by Matt Ver Steeg & Adam Frederick, WeatherEdge, Inc.
1. What are the job requirements to become a storm chaser?
Over the years, many people have asked this question. Hopefully the answer won’t discourage anyone’s interest in the weather, but the truth is that there is no such thing as a job in storm chasing. Storm chasing is nothing but a hobby for most people. There are a few people that are making some money off of tours and selling video, but usually they get some extra income from other sources as well. While there is no such thing as formal training to chase storms, it is highly recommended that one were to learn about severe storms before attempting to chase them. This will allow one to chase storms more safely and it will greatly reduce the chances of damage to property and injury or death to oneself. No matter how much knowledge one has about severe storms, the above is always a possibility due to the fact that no one truly understands every detail needed to predict exactly what a severe storm will do. To learn about the structure and actions of severe storms, read information that can be found on the Internet, in books at your local library, and in booklets on storm spotting that can be obtained from your local National Weather Service. In the spring the National Weather Service offers spotter-training classes. These classes are also very useful in learning how to stay safe while around severe storms. With this hobby, knowledge is safety. The more you know, the safer you will be.
2. Can you send me some video or pictures?
Many people, especially students, make this request for projects that they are doing. We will provide videos and pictures to production companies looking to buy videos; we will not provide them to the general public. However, if a member of the general public is interested in buying a copy of a picture or video, arrangements could be made. The only money that a storm chaser can make to attempt to pay for his expenses is by selling the pictures and videos from the chase. Because of this, the storm chaser copyrights the pictures and video to keep control of who uses the images.
3. How much money can you make as a storm chaser?
If you are looking to get into storm chasing as a way to make money, you may want to think again. Storm chasing is an expensive hobby and not a way to get rich quick. Because of the large number of storm chasers and video cameras in the country today, the market has been flooded with video of tornadoes. Most TV stations have policies not to buy video from the public. If you find a station that will buy video, they may only offer $50 to $100. If video or pictures are captured that are spectacular, it is possible that a network such as CBS or The Weather Channel will buy it. These places will pay up to $500 for video. Also, if the video is good, some environmental film companies that do severe weather specials, may buy the video for $400 or less. After the cost of the trip for gas and wear and tear on the vehicle is factored in, there is little profit left over. The profit that is left over probably will go to pay for other chases when no video or pictures that were taken were good enough to be sold.
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Storm chasing is dangerous. You could be hurt or killed in its pursuit, especially if you have little or no knowledge of severe storms and their environment. Chase hazards include but are not limited to heavy rain, flash flooding, lightning, high winds, large hail, tornadoes, and flying debris. Hydroplaning on the road and traffic accidents also occur. If you desire to chase, get informed and educated about weather. Contact your local National Weather Service Office, and enroll in a SKYWARN training class. Read and view all of the published information regarding severe weather, thunderstorms, and tornadoes that you can. You are responsible for educating yourself. Next, contact an experienced chaser in your area, and arrange to travel with them, until you've gained sufficient experience to go it alone. Even at that, veteran chasers get caught in harm's way from time to time. Play it safe. This page is for informational and educational use, and the authors disavow any responsibility for actions you may take.
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