Chasing in Wisconsin has its unique challenges and opportunities.
By Joe Slotter
May 3, 2017 - 10:03 PM CST | 13 1 0
Its a fact! Storm chasing in Wisconsin is usually not on any hard-charging, central plains storm chaser's bucket list. But for some of us local chasers, Wisconsin is our stomping ground that we learned to master chasing through trial and error over the years that we pursued severe weather.
There is a variety of terrain here in the state that can either be beneficial or detrimental to our cause. Here are a few examples...
In the north-central and north-west part of the state there is several miles of endless forests with tall trees which can make chasing storms a difficult challenge and possibly dangerous. the road networks can be sketchy as well. I wouldn't recommend anyone not familiar with that area of the state to pursue storms in that region.
In the central and south central parts there seems to be northern plains kinda feel to it. Flat terrain mixed with small rolling hills. Decent road networks. Not many vast forests. This part of the state in my opinion is ideal for chasing and spotting storms from a safe distance.
The southeast part of Wisconsin is also a nice area for spotting and chasing. However, you are also dealing with many larger towns and urban areas that can put you into a dangerous situation. Sometimes its not you, the chaser, that puts themselves in a bad situation. You also have to consider the other people sharing the roads with you that can put you and others in danger as well. Don't forget, that can relate to any situation anywhere at anytime.
West-central and western Wisconsin is a mix match of little bit of everything. There are areas where there are many large hills, deep valleys, large forests, bad and good road networks, urban areas, flat terrain, etc. (Buffalo county is in my opinion, perhaps the toughest area to chase in western Wisconsin)
Southwest Wisconsin is somewhat similar to western and west-central WI. in my opinion. I noticed some of the hills in that area can offer good viewing vantage points, but the road networks are poor in my opinion. If you can stay on the high ground, the better of your chances of seeing the best view of distant storms. It seems once you get into those deep valleys you are fighting against time to get out ahead of the storm and your chase may be over quick.
To summarize everything mentioned. Always have situational awareness of your surroundings, road networks, changing weather conditions, and escape routes when chasing in Wisconsin. Understand that terrain, road networks can change drastically if you are traveling across different parts of the state. Knowing the area you are chasing or spotting can be the big difference in successful and safe storm chasing and storm spotting.