A rant regarding weather safety

I’ve been thinking about this all week, so I thought I write up a post about it.

During my chase on 22 March 2011, I saw several things that disturbed me. In at least 3 towns I drove through, the tornado sirens were blaring their signals, but nobody seem to be paying attention to them.  Kids were out running around, people were out watching the weather in their yards, and many a gas station continued on with business as normal.  All this while a confirmed tornadic storm bore down on their town.  We all later found out that in one town just west of DSM, their brand new tornado sirens didn’t even work!  Luckily the tornado passed just to the south of town.

With all the technology, media attention and shows on TV now a days, are we that desensitized for our own safety?  It seems that anymore, the right thing to do isn’t to go for safety, but to go out, stand in our yards and risk our lives to capture something so we can blast it all over the tv and internet. I mean, how many of these lives could have been saved by taking the necessary steps to protect one’s self and family instead of sight seeing?

Every spring the local NWS offices conduct a severe weather awareness week, with a tornado drill included.  It seems that they’re falling on deaf ears anymore.  Heck, KDMX even obtained a waiver this year so they will be able to use live wx alert tones for the simulated tornado drill instead of the usual test ones.  Do schools even practice tornado drills anymore? I have no idea, but I certainly hope they would.

I just feel like since the advent of “Twister” and the various storm chasing shows, everybody wants to be a storm chaser now a days.  Nobody realizes that to be a safe chaser, one needs to do a whole lot more than watch “Twister” or “Storm Chasers” on TV.  I used to have a dream to chase storms in KS/OK some day.  After seeing all the hoop-la last year with hundreds of people out clogging the roads, etc; I have absolutely no desire to get involved in that mess.  Nothing’s worse than having to dodge cars, people, etc while attempting to stay out of harms way. Being a successful and safe chaser doesn’t come overnight.  I’ve been chasing for well over 10 years now and am still learning new things.  I’ve spent countless hours reading,studying, and learning about forecasting.  You also have to learn to multi-task, obey the rules of the roads, etc.  Simply jumping in your car to go see the next ‘nader will end up getting you in trouble.  Those of us that chase on a regular basis have spent a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get where we are today in regards to our education and knowledge of weather.

Contrary to what many people think now a days, many if not all chasers are out there to help protect property and save lives.  Storm chasers travel all over usually have in depth weather knowledge.  Some chasers are mets, some such as myself aren’t.  But I have dedicated lots and lots of hours to learning weather forecasting, etc.  It helps keep me and other safe.  Chasers also almost always reach for the phone or radio to report severe weather before picking up that camera or camcorder.  Sometimes we’re the only eyes and ears the NWS may have.    Local spotters are also a great resource for the NWS.  I encourage every spotter to attend annual training to keep up on their skills.

With Iowa’s Severe Weather Awareness Week coming up, I hope everybody practices their tornado drills as all of us hope you will do.

Remember, when you hear that tornado siren go off, that means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar.  Don’t head outside to do some sight seeing!  Take Cover!  Leave the picture taking, etc up to the people that know what their doing. Please.

Severe Weather Awareness information from the NWS

These opinions are my own and nobody else’s.  I do not have anything against spotters, any chasers, tv show or otherwise.  Thank you for reading my rant! 😀

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