Michael Towers

Location: Machesney Park, IL
Started Chasing: 2001
Tornadoes: 22

Bio: Born in 1965, I’m a single, self-employed professional and have had an interest in the weather since early childhood. I’m a big movie buff, have a love for Classic Rock/Hard Rock/Heavy Metal and enjoy fishing, hiking, wilderness excursions and an occasional game of golf with my friends. My most passionate interest is storm chasing, it gives me the most fulfillment of any hobby and my passion and interest in it only continues to grow.

Favorite Chase Video

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

During the spring/summer when I was about 4 there were quite a few episodes of severe weather where I lived. On one occasion the tornado siren had the entire family scrambling once more for the basement but I made a detour out the front door so I could see what was happening…and that interest and curiosity has never gone away!

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

The mid to late 90’s when there were many shows on cable featuring storm chaser videos. The appeal was very strong and I knew it was something I just had to experience.

How long have you been actively chasing (in years)?

14

Do you chase for a reason?

Yeah, because I love it!

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

Alone, I always chase solo. One of the aspects I love about chasing is just getting away by myself and enjoying the “me time”. I love the freedom of hitting the road and going wherever the day takes me with the ultimate goal of enjoying peaceful solitude under the storm.

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

Yes, I considered Silver Lining Tours for my first chase but decided to try it alone.

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

Way too crowded and I don’t think it’s a fad that will fade with time.

How far are you willing to travel for a good set up (in miles)?

1,200

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

Favorite: Western Kansas & Oklahoma, eastern Colorado.

Least favorite: Wisconsin, Arkansas, SE Oklahoma

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

Favorite: Anything that favors discrete cells with manageable storm speeds

Least favorite: Cold front

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

Most memorable is probably my first tornado on 5/29/04 but there are so many more…

Least memorable was probably the nearly 1,000 mile bust in western Kansas in 2011 but there are many more of those as well…

Have you ever feared for your life?

Yes, from flash flooding the day of the Joplin EF5. I was trapped in an already flooded area without a clear road out when a cop blazed by running hot. I figured he knew where to go so I followed him and came damn close to getting washed away passing through a stretch of moving water. For a few seconds there I thought I wasn’t going to make it, quite a perilous ordeal and I’ll never again assume following a cop ensures safe passage.

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

I’ve done all of the above but only when confident I can do so in relative safety. I have a healthy respect for storms and try to avoid putting myself into dangerous situations.

Do you have any superstitions?

No and I don’t believe saying 2015 will be my best season ever will jinx me…knock on wood!

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

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

No

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

No

Are you more likely to hang out with other chasers while waiting for initiation, or sit alone on a country road watching the sky?

Sit alone but often I’m in the company of other chases playing the waiting game as well.

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

May 23, 2008 because it was my first significant tornado and I was in excellent position to record it as it moved toward me and ultimately passed within ¼ of a mile of my spot.

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

Books and online resources

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

Regarding the weather more positive than negative because in general I think they effectively convey important information about watches, warnings etc. Regarding chasing I don’t care, as long as they don’t interfere with my activities the media is irrelevant to me.

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

Probably Doswell, he’s contributed a lot to chasing and I respect (but don’t always agree with) his opinions.

What do you fear most about a storm?

Lightning

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

Yeah, still a ways to go before retirement!

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

Yeah, my family is supportive but also concerned about my well-being. They’d probably prefer I not chase but don’t discourage me from doing so.

How long do you plan on chasing?

For as long as I’m able…

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