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Lorraine Mahoney

Location: Saint Charles Illinois
Started Chasing: 2011
Tornadoes: 21
Web site:
Photo Gallery:

Bio: Hi, I’m Lorraine and I have been chasing since 2011. I used to be deathly terrified of storms to the point I wouldn’t leave home when I knew they were coming. I would literally freak out. I laugh at that now because now I can’t get enough of them. I chase mainly because I love to see what mother nature has to offer me to shoot. I am a photographer. My favorite things to shoot are tornadoes, shelf clouds, CG lightning, and structure. I still have a lot to learn with forecasting but I love to get out there as often as I possibly can! When I am not chasing storms, I shoot air shows, nature, astrophotography, and bird photos. I am working on building a photography business.

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

I realized it when I went on my first chase. I wanted to go again and again.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

Back at the end of 2010 I decided that Spring of 2011 I wanted to see what it was like.

How long have you been actively chasing?

Since 2011

Do you chase for a reason?

I chase to photograph nature at its best

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?

Passion is one of the best things a person can have. If you don’t have passion, what do you have?

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

Depends on where I am chasing. I like to chase solo close to home but if its farther away chasing with others helps pass time and saves money. Makes everything more fun!

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

I was signed up to go with COD in 2006 but my school loans fell through sadly.

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

I feel it is getting to be a mess at times but I think it might slow down a little since Storms Chasers isn’t on TV anymore. Just my opinion.

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

Now – I couldn’t imagine chasing with no radar and gps on me at all times.

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

Distance doesn’t bother me, it all depends on if I have to work the next day and can get back in time.

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

Not sure, I just like to stay out of trees so I have great views of the storms.

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

No answer

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

Most memorable would be June 20th 2011 and May 18th 2013. I seen all my favorite tornadoes on those two days. June 20th was spent with some of my favorite people. May 18th I seen the prettiest tornado of my life the Rozel white cone from close range. We followed it through its whole life cycle. Itll have to be one hell of a tornado to top that one and I can only hope for something so spectacular! Least memorable…. well I hated April 14th 2012, that day was a real hassle and though we seen tornadoes I wasn’t able to shoot them.

Have you ever feared for your life?

Thankfully I have not

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

The thing I am afraid of most is getting stuck and not being able to continue the chase. I by myself will probably not be hook slicing anytime soon but will core punch as long as its not in my Mustang. I don’t chase riskily on my own but don’t mind when others do.

Do you have any superstitions? Not of my own. I do take a cheeseburger with now in memory of Twistex though.

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 would not. 2 weeks a year to chase would be great as long as I can pick days to go out and not have to pick like a full week. Right now I only have 1 week paid off but I can pick and choose days as I please.

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

I am an office manager for a Heating and Air Conditioning place so our work flow depends heavily on weather.

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

yup in 2014 and I really enjoyed it!

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 love hanging out with chasers while waiting.

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

I have 2 that I cant choose between. June 20th 2011 because I finally got to see close, fully condensed, photogenic tornadoes and the day and night was spent with some of my favorite people and was such a blast! I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My other favorite day is May 18th 2013 because of the gorgeous view of the Rozel tornado we had. We followed it through its whole life cycle.

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

May 5th 2012…. Grrrr…. April 14th 2012 sucked for us and also I decided to head back the day before Pilger and boy do I hate myself for that one too… lol

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

No answer

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

I learned by watching others and asking a lot of questions. I also read a lot of things online and Hollingsheads DVD is really helpful.

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

As long as I walk away with an awesome shot be it a shelf cloud or amazing lightning then yes.

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

It depends. I can pull out my long lens and get a “close shot” but if I am far where I get the tornado and structure (shot I haven’t gotten yet) then I would be thrilled!

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

I can’t really hate on it because it was due to that show that I even knew chasing was a thing. It is what made me want to do it. It has brought a lot of people into the hobby, some good and some bad.

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

I feel that as long as they are not in the way of the emergency vehicle then yes. Scientific research is very important.

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

There is good media and bad media, it depends on what is going on. Some media that make all chasers out to be crazy adrenaline junkies are bad media but that’s life and we need to prove those ones wrong.

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

Honestly Tim Samaras was a big one for me. He was great at what he did and he didn’t even go to school for it. His data helped out big time. I also loved his lightning research and his passion for it all. I also look up to Danny Neal and Adam Lucio for teaching me some stuff. Ben Holcomb has helped me learn a ton too among others that have took the time to answer my questions.

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?

Yeah when I have some and they are old enough I will be more than happy to show them what it is like.

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

If I knew nothing about it I would research it first and then make a decision. I would also tell them that isnt a full time job and that they need to do something in life that can fund such a hobby.

What do you fear most about a storm?

It killing me or people I love

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

My favorite would have to be Sculpted Sups, Tornadic, and Squall Lines that give me beastly shelfs to shoot. I am not a fan of HP mess at all!

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

Absolutely most of the time because the reason I chase is to get phenomenal shots. If it is unable to happen due to safety then no I wont stop.

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

I feel that I hope they know whats going on with the storm so they aren’t hurt. I also would hope that they don’t keep chasers from the storm though.

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

Idk as long as they are safe and in no ones way I don’t see an issue with it.

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

I do have a decent paying job with a boss who is flexible with me as much as he can be. Many times he has covered for me to go out and chase last minute and listens to my non stop weather talk even though hes not a fan of it. I am very thankful for that!

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

My friends and family understand how I feel about chasing and no one tries to keep me from chasing.

How long do you plan on chasing?

I plan on chasing as much as I can until I have kids. Once I have kids I will probably only go out locally and chase the plains far less often but I will still go out to shoot storms. I won’t be as aggressive as I am about it right now.

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