This is one of the most popular questions we get in our e-mail inbox. Instead of answering these questions a different way each time, I’ll admit to being lazy and writing a quick blog post about it that we can link to. So hey, that’s why you are seeing this blog post today.So how do you get started storm chasing?
The Simple Answer: Just Drive
The simple answer is that there is no formal certification or training or anything of the sort to start chasing storms. One could realistically get in their car and drive towards the nearest tornado warned storm during a severe weather day and you’d be storm chasing.
If you are wondering if there are any legal hurdles keeping you off of storms the answer is no.
On a more practical, “should I do that” kind of level we highly recommend you take a good bit of time to learn beforehand.
The Things You Should Know Before Storm Chasing
- Storms are actually deadly. So you should probably spend at least a year learning all you can about them. Storm structure and behavior are the two things you absolutely should know about before you head out in search of storms. There are plenty of resources available, including Titan U right here on the Tornado Titans website. Another highly recommended resource are the Spotter Training classes the NWS puts on each year.
- Chasing is expensive. There are no tickets to see storms, but the cost of pursuing storms on a regular basis is easily $1000/year for any serious chaser. When you add in vehicle depreciation and the like, most people lose quite a bit of money chasing water vapor. When factoring, “Should I storm chase” you should be asking, “Is this how I want to spend my vacation funds this year?”
- You should probably go with an experienced chaser or spotter first. This will allow you to test out if chasing is something you even want to do. You will spend 10+ hours on the road most chase days. This will be in pursuit of what amounts to less than an hour of excitement many days. Needless to say, chasing is a grind. Finding someone experienced and willing to take you along is an invaluable way to learn both about storms and about whether this is something you want to do.
Chasing Isn’t For Everyone
Contrary to what some may think, storm chasing isn’t a hobby that everyone will necessarily enjoy. If, for instance, you don’t like long car rides this isn’t something you’ll enjoy. Also it goes without saying, but if you aren’t fascinated by weather you won’t last long chasing after it.
There is no wrong or right way to pursue weather. Some people may only chase locally and others may devote an entire week of chasing storms across the entire CONUS. Some may dedicate huge chunks of the year to it.
Others will get close to the action. More will stay back further to enjoy the show from a distance. We recommend giving yourself distance if you are just starting out FWIW.
Regardless, chasing is something that won’t be for everyone. If you do enjoy it though, expect to return time and time again in search of nature’s fury.