What is involved with Storm Chasing?

What is Storm Chasing

Storm chasing to my understanding is defined as the art of being able to predict specific severe weather events and intercept those events in a specified location or near enough to it. When there is the possibility of a storm producing event, using my knowledge of past events I begin to follow what information I have available to see of the meteological models are "telling the truth". The models can change and nothing may eventuate (perhaps the models may have over-estimated moisture and not much happens).

Storm chasing group

Storm chasing tours

Basically, storm chasers tend to look well in advance as if to be salivating for action. Although the models may be consistent picking up ideal conditions for storm development even up to a week in advance, storm chasers tend to take a keen interest closer to the event. This typically is the case about 2 to 3 days out from the event. As the actual date of the event unfolds or perhaps a day prior, a more detailed look as to the region to be affected and what plans are required to travel to the destination. The timing of convection is almost always the afternoon and evening period but if slightly earlier convection is anticipated, then this needs to be considered in the forecast and travel plans. If it requires an overnight stay, then a move is necessary.

lightning-mallanganee

Storm chasing north coast of NSW

On the actual day, a favoured target or set of targets are chosen and with fuel tanked, the often long drive to the target is made. There often is anticipation within the talk amongst the storm chasers if they are in 2 or more within the vehicle or convoy. This is what is so exciting about storm chasing!

As the target draws near, decisions have to be as to the conditions and what to target if several storms are erupting. This is where experience comes into play and what storm cells have the most ideal conditions to encounter. Sometimes, decisions  in storm chasing as to what to chase can be determined by the available road network.

Storm chasing enters the most important phase when in pursuit of a storm - positioning, stopping and photography as well as keeping safe. The decisions made in storm chasing mode at this point can make or break a storm chase. You may not get a second chance. It is certainly not ideal to be playing catchup.

Nevertheless, whatever the outcome, storm chasing always has another day.

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