Wesley Luginbyhl

Location: Amarillo, TX
Started Chasing: 2004
Tornadoes: 89
Web site: http://owlsp.com
Blog: owlsp.blogspot.com

Bio: I am a GIS Tech in Amarillo, TX and Texas Panhandle native. Seeing the 6/27/92 Fritch, TX and 6/8/95 Pampa, TX storms from a distance, but missing the tornadoes only further fueled the desire I had as a kid to hunt down and find tornadoes for myself. Though I had a few chases before 2004, did not start consistently chasing till the spring of 2004. Avid nature and landscape photographer when there are no storms around to chase.

Favorite Storm Chasing Photos

Favorite Chase Video

Chaser Q&A

How did you realize your love for weather?

It was all I cared about growing up. Even when I was just 7 years old and my friends came over, I would put the tv on the weather channel for us to watch.

When did you decide you wanted to storm chase?

When I was a young kid. Tornadoes seemed to avoid me growing up even living in the TX Panhandle, but everyone I knew had seen one.

How long have you been actively chasing?

Since 2004, but had many chases once I got my driver’s license in 2001. Even a couple from talking my dad into driving back in the 90’s.

Do you chase for a reason?

For the love of weather.

Do you see passion as a good or bad thing?

Passion can be great, but it has to be kept in check to life’s other priorities.

Do you prefer to chase alone or with a group?

Alone, but an extra set of eyes on the storm and someone to run the computer never hurts.

Have you ever considered going on a storm chase tour?

Going on one, no. Guiding one, sure.

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

Definitely seems very different from when I started, but in good and bad ways. The future is definitely up in the air at this point to where the hobby goes, but I think the current level of the number of chasers is never going back down. Thank God for the off-season days.

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

Old school, strictly for the numbers that were out there.

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

Have gone from TX to ND (solo) for a single day chase. Tend to keep my limit under 500 miles one way anymore with a family at home.

What are your favorite areas to chase? Least favorite?

Fav: TX Panhandle I know the area well, visibilty – no trees and normally not hazy; Least: East of I-35 (mostly in OK)

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

Dryline (Panhandle’s bread & butter); High storm speed days

What is your most memorable chase? Least memorable?

March 28, 2007 in the TX Panhandle; Busting back to back days June 16 & 17, 2010. Days I wish I could forget.

Have you ever feared for your life?

Couple times coming over hills at highway speed and hitting hail cover roads, but the worst was May 10th, 2010. I ended up in the path of the Wakita multi-vortex that was morphing into a wedge. I was in the inflow notch with tree branches and sheet metal blowing across in front of me.

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

I generally have kept my distance due to hail on my previous chase vehicles, but have hook sliced, core punched, and hung in the bear’s cage on a number of occasions.

Do you have any superstitions?

I try to always play a playlist consisting of songs from the Twister Score & Soundtrack, also songs that have weather names. It is not a must do though.

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?

Family is greater than chasing to me, so I will take the salaried job to take care of my family.

Are you currently doing anything job related to the weather?

No.

Have you ever been to ChaserCon?

Once. 2010, it was fun meeting up with a few people I never see otherwise, but overall it is not for me. I like the really technical presenters that most the other chasers hated. I spent 3 years in a Meteorology program, so that might be my biased to more technical talks.

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

If people I know are in the area, sure, but not so much with people I dont know. Definitely have to stay focused when it is within a couple hours of initiation though.

What is your favorite storm chase and why?

March 28, 2007 was just great on so many levels. Lots of chasers on the roads, but the number of tornadoes of every size made it easy to forget everyone else out there.

What date burns in you [think bust”> and why?

June 16, 2010. I had the forecast nailed to the exact county. Got up a 4am and left TX on 4 hours sleep with a target of west central SD. Wehn I got to the NE border that morning I changed my target to western NE. Storms did fire there, never got a decent funnel and the whole chase was pretty frustrating. My original target went nuts. The nest day was just as painful.

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

No, but I do my best to see what decision I made wrong or what caused me to decide on what I did. The key is not to make the same mistake twice.

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

Some of it was learned while in the OU SoM (like using a skew-t & other things), but most my knowledge came from other chasers, especially Stormtrack, and just talking with other chasers.

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

It can be, but it is a factor of distanced traveled and what was seen and captured.

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

Any tornado is a good tornado, but that is a comment coming from someone who has seen very few good tornadoes in the last 4 years.

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

That was about the time mobile internet became available to most, and seemed to take away from having to make a good forecast. The ability to follow certain names or the ease of getting information changed it to a much easier way to chase. Most of those in that group will never know what it is like to chase with nothing other than their eyes. That is their lose, but I am also not giving up on the advancements we have had in technology either. My forecasting though can save me from wasting money on days that just dont look right, something that someone who cant forecast will ever see.

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

If they are official (radar trucks and major university research groups) – yes. Others – get in line.

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

They are just like use and should fall in line as well. That means extending the same courtesies we give each other. Parking sideways on a road block traffic to get their shot is unacceptable, which I have a picture of.

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

Personally, Brett Roberts, Jeff Duda & Skip Talbot. Brett and Jeff for their meteorological knowledge, regardless of their luck in the field. I learn something new every time I read a forecast of theirs. Brett is also a great photographer. Skip for his ability to constantly bringing something new to the video field. His forecast are also very spot on.

Would you considering getting your children into storm chasing?

Probably, but that will be years down the road, definitely past a certain age.

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

I would be fine with it. Problem most people have, why they are afraid of storms (and other things), is because they dont understand them. That is a horrible way to go through life. Dont fear something, just because you dont understand it.

What do you fear most about a storm?

Hail, either destroying my vehicle or making roads into ice sheets.

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

LP

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

Everytime

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

They are definitely needed there. You better just find another way around and stay out of their way.

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

Above LE, definitely not. You are equal to locals as well, though they definitely add more trouble to a situation than anyone else.

Do you have a job that supports storm chasing?

I have a job that supports me enough to chase when I really want to. I just have to be a bit more selective than when I was in college.

Do you have a family that supports storm chasing?

It is not easy to do with a family, but they also dont stand in the way of it. Still have to keep a healthy balance though.

How long do you plan on chasing?

Till I cant physically do it anymore.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This