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Paul Hadfield

Location: Decatur, Illinois
Started Chasing: 2004
Tornadoes: 6
Web site:

Bio: I’m a chaser that has remained on the east side of the Mississippi for the entirety of my interest in severe and adverse weather. In spite of my short chain, I have had the fortunate pleasure of seeing and documenting a wide variety of Midwest meteorological phenomena. I have also had the privilege of working directly with the National Weather Service via the SWOP (Significant Weather Observers Program). While many chasers find their niche over the open road, I was not blessed with that freedom and thus seek opportunity in everyday situations. Central Illinois might not seem as interesting as the Great Plains when it comes to weather extremes but for a passionate enthusiast, it is a continuous source of year round atmospheric entertainment.

Favorite Storm Chasing Photos

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

I grew up in Pennsylvania and was more attune with winter events for which this general weather interest morphed over towards thunderstorms and the like when we came to Illinois in 1997. It was at this time I saw the sky in an awe inspired way that I had not previously for living in the congested Northeast megalopolis. It would still be a number of years till I would become actively involved with weather though as an artist I spent considerable time drawing storms and other phenomena once here.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

I don’t think it was a choice as much as curiosity and progressing from there.

How long have you been actively chasing?

I consider May 23, 2004 as my first “chase” even though it wasn’t far but was the first time I targeted a location and went for it.

Do you chase for a reason?

Yes, chasing is for me a coping mechanism for trying to understand the complex life issues we’ve been dealt since I started.

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?

To have a passion is not only good but great however, allowing passion to transgress into obsession can lead to great disappointment. In the end it’s just weather.

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?


Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?


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

I can’t really comment on a number of chase issues for simply not having been out there like many people but I am optimistic that everything will work out having watched this activity look after itself over time.

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

From 2004 through 2008 I relied on an Oregon Scientific Weather Radio so definitely new school.

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

For me it has been contingent upon my lifestyle so not very far at all.

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

In Illinois, anything north of I-64 to I-80 is fair game.

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

That’s a tough one because every event has it’s advantages however, big meandering upper lows are fun to follow as they are known for producing diurnally driven surprises for those who pay attention.

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

Girard Illinois

Have you ever feared for your life?

Just this past August I was way too close to a positive CG so yeah.

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

If I had to pick a style it would be conservative, at a distance, structure appreciation.

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?


Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

Not really though as part of my new hire training regimen I discuss severe weather safety and what to do in the event of an emergency.

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

Unfortunately 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?

Generally alone.

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

May 1, 2012 EF1 tornado at Champaign Illinois; beautiful pair of low topped LP supercells. Andrew Pritchard forecast this event the night before and gave me a courteous heads up to which I feel this is his storm.

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

I can’t recall.

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

Hindsight with everything is 20/20 so yes.

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

That’s a big one, mostly just reading AFD’s, listening to veterans, studying satellite/radar and applying the information. When Dan Robinson, Danny Neal, Andrew Pritchard, Skip Talbot, Adam Lucio, Scott Weberpal, David Draun, Beau Dodson or Gilbert Sebenste speak, you listen.

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


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

Not at all considering my overall tornado ‘success’ is dismal.

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

Faidley or Timmer? 😉

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

I have not experienced convergence issues like this to have an opinion.

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


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

Wholly focused to the mission, Dan Robinson deserves maximum respect in this regard.

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?


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

“That’s nice dear…”

What do you fear most about a storm?

The ones that have come entirely too *** close to my little girl and her mother when I’ve been away from them.

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

Everything here is HP so pretty much anything discrete.

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

Yes but it has to be very good.

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

A sign of the times though not as prevalent east of the Mississippi.

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

I stay away from people if I can help it so no real opinion in this regard.

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?


Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?


How long do you plan on chasing?

For as long as I am able to get outside and appreciate the sky because that’s about all that makes sense in this world.

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