experience and witness it more often, as well as better understand the whys and hows. This is what has lead to me to be a very passionate and aggressive storm chaser. I dont want to see the storm, I want to experience the storm.
Favorite Storm Chasing Photos
Favorite Chase Video
How did you realize your love for weather?
Everytime it would storm I found myself running to look out the window, it eventually dawned on me I had an unusual obsession
When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?
Very young, as far back as I could remember.
How long have you been actively chasing?
Do you chase for a reason?
Yes, it is the reason I live for and my sole purpose in life. Nothing else makes me happier.
Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?
Both. Its great to love something so much it gives your life meaning. Its bad because it consumes you, and always becomes the forefront of everything you do, this sometimes leads to decisions others might consider irrational, but what do they know?
Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?
Both. I like to be in charge and move about at my will, so I have no problems chasing alone. It is easier with partners though in regards to sharing workloads and expenses. Plus having someone to talk to makes it easier to stay awake
on long drives.
Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?
Nope, if I saw a tornado someone drove me to it just wouldn’t feel as special. I want to earn them, not just sit in a seat and wait for someone else to do all the work for me.
How do you feel about the current state of storm chasing?
Its a circus act, I wish it would calm down, but I know it won’t.
Which era of chasing would you prefer to exist? Old-school or new-school?
Definitely old school. I began chasing at the tail end of that era, and my first several years were done that way. Its not impossible, plus I hate technology.
How far are you willing to travel for a good set up?
Anywhere if I believe it will give me what I seek. Seriously…anywhere.
What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?
Central Illinois by far is my favorite. Beautiful terrain and road network. Fewer chasers and obviously closer to my home. Least Favorite is probably southwest Arkansas, with Eastern Oklahoma coming in a close second.
What is you favorite type of set up to chase? Least favorite?
Insane-o shear setups. They keep you on your toes and your skills sharp. My least favorite is cold core. They are quite tricky and are a totally different game than other setups.
What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?
Tough to pick just one. Probably May 22nd 2010. The field incident will never be forgotten and to this day I still have numerous requests to tell that story. Im not sure of my least memorable, which I guess is the point right?
Have you ever feared for your life?
October 4th 2013, getting clipped by the Wayne EF-4. When the inflow jet ramped up over us and blew out my window I thought for just a brief second “this is it, I just made a fatal mistake” but I didn’t panic and got us out of there unharmed.
Are you afraid to make dangerous maneuvers while chasing? (I.E – core punching/hook slicing/living in the bears cage)
Nope, which is what lead me to getting into the situation above. I like to be north of the tornado, which is the riskiest place to be. Its just the way I chase.
Do you have any superstitions?
Stopping at Pizza Hut or Perkins on a chase day and we will see tornadoes. It works…try it sometime.
Would you sacrifice a salaried job with full benefits, but only 2 weeks out of the year to chase for a paycheck to paycheck life with unlimited chasing?
I have and don’t regret it. The typical American dream is boring. There is no point to making money if I am working too much to fully enjoy it. Thats existing, not living.
Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?
Nope, I have zero interest in broadcast meteorology. I am about to start an official LLC soon though.
Have you ever been to ChaserCon?
Yes, its a great time and I will definitely go again.
Are you more likely to hang out with other chasers while waiting for initiation, or sit alone on a country road watching the sky?
More often than not I hang away from the crowds, and will find a dirt road outside of town to sit at instead of the main gas station in town. If I see a good friend nearby I always stop to say hi though.
What is your favorite storm chase and why?
A classic, cyclic beast. Multiple tornadoes always make for the best chase days.
What date burns in you (think bust) and why?
Though not an official bust because we did see tornadoes. 4-14-12 irritates me the most. We just played the wrong part of the setup and got a buncha junk tornadoes on a day that say many significant, long tracked ones. That always stings. That was also the only real big day in 2012, adding to the pain.
Do you always know why you made the wrong or right decisions to chase a particular day?
Maybe not right away, but I always go back and analyze things. Its another way to learn. I am my own worst critic. I can find something I would do different in almost every major day I’ve scored.
How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology?
Other than a basic weather 101 class in community college, I am self taught all the way.
Do you consider the day a success even if you don’t witness a tornado?
Sometimes, if we saw or experienced a great storm and didn’t miss any tornadoes somewhere else, then absolutely. The best structure doesn’t mean squat to me if I miss a photogenic tornado on a different storm 20 miles away.
Do you feel short changed if you see a tornado from a greater distance to you than you prefer?
Sometimes. I like to be closer more often than not. If its a tornado that can easily be observed from really close (slow moving, high contrast near a good road) then yes. Sometimes all you can get is a view from afar, and thats ok. I always want to do the best I can. With all the effort I put into it, there is no point in half-assing it.
How do you feel about the post “Storm Chaser” generation?
I wish they didn’t exist, but they do and I really have no right to tell them they can’t be out there. As long as they chase with level heads and realistic expectations I think its great. Attention seeking copycat tank builders are somewhat annoying though. Be original!
Do you feel like the scientific community should get the same respect as emergency vehicles around storms?
As long as they aren’t in a disaster area, sure.
How you do you feel about the media in regards to the weather and chasing?
They overall do a good job they just need to turn down the hype a bit.
Who are the most influential people to you out in the field?
Considering I didnt know the name of a single storm chaser until after I started doing it myself…noone.
Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?
I wouldn’t force it on them, but I would certainly introduce them to it.
If you didn’t know anything about storm chasing, how would you react if your child said they wanted to be a chaser?
I would probably think they were nuts but at least they were doing something cool, unique instead of getting into drugs and being a typical punk teenager.
What do you fear most about a storm?
Them not forming.
What type of storm do you prefer to chase? (Ugly HP/sculpted LP/classic/squall line) Classic for sure. The rest are pretty much equal. There are things I love and hate about all.
Do you stop your progress toward a storm for a great photography opportunity?
Rarely. I have let others talk me into doing this in the past and its ALWAYS cost us. No more.
How do you feel about law enforcement immediately around a tornadic supercell?
I get why they are there, but they irritate me and need to go away. I dont need someone blocking my road when I want to pursue a storm. Aside from that, Ive had good experiences with officers. They usually come up to talk to us, ask questions about radar and what we think will happen then they drive away.
Should storm chasers feel more entitled to be around storms than law enforcement or locals?
I want to say yes, but not EVERY chaser. There are some that should just stay home.
Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?
I am fortunate that I do. I can’t chase EVERYTHING like some spoiled jobless rich kids can…but I can hit about 75% of what I want to, which is more than most people that live in the real world, and I am thankful for that.
Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?
They absolutely do.
How long do you plan on chasing?
Until I die.