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                   Thursday, May 14, 2009 - 7:45PM

Who are these people?

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Though this post may be fodder for discussion among storm observers, this is really for my friends, family and aquaintances who read this blog. I have to go on the record to state that many of the I-reporter 'storm observers' that you are seeing on TV nowadays are not part of the storm observer community. They do not represent what storm observing is, and I'm making this post to publicly distance myself from what they do. This business of driving 120MPH to catch a tornado, then being all over national TV acting like they're a 'hero' observer, making it seem like they are one of us, is pretty upsetting to me. I am also really getting irritated at this 'I reporter' junk with people totally clueless about storm structure and meteorology trying to describe what they're seeing.

These people are not true 'storm observers'. They are what we 'real storm observers' call 'locals' - people who never think about storms their entire lives, then when that one tornado hits their county, they jump in their cars (totally clueless about what they are doing) and try to 'chase'. And because they have no clue about the ethics of observing other than what they saw in 'Twister', they end up acting stupid, putting themselves and everyone else in danger by doing things like driving 120 miles per hour, in traffic, on wet roads. Then, since they are willing to give footage away for free, they're the ones that make it onto national TV as the 'tornado expeditionr'.

Some might accuse me of being jealous by saying this, but if you know me, you know that's not true - I don't care about being on TV. It's just pretty irritating to see the name of observing, and those of us in it, get tarnished by these bad examples (that don't represent what we do) being the ones getting the public 'airtime'. So please, to my friends, family, coworkers and associates, don't lump me into the category of what you're seeing on TV now. That's not storm observing.

I'm not even talking about getting close to tornadoes, nor am I talking about the experienced storm observers who got close video yesterday. There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with getting close if you do it carefully. I'd do it if I had the chance to do it safely. The problem is that it's not the experienced storm observers who are getting all the airtime doing it. It's the I-reporters going 120 miles per hour to do it.

Now I'm all for new storm observers getting into the hobby. Everyone has a right to be out there, even the 'locals'. But please take the time to learn a little about what you're doing before going on national TV trying to represent storm observing. And if you're in the media, please do us 'real storm observers' a favor and make the distinction that these people are not part of the storm observing community, that they do not represent observing, nor exemplify real storm observers. We are the ones that spend hard-earned money and thousands of miles every year to do what we do as respectfully as possible - I don't appreciate getting lumped together with these bad apples that have just come out of nowhere. Again, who are these people?

I agree. Who are these people. :) lol I am fine with thousands of people going out and enjoying the weather. Take photos - stay safely off the road. By all means enjoy the show that mother nature provides for all of us. I could care less if there are a thousand new people out there next year. That is fine. I like to see happy people who are enjoying themselves. Enjoying the hobby - enjoying the feel of awe when you are watching a thunderstorm. No problem!!! Hopefully these people will try to educate themselves about the storms and how these severe storms form. Join spotter progrems - contact HAM radio net groups - help the NWS with gathering data. Call them what you want. Storm observers, tornado storm observers, spotters, hobbyists, OEM, expedition tours, locals. What I don't understand are people who are rude to these new people. Believe they do not belong out there. Act as if they are some higher up observer. They have some observer badge that gives them the right to bash everyone else for how they chase. They are in the way blah blah blah. There are some pretty nasty threads on Storm Track at this time concerning this topic. On the other side of the fence... I also don't understand why someone would drive 100+ mph in order to view a tornadic supercell. Why would you risk my families lives? The people on the road around here? What in the world would possess someone to take such a risk. Not to be mean, but I would love to see those who participated in these activities prosecuted. I have friends and family out there on those roads. If some idiot observer kills one of them then they will never forget the response coming their way in response to their stupidity and reckless behavior. I for one won't be very forgiving. "I was trying to capture a storm for blah blah blah reason" will fall on deaf ears. I can assure you that the rest of your life we be spent wishing you had never heard the word storm observing. Just a fair warning :) Otherwise - by all means get out there and chase. Take photoraphs of rainbows, rain shafts, hail storms, tornadoes, lightning, dust devils, and everything else that makes you smile or someone else smile. There are many miles of roads that will lead you to the storm. Learn to share that road with those around you. But, please don't hurt someone in the process.
- Posted by Beau
AMEN Dan! Well spoken! These same kind of folks cost me a tv deal earlier this year.
- Posted by Clarence from Nashville, TN
Couldn't have said it better myself. Sometimes I just cant believe what I see.
- Posted by Dean Baron from New Brighton, MN
Great post, Dan. Unfortunately, the media actively seeks out these types of "storm observers", because that type of behavior is what sells and draws in the viewers. I can say that with confidence since I myself have been trained as an ENG videographer. I certainly do not agree with it, especially when these morons are giving away their video for free. That is the main reason why I have not even attempted to get any media contacts myself. And don't even get me started on the media crews themselves, some of whom I think are as bad or worse than the locals. Unfortunately, I do not believe it will get any better.
- Posted by Ken Reynolds from Grand Prairie, TX
I understand exactly what you are saying Dan. We work as full time professional photographers and have done for many years, now we have a new breed on the block, the person who has a full time job, then picks his camera up on a saturday and becomes a wedding photographer, we call them weekend warriors. They have to start somewhere but there just seems to be so many of them these days.
- Posted by Mick from UK
Thanks for all the responses. I'm not so much worried about losing business to this faction (as there's not much business there to be lost with tornado video), rather I'm concerned about them becoming the 'face' of storm observing in the public eye.
- Posted by Dan R. from Charleston, WV
I agree could not have said better myself. God bless!!!
- Posted by Kurt

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