This post describes what the words “stormchasing” and “storm chaser” mean and what stormchasing involves, including my personal experience I gained stormchasing since the summer of 2003.
While not everyone knows what “stormchasing” really involves, most people certainly saw the American film Twister where Bill Harding (starred by Bill Paxton) chases tornadoes with his colleagues to obtain certain data in order to study tornadoes and improve warning systems. What these scientists do in the movie can be described as “stormchasing” or rather “tornado chasing”. The activity itself can be described as driving a car (or traveling by any other means of transport) into a proximity of a storm. This can be done for various reasons ranging from professionals who try to obtain scientific data to both amateur and professional photographers who want to take videos and pictures of storm structure and lightning. In the USA there is also a network of “storm spotters” who monitor storm activity and visually observe storms in order to provide warnings of developing tornadoes to the general public.
I have been a stormchaser since the summer of 2003. While I have been interested in storms, lightning and severe weathe, since being a child I did my first proper stormchase in that year. At the beginning I did it only for my personal interest, rarely even shooting any video. A few years later I started to take videos during all of my chases and since 2021 I have been involved in several scientific projects which required me to obtain data in a close proximity of thunderstorms. I have chased storms in many countries and the list still grows. My first stormchase in 2003 was in Cuba, but since then I chased storms in: USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Romania, Malta, Argentina, Panama and Australia.
I have had a website in the Czech language for approximately 10 years (see www.stormchaser.webgarden.cz). Why in Czech? Because I come from the Czech Republic originally and most of my stormchasing in my early stormchasing years was done in the Czech Republic. However, I have permanently lived in the UK since 2012 and because many of my stormchases have since been done in the UK, visits to my original Czech website started to originate in the UK and earlier in 2017 more than 25% of people visited my original website from the UK. Furthermore, the ratio of traffic generated from general public sources to visits from professional meteorologists and amateur stormchasers has increased showing that general public is increasingly more interested in stormchasing with time. This led me to develop a new UK website where I will focus on my UK stormchases and will, as time permits, translate and update this website based on my original Czech website.