Andy Wycislo

Location: Savoy, IL
Chasing since: 2009
Tornadoes: 3
Web Site: andywycislo.com

Bio: I’ve been actively chasing storms in and around Illinois since 2009, but I slowly developed a love for weather many years before. Growing up in rural western IL and spending time outdoors hunting, hiking, and camping taught me to appreciate and admire weather. After only a few chases I was hooked. I currently live in Savoy, IL with my wife Katie and work for the University of Illinois, where I’m also nearing completion on a PhD.

Favorite Chase Video

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather

Slowly developed over many years

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase

2008 or so I started looking into it; actually began in 2009

How long have you been actively chasing

Since 2009

Do you chase for a reason

Excitement, beauty, opportunity to get out and see the countryside

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing

Bad for the wallet, good for the soul

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group

Solo; don’t like having to deal with other people, distracting from the chase

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour

No

How do you feel about the current state of storm chasing

Seems like everybody is doing it now, with a few being dangerous and inconsiderate, giving the rest of us a bad name

Which era of chasing would you prefer to exist? Old-school or new-school

Little of both; old school for the lack of other chasers, but new school because of the useful technology

How far are you willing to travel for a good set up

Depends completely on my actual life and job; have traveled to Kansas, but typically chase within a day’s distance due to commitments

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite

I enjoy chasing here in Illinois because of the flat terrain, good roads, and relatively fewer chasers; worst is Kentucky with trees and non-grid roads

What is you favorite type of set up to chase? Least favorite?

Really can’t go wrong with an Illinois warm front

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable

Most memorable was my first tornado day, June 5, 2010; don’t really have a least, but there were plenty that were total busts that I try to forget

Have you ever feared for your life

Once, in Kentucky; turned out I wasn’t in any real danger but for a few moments I wasn’t sure

Are you afraid to make dangerous maneuvers while chasing

(I.E core punching/hook slicing/living in the bears cage)

I’m afraid of most dangerous maneuvers like this not from the storm, but from my wife if I get hail dents in her car

Do you have any superstitions

No

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

Probably not

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather

No

Have you ever been to ChaserCon

Yes

Are you more likely to hang out with other chasers while waiting for initiation, or sit alone on a country road watching the sky

Depends, either or both depending on my mood, but many chasers tend to have their own cliques that I’m not a member of anyway

What is your favorite storm chase and why

June 5, 2010 because it was my first tornado and I trusted my gut over my brain (which is always the better way to go)

What date burns in you (think bust) and why

Not a huge burn, but May 19-20 (Moore tornado); I chased Kansas the day before and busted, yet started driving home on the 20th because of work; in hindsight I should have chased Oklahoma on the 20th to see the Moore tornado, but I made the decision I had to

Do you always know why you made the wrong or right decisions to chase a particular day

After the fact I usually figure out what I did wrong; most often it is because I didn’t trust my gut

How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology

Lot’s of reading and chatting with others; it takes a while to get the hang of things, but I’m finally to the point where I can forecast as well as most

Do you consider the day a success even if you don’t witness a tornado

Depends on the day, but sure; chasing Illinois doesn’t always give you a lot of tornadoes, but if there’s some cool structure it’s usually worth the trip; it’s only not a success if there was a tornado very nearby that I missed (Litchfield, IL, April 19, 2011)

Do you feel short changed if you see a tornado from a greater distance to you than you prefer

Not really, I just try to figure out what I could have done differently for the next time

How do you feel about the post “Storm Chaser” generation

It probably isn’t fit for print

Do you feel like the scientific community should get the same respect as emergency vehicles around storms

No, they aren’t emergency vehicles

How you do you feel about the media in regards to the weather and chasing

My true feelings probably also aren’t fit to print, but I’ll say that many media figures enrage me; they bash us when it’s popular, then turn around and beg for our footage (for free) then want to interview us; if we could only hold them to higher standards….

Who are the most influential people to you out in the field

I’m not really influenced by anybody anymore

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing

I don’t see why not; it’s not unsafe if you are careful

If you didn’t know anything about storm chasing, how would you react if your child said they wanted to be a chaser

Well if I just listened to those media figureheads I’d probably be terrified

What do you fear most about a storm

Lighting

What type of storm do you prefer to chase (Ugly HP/sculpted LP/classic/squall line)

Whatever has a visible tornado coming out of it

Do you stop your progress toward a storm for a great photography opportunity

Depends on if I think I can keep up and get a developing tornado; in Illinois that choice usually ends in regret

How do you feel about law enforcement immediately around a tornadic supercell

That also depends; it’s their job to keep the public safe. I know that I have a brain and will keep safe, but they don’t always know that; in general I wish they’d worry more about helping those who were just hit instead of worrying about people driving into one

Should storm chasers feel more entitled to be around storms than law enforcement or locals

No, but many sure do

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing

Perhaps not as much as I’d like, but yes it does allow me more flexibility than some

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing

Yes, as long as I don’t go broke doing so

How long do you plan on chasing

Until somebody so something dumb and gets it outlawed

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