16 February 2011

A little insight from the mind of a once confused chaser....

This will be a shorter post than I am used to... Probably not, once I start typing I can't stop and before I know it I have written another novel! A number of storm chasers chase in pairs as it is the easiest and most effective way to see success. Not saying those who chase solo never see any success, but if you think about it the driver can drive and the passenger can navigate. It cuts down on your distractions and allows you to focus on your main objective. With that being said some times those who go solo or are forced into solo trips need a little eyes from back home.

Adam Lucio and I are chase partners, we met 3 years ago and have developed a similar chasing style. I had chased for years before I met him. Before I got my drivers license my dad would be the driver and I would lead him all over the Plains in pursuit of severe weather. The main drawback was I was limited to one or two trips to the Plains a year, a lot of local chases, and a very conservative mentality. I bagged 8 tornadoes with my dad up until 2006 when our trips were cut short due to me going to college and wandering off on my own.  We would rarely core punch and always observed storms from afar which is not a bad thing since it allowed me to take in the whole storm and to understand what was going on. There are so many processes that you can't see while you are underneath a RFB. He was ultra conservative no matter how hard I pressed to get up close and personal. In the end it was his car and his money going into it so I backed off. We still bagged tornadoes and we still got on a lot of supercells so it wasn't like I was really missing out.

Once I started venturing out on my own (end of 2005 when I got my license) I started being a little more daring. I noticed though driving, navigating, and plotting a target were very difficult on your own! Frequently I would pull off and sit on a desolate road for 20 minutes at a time to re think a strategy or to talk myself into or out of something. I always trust my opinion but begin thinking it might be time to start looking for someone more suitable to my age and style of chasing to take the load off. I went out alone many times in 2006 and didn't have a ton of success. I just wasn't finding the stamina to drive to Kansas and back in one night. So I gave up a lot of set ups out in the Plains just because I didn't want to put forth the effort. By this point I had been chasing for 8 years and saw 8 tornadoes. I was midway through my freshman year of college (Spring 06) and was thinking about putting chasing on the back burner for a while while I focused on studies and baseball.

I chased a lot of local storms in the Spring of 06, but really didn't venture west of Iowa (*cringe*) all year. 2007 I really had a down year. I went on 5 or 6 chases (all local) and missed a number of big events out in the Plains. My dad couldn't devote the time to be my chase partner and I was still turned off by interacting with the rest of the chaser community. I had monitored Stormtrack for years but rarely interacted just because a number of the guys there were people I looked up to and wouldn't dare ask to chase with ever. I had a ton of knowledge, but never really opened up and expressed it. A lot of my posts would be "green" and I am sure I came across as somebody who "thought they knew it all." Or "a hot head that will never last" <--- Thanks DD.

At this point in time it was fall of 2007 and I was in limbo with if I wanted to continue my education in meteorology at DuPage or take a year off and reassess my situation. I chose to take a year off and weigh in my options. I could re-apply to the University of Oklahoma and continue my meteorology education or I could venture into other possibilities. **An aside.... I was accepted into OU right out of high school but chose to pursue my career in baseball and ended up hurting my shoulder in the Spring of 07** One day on Stormtrack I posted a thread about the August 2nd, 2006 severe weather around my area. I had taken 2 hours worth of photos of the storms developing, moving in, and hitting. To my surprise this unknown guy Adam Lucio private messaged me. I noticed he was from Chicago, IL. We talked some through PM's and I found out he lives 4 miles away from me. He was a relatively new chaser and a couple years older than me. The day before the January 7th, 2008 tornado event in Northern Illinois we talked about the record warmth and I mentioned there could be tornadoes in N. IL tomorrow. Throughout the day on the 7th, we IMed each other and discussed the event and damned ourselves for not chasing it. It was nice to have someone to talk severe weather with in an informal sense.

Long story short we agreed to give chasing together a try and learned that we both have a great understanding of severe weather. Even more, he loves to drive while I love to analyze. I don't mind driving, but would rather not if I had the choice. Not to say he is only good for driving, he definitely holds his end of the bargain chasing/forecasting wise. To this date Adam and I have traveled over 50,000 miles together and bagged nearly 40 tornadoes.

Bottom line of this story is not to inflate Adam's ego (lol) but to let those struggling chasers out there know that I once was in their shoes. If you can't do it on your own, don't push yourself to make it happen. Since I started chasing with Adam I have opened up the door to ANYONE that wants to tag along or chase with me. Nowadays I can drive to Colorado and back with no issues. When I was 19 years old it seemed a solo trip was very intimidating, but being out there 5-10 times a year really relaxes you and gives you a sense of familiarity. I encourage any chaser out there to reach out to their peers if they are unsure or just not having success. Adam and I equally had marginal success on our own, but once we paired up it relieved a lot of pressure and that relaxation paid off in a big way.

Don't be afraid to interact or ask questions. I know some blowhard veterans and older chasers like to walk around on the highest of pedestals and scoff at you and I for being "young" or "green" to chasing but, if I learned ANYTHING in my 14 years chasing it is their opinion doesn't mean a damn on whether or not you see a tornado. Just go out there and do it. Find a way. Saying you are going to go out and chase impresses no body.... going out and bagging a wedge immediately shuts up the naysayers.... As always if anyone has any questions or concerns, please feel free to IM me or Email me.

Thanks readers!

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1 comment:

  1. Nice spost danny, I don't know if you ment it to be or not but this was very inspirational. Right now i find myself where you where in the beginning of this post. I am dying to go out and chase this year but do not know if i will make it or not. I have sort of a reputation for spending hours on stormtrack by now but will admit that i am very intimidated and have a hard time bringing myself to post my thoughts. What you described is exactly why i am looking for a partner. Any way, its just good to know that There have been others like me that are now having a lot of succes.