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Ethan Schisler

Location: Galesburg, IL
Started Chasing: 2010
Tornadoes: I don’t keep an exact count. Maybe I should.

Bio: I’m currently 20 years old, living in Western IL. I have lived here my entirelife. I started actively chasing back in 2010, however I did local chasing going all the way back to 2003/2004. I saw my first tornado on May 30, 2004 in Western IL while out with my dad “chasing” locally. My dad and I useto go out occasionally when I was younger in his pick-up truck which had a wx band radio and CB hooked up. That and paper maps would be all we used. I started going to further lengths to chase in 09/10, hooking up with several local chasers and as of 2015, you can find me chasing anywhere from Alabama to Montana.

Favorite Storm Chasing Photos

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

When I was a kid we used to have severe storms impact the local area quite frequently. Between experiencing the storms first hand, my dad and I going out “chasing” locally, and watching TWC’s series StormStories, I just got hooked onto weather at a very early age.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

Hmmm…really early on, after seeing all the storms we used to get back in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, I realized that I wanted to pursue these storms further, however it wasn’t something that would be fully realized until years later.

How long have you been actively chasing?

Since 2010 out of state, so this year will be my 6th season of storm chasing actively, however if you include all my local chasing before then back to 2003, then way longer 🙂

Do you chase for a reason?

No reason other than I love to see Mother Nature in action and I love to document it with my camera. The photography part has became really heavy on me the past few years, really striving to make myself better.

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?

I see it as a good thing, gives me something to look forward to during the spring/summer months that I love to do. It doesn’t really hold me back from my other goals in life, so as of right now, I see it as a good thing.

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

I don’t mind chasing alone, however I do enjoy having friends along to chase with as well. This cutsdown on the financial blow from chasing.

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

Nope, not really. I figure why pay someone for something that I can do on my own quite effectively.

How do you feel about the current state of storm chasing?

The amount of chasers on the roads during some of the more high profile setups kinda worries me a bit, however I still find chasing enjoyable. I try to stray away from all the “drama” that is created, so for me, I feelfine about the current state of storm chasing.

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

Old school, most definitely. Technology is cool, but the old ways are the best and you can’t beat theexperience of being alone with the storms, not worrying about streaming or computers.

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

Depends on how good the setup is and how much time I have available. I’ll be more tempted to travelfarther for a setup if I have a few days off surrounding it and it has good potential. However if there are many
negatives with said setup, I won’t be as willing to travel as far.

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

My favorite area to chase is actually my own backyard here in West Central IL. It is quite flat and someareas are about as flat as what I’ve seen in Western KS/OK. My least favorite area to chase is Central Arkansas.
I don’t have to indulge into that too much, everyone probably knows why!

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

My favorite type of setup to chase is probably a warm front setup, we get those often here in Illinois and they can be quite surprising and rewarding here. Even on the plains, you can get some nice tornadoes on warmfront days, so that is probably my favorite. Least favorite would be upslope most likely. Storms are beautifulout there, however I’ve yet to get anything worthwhile chasing upslope out in Colorado. Maybe something in the next few years will change my mind though!

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

Most memorable chase for me is probably a tough pick because I make a lot of memories on all of them. I’d have to see its a tie between March 2, 2012 in Southern Indiana and May 30, 2004 (date I saw my firsttornado). Least memorable, too many to count.

Have you ever feared for your life?

Yes I have, however only on a couple occasions and it was warranted.

Are you afraid to make dangerous maneuvers while chasing? (I.E core punching/hook slicing/living in the bears cage)

I’ll do it if I have to do it, however I try to avoid making extremely dangerous maneuvers that could beharmful to myself or someone in the car. Best to try to stay out of the precipitation, especially for photography

Do you have any superstitions?

No, I’m not a real superstitious person.

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?

Paycheck to paycheck life with unlimited chasing! Both has their benefits, however I’d like the later of the two better right now probably. Ask me again in 10 years though!

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

Not at the moment, however I am going to school to possibly get into broadcasting and journalism

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

Yes! 2015 was my first year going, was a great time!

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

I like enjoying other chasers’ company. I love meeting new people, however I also like watching thesky. Getting the two together would make for an awesome combination.

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

My favorite chase day is another hard one to pick. May 20 2013 would probably be one of themthough. We were on the storm to the south of OKC, dealing with terrain issues. However all the sudden wecame across this miraculous clearing, were able to basically sit and watch this tornado move over a lake for over 10 minutes before beautifully roping out. Not a single soul around either! Was heartbreaking to hear aboutwhat happened in Moore, however the tornado we managed to see was quite photogenic and beautiful looking, very rewarding chase in my opinion.

What date burns in you (think bust) and why?

November 17, 2013 hands down. Missed a large EF4 tornado about 45 minutes from home, don’t think it can burn much worse than that. Ended up pretty much blowing the whole day actually with not much to showfor it.

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

Usually hindsight is 20/20 and I can figure it out afterwards. Most of the time, its my own stupidity! 🙂

How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology?

I learned everything that I know by reading books, looking through articles online, and even much of the content here on StormTrack I found very useful!

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

Yes! As a photography enthusiast, any day that I can document a beautiful scene I can consider a success.

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

Not really! Tornado is a tornado in my book. Yes it would be nice to be close and get them amazing shots, however sitting back does have its advantages.

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

Doesn’t really bother me much, everyone is the same in my eyes. Everyone has a love for weather and should be able to pursue it as they please.

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

Yes. I think it would allow for better execution in gathering scientific data. However a line has to drawn between the “scientific community” and just the ordinary chaser.

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

I don’t think it has as much impact now as it did many years ago in the “Twister era”. Media sales willlikely decrease in the coming years due to cell phone video becoming more common and more people justgiving it away.

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

Hmm…tough question. I’ve followed Skip Talbot and Adam Lucio since before I started really taking chasing seriously, so probably those two! I also find Jeff Piotrowski as a huge influence as well, however I don’t know many people that wouldn’t! 🙂

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?

If I ever have kids, I would consider 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’m all about following your dreams and goals, so more power to them!

What do you fear most about a storm?

Lightning. Unpredictable and definitely the most scary aspect of storms

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

Classic supercell/LP supercells.

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

Yes! If I see a great photo op, I will certainly stop.

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

Well it is their job to serve and protect the local communities, so I think they are just doing their job. They aren’t trying to hinder chasers, just trying to protect people from getting hurt.

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

I don’t know. I think everyone has a right to view the storm, just keep it safe for both yourself and everyone else.

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

Right now, I’m in college and I work a part-time job with my dad as a contractor. As a college studentthough, I don’t have a ton of money, however luckily chasing is my only hobby, so I’m able to afford to get outoften!

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

Yes! My family is very supportive of me chasing storms, after all they are the ones (namely my dad) that fed my passion for it.

How long do you plan on chasing?

As long as I am bodily able and financially able.

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