Hank Schyma

Location: Houston, TX
Chasing Since: 1995
Tornadoes: 88 confirmed, 4 possible unconfirmed (still researching)
Website: http://www.Pecoshank.com

Bio: In 1994 Hank captured his first CG on film and in 2002 his first tornadoes. By 2008 he was a seasoned professional extreme weather photographer working for local TV stations and is now working regularly with national and international entities such as the Weather Channel, Discovery, National Geographic and more. For 9 months out of the year Hank is a professional musician chasing storms between tours and every April, May, and June, Hank closes his guitar case and chases severe weather full time.

Favorite Chase Video

How did you realize your love for weather?

I couldn’t stop staring at the 1884 Dakota Territory photograph when i was about six years old.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

Heavily inspired by Warren Faidley’s book and video in the early 1990’s

How long have you been actively chasing?

Since 1995

Do you chase for a reason?

Many, many reasons

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?

Neither.

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

ALONE!

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

Yes. I’m sure I could learn a lot from other chasers but I’ve never been one to fraternize.

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

The old ways were great, and so are the new. Times are always a changin’ and I try to be grateful for the past and future.

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

I think I still exist in the old-school. Regarding crowds, I experience plenty of tornado days without chaser traffic, yet with the safety of radar pointing out those nasty spots.

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

As far as the roads go.

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

I’ve had lop-sided incredible luck in Nebraska and have difficulty finding gratitude in Arkansas chase days.

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

The all offer me beauty. Even blue sky busts yield amazing scenery and wildlife.

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

Most memorable was June 17th 2014 Cedar county Nebraska supercell… I forgot my least memorable.

Have you ever feared for your life?

Yes, Unfortunately too often. I average 1 semi-near-death experience / year… Trying to cut that down a point.

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

Yes, I’m afraid to hook slice and core punching gives my the eebie jeebies.

Do you have any superstitions?

I’ve proven that you can knock on glass, metal, or plastic as long as you say out loud, “Knock on wood”

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 sacrifice everything for chasing. The past 2 years I was practically begged to be on a Swedish TV show with the promises of Scandinavian stardom… Had to turn them down because they’re shooting May 8th through June 8th. My worst fear is not being able to chase.

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

Yes

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

No

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

Alone.

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

May 18th Rozel KS. I bit on the wrong storm and missed the first 3/4ths of the 1st Rozel Tornado.

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

I think so.

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

I was taught basic storm forecasting by Dr. Neil Frank, Mario Gomez and David Paul. The rest was in the field picking up pieces here and there.

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

Of course.

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

Perhaps a little bitchy.

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

Not sure what this means.

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

Didnt know that was an issue, but I’m thinking health over knowledge might be logical in this scenario.

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

I’m grateful they buy my footage so I can order more tacos.

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

The pioneers, old and new.

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?

No fucking way!

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

If that’s what the choose, I’ll support em… but I won’t try “to get them into it”

What do you fear most about a storm?

Dying.

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

I’m with the mob on this one.

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

Yes, always.

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

I hope they know what they’re doing.

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

No.

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

Yes

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

Yes

How long do you plan on chasing?

‘Til death do us part.

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