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May 20, 2021
I have to admit to a certain amount of addiction to chasing storms. I say that as I have gone with out food, sleep, spent way to much money on gas and car repairs. In every sense of the world it can be an obsession. That said, I have a friend who spends way more money on his bass boat and fishing so I guess as addictions go, this one isn't so bad and I have seen some of the most amazing dramas of cloud and wind play out before my eyes.
The key to storm chasing for me is being safe. In 2016 I was hit by a car as I was photographing a storm. I was a hit and run and caused me a lot of medical issues. I was actually in the bar ditch several feet from the shoulder, not even close to the road. The car hit me, the impact threw me about 10 feet and who ever it was drove on. Fortune was with me as other than a few surgeries I am doing ok. It could have easily killed me.
The key lesson I learned that day was not all of the dangers come from the storm. A lot of people out there are driving distracted, after all storms are often incredible visual spectacles. How can you not be tempted to look. That day I was alone. Actually, even then I rarely chased storms alone but I was not actually chasing the storm in the normal sense. I was about 60 miles from the storm. It was a full moon night and I wanted photos of the storms clouds lit up by lightning from inside and the full moon from the outside. And so I thought I was pretty safe alone.
Now I never chase alone, had I been seriously hurt, I was in a very rural area and it would have been hours before I was discovered. And I don't even just go with any one, I only go with experienced storm chasers who are very knowledgeable about the behavior of storms and how to read radar. I have chased storms since 2013. I have read a lot of books and watch a lot of videos and even taken courses. But in the end, I am just a photographer and I look to experts and know that storms are dangerous and I am totally an amateur. But I am lucky in having friends who are experts and look to me to be the expert with the camera.
Bottom line if you want to chase, don't do it with some guidance and being safe... advice from uncle Jim after he got run over!
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