View Full Version : storm chasing?

06-04-2005, 01:51 PM
i live in nc and i've been trying for years to capture a tornado on video, film, camera phone, crayola or whatever medium i can! but i've usually been too late or not in the right place at the right time. so are there any dvxusers in the midwest that would be down for doing some storm chasing? i know weather channel pays good for footage of tornadoes but i'm not about the money on that one, although it would be great for reimbursement of funds but just the thrill and excitement.

06-27-2005, 07:36 AM
Hi manglerBMX.. I'm new to this forum and also live in NC. I love storms, and have always wanted to capture a tornado. I plan on capturing some hurricane footage this year, that is if the season allows. I don't know much about getting paid for this type of thing, but I am definately interested for the thrill the thrill of it.

07-01-2005, 06:40 AM
next big storm, we're there.

07-01-2005, 07:08 AM
BTW, how often such storms are in the NC?
When I have been in the Kansas, there it was an each year...

07-06-2005, 10:19 AM
Not as many tornados in NC as Kansas, but we have our share of hurricanes.

07-06-2005, 08:30 PM
Theres nothing here in socal. But storm chasing sounds effin exciting.

07-07-2005, 06:34 AM
Theres nothing here in socal. But storm chasing sounds effin exciting.

Go up 5 past the Grapevine into the big empty. You'll find some "dust devils" that are damn near tornado-sized.

Watch out for dust getting into the camera, though.


07-07-2005, 11:50 AM
I didn't know that Dan. I may check them out one day.

07-07-2005, 12:45 PM
Hopefully, they haven't rearranged the landscape much. I haven't been that way since '90.

And she wasn't worth the drive from H'wood up to Paso Robles every weekend, either.


07-12-2005, 05:52 PM
Hey Mangler Im a stormchaser. I have captured 10 tornados with my DVX. This year was a crappy year. I drove aprox. 5000 miles chasing storms and seen 2 tornadoes. Last year by comparison i bet I drove 2500 miles and captured about 7 or 8.

Let me know next season Ill take you for a ride youll never forget.. That is if mother nature cooperates..


08-17-2005, 11:37 PM

I'm a seasoned storm chaser from Oklahoma. I work with several PhD meteorologist who specialize in severe weather and I work with the most experienced storm chasing tour groups every year to take thrill seeking vacationers on storm chasing expeditions across the Great Plains in search of the elusive tornado.

On top of that, I'm also a documentary producer and my team travels the world to film many different types of weather related events.

I can tell you from my experience that I spent thousands of dollars and 7 years of my life 'storm chasing' when I started out...before ever seeing a great tornado. Just like anything else, after you spend enough time and money you get good at it and it becomes much easier, except the price of fuel continues to rise...which is the only thing making it harder to chase each year.

I can also answer a question in regards to the weather channel. I've been a stringer for the weather channel for several years now and back in the 'good ol' days' they paid very well for footage. Those days required them to send a satellite truck to meet up with you for uploading your footage back to them via satellite, or you simply traveled to the nearest news broadcast facility and negotiated a deal that would allow them to upload the footage. However, times have changed....

With recent advancements in technology TWC has a new system in place that allows their stringers to get them high quality video. There is a substantial investment in the equipment required and since there are now a lot more stringers than there were a few years ago the demand for video from one single source isn't as great as it use to be. As with all things less demand, simply means less money.

Storm chasing can require you to spend several hundred of dollars per day on fuel, hotel and food...not to mention the equipment needed to do it. TWC will only pay a few hundred dollars for useable footage depending if you got better footage than "the other guy" and how much money they have left in their daily budget. So simply put - looking for a 'get rich quick' method? Storm chasing isn't it - period!

Storm chasing isn't about making money, it never has been for most of us who have remained active in it for the past 10-20 years (some have chased most their lives). It's about a passion for witnessing mother nature's most beautiful events. Some people say that we have a disease, and to an extent I highly agree....you have to really love doing something to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for only a 'chance' of seeing a tornado. There are a lot of hazards that most people don't think about such as bad roads, muddy roads that the best 4-wheel drives can easily get stuck in, dead ends, haze, dust (and other air particles/conditions that limit viewing) and so on...

However, if you still want to go storm chasing I would be willing to take more about it with you privately. Just let me know where I can email you and we'll talk.

-Brian Barnes

08-22-2005, 08:48 PM
Hey Brian,

Good to see another chaser around. Guys im afraid Brian is correct. Theres a lot of money to spend and little money to make in this "Hobby". We do it because its a rush and its an obsession.

Operating a tour group is really the only innovative way that people that know what their doing can make money in this "Hobby". however it steals the fun from it in my opinion. The last thing I want to do is deal with people and their personalities stuffed in a van for a week to 10 days while trying to enjoy storms.

Drop me a line Brian sometime if you wanna chat... Never seen you on any of the boards


08-24-2005, 12:12 AM
Brian, Fred, you guys have my dream job.....Im stuck her in Jersey/NYC area, and sadly will probably never get out to the rurals and be one of those freelance storm videographers. I have always had a fascination with extreme weather, and obviously I ave my love for film/video - just gotta get to the point where I can bring it all together.

08-24-2005, 08:54 AM
How to be a storm chaser.

When I first started chasing storms I started with a weather radio and a folding map. I would get on the Internet at home and look at what the SPC (Storm Prediction Center) is predicting for severe weather. They will give you a generalized area of where severe storms will be likely. I was quickly successful at seeing anomalous weather including of course tornadoes and even more fascinating I think, softball sized hail.

Now days I have a laptop and sophisticated radar software. Using the radar software in conjunction with mapping / GPS software we try to stay OUT of the storm and film it or photograph it from a distance. Many and most storms move NE and the SE corner is a good observation point. Storms do move other directions at times so being aware of their trajectory and velocity is important. Using your mapping software to flank it you follow or “CHASE” the storm until it becomes dark and we can no longer film safely. Some even chase at night. Although, I usually head home after nightfall. However I have started to get more interested into lightning photography. Which is of course great at night.

Over time you learn how to forecast to better and more precisely pinpoint the point of initiation. Many chasers wait for the severe weather to start then chase it whereas others like myself attempt to set up in the close vicinity of the initiation of the storm. It’s genesis. It seems that’s usually around 3 – 5 pm in the day sometimes earlier sometimes later.

Knowledge and access to state of the art equipment is very helpful at being successful. However learning the right way is more rewarding and makes you a better chaser in my opinion. I think it is part of developing that 6th sense by using intuition, maps, Noaa weather radio and of course a good healthy understanding of storm structure which is gained usually from spotter classes, advanced spotter classes and other educational venues.

Now that I have learned these things I have had the opportunity to invest in the HAM radios, Laptops, Wifi setups, XM satellite weather systems, Expensive mapping and GPS software’s. Which of course with my forecasting knowledge I am still acquiring along with knowledge of storm structure and how to effectively use the equipment and have that intuition, I have become moreso rounded, professional and successful as a stormchaser.

A DVX100a with some good sound and lighting equipment and your all set. I have started concentrating more recently on photography equipment I want to film and shoot pics. If anyone has any questions or anyway I can help you guys get started in a fascinating hobby let me know


08-24-2005, 03:46 PM
Chase season seems to be in a lull right now. Expect it'll pick back up in a couple weeks. I always see the most spectacular displays of lightning from storms with high bases (3000' MSL or higher) and strong surface-to-850mb wind shears. They're pretty common in late summer here in the Great Lakes...but occasionally one does see a post-frontal tornado waterspout. I saw some great footage of such a spout done on VHS with an antique camcorder that had a Vidicon tube...the front passed over, wind shifted from SW to NNW, temp dropped from 70 F to 40 F, precip changed from rain to soggy snow, then stopped. A second line of cloud rolled in off Lake Michigan dumping prodigious amounts of the soggy white stuff, with this big honking funnel cloud bringing up the rear and raising some 20' swells that knocked a few boats around at anchor. It came ashore a mile north of the cameraman and demolished a stand of pine trees, then dissipated. Personally, I'd love to get a good telephoto shot of a tree going down in a funnel...usually the vortex filament action works like an impact wrench and sorta unscrews the tree out of the ground by the roots...unlike a straight-line wind that simply snaps the trunk and blows the tree over. But it's so humid and hazy here in Michigan during storm season, that usually there's not much to see but clouds churning.

08-24-2005, 09:45 PM
Fred, I guess my question to you is, how does one, that lives in Jersey, with know training in weather pattern and tracking, just dive into a profession such as yours....I mean, I would love to end up doing something along those lines, but I just wouldnt even know where to start.

08-29-2005, 07:43 PM
thats a hard one.. i recommend all of the online outlets to study weather or better yet storm structure.. Then of course you would need to put that to use.. in the field identifying storm structure.. then forecasting and of course chasing..

Like the rest of us in storm season. Our jobs suffer and on top of that our boss is pissed and we spend all of our $$$$ that we should be saving for a rainy day.. lol

Im broke because Im a storm chaser.. lol

Im playing catch up til next season... :)

09-25-2005, 10:03 AM
thanks for all your input guys, really appreciate it the thrill of the chase it what drives me, not the $$. the tornado season is pretty much over with and nc didnt get hardly any good storms this year. next summer i'd like to go west and try it for a week, so fred, i'lll take up your offer. and brian, you can drop me an email at xmcqueenx@yahoo.com thanks guys.