If one desires to chase, then undoubtedly, the goal is to observe severe weather phenomena, such as supercells, tornadoes, hail, derechoes, and haboobs. In order to experience such phenomena successfully, one must be willing to invest many hours in order to learn about storm structure and the atmospheric processes that cause and affect severe weather events.
Sure, the Storm Prediction Center and National Weather Service Field Offices issue forecasts each day highlighting where tornadoes, hail, and damaging winds are most likely to occur, and these forecasts are beneficial in helping to choose a target area. However, the chaser who lacks the basic fundamentals of severe-weather forecasting and relies solely on the above-mentioned sources will find themselves aimlessly roaming the Great Plains while 100 miles away, chasers who made a good forecast are filming a prolific tornadic supercell.
If busting in Childress while a wedge tornado is ongoing south Amarillo doesn't sound appealing, then be willing to educate yourself. If one doesn't know what an RFD is and/or can't tell the difference between a wall cloud and a shelf cloud, then he/she has no business chasing storms. A good place on the Internet to start learning about severe weather and forecasting is Allan Rosenberg's Selected Internet Resources for the Beginning Chaser. Many chasers, including myself, have found this page to be a valuable tool for gaining "virtual" experience before going on that first chase. The ability to identify certain features and discern what the storm is doing will certainly make for a more enjoyable first experience. The learning process will not be short, but will instead become a lifelong endeavor since many facets of severe weather are still not understood and no two storms are alike.
Besides the willingness to learn, one must also take into account the time and money factor. Chasers often find themselves driving 500+ miles in one day over a featureless (but beautiful, IMHO) landscape to be in position for an event that may or may not occur. These marathon drives not only induce wear and tear on one's chase vehicle but also are hard on the body. Prepare for increased vehicle maintenance, limited sleep in sometimes not-so-restful hotel rooms, and a fast food diet, especially if taking a 1-2 week chase vacation. Not including the cost of equipment (laptop, cell phone, cameras, etc…), one can expect to spend at least $1500-2000 on food, fuel, and lodging alone during a two week chase vacation in the plains; certainly not the most inexpensive of hobbies.
Above Picture: Irresponsible behavior, such as blocking a road, by some chasers can create a hazardous situation for residents and other chasers.
To make matters worse, there may be the occasional encounters with some chasers who, when near a storm, suddenly lose every bit of common sense they once had. By obstructing traffic with either their vehicles or themselves, these careless and irresponsible chasers often present a greater danger than any storm or tornado could. Fortunately, these incidents are rare occurrences for the most part.
Above Picture: Close cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in front of Scott Blair's chase car on Nov. 23, 2001.
Above Picture: Large hail, such as the above encountered by Scott Blair on May 27, 2002, can cause extreme damage.
Above Picture: This May 5, 2002 tornado unfortunately killed two who didn't abandon their mobile home for better shelter.
Well, do you still really want to chase? If so, take the first step and check out the following links:
Selected Internet Resources for the Beginning Chaser by Allan Rosenberg
Storm Track's Educational Resources
The National Weather Service's Online Storm Spotting Guide
Tim Vasquez's Weather Forecasting School
Tim Vasquez's You Be the Forecaster page
Sam Barricklow's The Storm Shop
Dr. Jason Persoff's A Beginner Chaser's Education page
WW2010 Instructional Modules and Curriculum from the University of Illinois