Sixteen tornadoes, two of which were rated EF4 with estimated winds of 166-200mph. That was aftermath from our day of storm chasing in Oklahoma. The one storm we followed eventually went tornadic, but by then it was into an area of Northern Oklahoma that our chase guide said had such poor roads that it wasn't safe.
If you're intrigued by storm chasing...yeah me too. Wow, it was quite an experience. But I have to tell you that from my recent trip to Oklahoma, the chasers I followed were very serious about safety. With 20 years of experience, they know how to put themselves and the chase crew in a safe position to intercept.
So please don't go out chasing on your own without taking a class from the National Weather Service and doing some research on how to stay safe on a chase. Or you can join up with the professionals like we did, as many companies provide extreme vacations and will take you out storm chasing for the week. These guys have a lot of technology in their trucks, they know how to read radar, and they know how to chase safely.
Below you'll find some links on storm chasing, safety, classes from the National Weather Service on storm spotting and the company that we followed in Oklahoma.
http://www.stormtrack.org/library/faq/ A great link that answers frequently asked questions specifically about storm chasing. You'll learn about gear, strategy, forecasting and terminology. These chasers are not simply adrenaline junkies, they value safety above all and knowing what to do if you make a mistake and get into a bad position.
http://www.extremechasetours.com/ A link to Extreme Chase Tours, the guides who we followed throughout Oklahoma chasing storms. They are one of many companies that for a fee will take you out on an adventure storm chasing. A lot of people enjoy it as a vacation, while the folks on our chase were capturing video as part of a stock video company.
http://www.spotternetwork.org/ Spotter network on-line, you can see on a map where signed in chasers are located.
http://www.chasertv.com/ A lot of chasers stream live to this site. The weather service and anyone else can see what the chasers see, providing ground truth to what meteorologists detect on radar.
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lsx/?n=skywarn Skywarn is a national organization of 290,000 volunteers that are storm spotters for local weather service offices. The above link is for our St. Louis office and while the training classes for our local area are completed for 2010, they'll have more in Spring 2011.
http://www.weather.gov/om/brochures/basicspot.pdf This is a link to the Basic Spotters' Field Guide. Much of this content is what the National Weather Service will cover during spotter training.