Why become a member of WISCONSINWX.COM?

Insider information, weather email alerts, newsletter, or personal repository to name a few reasons. We think beyond that. Do you want to grow your passion for weather? Do you want a clearer picture of Wisconsin weather? Do you need weather help or information? Do you want to be surrounded by people who care, understand, and share your passion for weather? This website was designed to be a transcending experience by people who are passionate about weather and it’s constantly changing.

Why chase storms?

There’s just something about dark skies that draw me in. All of us developed an interest in weather at a young age. We’ve seen first hand the damage a violent tornado or straight-line wind event can produce and don’t wish it upon anyone. We crave the opportunity to better understand the processes that create destructive storms. Speaking from experience, we pass what we’ve learned onto you.

What kind of equipment do you use?

We have five team members and we all chase with different setups. We prefer to chase with at least two cameras; one DSLR and one camcorder. We will usually have five-eight cameras active during every storm chase. This gives us more flexibility, choice, and opportunity while documenting the storm. Most of us also chase with a laptop, cell phone, or both to keep us informed while chasing.

Where can I learn more about storm chasing?

Storm chasing is dangerous. Before you get started make sure you accept the risks involved. We recommend attending a Storm Spotter seminar in the spring. They are free and filled with basic knowledge like how to read radar, thunderstorm modes, and how to report severe weather. In addition to basic knowledge, you should have a general curiosity about how things work. Moisture, lift, instability, wind shear and how they contribute to thunderstorm development. In the end it will always come down to experience, always try to link up with storm chasers who know what they are doing.

Why is storm chasing dangerous?

Chasing storms is dangerous because of the uncontrollables. As a storm chaser you have a choice to stay home, or take the hail core, or get too close to a tornado, or drive the speed limit. But you cannot control other people on the road, animals in the street, where lightning strikes or tree falls, or the condition/orientation of the roads you chase on. There are steps you can take to minimize the uncontrollables; such as never chasing alone or multiple escape routes; but no chase comes without risk. The most dangerous part about storm chasing is not the tornado.

How much does storm chasing cost?

Anywhere from a tank of gas to your life. Are you talking in dollar bills, time, or on a personal level? and it depends on how into it you are and where you go. If you maybe go out chasing locally a few times per year and rely on the information of others, the cost is going to minimal. Beyond the dollar bills, the vehicular wear & tear; there is a cost on a personal level. Sometimes you have to choose between storm chasing and family, job, or friends. If you are incredibly passionate, you might say it’s all worth the cost.

Can you make money from storm chasing?

Yes, but not enough to live off of. It’s okay to sell your storm chasing video/photography. Get started with a video broker. Don’t let them ignore or blow you off; if they do go to their competitor. If you’re looking to make a buck stay away from digital photography; in all my years of chasing I’ve never made a dime off my photography. To make money in digital photography requires manipulation or faketography, so unless you are willing to change the storm into something it’s not don’t bother (because someone else will). It’s harder to fake a video, so there is more opportunity there if you're willing to try a little harder. If you get the perfect video footage, it doesn’t matter if it’s 480p or cinematic 4k. Fortune favors the bold. Get out there and you might just sell a video!

Should you let others use your video/photography for free?

You should never exchange video/photography rights for “exposure” or “credit”. Exposure benefits others. Money benefits you. If you are just starting out and feel you need the audience, I can justify giving your footage away if it’s a common occurrence such as heavy snow or a car accident. Make sure you maintain the upper hand in terms of image quality. Put a watermark over the top, just enough to make it recognizable if you want to use the copyright infringement card later. Under all other circumstances, hold onto it as hard as you can. Always maintain the upper hand.

What is Wisconsin storm chasing like?

Difficult, tedious at times. It requires great patience and lower expectations.

What is the difference between Storm Chasing and Storm Spotting?

The difference is distance traveled. Storm chasers travel hundreds of miles in a day, storm spotters will generally be fixed to their home or county. Storm chasers #1 goal is to find violent(or more interesting) storms while storm spotters #1 goal is to report them. Most chasers do report severe weather. You don’t want to be the guy who travels thousands of miles specifically to report severe weather. This is justification for some but not a practical application.

Why don’t you use Storm Prediction Center Outlooks?

In 2013 we learned that when it comes to Wisconsin you should NEVER rest your forecast on SPC outlooks. They are intended for meteorologists to aid in decision making. It is the role of the Weather Forecast Office to communicate severe threat to their audience. Wisconsin is a different animal. SPC outlooks may hold their own across more intense portions of tornado alley. Wisconsin has a unique collision of lake breeze boundaries and micro-climates. You can’t fit a square peg in a round hole.

When should I take shelter?

You should always be weather aware and be prepared for severe weather. When the warning is issued stop everything you are doing, locate the people and pets, and start acting on your safety plan. If you don’t have a plan, then you need to immediately assess your situation. You need to be able to act instinctively when the time comes time to move. Only you can know when it’s the right time to take action and it’s up to you to get it done. Be a leader, watch out for others first.

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