Saturday, June 1, 2013

The "Twister" Training Video

While reflecting on the events of the last 24-36 hours, I couldn't help but think of the movie "Twister". As some may recall, there is a scene where one vehicle in the group of chasers with corporate sponsors gets lifted up into a large tornado and then is thrown violently into the ground causing a deadly explosion. Do you remember why they were lifted up? They thought they were paralleling the tornado, but then it suddenly shifted course. By the time they realized it, they were too close. While parts of that movie have some questionable science, this scene is pretty darn realistic. Tornadoes can suddenly change directions and cars can be lifted up and thrown into the ground.Who knew that movie / scene could be used for chaser training purposes...

A number of things have been going through my mind after watching what all occurred yesterday (May 31, 2013) in Oklahoma. I'll try to be brief...

  • I am not anti-storm chasing. In fact, from time to time, I enjoy going out to take in a few storms. And in of itself, I don't think storm chasing is a bad thing. But, I do think it requires a certain responsibility. I don't think drinking is wrong. But, you get drunk and then go and get behind the wheel of a car? Yeah, that's a's irresponsible. To me, purposely driving INTO a tornado isn't any different. 9 times out of 10 you may drink and drive without consequence, but then that 10th time comes along. I think a number of chasers experienced their 10th time yesterday. And, fortunately for them, it didn't end as bad as it could. 
  • I hope lessons are learned from this, both by the public and by chasers across the country. I say this not meaning any disrespect at all. But, I wonder if The Weather Channel's SUV getting tossed was good for the public to see. Their incident, while unfortunate, sets a great example for all the TWC viewers that trying to outrun a tornado simply is not a good idea. If the TWC SUV had not been flipped, it's possible less people would have seen the negative effects of such a choice. It might just be one of TWC's best instructional videos. 
  • On a side note, I have to be honest and say that in previous chase trips I have not always made the safest or wisest choices. None of my bad choices ever led to a bad incident, thank God, but I'd be a hypocrite if I pointed out others flaws without pointing out my own. So, I can truly say that the events of the other day have served as a good reminder to myself as well. 
  • Many storm chasers add a great value to the field of Meteorology. I hope we don't let a few ruin it for the rest of us. Good information from chasers can help aid the NWS in making important warning-related decisions. This, in turn, can ultimately help the public to be better informed of impending weather-related hazards.
  • Chaser videos that show the "inside" of a tornado are really not that interesting to me. Again I am reminded of "Twister". The two main characters (Bill and Joe) get their truck lifted up as they hold onto a bridge. Afterwards, our boy Dusty asks, 'Well, what was it like?' Joe's reply? It was windy. That's what I think of when I see these "spectacular" close-ups. Well, I guess it was windy. Some of the most amazing chase videos I have seen have been from people who were filming from a distance with a nice zoom lens. And, while getting a great video, you can make a quick call to the nearby NWS office giving them an update on the storm and how it is behaving. You get a great video and offer some potentially life-saving information all for the price of one...and you don't even have to be next to the tornado! 
To reiterate, I don't have a problem with chasing, but I just think it has to be done responsibly. 

No comments:

Post a Comment