The Dangerous Chase

STORM CHASING PKG 6

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The death toll is now 14 in a round of tornadoes and flooding last week in Oklahoma. That includes nine adults and five children.

Of the adults, three were professional storm chasers; this goes to show that even years of training and experience can be no match for a powerful storm.

This is leading many to question just how dangerous it is for folks to be stalking these deadly storms.

I met up with a local storm chaser to find out why he hunts down these storms.

He says the three storm chasers who died were well-known and well-respected within the chasing community, and that they were known for putting safety first.

Steve Yezek has been chasing storms around the Midwest for more than half a decade.

“I chase because I like to learn more about the storms, and be able to let the Nation Weather Service know, because we are their eyes and ears out in the field.”

While he mostly sticks to Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota, he says he has chased storms in Oklahoma.

The loss of veteran storm chaser Tim Samaras, his son, and his colleague has rocked the storm chasing community.

“These guys are extremely safe, they knew what they were doing yet, storms especially tornadoes can change course without notice and like those guys found out,” explains Yezek.

Very few details are known about how the three chasers were killed but many speculate that the tornado took an unexpected turn

Although these chasers were experienced, there are many people who attempt to chase storms who are not.

“It’s not for armatures to go out and just start with their camera chasing storms,” says Steve O’Neil.

O’Neil works for Cerro Gordo County Emergency Management and says that storm chasing needs to be left to the experts.

“If you don’t have a very good knowledge of storm activity and how to somewhat predict what it may do and know when you’re getting into danger and get out, as this weekend showed even with professionals,” says O’Neil.
While the loss of the three chasers in Oklahoma is tragic, Yezek says he hopes a lesson can be taken from it.

“Their loss might get other people to think of their safety when they do go out and take these warnings more seriously because even the most experienced chasers, experienced scientists can get into trouble.”

Yezek says he took several training courses through the National Weather Service before he started chasing and recommends anyone who wants to chase storms do the same.

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