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How Storm Chasers Face Lightning Strikes And Flash Flooding

A cyclone whips along a road

Storm chasers experience an adventurous and exciting job that involves pursuing severe weather phenomena, like tornadoes, hurricanes, and thunderstorms, to study, document, and predict their behavior.

However, the job is inherently dangerous and comes with a number of hazards.

Below are the factors that make being a storm chaser a dangerous occupation.

Proximity to severe weather events

Storm chasers deliberately get close to severe weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes, to observe and document their characteristics.

The unpredictability of these storms means they can change direction or intensity rapidly, posing a significant risk to chasers' safety.

Flying debris

Storms, particularly tornadoes, can generate flying debris, which becomes airborne projectiles.

Storm chasers can be at risk of getting hit by debris, causing injuries or damage to their vehicles.

High winds

Storms often produce extremely high winds that can pose a danger to storm chasers.

Strong gusts can destabilize vehicles and cause them to overturn, leading to accidents and injuries.

Flash flooding

Thunderstorms and hurricanes can bring intense rainfall, leading to flash flooding.

Storm chasers may find themselves trapped in flooded areas, risking drowning or becoming stranded in treacherous conditions.

Hail

Severe storms can produce massive hailstones that can cause extensive damage to vehicles and injure storm chasers caught in the hailstorm.

Visibility issues

Storms can create low visibility conditions due to heavy rain, dust, or debris.

Poor visibility can make driving hazardous and increase the chances of accidents.

Lightning is a risk to the storm chaser

Thunderstorms produce lightning, which is a significant danger to storm chasers, especially if they are caught in an exposed area.

Lightning strikes can cause injuries or fatalities.

Falling buildings

Storms can damage buildings, power lines, and trees, creating hazardous conditions for storm chasers navigating through the aftermath of severe weather events.

Communication and navigation challenges

Storm chasers often work in remote or rural areas with limited cellular coverage and challenging terrain.

This can impede communication and navigation, making it difficult to call for help in emergencies

Other storm chasers can be a risk

During storm-chasing events, roads can become congested with other storm-chasers and onlookers.

The presence of numerous vehicles trying to get close to the storm can lead to traffic hazards and collisions.

A storm chaser faces Stress and fatigue

The demanding nature of storm chasing, which involves long hours and unpredictable schedules, can lead to stress and fatigue, potentially impairing decision-making and increasing the risk of accidents.

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What does a storm chaser say is the biggest danger?

The storm chaser Roger Edwards said the most dangerous aspect of the job is the risk of a serious crash.

On the StormEyes site, he says: "For me, this one is no contest: wet roads.

"I have also come close to being struck by lightning a few times; but the odds of hydroplaning into a serious wreck are even greater.

"Even at speeds that are normally safe, a sudden or unexpected curve in a wet road is potentially deadly. I have hydroplaned on several occasions; and it is a horrible, helpless feeling."

Despite these dangers, storm chasers play an essential role in advancing scientific understanding of severe weather patterns and improving early warning systems.

To minimize risks, professional storm chasers undergo extensive training in meteorology, emergency response, and safety procedures.

They use advanced technology and communication tools to track storms and stay informed about weather conditions, and they prioritize safety above all else while navigating the unpredictable world of storm chasing.

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