Location: Queens, NYC
Started Chasing: Began documenting severe weather in 1986, began chasing on the Plains in 1999
Tornadoes: Not quite sure, I don’t really keep count.
Web site: http://SevereWeatherVideo.com
Bio: Scott McPartland was born and raised in Queens, NY and ironically enough, was terrified of storms up until the age of 13. On August 30th, 1985 a severe storm rolled through Scott’s hometown of Rego Park, Queens and he literally went from being terrified of storms, to fascinated by them! In June of 1987 Scott got his first camcorder and he began to document severe weather out of the New York City area. Whether it’s a severe storm, or a snowstorm, if it’s happening in his area, he’s out filming it. Scott has no formal training in Meteorology, but this hasn’t stopped him from learning as much as he can about the weather and how it works. Through books, the Internet, and riding along and talking with more experienced storm chasers, Scott has learned much over the past two plus decades. “The learning process never ends, and every year I learn something new” he says. Documenting storms out of New York City was great and all, but what Scott really wanted to do was chase out on the plains during tornado season! In May of 1999 he finally got his wish when he took a 3-day trip from New York City to Iowa to chase storms. He has been going back every year since. Starting in 2005, Scott chases with fellow New Yorker Dave Lewison on a regular basis.
Favorite Chase Video
How did you realize your love for weather?
It was that August 1985 storm that did it for me. This violent storm trashed my neighborhood in Queens, NY and I had never witnessed anything like that in my short 13 years on Earth. Up until then I was terrified of storms, but my fear turned into awe on that day.
When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?
By 1986 I was audio taping thunderstorms, and doing “front porch” chases, or chases up to my local park as storms would roll in to NYC. I knew then that down the road I would travel to document storms, but at that time, it was just not possible.
How long have you been actively chasing?
Well, I’ve been documenting storms since 1986, on video since 1987…but actively chasing on the Plains since 1999.
Do you chase for a reason?
I love the weather, I love nature, I love traveling, and I love seeing good friends and having a ton of laughs. Those are all the reasons I chase.
Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?
A good thing, because I don’t let it dominate my life 24/7. I have other interests in life, so it doesn’t become an obsession for me.
Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?
Definitely with a group of close friends. To me it’s more fun that way.
Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?
I have considered it a few times in the past. Have yet to do it though, I like chasing in my own vehicle, and choosing our own targets.
How do you feel about the current state of storm chasing?
I think at times it’s way too drama driven, big egos, etc. And the roads are becoming very crowded, but hey…I’m a part of that too, so I roll with the punches and still get out there and enjoy Nature. For the most part, everyone plays nice, so it doesn’t bother me too much.
What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?
Favorite areas are the western Alley, western Kansas, western OK, TX Panhandle and eastern Colorado. Least favorite, east of I-35 in Oklahoma.
What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?
Most memorable chases were Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, Attica KS May 12th, 2004 and Bennington, KS 2013. Least memorable, any bust day…pick one lol.
Have you ever been to ChaserCon?
Never been to ChaserCon yet, can’t justify the price for one weekend. I’d love to go, but would rather save that money for actual chasing. Hope to make it one year 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?
Definitely hang out with other chasers while waiting for initiation.
What date burns in you (think bust) and why?
May 22nd, 2010 in South Dakota. We busted for the most part on that one missing the big Bowdle wedge due to dilly dallying too long earlier that day. Live and learn.
How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology?
Trial and error for the most part. You pick things up after doing this for so long, plus, I’ve been VERY lucky to learn from some of the best like Jim Leonard!
Do you consider the day a success even if you don’t witness a tornado?
Absolutely! Storm structure, lightning, hail, it’s all good to me!
Do you feel short changed if you see a tornado from a greater distance to you than you prefer?
Not really short changed, I’m still grateful to have seen it, but yes I of course wish I could have been closer.
How do you feel about the post “Storm Chaser” generation?
I have no problem with them. All of us had that pivotal moment that got us into the weather. For some it was the movie Twister, or Storm Chasers on Discovery. I have a problem with a chaser who acts irresponsible and puts others on the road in danger. But that applies to a veteran chaser, or a new chaser.
How you do you feel about the media in regards to the weather and chasing?
They have a job to do as well. As long as they aren’t putting others in danger, I have no problem with them.
Who are the most influential people to you out in the field?
Jim Leonard, David Hoadley, Tim Marshall, Gene Moore, Roger Jensen
What do you fear most about a storm?
What type of storm do you prefer to chase (Ugly HP/sculpted LP/classic/squall line)?
Do you stop your progress toward a storm for a great photography opportunity?
On occasion we do, if we feel we have the time.
How do you feel about law enforcement immediately around a tornadic supercell?
They have a job to do as well.
How long do you plan on chasing?
As long as I possibly can..