Man, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged! I guess I just haven’t been in a writing mood recently — alas if it’s not something meteorological related or storm chasing, then I usually do not feel like writing about it. Like a lot of other avid Discovery Channel (DSC) viewers, I have found the latest "Storm Chasers" series to be quite interesting — the latest in DSC’s "reality show" style of programming that has really grabbed viewers over the past couple years… along the lines of "Deadliest Catch", "Man vs. Wild", "Survivorman", among others — all of which I find very interesting to watch.
"Storm Chasers" is a 4-part "reality" series that was filmed during a ~6 week period from late April through May 2007. You can read more about it on DSC’s website. As a storm chaser myself, it is easy scrutinize or pick at this program with a fine-tooth comb given my familiarity with storm chasing… although not necessarily on the research side of storm chasing — that said, much of the trials and drama that is portrayed in "Storm Chasers" is very much experienced by all storm chasers — research or not. For this reason, I love the program. I have not seen one documentary, made-for-teevee movie, theatre movie, etc. that has portrayed what storm chasing really is. Just about all of "Storm Chasers" is really what you see happen to all storm chasers at some point — we all have to make the same forecast and tactical decisions to achieve our goals of the chase — whether they are research oriented trying to get as close to… or even in a tornado in TIV’s case — or fine-art photography of supercell storm structures like in my case (as you can see throughout my website).
During their six-week stretch on the Plains, DOW, TIV, and the DSC crew made a visit to the National Weather Service in Dodge City where I work, and I had a chance to visit with Josh, Sean, and the rest of their team. The DSC crew was interested in interviewing me about the Greensburg storm, for obvious reasons, during their visit. 15-20 seconds of this interview of me was included in episode #3 of "Storm Chasers", about 3/4 towards the end of the show.
Their "bust" of May 4, 2007, the Greensburg Day, rings very familiar with many storm chasers. We have all had busts like that. To me, this was like me re-living the June 12, 2004 "Mulvane" day all over again. On this particular day, we chased crap storms in an area of north-central Kansas near the Nebraska border where it appeared that supercell storms and tornadoes would thrive. We actually had two targets that day — a southern target near Medicine Lodge as well… but we (Jay Antle and I) began the day up in Iowa, and we obviously opted for a closer target. As it turned out, the southern target was the real winner on June 12, 2004 (from a storm chasing standpoint), much like the southern target was as well on May 4, 2007. Our day ended relatively early in the evening on June 12th, but we were too far away to make it down towards the Wichita area, so a friend of mine I met up with decided to just head down to Salina and drown our sorrows of the chase by heading to the bowling alley to bowl a few games – this is very similar to Sean Casey and the TIV crew drowning their sorrows at a local bar in Hays, KS on May 4th, 2007. While at the bowling alley in Salina with my friend Christina that evening of June 12, 2004, there was a television on that we could see, and of course as we would know, they were showing severe weather coverage and video of this incredible, tall, photogenic tornado near Mulvane. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, sitting there in that bowling alley on a chase day bust, watching this incredible tornado about 2 hours south of where we were — again, this is very similar to the TIV crew watching the news unfold of the Greensburg disaster at the bar they were at in Hays that night, and seeing the incredible video of the Arnett, OK tornado (what the DSC calls the "Woodward" tornado in episode #3) shot by other storm chasers. It was eerie how similar their fate was to mine of June 12, 2004. For those who chase a long time, it happens to all of us. It’s not easy to swallow. I think the DSC did a fantastic job of portraying this kind of emotion that can be brought on storm chasers.
I, for one, am a fan of "Storm Chasers", and even though DSC film crew has taken a lot of flack from the storm chasing community, they have put together a pretty darn good 4-episode series, even despite the limited success the DOW and TIV team hadin the 2007 season. I think this may have opened it up for another season, as I’ve come across a number of people who have watched this series, and who have really liked what they have seen — in other words, I think there is indeed and audience for "Storm Chasers" like there is for some of the other popular DSC "reality" series — I don’t think many storm chasers will like this, but I do welcome it… it just means I won’t be taking my chase trip in May when the "hordes" are roaming about, but then again, I’m not all about "the tornado", just give me a photogenic supercell late in the season, and I am happy