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Sue Melina

Location: Kansas City, MO
Started Chasing: 2009
Tornadoes: 3

Bio: I met the Meso Storm Chase Team in 2007 and went out with them for the first time in 2009. I’ve been addicted ever since. Best chase days to date 4-14-12 in Salina and 5-31-13 in El Reno. I’m a mild manner middle school special education teacher by day who dreams of green skies and awesome cape by night! Storm obsession was fueled by growing up in Ruskin Heights in Kansas City following the EF5 tornado of 5-20-1957.

Favorite Storm Chasing Photos

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

I grew up with stories about the Ruskin Tornado so the subject always loomed large. My first tornado occurred when I was 10 standing on the playground at school. I watched a beautiful white funnel lower on the horizon on 4-19-66 on Overland Park Kansas. I ‘ve been drawn to weather ever since. When I turned 50, I added storm chasing to my bucket list. Here I am . I can’t wait to retire and have more time to hit the highways each spring.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

It was the combination of turned 50 and getting divorced that made me decide to make time for the things that fascinated me!

How long have you been actively chasing (in years)?


Do you chase for a reason?

Passion for connection with the awesome power of nature!

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

I prefer to chase with others and am always looking to hook up with local chasers.

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?


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

After El Reno, most of us talked about avoiding chase set ups near large metro areas , to think twice about chasing high risk days, to be content with photo opportunities a few miles out. We aren’t there for the science so we don’t need to be under the wall cloud and in the way of those with serious work to do.

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

New School

How far are you willing to travel for a good set up (in miles)?


What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

West and central Kansas are my faves. East of Kansas City, not so much.

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

Favorite would be moderate risk, bulging dry line in central Kansas. I don’t have a least. Because I teach, my time to get out is limited. I’ll take what I can get.

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

El Reno was the most memorable.

Drove all night to Huntsville Alabama with Meso only to get caught up in the floods in Nashville.

Have you ever feared for your life?


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

Yes. I want to avoid core punching and hook slicing.

Do you have any superstitions?

No. But I do have my hamburger from Tim Marshall on my dash.

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?

No. But I do share chase videos and photos with my class and teach weather basics and safety during science.

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?


Are you more likely to hang out with other chasers while waiting for initiation, or sit alone on a country road watching the sky?

Love to hang out with other chasers, then go sit out on a country road!

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

Salina Ks. in 2012, because there were so many great supercells. It was the first time I was able to get into position by myself and Tim Samaras was alive having steaks with everyone at the end of the day.

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

Meso members were my first tutors . I learned a lot from meteorologist Brian McNoldy, forecasters Chris Howell and Matt Kassawara. I watched and learned a little photography from Allan Detrich. I attended a forecasting class at Chasercon . Read every book I could get my hands on. Even though I have a good amount of basic information under my belt, I still don’t understand a Skew-T. I have so much more to learn.

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

I don’t think much about it. I’m not trying to make money.

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

Tim Marshall, Chuck Doswell

What do you fear most about a storm?

Having radar down and getting too close to a rain wrapped tornado .

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

No. I have to use personal days to chase or pray for a weekend set up.

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

They wish I didn’t do it.

How long do you plan on chasing?

Until my eyes fail.

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