Storm Chasers are people from all walks of life who have an interest in meteorology and weather forecasting. Unlike normal sane people, who run away / lock themselves in the basement when a twister comes close, they take this interest to the extreme by chasing tornadoes around and getting as close as possible to them before taking photographs, shooting videos, and trying to take readings of the forces holding the funnel together.

There are estimated to be 50 - 100 regularly active storm chasers in the USA, centred around western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. Storm chasing is widely regarded to have started by Dave Hoadley, Roger Jensen, and Neil Ward in the 1950's and has recently come into the media spotlight after the Jan de Bont movie 'Twister' came out in 1996.

Research taken from www.imdb.com, www.stormtack.org and www.stormchase.com
According to www.stormchaser.com, there are eight basic categories of storm chasers:

Scientist: Scientists, researchers and support personnel who occasionally (or seasonally) chase storms as part of their research

Hobbyist: A hobbyist is an amateur or "recreational chaser" who pursues severe weather as a hobby. Most of them photograph or video tape severe weather for their archives or sell the footage to help finance their chasing efforts. Some of them have an occupation such as meteorology, education, engineer or college students who study meteorology. Some of the hobbyist category are also retired folks who have the extended time and resources needed in order to chase storms. Many of these hobbyists also serve as "spotters" and will relay critical information to authorities via mobile phones or ham radios. As opposed to "thrill seekers", hobbyists chase storms in a responsible, professional manner. They also comprise the largest group of storm chasers.

Spotters: Spotters are trained localized volunteers such as ham radio operators or public service employees such as law enforcement officers and fire fighters who observe and report threatening weather. Spotters have been called the unsung heroes of chasing, often risking their lives and property to perform their services.

Media/Editorial: These are part time, full time or seasonal chasers and related team members who work for a bonafide news gathering service such as television, news agencies, cable channels and radio stations. This group has been credited with the saving of many lives during the Oklahoma City tornado outbreak in May of 1999. In addition to commercial and editorial applications, the images and footage shot by media chasers are often used for safety, news, scientific and educational purposes.

Thrill Seekers, "Jethros" and "Yahoos": This group of chasers have absolutely no purpose or reason for chasing other than for the thrill. They often compete with each to see who can obtain the most extreme video, while placing themselves and others in danger. They have little or no interest in meteorology and have no respect for the victims of violent weather .They seldom serve as spotters and their conduct reflects poorly on the work of legitimate chasers. The media often glorify this group without revealing the true purpose of their chasing.

Tour Guides: They lead groups of people, for a fee, on actual chases during the severe weather season.

Locals: These are people with little or no chasing experience and who chase or observe storms near their communities. They usually get started on their chase from watching live television weather reports. They pose a hazard by clogging roadways and preventing emergency vehicles and legitimate chasers and spotters from performing their work.

Hurricane Hunters: The Hurricane Hunters are Air Force Reserve (403rd wing) pilots and crew members who fly specially equipped planes into tropical weather and report back to the Tropical Predication Center.

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