Rodney Nonamaker

Location: Hays, Kansas
Started Chasing: 2013
Tornadoes: 1
Photo Gallery: http://rodney-nonamaker.artistwebsites.com/

Bio: I am a 31 year old Army Infantry Vet out of Kansas. (Incoming cliche statement) I have always been into weather even as a young child, I’d always be out observing anything that came my way. In January of 2013 I decided to start learning forecasting and go out further than 30 miles from home with known targets in mind to take me to storms rather than watch as they come to me. And from there stemmed a DEEP passion for all things severe wx.

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

One day I was sitting at home alone and playing around on the computer. The doors of the house were open; in a single moment, the doors were slammed shut and the air in the house was being sucked out of the seals around the door seams. I ripped open the door ran outside, and stared in amazement at the rotating clouds above the house.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

January 2013

How long have you been actively chasing?

2 full seasons

Do you chase for a reason?

To be there, in person, to witness the phenomenon of Sever Wx

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?

It is a necessity! Without passion, there is no drive, without passion and drive there is no meaning. Without meaning, there will soon be a failed/given-up hobby!

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

I go back and forth. Alone I don’t have to worry about what the other people are doing or worry about them. Chasing with people, the storms are much more enjoyable due to the high-five moment you don’t get when running solo…no one there to enjoy it with.

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

No

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

As I haven’t been around to see things prior to now…I have no stance on it, other than, it is what it is.

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

Now that I’ve learnt how to forecast, and forced myself to complete 2014 season solely on my own forecasts and not use the SPC outlook, I would much rather prefer old school. A MUCH MUCH MUCH greater sense of accomplishment. Knowing that no matter a chase busts or success…it was all my own doing.

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

Furthest I’ve chased, 2 states away. But, given the right parameters, and the proper days off and funds necessary…no limit.

What are your favorite areas to chase?

Favorite area is going to have to be SW Kansas, South of I-70 and West of I-35.

Least favorite?

Southern Missouri, those damned trees and hills!

What is you favorite type of set up to chase?

Dryline. Everyone and their dog targets the triple-point. I pick the less favorable for the chase at a more beautiful LP that only a few of us are documenting.

Least favorite?

HP MESSES!!!

What is your most memorable chase?

Will probably forever be May 10, 2014. Got in perfect position to have a back-lit tornado that glowed orange from the light.

Least memorable?

Any and EVERY bust!

Have you ever feared for your life?

Once. I needed to utilize safe routes to escape a storm that took a hard right turn right for my position. I bolted East, but that quickly became unusable as the storm was faster than I could go. South was also no longer a viable option, my only route left was to head north into the core. While in there I was slammed by baseball/tennis ball size hail that was flying horizontally into my vehicle at 70-80 mph. The stones were coming in the back window and shattering the front windshield from the inside.

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

Ummmmm my last question answered answers this one….NO haha.

Do you have any superstitions?

Not yet

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?

WOW, tough question!!! I live paycheck to paycheck now, and still have to plan a month or better ahead of time for chase days….so I’d go with, salaried job where I can afford to have 2 solid chase weeks!

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

Being a video stringer.

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?

Hang with chasers. Always better to interact and enjoy the passion with others, but once that storm fires; it’s game time!

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

Already answered this question asked a different way above.

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

April 1, 2014. Solely because it was the first “chase day” for me last year. Drove all the way down to Wichita Falls area just to watch towers go up and die.

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

No, but the more and more I delve into the inner workings of forecasting, I am gaining better insight as to why particular days were busts or successes.

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

Hours and hours of scouring the internet, but mostly it came from [URL”>http://www.theweatherprediction.com/

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

Hell yes…well now I do now that I took up photography. A solid structure day is always a WIN!

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

Short-changed…no. A bit of a failure on my part to not getting in the right position, yes.

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

It’s the only thing I know…but, I feel there will forever be those that think it’s cool and take up the hobby for 1 or 2 seasons then fade away…it is what it is, make the best of it.

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

“Scientific community” Yes, they are the ones out there for a real reason…storm chasers as a whole…no, we are there as hobbyist.

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

Wonderful assets. They buy our footage helping to fund us, and they make their money on broadcasting the footage. Win Win.

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

Jeff Piotrowski, Tim Marshall

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?

DEFINITELY!

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

You are gonna waste how much money chasing….storms?!?!

What do you fear most about a storm?

Getting stuck on a muddy road with an HP monster bearing down on me.

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

Hands down, sculpted LP

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

All the time

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

Another loaded question, but I’d have to say I’m for them…keeps the idiots on the road calmed down.

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

In most aspects I have experienced personally, yes. The training, if any, law enforcement undergoes is very underdeveloped. I have been waved down numerous times to field questions such as what the storm is doing, storm features, etc etc. If they are going to send them out to spot, they need to provide adequate situational awareness under a storm. It is dangerous for their safety to go out blindly. Same with locals, they should offer spotter training in highschool to better educate civilians on how to observe severe weather first hand safely and also to make the general populace more weather aware. I may have gone off subject a touch.

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

Supports it in the sense that I get by with my hobby, yes. Supports it in the sense of recognizing it as a passion…its laughed about.

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

Now, yes. At first, they didn’t understand it, and it scared them.

How long do you plan on chasing?

Till I’m dead in the ground.

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