Rob Cannon

Location: Naperville, Illinois
Started Chasing: 2010
Tornadoes: 18

Bio: My love for weather began when I was just 5 years old. I remember August 28th 1990 vividly as it was the day that a deadly F5 ripped through Plainfield, Illinois. That same supercell prompted the sirens to be set off in my hometown of Geneva, Illinois. Since that day I developed a love and curiosity for weather, especially severe weather. It wasn’t until 2010 that I took this love and curiosity for weather and tried my hand at storm chasing. My rookie year was good to me, as I bagged more than 10 tornadoes in just one month. From the moment I saw my first faint tornado on June 5th 2010 near Peoria, Illinois I knew this was something I wanted to do for a long time to come.

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

It was after having experienced the tornado sirens going off in my home town of Geneva when I was 5 years old. I remember being in my backyard and watching the sky and feeling mesmerized. This was August 28th 1990.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

I had always dabbled in local “spotting”. It wasn’t until 2010 that I decided to learn what chasing was all about. I lucked out on my rookie season… I was able to chase June 5th in Illinois and June 17th in Southern Minnesota.

How long have you been actively chasing?

2010

Do you chase for a reason?

I won’t make an extravagant or embellished story for why I chase. I chase for the adrenaline rush of the adventure. Few things compare to the feeling of the forecast lead up, the drive and then the chase.

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?

It really depends on if the passion affects others in a negative or a positive way.

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

It really all depends. I have always preferred to chase on my own, but I really hope to grab a chasecation with a well respected and accomplished chaser in the future.

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

Yes I have. I would love learn from Roger Hill, Michael Phelps and Victor Gensini.

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

It has certainly changed since even in the short time since 2010. The “Chaser Convergence” has been a hot topic, but I feel that in general the current state is being fairly well regulated by the “veterans”.

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

Having only experienced “new-school” I have nothing else to off of. I really enjoy the old”school stories and learn from them. After all, when data goes down that is the style of chasing we all revert back to.

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

I want to chase in Wyoming/Northeastern Colorado/Western Nebraska. I have never been to those parts, but have always enjoyed seeing the footage.

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

I would have to say of the handful of states I’ve chase in… I am biased to the Illinois road network and because I live there. My least favorite so far… the Nebraska Sandhills and Cherry County… NOPE!!!

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

I’ve started to like the high instability/low shear environments. It keeps me from focusing too much on thermodynamics that often suck a lot of chasers in. It gives me an opportunity to learn and apply knowledge of wind profiles.

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

6/17/10

Have you ever feared for your life?

Yes. I have really developed mature respect for the fact that the science of forecasting and even nowcasting isn’t exact.

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

This a touchy subject. I have done all of the above, but the further I progress as a chaser I have found beauty in staying a big farther away.

Do you have any superstitions?

Other than Iowa… 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 would take a salaried job.

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

Due to my “above normal” knowledge of severe weather I have contributed to the environmental disaster planning committee where I work.

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

Unfortunately no. My vacation time is used in the spring.

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 usually, but I’d love to get to know more chasers in the future. So I am definitely open to a pre-initiation hang out to learn and network.

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

6/3/14 in Nebraska. Even though it didn’t produce much I met some great people on this trip and made the trip with an awesome chase partner.

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

April 10th 2011. Not only did I get a speeding ticket that day, but my in-car inverter stopped working and I spent the day in Southwest Wisconsin and Northeast Iowa and busted.

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

Nope.

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

I learned from a combination of talking to other people, internet articles and a guy named Zeke Calabrese. Seriously, the guy rocks! His teachings got me to where I am today.

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

It’s adventure… so yes.

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

Nope.

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

A bit of advice for those wanting to get involved or are newly involved in this incredible hobby. Remember this is a tight knit community of people. We all know each other in some form or another, so DO NOT embellish your stories and DO NOT steal media. I can guarantee it WILL come back to bite you. If you do this You WILL NOT develop a good relationship or reputation with the chaser community. We have all that have spent our time and hard earned money to “bag” a tornado. Be respectful and learn all that you can from those who are veterans. Be seen, not heard!

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

I feel there should be improved communication before, during and after and event.

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

The media has their own agenda.

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

Definitely Adam Lucio! He’s a local guy and his passion is something everybody in the chaser community have. He’s also a super nice guy to EVERYBODY!

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?

When they’re older sure!

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 want to be sure they went on a reputable chase tour.

What do you fear most about a storm?

The unpredictability with how fast the environment changes.

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

I live in Illinois and I have seen my fair share of of shelf clouds. I prefer the classic supercell.

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

I am not a photographer, so no.

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

It’s reckless if they don’t know what they’re doing.

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

Considering the passion chasers have to learn about meteorology, yes! Think about how a law enforcement officer would feel if a barely trained storm chaser were to do their job. I rest my case.

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

At the current moment I have flexibility for about 2 weeks per year.

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

My family knows I am safe and chase with people who are safe.

How long do you plan on chasing?

As long as it doesn’t cut into my personal and professional life… I will chase until the day I die.

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