Chase Requirements

Chase Requirements
This section is broken out into three levels: basic, recommended, and advanced requirements for chasing. We have evolved through these levels over time. Some may choose to start out at ‘advanced’ immediately. For many this is a function of time and financial commitments.

Basic –

Reliable and well maintained vehicle. 4-wheel drive is not necessary, although front wheel drive and/or a vehicle with good gas mileage are preferred.
NOAA Weather Radio receiver.
Cell Phone – Digital and/or Analog.
Area maps, usually detailed enough to show smaller roads.
Attend yearly spotter seminars, hosted by the NWS.
Knowledge of what you are doing (driving, chasing, etc.) and the hazards that you might face.
First-aid kit.
Plenty of patience!

Recommended –

35mm or digital camera.
Digital voice recorder or tape. Useful for logging events during the chase.
Entry level video camera.
Attend advanced spotter seminars. These may be offered by universities and/or the NWS.
GPS Receiver
An extra person to navigate and watch the sky while you drive. Also useful for sharing the cost of fuel.
TV antenna and of course portable TV.
Blank surface maps to plot current conditions, SPC information, and RADAR data.
Latest available environmental data: model prognostics, surface parameters (CAPE, LI), and satellite images. Usually gathered when departing for the chase.

Advanced –

Amateur radio transceiver, requires passing an FCC test to transmit.
Cell phone with Internet (GPRS/GSM) capability or other means of remote Internet access.
Laptop with GPS mapping/tracking.
TV satellite receiver, useful for sitting out in BFE waiting for storms to develop.
Someone back home to feed you RADAR and/or weather information.
Another person (3 or more) to help out with sky watching and other duties.
Higher end 35mm or digital camera.
Pro-sumer video camera.
Power inverter for powering the computer and all the other equipment. Make sure not to overload the car’s battery or the inverter.
Handheld or mounted environmental sensors: anemometer, temperature, humidity, and/or pressure.
Satellite phone.

There is a plethora of other items that can be taken on a chase. We by no means have everything listed above or want such. We do, however, employ what we think is necessary to chase.

3 Responses to Chase Requirements

  1. Zac says:

    • Good Day,

    • How does one get involved in storm chasing in the US. I am a F4 survivor from south Africa tornadoes not a usual storm here but we had 2 F2 tornadoes here last Sunday which took the lives of 2 kids as we have no warning here. I would like to study storms which cause tornadoes to help us here in SA.

    Our Tornadoes hits the rural areas where houses are made from tin secured with bricks on the roofs and we are no where near prepared when a storm hits as we have no warning at all.

    I would like to change this in SA as a tornado Survivor and help get something in place but feel all my years of research on tornadoes etc is no where near enough and wonder if I should go chase with some pro’s over there to see first hand which storms form tornadoes and which don’t.

    If you can provide me with any info or help i will highly appreciate it.


    Zac Cronje
    +2776 250 2958

    • Brett LaBare says:

      Zac, feel free to post any specific questions you may have. As you can imagine, the study of severe weather and tornadoes are extremely complex.

      • Fanie Nortier says:

        I have look and studied storms for almost 16 years. But never have I seen a tornado. Super cells I have seen a lot but no vortex. Severe thunderstorms got great potential for tornadoes. But here in south africa it do occur but rarely. If anybody think you are safe where you stay? Haha not likely. If you have a thunderstorm in your area. Look towards sky where it starts to molded. That will be the start of the vortex of a potential tornado if you want any more info. Kind regards. Fanie Nortier. Contact number +2771 298 5094

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