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Storm chasers face host of dangers on the far side of severe weather

Storm chasers face host of dangers on the far side of severe weather

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The deaths of quartet tempest chasers inside automobile crashes over the last set of two weeks has underscored the dangers of pursuing severe weather events while additional people clog spine roads with every one other accompanied by highways searching for a glimpse of a lightning bolt or tornado, meteorologists with every one other accompanied by chasers say.

Martha Llanos Rodriguez of Mexico City died Wednesday when a semitrailer plowed into her automobile from behind on Interstate 90 inside southwestern Minnesota. The car's driver, Diego Campos, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he with every one other accompanied by Rodriguez with every one other accompanied by set of two other weather experts had been chasing brutal weather with every one other accompanied by were hit following he stopped for downed ability lines on the road.

More people are hopping into their cars with every one other accompanied by racing off following storms, jamming up roads, running place an extremity to signs with every one other accompanied by paying additional observation to the sky than traffic, said Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia.

"There is such a volume of chasers not here there on some storms occasionally that it creates potential vehicles with every one other accompanied by other hazards," Shepherd said. "Seeing storms within their natural circumstances has technological with every one other accompanied by broader price so I am not anti-chasing, however, there are elements that have become a little wild, wild West-ish."

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Popularized inside the 1996 movie "Twister," tempest chasing involves pursuing severe weather events such while electrical storms, thunderstorms with every one other accompanied by tornadoes, regularly inside cars or on foot.

Some are researchers looking to congregate data, such while verifying computer models predicting tempest behavior. Some are looking to obtain inside be in touch accompanied by nature. Others are photographers. And still others are fair looking for a rush, said Greg Tripoli, an atmospheric with every one other accompanied by oceanic sciences professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who taught a class on tempest chasing.

"Seeing a tornado is a life-changing experience," Tripoli said. "You want to see one while an alternative of fair talking concerning them. It's really fair one of the excitements of life. You've got to lay clasp of chances with every one other accompanied by go not here there with every one other accompanied by go following your passions. It's no indeed different than rock-climbing or deep-sea diving."

The storms themselves inside attendance severe dangers to inexperienced chasers who obtain excessively close. They tin obtain hit by debris, struck by lightning or worse. Tripoli said he decided to place an extremity to teaching his tempest chaser class with every one other accompanied by taking students into the meadow inside the early 1990s following college officials stopped insuring the trips.

But the natural world isn't the only threat. Storm chasers pay not here lengthy hours on the highway traveling from condition to condition exist fond of long-haul truckers, inviting fatigue. And when they catch up to the storms they tin regularly retain their eyes on the skies while an alternative of the road, occasionally accompanied by deadly consequences. Tripoli said when he taught his tempest chaser class he warned his students that the most probable way they would obtain exist sore is inside a automobile crash.

Three University of Oklahoma students were killed on April 30 following traveling to Kansas to pursue a tornado. According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the students' automobile hydroplaned on the interstate inside Tonkawa, concerning 85 miles (137 kilometers) northern of Oklahoma City. They slid off with every one other accompanied by spine onto the interstate earlier to a semi-trailer hit them.

The University of Oklahoma has a policy stating that anyone who chases storms does so at their own chance with every one other accompanied by tempest chasing isn't small portion of the school's meteorology curriculum.

The mother of one of the students, 19-year-old Gavin Short of Grayslake, Illinois, told WMAQ-TV that her son loved to pursue storms.

"He loved it, with every one other accompanied by we were so contented for him," Beth Short said. "And it just, this is fair the worst nightmare for us with every one other accompanied by set of two other sets of parents."

Chaser vehicles jams are becoming additional common, said Kelton Halbert, a University of Wisconsin atmospheric with every one other accompanied by oceanic sciences doctoral student. He said he's been chasing storms since he was 16 since he wants to be in touch closer to nature's beauty with every one other accompanied by verify his forecast modeling, mostly by taking video of storms' behavior.

"Unless you're accompanied by one of these research institutions, tempest chasers don't have the ability to congregate a a large amount of firm data," he said. "For most . . . it's the beauty, it's the photography with every one other accompanied by at that hour dated obviously the thrill seekers with every one other accompanied by adrenaline seekers. You tin have people tailgating you, people inside the centre of the road. If you're inside Texas, Oklahoma or Kansas on a high chance day, yeah, you tin see hundreds of them. Given the recent set of two weeks, I've certainly felt additional apprehensive. It brings spine to the forefront that every one hour dated you do this you're taking a risk."

Wednesday's tempest inside the Upper Midwest left-hand tens of thousands of homes with every one other accompanied by businesses lacking ability into Thursday. More potentially severe weather was forecast into Thursday evening that could convey hail, high winds with every one other accompanied by tornadoes from the Dakotas with every one other accompanied by Minnesota into other parts of the Midwest, the Storm Prediction Center said.

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Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1

Storm chasers face host of dangers on the far side of severe weather

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