• Welcome to TalkWeather!
    We would love for you to become a part of our community.
    Take a moment to look around and join the discussion.
    CLICK HERE TO JOIN TALKWEATHER

Chasing and safety tips for first Plains trip? (3 Viewers)

buckeye05

Member
Messages
921
Location
Riverside, Ohio
So this is pretty last minute, but a friend contacted me and asked if I'd like go out to the Plains with him this May, and I said yes. I've never done this, and have been kind of kicking the can down the road for a while due to my lack of experience. I was hoping to start out with someone more experienced to show me the ropes so to speak, but my chase partner only started last Spring. Obviously, I have some concerns about safety and I'm trying to gather as much info as possible to avoid us ending up in a bad situation. I know a few general rules of thumb like staying south of the meso and always allowing yourself an escape route, but I want to learn as much as I possibly can in the short period of time I have to prepare.

So I want to know if there are any resources that would be helpful for me, and if anyone here has any advice for someone going on their first Plains trip? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
 

Nightking2021

Member
Messages
53
Location
Wichita, Kansas
So this is pretty last minute, but a friend contacted me and asked if I'd like go out to the Plains with him this May, and I said yes. I've never done this, and have been kind of kicking the can down the road for a while due to my lack of experience. I was hoping to start out with someone more experienced to show me the ropes so to speak, but my chase partner only started last Spring. Obviously, I have some concerns about safety and I'm trying to gather as much info as possible to avoid us ending up in a bad situation. I know a few general rules of thumb like staying south of the meso and always allowing yourself an escape route, but I want to learn as much as I possibly can in the short period of time I have to prepare.

So I want to know if there are any resources that would be helpful for me, and if anyone here has any advice for someone going on their first Plains trip? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
I don't have a lot to say to you is be careful in traffic as that can be just as dangerous as being too close to a tornado. I have never seen a tornado in real life. In my life I have only chased once. It was May 1, 2008 and though I didn't get to see a tornado but it was my first time encountering baseball sized hail. As you probably know there a lot more dangers than just the tornado itself. Good luck and have fun this season.
 

Flyboy70

Member
Messages
4
Location
Florence, AL
I chased locally (mostly for lightning) in N. Alabama for a few years. This year I committed to expanding my chase range after consulting with a retired storm chaser about my limited meteorological knowledge and chase plan. March 25th was probably not the best set up for me to jump into but I managed to catch the Eutaw, Al tornado crossing the road 1/4 mile in front of me and ended up right behind Reed Timmer chasing the storm that hit the retired Brent, Al weather station and caught some GoPro video of that wedge. March 27th I had a navigator on board and managed to get a shot of the top of the funnel that hit Lexington, Tn. Friday I ventured solo back to the Mississippi delta and chased the storms back home to Florence, Al. As mentioned above Skip Talbot, Pecos Hank, and others have some good information on YouTube. ALWAYS keep an escape route option and if possible, never chase alone is my only rookie advice to offer other than packing road snacks (and the world is your urinal).
 

Matt Grantham

Member
Meteorologist
Messages
48
Location
Pelham, AL
So this is pretty last minute, but a friend contacted me and asked if I'd like go out to the Plains with him this May, and I said yes. I've never done this, and have been kind of kicking the can down the road for a while due to my lack of experience. I was hoping to start out with someone more experienced to show me the ropes so to speak, but my chase partner only started last Spring. Obviously, I have some concerns about safety and I'm trying to gather as much info as possible to avoid us ending up in a bad situation. I know a few general rules of thumb like staying south of the meso and always allowing yourself an escape route, but I want to learn as much as I possibly can in the short period of time I have to prepare.

So I want to know if there are any resources that would be helpful for me, and if anyone here has any advice for someone going on their first Plains trip? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

There is definitely an adjustment period in becoming more comfortable near the storm and being able to understand what you're looking at. Personally, I have become a fan of positioning downstream or slightly north of the meso path for maximum visibility. Some of my best video has been shot that way. With your limited experience I would only recommend this strategy if you are able to grab a spot 10-20 miles downstream and let the storm come to you, particularly if the storm is relatively fast-moving. In fact you should be looking at positioning well out ahead of the storm regardless of your viewing angle *especially* if there is significant chaser convergence.

Stick to paved roads.

I also don't like to let the storm go past me, again, especially if there is significant chaser convergence. You may never catch up with it. Be as proactive and forward-thinking as possible.

Don't play your hand too early. If you have a sense that a storm is not ready to produce, keep moving downstream until it is time to get closer.
 
Last edited:
Messages
761
Location
Madison, WI
There is definitely an adjustment period in becoming more comfortable near the storm and being able to understand what you're looking at. Personally, I have become a fan of positioning downstream or slightly north of the meso path for maximum visibility. Some of my best video has been shot that way. With your limited experience I would only recommend this strategy if you are able to grab a spot 10-20 miles downstream and let the storm come to you, particularly if the storm is relatively fast-moving. In fact you should be looking at positioning well out of the storm regardless of your viewing angle *especially* if there is significant chaser convergence.

Stick to paved roads.

I also don't like to let the storm go past me, again, especially if there is significant chaser convergence. You may never catch up with it. Be as proactive and forward-thinking as possible.

Don't play your hand too early. If you have a sense that a storm is not ready to produce, keep moving downstream until it is time to get closer.

I made those mistakes with the Mangum, OK storm on May 20, 2019. Waited for the meso to cross US 62 near Gould before the tornado started, then got trapped in the traffic and never could catch back up. If I had just bailed a little earlier and gone back to Duke and north on OK-34 toward Mangum, I probably could have seen it.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top