Staying alive in the high risk world of storm chasing
Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 4:57 PM -
Over the last few years, interest in storm chasing has surged, with amateurs now jockeying with seasoned professionals. The extreme sport has in many ways become a cultural obsession, and while it's great that people are taking an interest in weather, one should never overlook the inherent dangers involved in the pursuit.
"When it comes to chasing, you need to be smart and safe," says Weather Network meteorologist and five year storm chaser Dayna Vettese. "Just because you are equipped with a smartphone, it does not mean that you will be safe. If it is your first time chasing, it's important to know that no two storms ever behave the same, and it takes experience and practice to understand how storms behave."
CANADA'S TORNADO ALLEY: Everything you need to know
The risks became apparent on Sunday, when three-year storm chaser Cotton Rohrscheib and his team got more than they bargained for when they were caught in the Mayflower, Arkansas tornado.
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH: Trapped in a tornado
After seeing terrifying scenes such as those in the the video above, one would wonder why anyone would ever take the risk to begin with?
"There are different reasons why people chase," says Vettese. "Some like the thrill of the adventure, some like to see the science in the flesh, some do it to increase their knowledge of severe weather, some do it to storm spot and relay that information back, and some do it for any combination of the things mentioned."
Vettese says exercising proper etiquette and avoiding common mistakes can make the difference between life and death.
"Situational awareness is the key to survival," she says. "Sometimes you get very enthralled in the storm you're on and forget to pay attention to the storms around you, which can pose a threat to your life as well."
Keeping an eye on your surroundings also means watching out for fellow chasers.
"Driving is more of a danger to chasers than the storms are, such as other drivers getting into accidents or hitting wildlife – that can be more dangerous than tornadoes at times."
"Lightning danger is another one storm chasers ignore.You can't predict where lighting will strike, so you are taking your chances by being outside your vehicle."
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH: The Weather Network goes chasing in Tornado Alley