I hate when people post RadarScope pictures of “convergence” and their scale is 50 miles. Of course it looks packed! Now zoom in and you’ll see hundreds of yards between the five vehicles on a single road. And a significant portion of those “red dots” are actually spotters – not chasers, sitting in their house looking out a window, or ARES operators doing their thing.
Even at the Greensburg, KS “convergence,” we still had hundreds of yards between us and our fellow chasers. Even when we stopped at the gas station, there were no more than 25 of us (people, not cars). The gas station owner was glad to see 25 people in his gas station buying drinks and snacks and filling up their cars because the next gas station was in a town 50 miles to the west.
Everywhere we stop people ask us about our equipment and the weather and what they should do and where they should go and thank us for doing what we do. People honk and wave at us all the time. Not once have we experience anything negative with locals. Not. Once.
I have no doubt that at some point there will be a “convergence” on a road that becomes dangerous because it limits evacuation routes. But I haven’t seen that yet personally (I have seen one video of a clogged road, but no one was in danger and the storm was still over 20 miles away). For me personally, if I come across a road that does have too many chasers on it, I’ll find another road or another storm if I have to. Maybe one day I’ll run into that, but so far, I haven’t.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m not in it for the money. Never have been. Never will be. Even when media outlets offer money or ask how much I want, I never accept and let them use it for free. My response is usually, “No money necessary, please share with credit, and get the word out to make the public aware of these dangers.” Public safety is why I do it. I report to NWS, 911, or the local EMA as necessary. I post on social media to let people know what’s happening on the ground.
Have no doubt, this isn’t public service for public service’s sake. I absolutely get a joy out of the weather and chasing. But the love I have for it provides an opportunity for use in public service and I do just that.
Now the reason why I wrote all this is because I absolutely agree with this editorial.