Is Storm Chasing Oversaturated?

| May 22, 2010 @ 11:23 pm | 3 Replies

Famed storm researcher Josh Wurman sounded off on a Weather Channel blog this week about the problems and dangers caused by extensive chaser convergence in Oklahoma during this past Wednesday’s high risk severe weather episode.

An excerpt: There were huge crowds of storm chasers yesterday (Wednesday, May 19) and those chasers did direct harm to Vortex 2 science. There were hundreds of them and they were traveling at the same speed as the storm and they were preventing my ability to get ahead of the storm to outflank it and to get ahead of it and V2 has an important mission. We’re trying to study tornado genesis so that the warnings are made better. I think that’s more important than getting close up video of a tornado but apparently these hundreds of chasers didn’t think that and they wouldn’t let us by. It’s always easy to say it’s a few bad eggs but no body let us by we had a hundred cars right in front of us there were chase tour companies amateurs out there trying to stay as close as they can to the meso cyclone and not letting the scientists by. I think it’s really disgraceful they’re not letting us do our important mission.

Hundreds of researchers, television chasers, storm tour companies and other chasers converged on the big supercells in Central Oklahoma Wednesday afternoon, resulting in mile long lines of vans and cars. The traffic jams apparently led to bad behavior by some high profile chasers, like Discovery Channel filmmaker Sean Casey, who was filmed by other chasers passing on the left side of the highway in no passing zones, going up hills. He defended the action on his website by saying that he had scout vehicles out ahead of him saying it was okay to pass in those areas.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Wurman is partially to blame for the extreme popularity of storm chasing. His participation in the Discovery Channel Storm Chasers series has glamorized the activity. Chuck Doswell says that the glory days of storm chasing passed after the middle 80s as advanced in computing and communications technology have lowered the barriers to entry for hobbyists. The movie Twister really started the craze in 1995.

Now the Oklahoma Highway Patrol has weighed in on the matter, saying they will take action to prevent the hoards of chasers from being able to travel freely, giving precedence to researchers and media chasers.

Should limitations be made on who can chase and who can’t?

Should chasers be credentialed?

Should media chasers enjoy special access, with their ability to broadcast reports to thousands?

Should a research project supported by millions of tax and private dollars have priority?

Those are the questions. What do you think are the answers?


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Category: Pre-November 2010 Posts

About the Author ()

Bill Murray is the President of The Weather Factory. He is the site's official weather historian and a weekend forecaster. He also anchors the site's severe weather coverage. Bill Murray is the proud holder of National Weather Association Digital Seal #0001 @wxhistorian

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