Location: Bartlesville, Oklahoma
Started Chasing: 1994
Web site: http://johnlightninglajoie.blogspot.com
Bio: John ‘Lightning’ LaJoie is a Storm Chaser based out of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Born and raised in Battle Creek, Michigan, John has a extreme passion for all kinds of severe weather
Favorite Storm Chasing Photos
Favorite Chase Video
How did you realize your love for weather?
Father was meteorologist for Air Force, we would do do storm surveys and I was taken by the raw nature of weather in all forms.
When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?
When a tornado struck close to home in Augusta, Michigan in 1980.
How long have you been actively chasing?
Every year since 1994
Do you chase for a reason?
Locally, for Emergency Management, extended Local, Stringer for KDR Media and KTUL out of Tulsa
Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?
I see it as good thing. You never know what the storm is going to deliver.
Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?
Chase Alone, I like to connect with mother nature.
Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?
A few times to see how others view the storm, but i like to forecast my own and see how the effort pays off, or lack of.
How do you feel about the current state of storm chasing?
Its nice to see new chasers bringing new ideas to the table. Yahoos and those putting themselves at risk for the sake of the close up shot does nothing for me.
Which era of chasing would you prefer to exist? Old-school or new-school?
A little of both. The technology has greatly improved over the years, I’m glad to see the years of stopping by libraries and hotels for internet access gone, along with toting around a satellite dish.
How far are you willing to travel for a good set up?
6–9 hours average, or from Texas to Nebraska.
What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?
Favorite, central oklahoma and kansas. Least, anywhere near a metropolitan city.
What is you favorite type of set up to chase? Least favorite?
Favorite is a major storm event seen several days out. Least…Cold Cores
What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?
Has to be Alva, Okahoma on 4/14/12. One, because its the day I saw two tornadoes and secondly, it occurred 365 days after I saw one on 4/14/11. Least is going after the Guthrie tornado on 5/24/11. I worked late that day and arrived to a HP rain wrapped tornado. It was a mess.
Have you ever feared for your life?
Only once, 5/19/13, Clearwater, Kansas. Rain wrapped, radar date was outdated by ten minutes and the tornado passed by me less than a mile and I never saw it.
Are you afraid to make dangerous maneuvers while chasing? (I.E – core punching/hook slicing/living in the bears cage)?
I don’t chase to get that close, I live to see another day by watching at a comfortable distance.
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?
Unlimited chasing…its what i do.
Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?
Stringer for KDR Media and KTUL News 8 out of Tulsa.
Have you ever been to ChaserCon?
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 of the type of setup. I like to mingle with others, but when the storm comes together, I’m zeroed into the storm alone.
What is your favorite storm chase and why?
Burbank, Oklahoma 4/14/11..recorded the first tornado of the super outbreak lasting three days.
What date burns in you (think bust) and why?
May 30, 2000 North Platte, Nebraska. Saw a tornado briefly in an open field before it became rain wrapped.
Do you always know why you made the wrong or right decisions to chase a particular day?
Yes, its part of the learning process.
How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology?
Father had tons of books for me to read in my youth.
Do you consider the day a success even if you don’t witness a tornado?
Definitely, anyday I can chase is a success. Mother nature never seems to disappoint.
Do you feel short changed if you see a tornado from a greater distance to you than you prefer?
Nope, its still considered a notch in my belt.
How do you feel about the post “Storm Chaser” generation?
They get too close to the storm putting their lives at risk.
How you do you feel about the media in regards to the weather and chasing?
I think they do a good job and are least rewarded.
Who are the most influential people to you out in the field?
Tim Marshall, Kevin Rolfe, Brandon Sullivan, Chuck Doswell.
Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?
They already are..
If you didn’t know anything about storm chasing, how would you react if your child said they wanted to be a chaser?
I’d make sure they knew as much as possible about chasing and then, chase with a team or tour before heading out alone.
What do you fear most about a storm?
What type of storm do you prefer to chase (Ugly HP/sculpted LP/classic/squall line)?
Sculptured and Classic
Do you stop your progress toward a storm for a great photography opportunity?
How do you feel about law enforcement immediately around a tornadic supercell?
I see them doing their job to protect. I would offer my services in first aid if requested.
Should storm chasers feel more entitled to be around storms than law enforcement or locals?
Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?
Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?
My wife is a chaser and my kids beg to take them out with me on good setup days.
How long do you plan on chasing?
Until my last breath.