Joe Quinn

Location: Castle Rock, CO
Started Chasing: 2009
Tornadoes: 29
Web site: http://extremeweathermedia.net

Bio: I’ve been an enthusiast of severe weather my whole life and began chasing storms in 2009. Being able to witness nature’s power and being humbled by it, the thrill of the hunt is intoxicating. When I was a kid I use to be terrified of weather, it has been that fear that has given me a certain respect of it, and it has been that fear that has driven me to an obsession. I began making an online presence and began forming professional relationships with many fellow storm chasers. Over the last several years I have had many great opportunities chasing weather and working with a lot of great peopleforming lifelong friendships that have been instrumental for me as a storm chaser, and as a person.

Favorite Storm Chasing Photos

Favorite Chase Video

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

As a young child, severe weather, it would terrify me. A clap of thunder would have me hiding, at the mere utterance of the words “tornado warning” I would become overwhelmed with fear. In my high school years that fear turned into curiosity, a driven passion to seek out. My Father had been the Fire Chief of the town in which my family lived. He would take my brother and I out in the car, to sit on the hilltop overlooking the town, to watch for dangerous weather when it could come knocking. One day, a tornado had touched down just outside of townI had seen it. Since then I’ve been hooked.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

I had been spotting locally since 2003, however, I actively began chasing in 2009 during college when I met a few storm chasers online. Money was tight and I didn’t have a reliable car, but I ventured out into the neighboring states on multiple occasions whenever finances and scheduling would permit.

How long have you been actively chasing? 6 years

Do you chase for a reason?

I have many reasons, it purely boils down to the rush of adrenaline, excitement, and awe I get when planning a chase, executing it, and bagging a good storm. It’s fun, and I get the same feeling I did when I first saw a tornado.

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?

Good, I think life without passions would be a very boring existence. Though, some people can take these passions a little far.

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

I prefer to chase in a group, it’s more fun, cheaper, and safer.

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

No

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

It’s unfortunate. Storm Chasing has always been an activity that brings with it the scrutiny of many, both outside and inside the chasing community. This is especially true recently, when we lost fellow chasers in OK. Many believe it’s too dangerous, too risky, and that many of “us chasers” get in the way of public service. It’s truemany “chasers” out there take it way too far, it’s become particularly worse after television has perpetuated a sense of reckless behavior. Nowadays claiming to be a “chaser” seems to immediately brand you as an attention seeking danger junky with no respect for human lives.

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

New School… technology to better understand weather gets my blood pumping.

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

Until this last year, I did not have a car that could take me very far, nor did I have a job that would allow a flexible schedule with adequate pay in order to travel very far. I usually would remain in Colorado, only venturing into the neighboring states on occasion. Now, though, I can and am willing to go anywhere… really.

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

Northern states/CO, NE, the Dakotas… not so much farther south, like OK, TX, or AK

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

Oddly, I prefer local not-so-fantastic setups… gentleman’s chases are fun and relaxing, enjoying nature. I do love big setups with guaranteed tornados, but it can get difficult as more people are on the roads creating traffic.

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

I have a lot of great memories out chasing, times I’ve gotten stuck in the mud on a dirt road somewhere in Kansas, or the time my car was struck by lightning. But I would have to say the most memorable was May 18, 2013 when I took my brother and good friend both on their first storm chase… intercepting the Rozel tornadoes.

Have you ever feared for your life?

No. I’ve never put myself in a situation where this would be possible.

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

It would depend on the situation, and the geographical location of said circumstance. Usually, I would say yes. I do a fair bit of core punching, but anything further would be too risky in my mind.

Do you have any superstitions?

No, not really.

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’ve dabbled with both. Thankfully, I have a salaried job that allows me to chase as much as I like. However, if I had to choose, I would choose the latter.

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

If you’re asking if my job encompasses anything to do with weather? No.

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

Yes, each year since 2009.

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 usually end up just sitting alone on a country road, but I do stop and hang out if I see someone I know.

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

To this point, my favorite storm chase was May 18, 2013 in Rozel Kansas. I had taken my brother and my friend on their first storm chase. We saw two tornadoes that day, from then on they were hooked.

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

I can’t remember the date, per say, but it was the middle of MayOur chase was to take place in the NE, KS, CO tri-state area. There was a pretty strong cap this day, and because we had been in a drought of weather our hope for storms overruled. We staged in Sterling, CO. Suffice to say, the cap didn’t break and we got a REALLY bad sun burn. To this day, I hate Sterling, CO.

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

Not always. When I don’t know why, I go back and look over my forecast and try to figure out why it may not have panned out.

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

Reading… books… and lots of them. I’ve had great friendships with other storm chasers with whom I’ve learned a great deal.

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

Yes! If my forecast verified, and navigation was dead on, I consider any opportunity to witness severe weather a success. I’m a Storm Chaser, not just a Tornado Chaser.

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

Not really. Sometimes I will be a little disappointed, but it’s not that big of a deal to me. There are times when I intentionally keep a greater distance.

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

Not sure it really is post “Storm Chaser”, just because the name carries a certain level of disdained feelings. If you’re referring to the TV Show… my feelings are not very positive. It opened the floodgates for the inexperienced to think it’s okay to jump in the car and engage in dangerous activity without education or precaution. It made storm chasers look foolish and unrespectable.

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

No. I do understand what it is they are trying to accomplish to advance the sciencewhich in turn benefits all of us. So I try to accommodate when I can. However, they are research groupsnot public safety officers. They must also abide by the law in which we are all governed.

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

It used to be a valuable outlet, a tool in which the public could rely on and trust when weather threatened their daily lives. Now, it’s become a forum where they can push a particular agenda, to the end of raising their own ratings and saving money. Many times in the recent past have we seen television anchors giving the public suggestions that are not only incorrect, but dangerous even life threatening. Now I’m not one to discredit these groups, but I always take with a grain of salt.

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

The most influential person in the field to me, was, Tim Samaras. He embodied all that I wished to accomplish. He lived as my neighbor for some time. Now, I follow the works of H. Bluestein.

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?

Of course! I try all the time to get my family out there and experience nature with me.

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

I would of course be concerned to their safety, but I would help them succeed by giving them all the resources and knowledge available to make their commitment a safe one.

What do you fear most about a storm?

Lightning… it’s caused many close calls over the years.

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

I’ll chase all, but prefer LP/classic storms as I can keep a safe perspective on the storm and get good photos!

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

Absolutely!

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

Good, actually. It makes me feel secure knowing that the appropriate group equipped for whatever might happen is ready to help people when a tornado strikes. It’s also good to know that they’re keeping an eye on other drivers on the road. Most, I assume from my experience, are trained spotters as well, and it’s great to meet and interact with law enforcement, giving them my thoughts to the situation when they ask what “I’m seeing”.

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

Absolutely not. Law enforcement should maintain precedent in any situation where lives are at risk. They come first.

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

Yes, I am very thankful that my office supports what I do.

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

Yes, they all love to see pictures and video of weather.

How long do you plan on chasing?

The rest of my able life.

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