Discovering the Thrilling Job of a Storm Chaser: What is the Job of a Storm Chaser

As kids, many of us may have been fascinated by the dramatic sounds and visuals that come with a thunderstorm. The rush of adrenaline and the excitement of the unknown is something that never quite left us. Enter the storm chaser; a professional who literally chases storms to gather data and study the nature and behavior of severe weather systems. But what does the job of a storm chaser entail?

The primary purpose of a storm chaser is to collect data on all types of weather events, including tornadoes, hurricanes, hailstorms, and more. The information they gather is then analyzed to develop better forecasting models and help improve our understanding of the science behind these natural phenomena. In a way, a storm chaser is like a weather detective, using science and intuition to track, understand, and predict what Mother Nature has in store.

While storm chasing can be thrilling, it’s not a job for the faint-hearted. The job can be intense, dangerous, and unpredictable, with long hours in the field and significant travel involved. A storm chaser must be prepared to face extreme weather conditions and take calculated risks to get the data they need. But for those who are passionate about weather and want to make a difference in the field, storm chasing can be a dream job come true.

The Equipment Used by Storm Chasers

Being a storm chaser is an exciting but challenging job. It involves monitoring the weather forecast to identify the potential areas that could be hit by severe storms and then deploying to those locations to gather data and footage. To do this effectively, a storm chaser has to carry specialized equipment to ensure their safety and accuracy. In this article, we will explore the different tools that storm chasers use to do their job.

  • GPS Device: A GPS device helps storm chasers navigate through unfamiliar territory while chasing storms. It also helps them locate the storms and triangulate their position to predict their movement accurately.
  • Laptop with Internet Connection: Storm chasers use laptops with internet connections to get real-time updates on the storm’s location and movement. This is essential for making critical decisions on where to go next and what equipment to use.
  • Digital Camera: A digital camera is a must-have tool for storm chasers. They use it to take pictures of the storms, document damages caused by the storm, and record any other essential observations.

In addition to these tools, storm chasers use several other devices to measure and record weather conditions. Here are some other equipment used by storm chasers:

Mobile Weather Stations: These devices allow storm chasers to monitor temperature, humidity, wind speed, barometric pressure, and other weather conditions. They can record data and provide real-time updates to help predict the storm’s behavior.

Radar: Radar is a powerful tool that storm chasers use to track storms. It detects the movement of particles in the air to identify the storm’s formation and path. Storm chasers can now access radar images on their smartphones, which makes tracking storms easier.

Doppler Radar: Doppler Radar is a specialized radar that can detect the movement of air particles. This helps storm chasers identify the areas where there is turbulence in the atmosphere, where there is potential for storm development.

Equipment Purpose
Vehicle To chase and track storms
Two-Way Radio To communicate with other storm chasers or with the National Weather Service
Hail Guards To protect the vehicle from hail damage
Lightning Detector To locate lightning strikes for safety purposes and to observe lightning in storms

As exciting as it sounds, storm chasing is a dangerous profession. Ensuring that one has the right equipment is imperative to keep safe while on this journey. That is why storm chasers must be well-equipped with the right tools and gadgets to make their job easier and safer.

The History and Evolution of Storm Chasing

Storm chasing, also known as tornado chasing, is the pursuit of tracking, observing, and analyzing thunderstorms and tornadoes. It is a subculture that has gained widespread interest in recent years and is carried out by enthusiasts, scientists, and even professional storm chasers who work for television networks and research organizations.

The origins of storm chasing can be traced back to the early 20th century, when meteorologists first started studying thunderstorms and the phenomenon of severe weather. However, the modern concept of storm chasing as we know it today can be attributed to a man named David Hoadley, who was a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Lab (NSSL) in the 1950s.

The Benefits of Storm Chasing

  • Advancements in Research: Storm chasing is a valuable tool for scientists and meteorologists to gather data and research about the origins and development of severe storms, which ultimately leads to better forecasting and preparedness.
  • Public Awareness: The media coverage and interest in storm chasing helps to raise public awareness about severe weather and its potential dangers, which can help to save lives in the event of a severe weather outbreak.
  • Thrill of the Chase: For enthusiasts and professional storm chasers, the thrill of the chase is a major motivator. There is a sense of adventure and excitement that comes with tracking and observing nature’s most powerful forces.

Modern Day Storm Chasing

Today, storm chasing has evolved into a highly sophisticated practice, utilizing a wide range of tools and technology to gather data and track severe weather events. The use of advanced radar systems, drones, and other high-tech equipment has allowed storm chasers to collect more accurate and detailed information about storms, which has greatly improved the science of meteorology.

However, it’s important to note that storm chasing does come with risks, and safety should always be the top priority. Amateur or inexperienced storm chasers should never attempt to chase tornadoes on their own, as the dangers of severe weather can be life-threatening. Professional storm chasers undergo extensive training and take all necessary precautions to ensure their safety while chasing severe weather events.

Interesting Facts About Storm Chasing

Did you know that the number of tornadoes reported each year has increased significantly since the 1950s? In the early 1950s, less than 200 tornadoes were recorded each year in the United States. Today, that number has increased to over 1,200 tornadoes per year.

Year Number of Tornadoes
1950 177
2009 1,156
2018 1,123

Another interesting fact is that the United States sees more tornadoes than any other country in the world, with an average of 1,200 tornadoes per year. Canada is second on the list with an average of 100 tornadoes per year, followed by Bangladesh with an average of 80 tornadoes per year.

Safety Precautions for Storm Chasers

While storm chasing can be an exciting and adrenaline-pumping experience, it is essential to prioritize safety precautions to ensure the well-being of both the storm chaser and others in the area. Here are some critical safety precautions that every storm chaser should follow:

  • Stay informed – Make sure to check weather forecasts and warnings before and during storm chasing to avoid dangerous situations.
  • Vehicle safety – Use a reliable vehicle that can withstand the weather conditions, have proper braking systems, and always wear seat belts.
  • Distance – Keep a safe distance from the storm and avoid getting too close to avoid dangerous strikes, hail, and debris.
  • Communication – Have proper communication equipment such as a radio or cell phone to stay connected with other storm chasers or emergency services.
  • First Aid Kit – Carry a well-stocked first aid kit to provide care to yourself and others in case of injuries.

While following these precautions can help minimize risk, it’s essential to remember that no storm is entirely predictable, so always be prepared to take quick action and make better decisions.

In addition to these safety precautions, there are also several common mistakes that storm chasers should avoid. Here are some examples:

  • Disregarding local regulations – Understand local laws, regulations, and guidelines for storm chasing to avoid unnecessary risk and keep yourself from getting in trouble with authorities.
  • Overestimating experience and abilities – Even experienced storm chasers should exercise caution and be aware of their limitations and capabilities.
  • Ignoring the weather forecast – Always check weather forecasts before chasing a storm, as some weather conditions may not be conducive to safe chasing.

Preparing for Storm Chasing

Before embarking on any storm chasing adventure, prepare yourself mentally and physically by researching and learning as much information as possible about the local weather conditions and risks. You should also ensure that you have enough food and water, clothing, a GPS device, and a camera to document your experiences.

Essential Items for Storm Chasing Why It’s Important
Weather radio or scanner Allows you to listen to weather conditions and broadcasts for real-time updates and warnings.
GPS device Helps navigate unfamiliar territory and provides information about storm conditions and local roads.
Camera Aids in documenting and sharing storm chasing experiences, useful in case of weather-related news or research.
Binoculars Offers an overall view and an up-close look at the storm safely without exposing yourself directly to danger.

Overall, storm chasers should always prioritize safety and learning about the risks and methods of storm chasing before heading out. With adequate preparation and caution, storm chasing can be a truly unforgettable experience.

The Science Behind Thunderstorms and Tornadoes

Understanding the science behind thunderstorms and tornadoes is essential to becoming a successful storm chaser. Thunderstorms are caused by the warm, moist air rising rapidly into the cooler atmosphere. This rapid ascent causes the formation of cumulonimbus clouds, which are often associated with thunder and lightning. Tornadoes, on the other hand, are formed from the same thunderstorm system but are characterized by a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from the cloud base to the ground.

  • Thunderstorms are formed when there is an unstable atmosphere, meaning that there is a greater amount of warm, humid air at the surface as compared to the cooler air above. This warmer air will rapidly rise and cool, condensing into clouds that can grow to immense heights. Updrafts within the cloud can cause the cloud to rotate, leading to a significant electrical charge buildup. This creates electric fields within the cloud and between the cloud and the ground, leading to lightning and thunder.
  • Tornadoes are formed when there are strong horizontal wind shear and changes in wind speed and direction with height. This leads to the formation of a mesocyclone, which is a vigorous rotating updraft of air. As the mesocyclone intensifies, the rotational speed increases, causing a tornado to form. The majority of tornadoes are produced from supercell thunderstorms, which are usually characterized by the familiar anvil-shaped cloud and wall cloud.
  • Storm chasers use a variety of tools to study thunderstorms and tornadoes, including Doppler radar, weather balloons, and specialized vehicles. Doppler radar is useful for obtaining the velocity of the winds within the storm, which can help identify the potential for tornado formation. Weather balloons are used to measure the atmospheric conditions at different heights, while specialized vehicles, such as tornado intercept vehicles, can provide live video footage and atmospheric data from within the storm.

Overall, understanding the science behind thunderstorms and tornadoes is crucial for any storm chaser. By having a thorough understanding of the atmospheric conditions that lead to the formation of these severe weather phenomena, storm chasers can better predict when and where they are likely to occur, and take necessary precautions to stay safe while pursuing their passion.

As thrilling as storm chasing can be, it is always critical to keep safety as the utmost priority. Storm chasers should never pursue a storm if it puts their lives at risk, and should always follow best safety practices recommended by the National Weather Service and other reputable organizations. With proper education and precautions, storm chasing can be both a rewarding and life-changing experience.

Thunderstorm Characteristics Tornado Characteristics
Cumulonimbus clouds Rotating, funnel-shaped cloud
Associated with thunder and lightning Formed from thunderstorm mesocyclones
Created by unstable atmosphere Require strong wind shear and changes in wind speed and direction with height

By immersing themselves in the science and understanding the fundamental principles underlying the formation of thunderstorms and tornadoes, storm chasers can better appreciate and capture the beauty and power of these incredible natural phenomena.

Career opportunities for storm chasers

Storm chasers are individuals who are enthusiastic about pursuing dangerous storms like hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms to obtain information for research or broadcast media. Typically, storm chasing can be a perilous activity that poses significant risks to life and property. However, this field provides an array of career opportunities to individuals who have the required education, skill set, and passion to study and report on severe weather events. Below are some popular career opportunities for storm chasers:

  • Meteorologists: A meteorologist is a professional who is involved in studying, forecasting, and analyzing weather conditions. They collect data through various sources, including radar, satellite, and automated weather stations, and use this information to create weather maps and charts. Various meteorologists report weather conditions on their local TV stations while others work for government agencies like the National Weather Service.
  • Storm Trackers: Storm Tracker is an individual who uses radars, GPS systems, and other advanced technology to follow and locate severe weather events. Their primary job is to provide real-time information about the direction and track of a storm system to warn people in the affected regions and provide enough time to prepare or evacuate. Storm trackers report their data to weather forecasting companies or serve as consultants for various organizations.
  • Research Scientists: Research scientists who specialize in the field of meteorology can perform research on a broad range of topics connected to weather and climate. Their research may focus on anything from the effects of global climate change on tropical storms to how tornadoes and hurricanes are formed and how they behave. Research scientists may work for universities, government agencies, or private companies, and are responsible for conducting cutting-edge research and finding innovative ways to improve our understanding of severe weather.

Storm chasing presents exciting and thrilling career opportunities to individuals passionate about the study of weather patterns and conditions. The typical requirements for a career associated with storm chasing include a degree in meteorology, atmospheric science, or related fields. An internship in a weather-related field can also be a great way to gain experience and entry-level job opportunities. The field is constantly evolving, with new technologies and approaches to weather prediction emerging. As a result, the demand for storm chasers and related professions is on the rise.

If you are the adventurous type and enjoy tracking and analyzing extreme weather conditions, then the world of storm chasing may be the perfect career path for you. However, it’s important to remember that this field comes with inherent risks, and proper training on safety, weather detection technology, and response procedures should always be a priority.


Benefits Challenges
Possibility to Study and Report on Severe Weather Events Potential Life-threatening Risks
Exciting and Thrilling Career Opportunities Inherent Risks
Personal Fulfillment For Passionates Unpredictability of Weather Patterns

The impact of storm chasing on meteorological research

Storm chasing has had a significant impact on meteorological research over the years. Here are some of the ways:

  • Data collection: One of the primary goals of storm chasing is to gather data about storms and weather patterns. Storm chasers use various tools, such as anemometers, barometers, and thermometers to collect data about temperature, pressure, wind speed, and direction, which are crucial for understanding weather patterns. This data is then used by researchers to create weather models, develop forecasting technologies, and improve our overall understanding of severe weather patterns and their potential effects on communities.
  • Validation of models: Storm chasing also contributes to the validation of weather models created by meteorologists. As they gather data during their expeditions, storm chasers can compare the data they collect with the predictions made by weather models. This comparison helps to determine the accuracy of the predictions and can lead to improvements in the models themselves.
  • Advancements in technology: Storm chasing has also led to advancements in technology used to track and predict severe weather patterns. With the availability of improved radar, satellite, and computer models, along with other technological advancements, forecasters can track storms with greater accuracy and provide more precise warnings to people in the path of those storms. This, in turn, can help people prepare and take necessary precautions to minimize the potential impact of severe weather events.

Another significant impact of storm chasing on meteorological research is the development of better warning systems. The data collected by storm chasers not only helps researchers understand severe weather patterns better, but it also helps them develop more accurate and timely warnings to alert communities and individuals about impending severe weather events. This improved warning system has saved numerous lives.

Impacts of storm chasing on meteorological research Description
Data collection Storm chasers use various tools to collect data about temperature, pressure, wind speed, and direction, which are crucial for understanding weather patterns.
Validation of models Storm chasing contributes to the validation of weather models created by meteorologists, and the comparison helps to determine the accuracy of the predictions.
Advancements in technology Storm chasing has led to advancements in technology used to track and predict severe weather patterns, including the availability of improved radar, satellite, and computer models.

Overall, storm chasing has played an important role in meteorological research, leading to advancements in technology, data collection, and the development of better warning systems that have saved countless lives.

Ethical considerations for storm chasing and weather reporting

While storm chasing and weather reporting can be an exciting and rewarding profession, it is important to take into account the ethical considerations that come with this job. Here are some of the key ethical considerations:

  • Respect for private property and safety: Storm chasers must be respectful of private property and prioritize the safety of themselves and others. It is vital to obtain proper permissions before entering private property and to never put oneself or others in danger in pursuit of a storm.
  • Impartiality in reporting: Weather reporting should always strive to be impartial and free from bias. It is important to present the most accurate and up-to-date information to the public without sensationalizing or dramatizing the situation.
  • Respect for those affected by the storm: Storm chasers and weather reporters must maintain a level of sensitivity towards those affected by the storm or severe weather event. It is important to avoid exploiting the situation for personal gain or entertainment.

Additionally, storm chasers and weather reporters must be aware of the legal considerations of their job, including obtaining the proper permits and licenses for storm chasing and adhering to any local or state regulations.

Overall, storm chasing and weather reporting can be a fascinating and fulfilling career, but professionals in this field must always keep in mind the ethical considerations that come with it in order to maintain credibility and respect for themselves, their colleagues, and the public they serve.

What is the job of a storm chaser?

1. What does a storm chaser do?
A storm chaser is a professional who tracks and monitors severe weather conditions such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and thunderstorms.

2. What kind of equipment does a storm chaser use?
A storm chaser uses various gadgets and instruments to detect severe weather. Devices such as Doppler radar, anemometers, and barometers help them assess the intensity of a storm.

3. What is the purpose of storm chasing?
The main purpose of storm chasing is to gather scientific data on severe weather to improve forecasting and warning systems.

4. What are the risks involved in storm chasing?
Storm chasers are exposed to extreme weather conditions and hazardous situations, including high winds, hail, lightning, and tornadoes, which can put their lives at risk.

5. How can someone become a storm chaser?
Becoming a storm chaser typically requires a strong background in meteorology, as well as knowledge of severe weather and its behavior. Many storm chasers also pursue degrees in atmospheric science.

6. Does storm chasing pay well?
It depends on the type of job and work opportunities available. Some storm chasers work for government agencies and meteorological organizations and earn a median annual salary of around $94,000.

7. Is storm chasing legal?
Storm chasing is not illegal if done responsibly and within the bounds of the law. However, storm chasers must adhere to safety regulations and respect private property.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading about the job of a storm chaser! Their work can be dangerous, but their contributions to improving weather forecasting and warning systems are immeasurable. Stay safe during severe weather, and check back for more interesting articles about weather and science in the future!