Name: Trevor Birchett
Location: Southaven, MS
Chasing Since:: 2012
Web Site:: www.stormchasetn.com
Bio: Born and raised in Southaven, MS, just a few miles down I-55 from the awesome city of Memphis, I haven’t always been the biggest fan of weather. I grew up terrified of storms, but that changed on February 5, 2008 (Super Tuesday Outbreak), when an EF-2 tornado missed my house by a half of a mile. Since then, I have loved weather and have wanted to pursue a career in Broadcast Meteorology since age 10. Around 2010, I met Charlie Davidson and began sharing my (at the time) AWESOME backyard cloud photos on his site, StormChaseTN.com. My first storm chase was in October 2012 (nocturnal – oh my) in the Mississippi Delta and I’ve fallen in love with chasing since then.
How did you realize your love for weather?
As a kid, I was absolutely terrified of storms. Any time there was a threat of severe weather I would get nervous and have anxiety attacks. The days leading up to February 5, 2008 were no different. I was so scared that Tuesday that I stayed home from school. I remember going outside and thinking it felt more like a June morning than an early February morning – temperatures were in the 70s and the winds were roaring. That evening, warnings began to be issued. My dad, who had a general knowledge of weather, loved to watch out the window and help me understand what was going on. As one cell approached, he pointed out a wall cloud. This freaked me out, and I sat back down. Moments later, he called me back to the window and tried to point out something else, before our eyes were both drawn to the left to a large tornado, no more than a half a mile away. We ran to the bathroom just as Dave Brown was reading off the Tornado Emergency. The lights flickered for about 30 seconds before finally going out. As I sat in the bathroom, knowing the tornado was actually happening and might be coming in our direction (something I was scared of for many years before this), I was completely calm. After that, I was never scared of storms and began to actively research information about weather.
When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?
After meeting many people in the weather community who chased, I decided I would give it a shot.
Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?
With a group.
Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?
Which era of chasing would you prefer to exist? Old-school or 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?
East Arkansas (Dixie Alley chasers’ dirty little secret), Mississippi Delta, extreme West Tennessee.
What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?
My most memorable chase would probably be April 27, 2014 in Arkansas. We were on the Mayflower cell as it was first developing near Hot Springs, but lost it as we got caught up in the national park/forest over there. We saw the damage first hand on the way home.
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)
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?
Nope, but hope to very soon!
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?
It’s not a chase unless you’re sitting in the Love’s parking lot with 10 other chasers for 5 hours before initiation.
What is your favorite storm chase and why?
January 3, 2015. Not only because we saw just about the most well defined tornado you can in Southern Mississippi, but because we were chasing with some awesome people that made the 6 hour drive worthwhile. (CHASE ALL THE SLIGHT RISKS!!!)
How did you learn what you know about forecasting and meteorology?
I met some truly awesome people along the way who weren’t afraid to answer my stupid questions. Oh, and Googling. Lots and lots of Googling.
How you do you feel about the media in regards to the weather and chasing?
I think its great how media has really embraced storm chasing in the last few years. You can’t flip the channel too far during an outbreak without seeing a chaser giving a live interview.
Who are the most influential people to you out in the field?
Tim Samaras, Tim Marshall, and many many others. It would take forever to list all of the people who have influenced me and helped me throughout the years.
What do you fear most about a storm?
Not being able to see the tornado or know where it is.
Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?
Not yet, but money from selling video is nice to cover gas.
Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?
It took them a little bit, but they’re all supportive of it now.
How long do you plan on chasing?
For as long as life will allow me to. Hopefully with a job in Broadcast Meteorology I can talk the station into a deal!