Son of a
Chaser Man By Kyle
Your father chases tornadoes! Thats insane! It is a famous phrase. It is a phrase I have heard three hundred and
forty two times. It is interesting to me that
people assume anyone who chases tornados belongs in a mental institution. Clearing the phrase finish line in a close second
place is, Thats insane, can I go? The
real question is, Would you like to? Let
Allow me to verify myself.
I am Kyle, son of Tornado Tim. I
am the son of a chaser man. I was born and
raised in the lore and tradition of chasing. Since
I have seen and witnessed actual tornado chases, both successful and unsuccessful, I would
like to curb some of the everyday myths of tornado chasing.
It seems people actually believe Hollywood movies are only pure reality. Hollywood does a marvelous job in the
entertainment business, but only because they leave out some of the finer details. Chasing isnt always what it appears to be.
So you just wait for a tornado report on the radio and
then chase it? Every chaser has been
asked this infamous question. If only life
were this easy. If we were to wait for a
tornado report to start the chase, the chase would already be over. You have to understand that I lived in the
presence of a true tornado chaser. If
I were to awake on any given morning within three months of tornado season, I would
without fail wake to the sound of the Weather Channel. You might ask how researching weather three months
before tornado season would do any good. Matter
of fact, this seems irrelevant to filming a tornado, but in reality, tornado chasing
starts long before the tornado touches down. This
may come as a shock to you, but read on, what you learn may shock you.
Tornado season has not yet begun. What
is necessary to ready oneself for the chase? The
list is long, but allow me to give some of the basic preparations.
I cant even begin to understand how my father can do this. He has more weather information than a weather
balloon. Beginning sometimes sooner than
three months before the first chase, my father is trying to discover when tornado
outbreaks are going to occur. This is not
easy business. He has bookmarks to every
Internet site on the universe related to weather. He
begins by studying data from previous years. Judging
by the current weather, he tries to match the current year to any previous year that is
He is also probably the reason companies
advertise on the Weather Channel. The
television beside my fathers computer has a Weather Channel emblem literally burned
into the corner of the television set. Data
analyzing is a long and tedious process, but it determines the difference between
chaser-wannabees and the real chaser. If you
want to chase, find some weather books, go to college, or call your local weatherman,
because you are going to need weather knowledge to succeed in the business.
People seem to laugh at this. But your
car will either be the worst place to die or the quickest escape. If you can run faster than your vehicle, you
shouldnt be chasing. Your car is going
to need oil. You dont want to burn up
your engine when you need it most. Pack the
trunk with an extra blanket, a change of clothes, a flashlight, and an emergency aid kit. Although you hope for the best, you should prepare
for the worst.
You need to check your tires. If they are old and bald, change them! Chasing means that you will be in some rough
weather. Rain can cause you to hydroplane,
and unless you have some nice tread, you arent going to be able to stay on the road. Speaking of rain, you might also get some high
quality windshield wipers. Now that you have
new wipers, you should be able see that chasing is an investment, both of time and money. In order to be safe, you cant skip the
basics, not even if you want to save money. Skipping
vital preparations could put you and your team at undue risk. It would be like a swat team without bulletproof
vests, and that brings us to the next step.
I am not speaking of using a handgun here. If
you want people to believe that you actually saw a tornado, you better get good film. My father shoots with high quality digital
cameras. It is some amazing equipment, but
you dont have to start out with high dollar digital.
Just make sure you know how to use what you bring.
As you can see, tornado chasing has already been an investment, and you
havent even seen a tornado yet! Does
this work ever pay off? Well, not for
everyone. Many chaser-wannabees never even
see the tornado they set out for. Tornado
chasing takes time and practice. So what is
A few days to a week before your chase you will know that there may be a potential
outbreak of severe weather. You wont
know if anything will produce a tornado, but you will know if there us a chance when you
do your homework. You wont know exactly
when you will be able to leave, but you can start planning to make a trip.
The chase is about to begin. You are
pumped and ready. You hop into your prepared
car and start heading for the interstates. But
wait! There isnt any severe weather
yet! Why are we driving without any tornado
reports? Well, Im afraid that you have
the mythological view of tornado chasing. Tornados
dont always come to you. Notice that
you are chasing the tornados. If
you want success, you better plan for it. On
chase day you will need all of the fresh weather data.
You can obtain this best by internet, so you may want to stop by a library
or use your mobile satellite uplink. After
you check for the latest data, you can head to the most promising severe weather
locations. This is where even professional
chasers such as my father begin to disagree. It
is all in predictions, and you cant always be right.
So why cant you just look at the data and go to the nearest storm location? Im afraid this isnt your local
supermarket. If you study weather, you will
find that cold and warm fronts control where storms are going to be. The whole process is stringent on a whole lot of
moisture. By looking at the days weather
data, you come up with maybe a three hundred square mile section of where the storms might
form, and get this, thats if you are on a good day.
The section could be much larger. As
a chaser, you have to predict where the storms are going to build. If they build three hundred miles away from you,
you may never be able to catch them. If you
lose the lotto, you can either prepare for another chase day, or if the severe weather is
done, head home and get a hot dog.
After the chase you will know if you were right or wrong. Very often you were right on track, but no
tornados set down. You may be disappointed,
but if you look at it like my father does, it will have been a practice run. Sometimes you will leave days earlier to position
yourself in a different state, just to find out a tornado set down 200 miles north of you,
missing the eye of your camera completely. Tornados
are found by persistence. Sometimes four or
five chases will go by where we havent seen a tornado. This isnt failure. Every time a chase such as this is finished, we
know we are one chase closer to filming this majestic mystery of the sky.