UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Andrew Rosenthal
UPDATED June 3, 2013
Being a storm chaser can be quite a thrill for a meteorologist. It means the opportunity to be out on the open road hunting for the next storm, rather than sitting behind a desk watching the action through your computer screen.
When the chaser finds "the big one," he or she can capture pictures, video, and data that can be priceless to other meteorologists. Most of the knowledge that we now have about tornadoes has come from people chasing storms.
With the popularity of the movie Twister as well as the thrill of the chase, storm chasing has become a popular springtime activity across the Plains. A single storm can attract dozens of people. This bunching of people at the storm is known as "chaser`s convergence." While chaser`s convergence is generally safe and often useful to chasers, it has the potential to become dangerous as crowds build.
Storm chasers often will meet in order to trade information. Coming together might include discussing where they think the storms are likely to form, sharing data that one chaser had previously obtained, or just complaining together when the chase goes quiet. It is a sign of the partnership that all storm chasers are out for the same goal: to see the elusive tornado.
Sometimes these meetings will take place in a coffee shop, other times on the side of the road. It all depends on where the chasers decide to meet.
But like the saying, "Two`s Company, Three`s A Crowd," when too many storm chasers get together, the situation can become dangerous. If the meeting is on the side of a road, people sometimes leave cars sticking out into the road, clogging roads and making it difficult for other drivers and emergency responders to get by.
Worse still is when too many people show up to watch a storm. A crowd can make it difficult for seasoned meteorologists to maneuver safely around a storm, putting them at risk when the storm makes an unexpected turn.
A crowd of people near a storm can also attract locals to watch the storm rather than seeking shelter, putting them in an unsafe position if the storm moves unexpectedly.
If you see a group of storm chasers come into your town, don`t try to join their group. While you might think you are helping out by providing another set of hands or film, you are likely adding to chaser`s convergence, and might be putting the entire group at risk.
Story Image: The WeatherBug chaser truck takes a break from chasing in 2006.
What do you think of this story?
Click here for comments or suggestions.