Here are five guaranteed ways to earn a reputation as an idiot storm chaser:
#5: Thinking you're going to make a living or be famous for chasing
Storm chasing is a hobby. Virtually no one makes a profit from chasing. With only 2 or 3 exceptions, we all have normal jobs. Even if you manage a small profit from a video sale, it won't pay your rent or mortgage. Look at my TV credit list. I've been on TV a LOT - and guess what, I still work a normal job. The TV market is even harder these days because everyone on earth has a broadcast-quality camera on a phone that they carry around 24-7. So don't quit your job, don't leave/neglect your wife and family, don't max out your credit card to chase storms. Do any of that, and you will be known as an idiot chaser. Nobody cares if you chase, even if you make the news every once in a while. Do you remember anyone you saw on TV this week? Right. No one's going to remember you 5 minutes after you're on the screen.
#4: Stealing or faking storm photos
Tornado and storm photos are prized trophies to a chaser. We can recognize them a mile away. Chasers also know very well what real tornadoes and lightning look like. If you steal or fake an image and post it publicly, you WILL get caught, called out, and of course, be known as an idiot chaser.
#3: Putting flashing lights on your vehicle
Strobes and lightbars are illegal in many states, and they are nearly useless in storm chasing. They are blinding to other chasers. If you go crazy with flashing lights, expect to get relentlessly mocked and reviled in the storm chasing community. If you insist on using lights, use ambers, only rear-facing and don't switch them on unless you have a good reason (and only when you are stopped). Using blue and red lights will get you arrested for impersonating an officer (yes, it HAS happened), even if they are switched off! I used to have an amber lightbar many years ago, but stopped using it because it made me look like an idiot.
#2: Celebrating when a tornado hits a house
Seeing a tornado can be exhilarating, but please, have some basic respect and contain your celebration when one is destroying someone's property. Unless you want to be known as an idiot chaser.
#1: Driving like an idiot
Blocking the road, excessive speeding, passing in no passing zones, blowing stop signs, driving across fields, blocking a private driveway, not pulling over for emergency vehicles - all of these things will earn you the idiot chaser label faster than anything, and put the wrath of the entire chase community on you! TV personalities are not immune to being idiots, in fact, at times they can be the worst ones!
So, enjoy your chase, and don't be an idiot!
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