Bio: Hans Schroeder is a Sr Network Specialist for the City of Edmond, Oklahoma. He also owns Integrity Technology Consulting, an IT consulting company also based in Edmond. His love and fascination with severe weather and tornadoes began at an early age, having grown up near Stillwater, Oklahoma. He began chasing in 1998 after discovering that others were actively doing the same. Having dedication to all aspect of his life with a focus on family and technology, storm chasing remains a hobby. He chases an average of 5-6 times a year, sometimes with chase partners, sometimes solo. He is a social but shy guy who feels weird writing in the third person, but enjoys a crowd of friends with beer, whether post chase or for other occasions.
Favorite Chase Video
How did you realize your love for weather?
Since childhood I have had a fascination with severe weather. I saw my first tornado when I was 8 years old on April 26, 1984. My mom knew something was wrong when I wanted her to stop the car so I could watch it (several miles away) instead of wanting to get home to take shelter. I wouldn’t see my next tornado until May 15th, 1990. A tornado directly hit Stillwater causing damage to and destroying many homes. It damaged Stillwater Junior High, where I was a student at the time. The next day I helped with recovery and cleanup as part of a Boy Scout troop.
When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?
I discovered storm chasing was something others did shortly after becoming a storm spotter in 1998. I equipped my car with equipment that year, including a police band radio for the Stillwater Emergency Management agency for storm spotting in Payne County.
How long have you been actively chasing?
I’ve been actively chasing longer distances since 1999. I was not able to make it down to Moore on May 3rd, 1999, but observed the nighttime tornado that destroyed Mulhall, west of Payne County.
How far are you willing to travel for a good set up?
This varies depending on the year. As family obligations and free time from work can vary, I will chase anywhere from a 300 to 700 mile radius.
What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?
My favorite area to chase is in western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. The flat land, descent road network, and beautiful scenery make it my favorite. It helps that at the end of the chase I end up near home. I try to stay away from far eastern and southeastern Oklahoma and Arkansas. The terrain is miserable and wear down your enthusiasm to continue chasing.
Have you ever feared for your life?
Only a few times. The first was May 3rd, 1999. I was very new to chasing and was relatively near, within 5 miles, to the Mulhall F5 tornado. Another time, I’m not sure when, within a year after that I lost my bearings in a tornado warned area and didn’t have any information about what was going on. I booked it toward what I thought was south at the time, but not being sure of myself and being alone put the fear of death on my mind, even though afterwards I realized I was in no danger. May 31st, 2013 Aaron Tuttle and I got caught in the outer circulations of the El Reno tornado as it was quickly growing during its initial jog south. There was a brief moment when I didn’t know if we would make it out.
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?
No, I view storm chasing as a hobby. I have a family to support, a great job with full benefits, and a few other interests/passions as well. I enjoy getting to go out during descent setups when I want and being able to afford doing it without worry of putting my family in financial risk. Family comes first and foremost, so nothing else gets in the way, no matter how much I enjoy it.
Have you ever been to ChaserCon?
I always enjoy going to ChaserCon when I am able to. I first went in 2001 or 2002 I think, back when it was the Colorado Storm Chaser Convention. I can’t remember the year off hand, because they had a mistake of the year on the t-shirt. Either the t-shirt says 2001 and it was 2002 or the other way around. I also remember the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster occurring during my 2003 trip. I’ve attended many years since as well and as recently as last year. I always enjoy the social aspect and meeting new chasers.
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 always prefer the company when waiting for initiation. It makes the time go by faster. As many of my chase partners know, I prefer to get to the storm as it begins putting down though.
How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology?
Mostly self-study from the many great resources on the internet (from academic sources). I have also found Tim Marshall’s class and books helpful when I began focusing on the forecasting portion of storm chasing in the early 2000’s.
Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?
They have been on a couple chases when the risk was relatively low. My oldest will not chase with me at this point after seeing the videos over the years. My youngest 2 have shown an interest in it that seems to be increasing as the years go by. If a chase doesn’t interfere with school, I will consider taking them along. My chase tactics change significantly though when they are with me.
Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?
As a family, we all understand that we each have our own passions and interests and enable each other to follow those dreams as much as we can. For my wife, her passion is dance. She has owned, run, and taught at her dance studio for 10 years now, doing what she loves. For my oldest daughter, it’s cheerleading. Every year now we travel to many out of state competitions and cheerleading worlds in Orlando so she can build her amazing ability. My youngest two children haven’t fully found their passions yet, but I’m sure they will. They have interests in dance and Tae Kwon Do, which they both do regularly. For myself, it has been computers and technology with storm chasing as a side. Again, I am incredibly lucky to have such a great family.