Chaser's Educational Section!
New Chasers & Current Chasers!
By Eric Nguyen

This page is designed for the new chaser as well as the current chaser.  Below is a list of documents all chasers must read on ethics and safety.  Included is a list of sites where you can obtain government/non-government technical papers to aid in the chasers knowledge when out there in the field.  I have learned a great deal from reading every one of these that hits the site.  Enjoy!

Quick Click!
For a list of documents below:








I am not speaking for all chasers; these are my views only! For me, chasing is a spectacular learning experience, and a great way to include the love of weather with an exciting twist. The more I chase, the more I learn, especially if it's a bust chase. Furthermore, chasing should not be dangerous, and before anyone even considers venturing out, I recommend that they examine the following. Essentially, there are three main topics to look at and list of rules I came up with. First, read the papers on ethics located at the beginning of this page. I also recommend that you read "In the Shadow of the Tornado", which is sold at the "Tornado Project Online" link on the weather instruments page. This book is about a huge F5 tornado, in the heart of tornado alley, which dug through the town of Woodward, Oklahoma. It continually reminds me of how destructive a tornado can be and the devastation of its aftermath. Secondly, learn all you can about storm structure and dynamics with the help of this page. The worst thing you can do is go out there and not know what you're looking at or what to avoid.  Also, a true chaser wants to forecast what he or she is going to chase. I recommend you visit the National Weather Service and get a feel of how forecasting is really done. They'll probably give you some pointers on forecasting and I'm sure they will be nice enough to let you do some research on severe weather in their personal library. Also, read up on the meteorological publications to learn severe forecasting.  The only way to really learn how to forecast is practice.  After a full year of chasing, you'll suddenly get the knack of basic forecasting.  Lastly, if you plan to record these events, read up on how to chase and film at the same time. Photography tips are given below. It is vital that you run a test of equipment before venturing out. I may run at least a dozen tests each winter before I go chasing in the spring. Usually, you will find that something doesn't run as smooth as you want it to. Please read the set of rules down below, their important.  Oh, and I have to say this as well: I am in no way liable for any damage or loss of life due to the content on my page, chase if you want to, and please read at least the first section of documents below plus my Disclaimer!

(NSSL) - Storm Chase Ethics, by Al Moller.
(MISC) - Women and Chasing, by Shannon Key.
(MISC) - Storm Chasers, Definition Vs. Reality, by Eric Nguyen.
(MISC) - Are Storm Chasers Really Crazy?, by Eric Nguyen.
(ST) - Dave Hoadley: Chase Fever, The Early Years, by Tim Marshall, January 1987.
(ST) - Storm Pioneer: A Biography of Neil B. Ward, by Gene Rhoden, November 1990.
(ST) - Why Chase Tornadoes?, by David Hoadley, March 1982.
(ST) - Bear White Child and the First American Tornado Chase , by John Weaver, March 1980.
The next three are not suppose to discourage anyone's thoughts about media chasers, only info that should be known.  These were written years ago and since then I personally feel that most media chasers are much safer today.  From what I've seen of the "OKC Channel 9" media chasers, they are nice guys that play it safe.
(MISC) - Jon Davies' 5/5/93 Experiences, by Jonathan M. Davies.
(SCH) - Cancer Within, by Rich Thompson and Roger Edwards.
(SCH) - Irresponsible Media Storm Chase Practices, by Roger Edwards and Chuck Doswell.
The reply to the above papers, notice this guy is slashing unfairly at the above authors.  This kind of attitude reflects negatively toward himself so do not take this as the official reply of "all" the media chasers.
(SCH) - Media Reply to the above, by a media guy.

(NSSL) - Chase Safety Guide by Chuck Doswell. *Excellent*
(NSSL) - VORTEX Storm Intercept Safety Rules! This was designed for VORTEX but I felt it could be used by all.
(ST) - Gene Moore sparkles again by John F. Weaver, July 1981.

Publications / Projects / Misc. Info
The list is too long so go to this site to see them all.
VORTEX Preliminary Results
Undergraduate Book, By Doswell *EXCELLENT*
School of Meteorology Main Page!
SOM Undergraduate Program Rules
SOM Graduate Program Rules
Jobs for Meteorology Students
Members of OUSCAMS
Student Chapter of the American Meteorological Society (OUSCAMS)
NSSL Briefings
NOAA's Info on El Niņo
Learn How to Depict Models
NOAA's La Niņa Information
NOAA/OGP El Niņo-Southern Oscillation Page

(MISC) - The Richest Source of Photography Information
(SCH) - Video Tips, by Greg Stumph.
(SCH) - Camcorder Reviews, by Sam Barricklow.
(MISC) - Storm Chaser Video Tips by Chris Novy, by Chris Novy.
(MISC) - Evaluation of Slide Film Brands for Storm Chasing, by Roger Edwards.
(SCH) - How Much For Your Video?, by Martin Lisius.
(SCH) - Tips on Selling Video, by Tom Grazulis.
(SCH) - Registering video, by Martin Lisius.

The following rules are my own and are not considered universal.  Several of these rules have nothing to do with safety yet they are extremely important in helping you get ready for the upcoming season.   I am out there with everyone else and I hope we all chase with extreme safety.   If all goes well, no one will ever be killed and chasers will remain a safe, sharing, and happy bunch.  Good luck out there!


1. Learn Before Chasing. Do not chase without learning about severe weather first. VERY important rule, it is very dangerous to not even know what your looking at.  There are tons of information above this page that you may look at which pertains to storm structure, safety, etc.  I recommend purchasing two books from Tim Marshal (Storm Track), one called "Tornado Talk", and "Storm Chase Manuel."

2. Don't Compare Chasing To "Twister". Although "Twister" is recognized as an excellent film, it is nothing like the true essence of chasing. Don't be fooled into thinking you can just drive on out there and see a tornado. Anyone that thinks Twister is the real thing needs to experience a bust chase when the atmosphere is so ready to explode and not a cloud in the sky.

3. Chasing Is Not A Sure Thing. There will be bust days when nothing happens. The best thing to do is to visit local sites; for example, I stopped by the city of Wakita, Oklahoma. There, I learned how Warner Brothers screwed over the town folks, by ripping the place apart and partially cleaning it up.

4. Set A Real Goal. It's better if your goal is to chase storms, not tornadoes. That's why were called storm chases. A tornado is just a special treat that storm chasers get to witness.  Tornado Chaser is just another word used in replace of Storm Chaser.  Heck, you could call it "Personal Atmospheric Research" instead.

5. Test Everything. Very important! Load up your chase vehicle with all of your equipment and pretend you're on a chase. What would you do if it were the real thing? How would your equipment hold up? Are you really prepared? Ask yourself these questions and any others you can think of to make sure everything will run as smoothly as you want it to.  I may go on 15 fake chases during the winter to make sure everything is in tune.

6. Be Prepared To Drive A Lot. If you hate driving a lot, then this may not be the right hobby for you. I'm talking hundreds of miles! I drove over 15,000 miles on chasing alone this year in 1998!

7. Be Prepared. Don't be caught out there without supplies. There is a list of supplies that I recommend on my "Storm Chasing Check List" page. For example you should take tape and plastic for broken windows. Don't be a fool and run out of film.

8. Be Courteous To Victims. Don't stick a camera in their face or film their battered homes. They are going through a ruff time! If you insist, then ask their permission, this kind of footage applies well with the tornado that caused the damage.   I do not see any problem with taking pictures days after the event.  If you do this, how does that compare to the media sticking their cameras through the windows minutes after it happened.

9. Be Aware of Lightning. Probably the #1 hazard for chasers is lightning. Most chasers have multiple antennas, and if they're outside the vehicle, they usually take a tripod along for steady pictures. A major hazard and my #1 concern during a chase. If lightning strikes your vehicle, then the bolt can destroy your ham radios, scanners, televisions and anemometers because of the electric current traveling down the antenna wires. Believe me, I know!!!!!

10. Hail Happens! Hail is another potentially dangerous element chasers' face. Take plastic (3+ mil) and masking tape incase your windows are damaged. If your afraid of getting hail damage on your vehicle, don't chase or try to avoid the hail shaft all together. Something I just learn is if you have an anemometer, don't get in the hail shaft at all, the hail will break the cups. Very large hail usually accompanies LP Supercells which may appear as a harmless string of gray coming from the base.

11. DO NOT SPEED! Don't give chasers a bad wrap. Obey all traffic laws and be courteous to local law enforcement. If you have to speed, make sure you speed safely and not in rural areas.  Do Not run stop lights if other cars are around and you put yourself in danger.  Put your life on hold and spare everyone else's.

12. Do Not Chase In A City. It is very dangerous to chase in a city. Limited road access, traffic, down trees, possibly debris, and street flooding are all factors when chasing through a city.  This also pertains to major highways where stupid people block traffic under overpasses, which puts everyone else's life in danger.

13. Do Not Chase At Night. Again, it's very dangerous. I don't even think experienced chasers should risk this kind of a chase.  Due be careful when driving home after a chase in the dark.  We had the outside of a tornado hit the chase vehicle on October 4, 1998 as we were heading home.  Other chasers in front of us filmed this tornado.

14. Be Aware of Rising Waters. Remember, if it looks deep, then it is deep. Chasing on the flat prairie lands of the plains can be perfect for view supercells, however, flat is not good for water, especially if your chasing near an HP supercell!   I haven't had any experiences with major flooding so I'm not to sure what to tell ya.

15. Visit With Other Chasers. If I see other chasers or spotters on the side of the road, I usually stop and visit with them. Its good to see other people out there, however a few chasers are not like this, you'll get to know who they are and avoid them.

16. Do Not Follow Anyone With Out Permission. It doesn't make anyone happy to be followed without their permission. Please, ask for their permission first. This applies to government vehicles too!  A chaser chases storms themselves.  My definition of a Yahoo is one who chases chasers!  If you decide to follow VORTEX, then your in for a real treat, cause they are studying RFD's these next few years so chances of getting the vehicle damaged will raise a few hundred percent!  If you do not know what an RFD is, then you shouldn't be out there in the first place.  You should also read how many times the Probe Vehicles needed to be repaired from damage.  In other words, Do Not Follow VORTEX or any other NSSL Vehicle!  Also, if your out there and don't know what your doing, please stay home.

17. Donate Your Footage To The NSSL. The NSSL won't give it to anyone else, they will just use it in their studies. All you have to do is make an extra copy and drop it by or mail it. I would also recommend sending a copy to your local Weather Service, they would greatly appreciate it. It will also give you the opportunity to get to know the people at the Weather Service.

18. Please Fill Out an NSSL Form. The NSSL would greatly appreciate it. These forms are entered into a database and used for study. These forms are located at NSSL's homepage and should be used accurately.

19. Do Not Cuss In Your Footage. I know it sounds weird, but many go home and find out that when they got pissed off at their camera or what have you, it was emitted louder than they would like.  Kind of hard to show off your film if you keep having to pause the sound.

20. Be Careful How You Film.  When you film a storm, give the time, place, and what's going on.  This type of video has more value.  Not for cash value but for the learning purpose.  Compare a video of storm chasers explaining what's going on while sounding professional and a video of storm chasers saying "Wahoo, Yes, Yes, Yippee" etc.

21. Do Not Be Repetitive When Speaking! For a perfect Example, I heard a tape with a chaser saying "Tornado on the ground, tornado on the ground, tornado on the ground, its coming this way, tornado on the ground, man, tornado on the ground."  I about died laughing when I heard how many times he said it.   If I have time, I will count them all and put it in this text.  So for your sake and others, calmly say it once so we can at least here the back ground!   Besides, if you put yourself in harms way and FREAK OUT, then you shouldn't be out there.

22. Do Not Core Punch!   Unless you know that it is safe.   That means this storm is weak, non-supercellular, has no potential of becoming strong, and has no warning on it what so ever.  if it is a supercell, do not core punch it to see the tornado, if you screwed up by being in the wrong position, then suffer and stay north of the storm until it passes so you can reposition yourself in the right place.  It may be a big thing your missing but its not big enough to die over.   I have seen video of several chasers taking this major risk in which they could have easily gotten seriously hurt!  If you are not afraid of getting hurt or "dying from something you love" then I'll see ya on the statistics list.


Last Update 3-1-99

Please feel free to E-mail me if you have a rule that
I should include or if you just have a suggestion.


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