One particularly telling graphic from Friday’s tornado outbreak, from TheWeatherSpace.com:
Each of those little red dots represents a storm chaser. US 81 (the big vertical line) was just crawling with them.
Now in terms of sheer traffic levels, 81 south of I-40 doesn’t compare to regular rush-hour parking lots like the Broadway Distention; but if every third or fourth car is stopped to shoot video, things aren’t moving. Meanwhile, the sky closes in on you.
The first sign that things were getting dangerous was when a chaser vehicle from the Weather Channel was picked up by the wind, carried a couple hundred yards, and then unceremoniously dumped. They survived that one. Not so lucky: the crew from the former TV series Storm Chasers, all three of whom were tossed away.
Then again, the Storm Chasers guys, headed by Tim Samaras, were doing serious weather research, as they had been all along. And you can’t really complain about the TWC team; corporate, over the years, has done everything short of parachuting Jim Cantore onto an ice floe in the Arctic. But the volume of chasers this time around suggests a high volume of people who just want their footage on YouTube to go viral. I’m not sure I’d risk my butt for that.
It did not help matters in the least that one of the local television weather gods made noises to the effect that it might be possible to outrun the damned thing. (See the last 90 seconds or so.)
I definitely wouldn’t risk my butt for that.
(This takes place after the storm had turned away from my general direction. On the extended map, you can see the big bend in I-44 south of Nichols Hills and east of Warr Acres; I live just west of the middle of that curve. A lot of red and purple up there, but nothing actually rotating.)