Some day, our luck will run out

I submit, for your review, the following. (Note: Some videos have NSFW language.)

Photo courtesy Justin Hobson via Twitter

Photo courtesy Justin Hobson via Twitter.

Photo courtesy Sean Schofer (TVN) via Twitter

Photo courtesy Sean Schofer (TVN) via Twitter

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 10.47.49 PM

(Note: The chaser who got that last video says in a Facebook posting, “I messed up.”)

Photo courtesy Emily Sutton via Twitter

Photo courtesy Emily Sutton via Twitter

— Saturday Morning Update —

Photo courtesy Reed Timmer (TVN) via Twitter

Photo courtesy Reed Timmer (TVN) via Twitter

— Saturday Evening Update —

Photo courtesy Anthony Quintano (NBC) via Twitter

Photo courtesy Anthony Quintano (NBC) via Twitter

“Bloom Mobile” damaged during Oklahoma tornado

About Nate Johnson

Meteorologist, instructor, blogger, and podcaster.
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29 Responses to Some day, our luck will run out

  1. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I just defended chasers on my blog this week. These guys are indefensible.

  2. I could go on and on and on

  3. I can only echo Mike’s comment. I strive to not use course language lightly, but these folks are dumbasses who are out of their own hubris are staining the invaluable and lifesaving work of true meteorologists. Our community must unilaterally condemn and shun such behavior.

  4. I also submit for your review the fact that a lot of chasers are smart enough NOT to put themselves in the line of fire, but to observe from a safe distance. They provide a service – mostly for free, to help protect lives. Too many times, these thrill seekers ruin it for the service that real chasers provide. Mike Bettes knew going into this the dangers of going out there, and in fact chastised chasers not too long ago.

  5. What Mike Bettes said was eerily prescient. I wonder how/if he can reconcile his words with what happened to him and his crew. “Chasing can be an educational and exhilarating experience, but it also is inherently dangerous. An increasing trend I see happening is chasers trying to get as close as possible to one-up their competition, and cash in on dramatic video. And the one thing I always hear from professional chasers is how safety is their number one concern, and warning the public is their number one priority. Me? I Call B.S. on that one. When you’re being hit by debris, and you’re flipping your car while pursuing a tornado, you’re not very concerned about your safety, or anyone else’s. You’re setting a bad example for a younger generation of chasers who follow your lead.”

  6. Nate, the two videos are from the same chase. Two different team vehicles almost collide. 3:15 in first video. 4:40 in the second. All involved avoided injury, and perhaps death, by mere inches.

  7. Agree with all comments here. What happened tonight was preventable and inexcusable – especially Tony C. and Mike S.

  8. That’s unclear. I agree with Tony and Mike’s views. Sorry.


  10. It’s one thing to “chase” these thing when you’re 2, 3 miles out and in open farmland where it’s you, farmhouses, and cows. It’s another to be driving into the damn circulation.

    I have no respect for anyone who does the latter since they ruin it for the former.

    Chasers need to tone down this BS of trying to out-wow the next video that comes down the pike.

  11. I did a lot of chasing when I was a grad student in meteorology, and never – NEVER – did I get closer than 1/2 mile from the tornado and NEVER if rain-wrapped or HP supercell. And if I had my back window blown out from getting too close to the circulation, it would be EMBARRASSING – not something to be proud of. Mark of inaccurate positioning.

  12. While this was a smaller group of chasers who made very poor decisions all chasers need to re-think their procedures. There were clear mistakes made by some experienced chasers which that have to know sets example for many of the younger and wannabe chasers. We need to address the crowding on rural roads for sure and if I’m a professional chaser I would be proposing a, “Chasers rules of engagement”, that can be widely accepted. I think we can over reach in our reaction to these poor decisions but not doing anything about it and learning from it is just as bad.

  13. I submit to you a very good guide/rule book to follow. The number one rule broken yesterday too many chasers in the bear cage.

  14. Cute pose by 4warn, it appears they learned their lesson. It’s the chasers fault that they were close enough to let the tornado take them over. The excuses of “well it was multiple vortices,” “it changed direction really quickly and we couldn’t escape,” or “inflow winds were too strong” as a reason as to why you got hit/damage are ridiculous. I follow many chasers on twitter and some are smart enough to stay at a distance and those are the chasers I respect. How did it go from a rarity to so many chasers being hit or getting their vehicles damaged in a single day? Was it because they were invincible last week? Last day of chasing? or simply, “Hey there’s 15 spotter dots inside the bear cage, I can be 50 yards behind them and I’ll be fine!”

    Statement by Bettes via facebook:
    “Thank you all for the kind thoughts. Everyone is okay. Hopefully our mishap will teach us all to respect the weather & be responsible & safe at all costs. I thought I was doing the right thing, but obviously I wasn’t. Lesson learned the hard way. Someone was watching over us. Very blessed to be headed home tomorrow to see my family.”

    He also said an experience like this makes him want to retire from chasing. Him and his crew, along with several others could be making up the majority of the fatalities form this storm. That’s eye opening.

  15. A lot of these young men & women are driven by a keen interest in weather related phenomenon, that’s quite obvious. A common denominator with most of them is YouTube views and Facebook likes. In a world of instant fame and elevation to rockstar status when your YouTube views exceed +301, the risks they take are completely understandable. The entities responsible for the dissemination of weather data and news are partly to blame for this risk taking. When a video appears showing one of these well-meaning storm chasers taking what most of us would agree is a foolish endeavor, they (TWC etc) air the footage that is often punctuated with oohs, ahhs and golly gee wiz’s. An obligatory disclaimer soon follows advising viewers that behavior like that is frowned upon, until the next video turns up in their email box. YouTube views and Facebook likes have skyrocketed on the originators accounts and walla…instant fame. Maybe, if luck shines upon them, a series on tv.

    As a first responder, I appreciate the efforts these young men and women take to update the authorities on weather related phenomena. Storm spotters and the like have helped immensely in the protection of life and property, but when those efforts become part of the problem, a reevaluation as this post suggests is in order. There have been a number of cases where chasers have clogged roads and interfered with responding authorities. Most of the time the interference is well meaning, but sometimes the failure to yield and traffic infractions place everyone else in danger. Property damage in some places have resulted in emergency personnel finding it hard to respond. Rural roads have been turned into mud bogs by hoards of chasing vehicles and some property destroyed by what would seem as a weatherpalooza of chasers. I understand that not all chasers resort to this kind of behavior, but enough of them are, giving the “interest” a black eye.

    When situations like the recent OKC tornado outbreak of 5.31, authorities are inundated with incidents that demand immediate attention. Life and property is our foremost concern and time should be spent responding to those incidents, not preempted by having to deal with individuals who shouldn’t have deliberately placed themselves in danger in the first place.

    I’ve always prescribed to the belief that being an informed observer/witness when confronted with situations off duty; unless life is in danger, is the best course of action. I’ve taught that in many law enforcement classes. I am not there to place myself, my family, my friends or the public in any danger. Some in the meteorology field should consider the same. I know it isn’t sexy, it doesn’t have the wow factor or headlines a rolled vehicle has but when dealing with others it’s imperative to inject a little common sense into things.

    This is a long comment and I apologize.

  16. Great comments here. In case folks missed it, my Washington Post commentary on these events: The day that should change tornado actions and storm chasing forever,

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  19. I am not either a storm chaser or meteorologist so I am only speaking from a viewer’s perspective, but I get more valuable information from those that are further out explaining what is happening & what to watch for than those that are in the thick of it. The term I can’t see the forest through the trees seems apt here.

  20. Fase Booker says:

    If you look in that video (3min45sec long) just above the photo containing truck with hood open (Last video – 3rd out of 3). Watch beginning from 2:45 through 3:15. Some guy runs to the side of road – appears to be standing by the side of the road – then suddenly disappears as the intensity of the wind increases. Did we lose a chunk of time due to a video glitch — or did the guy get sucked into the tornado?

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