When it comes to a chase day we typically are able to see the parameters lining up a few days out. The real forecasting though comes the day of the event. That is when we look at a number of parameters and decided first if a chase is warranted and second where we will target for that storm chase. Picking the target is challenging; however, if you are accurate it will save you a lot of driving!
We usually leave the station in our storm chase vehicle, Dorothy, sometime during the late morning or early afternoon depending on how far we have to go. We then closely watch the radar, and severe weather parameters to see if we need to modify our plan. Once we get to the target we are often left watching the skies and radar while waiting for the storms to fire. Once they fire we jump on the road and follow the storms. Most of the time we follow the storms until either they aren’t severe anymore, they leave our area, or darkness falls. Chasing storms at night can be very dangerous so we typically try to avoid it.
Our chase vehicle is outfitted with a couple of computers, some cell phone boosters and a webcam. Using the webcam and a cell phone signal we can stream live video back to the TV station and to the internet. We also bring along another camera for shooting high quality video of the storms. To keep the people of South Dakota up to date we do frequent live phone up dates, to go along with our live video. Here’s a quick tour of our storm chase vehicle, Dorothy:
The chase itself can often be long and grueling and sometimes we don’t pull back into the station until after midnight. We then work to put together some video footage of our chase for use during the newscasts the next day. While the chasing can bring about long days and a lot of driving it is definitely worth it for the coverage we are able to provide for our viewers.
I should also mention that it is best to leave storm chasing to the professionals. Storms are extremely unpredictable and you can get in to trouble in a hurry. The best place to be during a tornado is in the basement or an interior room without windows.
If you would like to follow us this severe weather season in the KELOLAND Storm Center you can do so on Twitter, just follow @kelostormcenter. You can also follow our chase team at @dorothychase. We also have a great facebook page where we will post updates, just search KELOLAND News and “LIKE” our page. Lastly, we have created a web page where you can keep up to date and view our live chase camera and GPS as we follow the storms. You can also watch the live storm coverage on KELO-TV, view our radars, and follow the twitter streams. Here is the link for that resource: http://www.keloland.com/_flash/weather/severewx/index.html