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Editorials

Here, I will provide my thoughts on certain subjects as time permits. This page will be updated on an irregular basis.

Response to Lan Lamphere's Biased Article Concerning Storm Chasing

September 18, 2004
August 24, 2003
November 1, 2002
September 12, 2001
June 15, 2001
February 19, 2001
November 14, 2000
May 6, 2000

May 6, 2000

Lan Lamphere, author of the article "Storm Chaser vs. Storm Spotter" (dead link), makes a feeble and biased attempt to tell people the difference between storm chasers and storm spotters. The author argues that storm chasers are only self serving and have no interest in helping the public or the National Weather Service. Mr. Lamphere fails to prove any point with this article because of the lack of evidence that he provides. Instead, he only attacks all storm chasers that aren't involved with the government and seems to have a personal vendetta against them.

The author starts off his editorial by recounting his alleged experience with a chase tour. He tells of how the customers were white knuckled and trembling with fear, but Lamphere provides no evidence to back this point up. In fact, he said in a post on his message board that his pictures provide the evidence. The only picture of one of the tourists is of a young blonde woman that is smiling gleefully for the camera. Where's the terrified look on this woman's face? Where's the paralyzing fear that's been introduced to this young lady?

Continuing, Lamphere attempts to tell the differences between storm chasers and storm spotters. Lamphere's first point in differentiating the two is the fact that spotters are trained by the National Weather Service to act as such. What Lamphere fails to also relay is the fact that many chasers have also had the same training that these storm spotters have had and often attend the classes more than once.

Lamphere then goes on to say that storm chasers do not take the time to call in or report what they're seeing. This is entirely false as a majority of chasers that I've met make every effort to call in reports to the National Weather Service offices via either cell phone or amateur radio.

Lan also claims most chasers are "adrenaline junkies" and often make inconsiderate comments to victims. This is entirely untrue as the adrenaline aspect that's associated with chasing is rather low. Most chases consist of driving very long hours over extremely flat terrain. This doesn't rank very high on the adrenaline factor in my book; although I do enjoy seeing the beauty that the plains has to offer. Once storms begin to fire, then the chaser must work to get into a position to see the updraft base in order to see what exactly the storm is doing. Once in that position, and if anything interesting is taking place, then it's more of a sense of awe than a rush of adrenaline.

If only "adrenaline junkies" made up chasing, then there would be very few chasers left roaming the Great Plains of America. Instead, those chasers would go on to pursue more exciting activities, such as sky diving, bungee jumping, etc... Also, I don't know of any chasers who want to see any tornado go through a community, and if one does, then they certainly won't go and interview victims. Chasers HAVE helped communities that have been affected by tornadoes. Refer to Amos Magliocco's chase account of the Fort Worth tornado of March 28, 2000. This is only one instance of this happening as there are many.

In the article, Lamphere also "informs" us that spotters are often licensed amateur radio operators and instead of driving after a storm, most sit and wait for the storm to come to them. Once again, Lamphere fails to point out that many chasers are also ham radio operators and use their radios to communicate with other chasers and report severe weather to the National Weather Service. Lamphere seems to think that spotters are superior because they sit in one spot and wait for the storm.

Besides not being totally true in the case of mobile spotters, Lamphere fails to take into account a spotter who happens to be thirty miles away. If a fixed spotter is thirty miles away from a possibly tornadic storm that's moving twenty five miles per hour towards his position, then it will be over an hour before he/she might have the chance to see what's going on in regard to the main area of concern with the storm. On the other hand, a chaser who's thirty miles away will pursue the storm and try to get into position to have a good contrast view of the updraft base. In doing this, the chaser will be able to report severe weather quicker than the spotter who's still waiting for the storm to come to him. By possibly being able to report on a situation quicker, the chaser is helping warn the public and the National Weather Service in confirming what the radar is showing.

Although I don't commend what the author writes, I do praise all the spotters who volunteer their time for the public and turn in accurate reports. These spotters provide an invaluable service to the public and the National Weather Service. These gracious volunteers do a fantastic job in helping their communities, but Lamphere's biased article is completely off base when it comes to chasers. To witness what a fantastic job that chasers and spotters can do to help communities, then one only needs to refer to the May 3, 1999 tornado outbreak. If not for the efforts of chasers and spotters calling in reports, then there's no telling how many might have died on that day.

If one's only motive for chasing is playing a life and death game, then that person has missed the point. Thankfully, there's only a small minority of chasers who are out there for this reason. Mr. Lamphere, storm chasing is about having a sincere interest in what makes the atmosphere and storms work, learning to forecast and witness what Mother Nature has to offer; from beautifully sculpted LP supercells; to intense squall lines; and even to some of the most beautiful sunsets that can be seen by the human eye.

Chasing also involves calling in severe weather reports. It's not about being pumped full of adrenaline as one rushes to get out of a tornado alive. It's unfortunate that this man never learned the true meaning of what it is to chase as he seems to have the wrong impression, and now, Lamphere is publishing his vendetta-like views. People who do no further research might come away believing what Lamphere has to say, but let's hope this won't be the case.

Remember, don't believe everything that's posted on the internet or in the media! Especially from a person with questionable intentions and credibility.