Mike Cox

Location: Knoxville, IA
Started Chasing: 1998
Tornadoes: No idea, haven’t kept track
Web site: http://www.iowachaser.com

Bio: Born and raised in Central Iowa, I’ve been a Career Paramedic for over 15 years. I’ve always had an interest in weather and the finer things mother nature has to offer. I’ve also had a passion for photography since I was young. During my first 10 years of chasing, I shot 35mm film with my trusty Pentax K-1000. Chasing is my main hobby and I like to focus on all aspects of weather.

Favorite Storm Chasing Photos

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

Was invited to a Skywarn class as a young teenager, I always was one that would be found out watching the sky during a storm as a child.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

Gave it a try one evening during a severe event in Central Iowa. Hooked ever since

How long have you been actively chasing?

This year will be my 17th year

Do you chase for a reason?

I chase for #1) public safety #2) to capture what mother nature has to offer

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?

I think passion is a good thing. As long as you don’t let it consume you

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

I’ve always been a bit of a “do your own thinger”. Socializing while waiting is great, chasing – I’ll make my own decisions, thank you

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

No

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

I think it’s too commercialized, too many amateurs / instant reporters out there. I’m a hobbyist, BUT I’ve taught myself many aspects of meteorology to enable myself to stay safe and I do my own chase forecasting.

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

Instant radar and such is nice, but I feel at times we depend too much focus on technology. I think people need step back and “play in the dirt” once in a while.

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

Depends on work schedule / but I try to stay within 5-6 hours of the homestead. Can’t stand the ever popular “chaser convergence” now a days either.

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

Favorite areas – Iowa, especially Northern Iowa / Kansas Least Favorite – Nebraska, Missouri

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

Favs: dry lines / triple points; Least favs: cold cores (so unpredictable)

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

Most: May 22, 2004 – when I finally captured my first tornado after following my gut; Least: Targeting the northern cell, missing the Parkersburg EF-5

Have you ever feared for your life?

May 22, 2004 – rotating wall cloud <0.5 mile from me. Did I mention it was behind me? Are you afraid to make dangerous maneuvers while chasing? (I.E – core punching/hook slicing/living in the bears cage)

Afraid no, Do I? Not if I can help it. I always have an escape route

Do you have any superstitions?

No

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 wish, but no

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

Not really. However call volume does go up with bad weather.

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

Not as of yet. Hope to go in the future though

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 the situation. While waiting – I’ll socialize / When it starts – by myself

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

Northern Iowa (forget the year). Tornadic supercell traveled west to east along a state highway. Nice motion, great road coverage, no damage to people’s homes / property.

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

Any number of busts in Nebraska

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

I usually always go back and research a particular day if needed. Helps me learn for next time.

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

Lots of reading / studying / self education

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

Yes! I love the show mother nature puts on

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

No, less traffic!

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

It’s all about the adrenaline and $$ instead of the science / safety.

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

Being a Paramedic, I think and firmly believe lives come first. After that’s taken care of, I think science should be next to help advance the sciences of weather forecasting.

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

Alarmists, ratings, and $$… Need I say more. Too much hype

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

Other older experienced chasers

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?

N/A – No kids

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

Uh, yeah..NO

What do you fear most about a storm?

Getting caught in a bad spot (large hail, rfd, etc)

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

Sculpted LP – Any storm that’s photogenic

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

Yes! Though it may be a quickie!

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

Sometimes freaked out // other times calm and collected. Seems to depend on their experience level and years in the field.

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

Chasers who are providing real time information to the NWS – yes; Chasers in it for the $$ or glory – No

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

No

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

Yes

How long do you plan on chasing?

Until I can’t see to drive anymore!

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