Jeremy Degenhart

Location: Meridian, MS
Started Chasing: 2009
Tornadoes: 50
Web site: epicchasers.blogspot.com

Bio: Originally from Illinois, I got transferred to the middle of Dixie Alley after joining the Navy after the 2011 storm season. First tornado was around Washington, IL in 2010. I live in Meridian with my wife and 2 sons, and work as an air traffic controller.

Favorite Storm Chasing Photos

Favorite Chase Video

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather

It was something I grew up with…can’t really put a time or idea behind it. I just remember getting tornado videos on VHS from the library in the 90’s and knowing I’d see them myself later.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase

Probably by the time I turned 5 or 6.

How long have you been actively chasing

Since 2009.

Do you chase for a reason

Just for fun.

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing

Passion is a great thing. If you don’t have passion, you end up lifeless.

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group

I hate chasing solo, especially in Dixie. Much rather be with a friend or 3.

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour

No.

How do you feel about the current state of storm chasing

Messy. Lots of great guys, lots of wannabes. Just try and ignore the sideshow and stick with what I know.

Which era of chasing would you prefer to exist

Old-school or new-school

Hard to say. Old-school you get away from the crowds and wackers, new-school you get 4G and mesonets. Split the difference and go for the mid-2000’s

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

For a good setup in good terrain I’ll drive or fly however far. I’ve driven RT from Pensacola to Greensburg for April 14, 2012, and flown from Atlanta to KC and back to chase.

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite

Love western Kansas and central Illinois. Least favorite is hands down Dixie Alley. More stress trying to find a decent view than it’s worth most days.

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

Big high-risk drylines. Normally enough storms to spread the chasers out and get everyone something good. Least favorite would be grungy warm front/Dixie Alley storms.

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable

Most memorable would be May 24-25 2011 with Mike Brady. Got within a mile of large, photogenic tornadoes back to back high-risk days. Least memorable? 6-5-10 bust, 5-11-11 bust and getting stuck in Stockton, KS for a week with a bad timing belt, 6-14-14 flying out to KC to chase the Saturday before Pilger and having to fly back the next day…take your pick!

Have you ever feared for your life

Yeah, 5-19-13 got stuck on bad roads and behind a train core-punching the Shawnee storm. Came pretty close to getting munched.

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

On good roads, no. Bad roads, definitely. I’m more worried about getting on bad roads or in a wreck due to chaser convergence than I am about getting hit by a tornado.

Do you have any superstitions

Not really. I think the last time I had a Cherry Limeade at Sonic before initiation was Rozel, so I’ll probably give that a shot next time.

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 think it pays off for most people to work to a position where they’re paid well and get more vacation time as opposed to struggling along on low wages for common jobs and never getting anywhere. I don’t want to be 50 and selling cars or something like that.

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather

No.

Have you ever been to ChaserCon

No, always comes down to either going to Chasercon or chasing another week or so in May/June. Always pick chasing.

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 on how early we’re out there. If it’s close to initiation I’d rather sit and watch with whoever’s with me. If we’ve got time I try and find friends that are close by.

What is your favorite storm chase and why

May 24-25. Played both days as well as we could’ve…we were on Canton from birth, got a relatively rare significant tornado in the Mark Twain National Forest on the 25th, all in all the best multi-day trip of my career.

What date burns in you (think bust) and why

Toss-up between 6-5-10 and 4-19-11. Both were photogenic tornadoes days on my home turf that I messed up.

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

No, sometimes it’s gut decisions that make or break you.

How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology

Combination of self-study and chasing with more experienced guys.

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

If there weren’t any tornadoes to see, yes. If I missed one, no.

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

Yeah, being a few miles from a tornado is frustrating.

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

If you’re a good guy and do things right we’ll get along fine.

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

No.

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

They don’t bother me.

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing

Definitely! My wife was 20 weeks pregnant and watching Bennington with me from the hood of my car…if that doesn’t instill the love of storms in them I don’t know what will.

What do you fear most about a storm

Lightning.

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

Classic.

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

No, I’m a video guy. Wish I knew photography.

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

They have every right to be there. It’s annoying when they block off roads for no good reason, though.

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

Not sure. I do, though. Gets annoying when you’re stuck behind a cop who’s scared of a shelf cloud, or a car with a couple kids that can’t drive straight because they aren’t looking at the road.

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing

To some extent. I normally can’t take leave on short notice, but I’ve been able to get out a month every year for the last few years.

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing

Yeah, my wife is awesome about it. She loves being out there, but normally stays behind to watch our kids.

How long do you plan on chasing

As long as I can.

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