Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Misconception of Chasing: Science and Saving Lives

So recently I saw people getting their undies in a knot because I said that anybody who deludes themselves into thinking they're chasing for science or to save lives is full of it.This is a piggyback off of part of my last rant earlier in December. I thought it'd be prudent to get my point across before it turns uglier.

To start off, lets look at the whole "I chase to save lives" deal. I think this quote sums up the mentality of a good 95% of chasers. It comes from a piece by Tim Marshall on chasing pioneer Roger Jensen:
"I will never forget what Roger told me why he photographed storms all of his life: "Gosh, it's for the awe at what you are seeing. I was born loving storms."

That quotation basically sums it up. Like I said in the other post, storm chasing is a selfish pursuit. Spotters are there to "save lives"/report severe weather or something of the like. Chasers are a totally different breed. The goal is to observe convective weather, to photograph it or record it, to just have that experience. No chaser goes out looking to simply report tornadoes, hail, or damaging winds. They may help if they come across damage and many will report severe weather phenomena if they get the chance but its important to remember that it's not the primary objective of a chaser. I've never seen someone say "going out to save lives today". But then again, I don't know everyone in the community so its possible that some people do go out with the sole objective of saving lives (how they do that I'm not quite sure). If you set that as your goal, then more power to you, but this whole belief that chasing is turning sour or someone is doing it wrong  because they're not solely dedicated to saving people is pure BS. 

Now that the first part of the rant is over, lets delve into the second part: chasing for science. This motivation is almost as frequently used as the chasing to save lives version. A lot of the time, newer chasers will say they chase for science to make themselves seem more important or more impressive to the people around them. This may impress the general populace but its a fallacy. Mounting a little weather station on your car does not mean you're chasing for science. It would have to benefit the scientific community by making some new discovery and the likelihood of that happening is less than zero. Field studies such as VORTEX2 and ROTATE were chasing for science. They were gathering data that had actual use in solving some of the more baffling aspects of microscale events in supercells. Unless you're part of one of those government or university field studies, please, for the sake of all of us, stop using  "I chase for science". 

If my post has offended anyone, I apologize right now. Feel free to berate me in the comments section but I'm sticking to my opinion. I'm not necessarily saying I'm right but I think I've made a valid argument. If you're interested on reading more about Roger Jensen follow the link below:


Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Personal Rant

Well the polar air mass in Canada is supposed to start dipping down over most of the central states towards the eastern seaboard:
NAM TMPF forecast valid 00 UTC Sun 11 Dec 2011

Although the winter has been slow to kick off so far it prolly won't stay that way going into next week. Looks like lower 30s during the day and the lower 20s at night. In short, everything I hate about winter.

But life goes on. I'm finishing up my first semester of my senior year in high school. I've only got about 2 months and 3 weeks until the chase season starts again and I need to find a source of income so I can supply not only a trip to the Plains but chasing period. I have more of a shortage of time than an excess of it. Words cannot express how much I want out of high school at this point.

Storm chasing is becoming such an overriding factor in my life that the rest seems just like extra details. One of the other numerous reasons is that people just don't get it. As fun and awesome as storm chasing is, there's not too many people to share my interest with around here. As far as I know I'm the only actual chaser in the city (probably not the only one though). Even though I've shown how much chasing is pivotal in my life my parents still like to make it out like I'm a total n00b and tell people I "wanna be just like the guys on the Discovery Channel". Comical considering I stopped watching that TV show awhile back and have absolutely no desire to emulate what Reed Timmer, Sean Casey and Tim Samaras are like (though I still hold high respect for Tim Samaras and Sean).This is one of the many reasons that I  honestly don't like to talk about chasing with people who aren't also interested in weather. Its pointless, plain and simple. If they show interest, its only fleeting and they immediately associate you with the ones they see on TV with the armored cars barreling down a road at a tornado. Other "chasers" (and I use that term very loosely in this case) my age, seem to believe if they boast about it to enough people, post enough statuses about they're exploits, make fun of people who are scared of storms, and copy what they see on TV and label it as "for the advancement of science and the saving of lives" they will be seen as these demigod figures doing battle with the convective powers that be. Any attention they may garner from this chest bumping fades. I think Dan Robinson had a blog post about this. The truth is NOBODY CARES. The average Joe doesn't care that you've seen 10 tornadoes, he doesn't care how many people you "saved" by chasing and so on. He only cares about the weather for today and tomorrow. Whether it will rain or not, whether it will snow or not, the temperature. That's it. They may show initial interest but its just something cool they've run into and have no real interest in.

As long as I'm ranting, I may as well get one more thing off my chest. If I hear "I chase to save lives" one more time I'm gonna throttle the closest person. Chasing does not save lives no matter what people believe. Chasers may help in the warning process if they get the chance to report something, but we're just that, part of the warning process. Storm chasing isn't a life saving endeavor, it is a selfish pursuit. People chase to get photos or video of a storm or maybe just a romanticized experience with nature. In short, you chase for yourself.

Now that that's over with, 83 days to chase season!