The lighter side of weather: Storm chasers
Storm "Hunters", storm "Chasers", storm "Stalkers"; whatever you wanna call them, I don't get it.
I mean I spend all the time I have on air telling people to get AWAY from storms until after they have passed. As a matter of fact, we tell you to beware the head of a towering cumulus hammer-head because lightning will strike AHEAD of the deep dark clouds.
“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors.”
Then we say to stay tucked away indoors until time has passed after the storm as there is always some sort of residual instability that will linger and can be dangerous. But these "jockeys" go racing INTO the face of the most dangerous of storms!
There was an old Willie Nelson song that opined: "Mama Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys"....well, we need to write a new one about "Storm Hunters". Now you may be saying that just because I am a chicken in a suit with a skinny tie, I am probably not understanding the psyche of the "storm aficionado"; I would have to agree with you there, so let's investigate this further.
When did this craziness start anyway? Truth is, it's always been a passion for many but you have to admit that the movie "Twister" did for storm chasers what "Titanic" did for the cruise industry, what "Talladega Nights" did for NASCAR or what "Single White Female" did for sharing the rent with a total stranger (uh, maybe strike that last one from the record).
For as long as storms have been dishing it out, there have been those who have been striving to know more about the personality of, and what causes, these deadly natural weather phenomena.
But why get so close? I remember shooting a "Lighter Side of Weather" segment on the "Maid of the Mist" and it scared the bejeezes out of me to be so close to THAT "force of nature".
The difference is MY day ended in sunshine and wet hair, while storm chasers' days involve dented roofs, blown out windshields, frayed nerves and heart palpitations, and that's just after asking permission from the wife or husband to go on their nutty adventure!
Here's who I blame: the internet!
Ever since the rise of high-speed internet, it has been easier to access pictures and video of what's going on around the world. So now instead of reporting on damage, everyone wants to be "embedded"... that's another kitsch word these days. When I was a kid, "embedded" was a sci-fi gadget that was injected into a prisoners arm so that he could be traced if he tried to leave the planet (alright, I had a rather sheltered life and only 13 channels).
So sure, I'll grant that by being "in" the situation, it does give the rest of the world a truer perspective on what it is REALLY like for our heroes....I guess if you're into that sort of "reality".
From where I stand, there are those who "report on it" and those who "experience it", there are those who "see it" and those who "face it" ... there are those who throw caution into the wind and those who dare to get tossed around by it.
For storm chasers, they are a giant dish of all these things all mixed into the same stew.
For those with a weak stomach: don't eat the stew!
Remember that we continue with the Angry Planet television show all this week and we have our own "Storm Hunter" Mark Robinson on the ground with broadcast meteorologist, Jaclyn Whittal continuing their coverage from the U.S. Southern and Northern Great Plains.
Watch for some of the most incredible footage of what is happening, while it is happening.
And you can always watch me coast-to-coast across Canada, Monday through Friday, beginning at 9 a.m. (edt)/6 a.m. (pdt) for my in-depth analysis of the day's weather on the television right here on The Weather Network.
I do have a panache for the "quirky" and the "off-beat" but as I always say; there is the "Lighter Side of Weather".
Here's a link to my last lighter side of weather piece.