MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

June 7, 2013

Storm chasing not worth risk


— Stay off the roads when a tornado approaches.

Running from the storm in a vehicle is a bad choice. Chasing after it is a worse one.

The deaths of three professional storm chasers near Oklahoma City have renewed questions over whether the risk of dashing off into violent storms is too great. It is, especially for those out there for the wrong reasons.

Longtime storm chasers Tim Samaras, his son Paul and colleague Carl Young were killed in the recent tornado near El Reno.

Their loss is tragic, but their jobs were dangerous and they knew it.

Seasoned storm trackers provide critical field data that can’t be gleaned from high-powered Doppler radar, veteran meteorologists say.

But there are also a lot of weather enthusiasts out in storms seeking to capture video, inspired by TV shows, the thrill of the chase and a desire to see disasters firsthand.

Professionals take precautions to minimize the risks associated with collecting vital information.

Amateurs may not be so cautious. Even experts can be caught flat-footed when a tornado surprises them, especially when the severe weather is rain-wrapped.

Many drivers on Interstate 40 when the deadly storm smashed through were fleeing the storm. Others were chasing it. Both groups turned the highway into a parking lot in the face of impending doom.

Know where you will go in a storm. Don’t take to the road. If you do, you are risking your life and the lives of others.

The adrenaline rush is not worth it.