Storm Chasers – Why Do They Do It?


It’s a fair assumption that all – or at least most – people have at least a small amount of fascination with, or wonder of, nature. The way the world works has been a question under heated debate since the dawn of the intelligent age. Most people are content in finding answers to their burning questions and sating their insatiable curiosity by studying from afar; reading books, watching documentaries, and other things. These methods, however, are simply unsatisfactory to some, and, in the context of nature, one such category of these people are the storm chasers. They are not content to sit back and learn by studious reflection; they must live it. This notion, of course, begs one simple yet grand question: why?


First, and probably the most well-known motivation for storm chasing, is simply the rush associated with such high-risk behaviors. The prospect of imminent danger serves as a magnet to those who look to “live on the edge,” and storm chasing is certainly not the safest activity in which one may engage. Even without the slightest penchant for science, a person who seeks the unmatchable rush of adrenaline and heart-pounding intensity associated with storm chasing, they have indeed found a match.


Less well-known yet certainly an attractive component of working as a storm chaser is that of financial gain. When done in the correct manner, footage and photographs of storms can be sold for quite a lucrative sum. In fact, one of the best known storm chasers, Warren Faidley, has photos that can fetch amounts in the tens of thousands of dollars. Some storm chasers are able to make a living out of what began as a hobby, utilizing footage obtained to create documentaries and such.

Research and Learning

While many storm chasers do indeed possess that intense craving for danger and the thrill of the chase, the greatest motivation for people pursuing the path of the storm chaser is a result of a burning desire for comprehension; they seek to understand how these storms work, down to the minutest of details. Most, if not all, storm chasers collect data from each and every storm they track. This is the core reason for such activity; indeed, the very foundation of storm chasing. The more data is collected, the broader our knowledge becomes.

The horizon of knowledge relating to storms, their origins, and their behavior, is ever expanding, and this is thanks largely in part to the work of storm chasers. The results of such work are clear: the number of tornado related deaths has been in steady decline for the last fifty years. Data provided by storm chasers has facilitated the ability to warn people of impending tornadoes earlier than ever before. While only time can quell the destructive force of a tornado once it touches land, the work of storm chasers has allowed people greater safety in fleeing from tornadoes as they eradicate all in their path.

A Sense of Community

Working with the same people every day for weeks at a time, extensive time with them in a moving vehicle, and getting very little sleep; these are storm chaser propriety, and those things, among others, are made much more pleasant because these individuals (perhaps as a result of having to do these things together), are all friends and enjoy each other’s company. These people have common interests and goals, and they work together to achieve them.

Creative Commons photo by Ben