Location: San Antonio, TX
Started Chasing: 1970
Web site: chaseday.com
Bio: I started storm chasing when I lived in Tulsa OK in 1970. During that time I witness a few tornadoes, but did see one F4 fatality tornado (wedge) and the world’s largest hail at Coffeyville KS. Later I went to OU and met other chasers. During that era the Texas Panhandle was the Valhalla of chasing. I worked my way through school on the GI bill and chased mainly for NSSL as a pion (small sup-atomic particle). I later got a job with a weather consulting firm in OKC. All this going on at once didn’t help my grades, but I did get my degree. After graduating I got a job at a PBS TV station and later Ch 5 in OKC doing morning and noon shows (great for chasing). After five years I decided TV was scary job security and not what I wanted. From that point I started with the fed. gov at White Sands Missile Range later getting into program management and supervisor for the Air Force. At one time I had the Guinness World Record for tornadoes (now owned by Roger Hill), but I have photographed a tornado every year since 1973. That’s a personal accomplishment I’ve proud of while raising two children and working a full time job. I missed many great storms over the years while working or being a dad… when it’s all said and done I hope I was a better dad (I tried) than a great storm chaser.
Favorite Storm Chasing Photos
How did you realize your love for weather?
As a kid growing up in Tulsa. Mom thought I was mentally ill because I liked to watch the lighting. My dad hated it until I got into Time Magazine in 1979.
When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?
When I was very young… saw those storms far away and wanted to go to them
How long have you been actively chasing?
Do you chase for a reason?
LOL…all the reasons
Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?
I thought it was great while being surrounded by people that don’t get it.
Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?
Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?
I worked for tour companies a few seasons; will go on tours when I’m too old to drive
How do you feel about the current state of storm chasing?
Which era of chasing would you prefer to exist? Old-school or new-school?
Each has its benefits, storm alone when I was young, more data now
How far are you willing to travel for a good set up?
What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?
High plains best – western AR/LA worst
What is you favorite type of set up to chase? Least favorite?
warm front low level jet intersection
Have you ever feared for your life?
Pitch black daylight, trapped in a bank drive through while power flashes moved at me…El Reno day.
Are you afraid to make dangerous maneuvers while chasing? (I.E – core punching/hook slicing/living in the bears cage)
I seldom make blind core punches of a known tornadic storm, anything else is fair game. That said, I don’t have an armored vehicle so there is a sane limit.
Do you have any superstitions?
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?
Never and many of the old chasers that I know that have done this are bitter.
Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?
Have you ever been to ChaserCon?
No, took myself out of the social side of chasing when I got married
Are you more likely to hang out with other chasers while waiting for initiation, or sit alone on a country road watching the sky?
Chit Chatting before initiation can be a bad distraction it burned me bad in 2014… l’ll never learn I guess.
What is your favorite storm chase and why?
Wilson Lake KS – 7 May 1993. Spectacular sculpted supercell, wedge tornado, my best forecast and only one other chase vehicle on the storm
What date burns in you (think bust) and why?
Every tornado we lose is the greatest one anyone ever saw… I’ll get the next one
Do you always know why you made the wrong or right decisions to chase a particular day?
No, but I do realize there comes a point in every chase where one road decision can make or break the day. Most of the tornadoes I’ve missed were by minutes that could not be made up.
How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology?
In school and on my own
Do you consider the day a success even if you don’t witness a tornado?
Depends, in late season I go out for a couple weeks at a time… not every day can be a winner so I go for lightning and structure
Do you feel short changed if you see a tornado from a greater distance to you than you prefer?
Not always, especially when the structure is good. I do get get disgusted when someone 20 miles away tells me what I saw from a mile away….happens too often.
How do you feel about the post “Storm Chaser” generation?
I have many 20 something chaser friends, I like their enthusiasm.
Do you feel like the scientific community should get the same respect as emergency vehicles around storms?
Sort of a loaded question… of course an ambulance gets first priority regardless
Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?
I didn’t with mine. A dad should never encourage his children to do anything that could get them injured or killed.
What do you fear most about a storm?
Lightning, already hit once
What type of storm do you prefer to chase? (Ugly HP/sculpted LP/classic/squall line)
I would rather have an ugly storm and an ugly tornado than a beautiful sculpted supercell that does nothing
Do you stop your progress toward a storm for a great photography opportunity?
I try, nothing like seeing a tornado while driving and getting told it didn’t happen
How do you feel about law enforcement immediately around a tornadic supercell?
Most often they are polite, but I have some horror stories. Some police have occasionally ruined my chase…. “leave the storm immediately or be arrested, drive south away from the storm, I mean now! (screaming).” This happened to me on a lonely rural road, tornado in viewfinder, totally unnecessary.
Should storm chasers feel more entitled to be around storms than law enforcement or locals?
Of course not
Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?
I always have
Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?
How long do you plan on chasing?
Until body parts start rotting off