15 April 2011

Priorities people.....

I am not trying to be the chaser police here, but I feel I must take a minute to talk about this.... I am friends with a several NWS mets on facebook. I learn a lot from them and have even grown a friendship with some of them. Well one of these mets I have talked to for a few years now, posted something that pretty much embarrassed me. He posted a link to a tornado filmed in Wisconsin last Sunday and made a comment that made me want to make like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand. I won't name anyone's names or the forecasters name or those who commented but this comment should never be uttered by an NWS met....

"The Arkdale tornado, which wasn't called into our office by these chasers. I'd like to think that I wouldn't yell like a school girl when I'd see a tornado like this."

The whole time this tornado was never called into their office... were there attempts made? Maybe a data hole? Perhaps they did call 911? I don't know, but the fact is the NWS never received notification of this tornado and (I assume) just learned of it through this video through a known streaming agency. If that wasn't bad enough a couple more mets expressed their displeasure with chasers in general..

"I feel bad for saying this but Ive grown to dislike most stormchasers in recent years because their #1 goal isnt to observe and help people but rather to get the damned thing on video. Just my $0.02...in a generalizing sort of way."


"After surveying one long track tornado, of which we got one report of a farm damaged due to a tornado (path length ~15 miles), and then surveying two days later a tornado we never heard about, I feel jaded about chasers (although I have/do). I'll be damned if I photo a tor before it's reported to NWS and local..."

It is getting pretty bad folks.... I hate hyping up the "chasing is doomed" talk since I was a big proponent speaking against it. However, if chasers continue to go out and get video of tornadoes and not take the time to dial 911, dial the NWS, or drop an SN icon, then the commonly used excuse "we are out there to save lives" is just a load of BS. I hate when people say they chase to save lives, no you don't. You want to save lives become a firefighter, police officer, paramedic, doctor, etc. Put the damn camera down, pick up a phone, and do the stuff you claim to do. (Not directed at these chasers, just generalizing).

As for myself, I don't use Spotter Network on a chase. I am usually in NWSchat contributing where I can and calling the NWS directly. (I have every plains/midwest office number saved on my phone). I have called 911 more than a few times. I can attest that my goal out there is to get video of severe weather and to enjoy my passion, but I also know when I am the only icon or person around there that it is my duty to call it in. Now I can see if it was a crowded highway full of Law Enforcement, chasers, media, and you don't phone in a report. But in the backwoods of Wisconsin where there are only a handful of chasers? Not a good move, no matter how experienced or good of a chaser you are. Please just remember why we are out here.... if you are out there solely to get extreme video and damage shots then you sure as hell better be calling 911 or the NWS. We don't need our friends at the NWS frowning upon us because we aren't helping with the warning process..

That all being said, I want to applaud ALL the chasers who helped the last few events at the farms and towns that were hit hard. That is how we get our hobby back on the right track. Not only by calling in timely reports, but knowing when to give up the chase and helping out in areas affected by a major event. I have heard through the gravevine that many agencies in Mapleton are EXTREMELY GRATEFUL for the help that chasers provided there. Today the devastating Atoka County tornado was flooded by chasers moments after helping out and giving up the chase. In my mind that is what chasing is all about. Chasers made timely ACCURATE reports and showed up on scene not with cameras in hand but with flashlights and tools. Bravo! All of you out there willing to put yourself in the danger area and the traumatic scene of a tornadoes aftermath have my utmost respect.

Priorities people, I don't believe anyone out there intentionally doesn't report severe weather or the thought doesn't cross their mind, but sometimes we all get caught up in the moment and we need to remember what THE most important thing is outside of our own safety......


  1. I would ask those mets if other chasers called in reports of other tornadoes? I mean, is this the only tornado not called in? What about the chasers that stopped the chase and rendered aid that day? What about the contributions of chasers' videos and pics for SKYWARN training and case-study documentation? What about the NWS use of live streaming video to issue warnings...and in some cases NOT issue warnings?

    These are questions that I would pose to the mets in question. My point is that in ANY group of people, there are always going to be bad apples and perhaps in this case, not bad apples, just made a mistake. To broadbrush an entire group as these mets are doing is, in my humble opinion, a knee-jerk reaction to a single isolated incident that is very far outside the "norm" of most chasers.

    Perhaps the comments made by them were out of frustration at the time?

  2. I was granted permission to post this comment from ex NWS met Allan Fisher....


    Read your blog post from 4/15/11 about the nws comments.

    I worked for the NWS for 32 years, (including last 7 years at LOT) 5 1/2 years retired now. Can not comment on what is reported back to the nws currently with all the video, SN, etc, but I can comment of what I observed in the office prior to retirement. You can not imagine how few live reports came into the office from anyone (spotters, law enforcement, emergency management). Even when we saw big storms in populated areas, we would be lucky to receive 1 report back. Not talking about tornadoes specifically, just any reports back (wind, hail, flooding, etc). Our job in the office the next day was to hit the phones hard to try to scrounge up reports from the previous days weather.

    Just from the reading, it sounds like nothing has changed in a general regard. So I do not believe this was an isolated incident, it sounds to me like the "chasers" have not had a mindset change on the whole. To me, their #1 priority should be the report, the video, etc #2. Looks like there area still a number out there that have this reversed.

    You may post this on your blog page if you wish.
    Allan Fisher