New England Storm Seekers

Chasing Emergencies, Disasters and Severe Weather

Click here to edit subtitle


This is where I will share my adventures, show you my gear, give my advice and blog.

Feel free to post comments. If you have any questions or inquries, please email me.

view:  full / summary

What Storm Chasing in New England is Like.

Posted by silverguns6890 on August 22, 2015 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

If you live in Connecticut, Massachusetts or New York, you probably don't see storm chasers very often. When you hear the term Storm Chaser, you likely immediately think "tornado." Although we occassionally get tornadoes around this region, the most common sights to see when chasing severe storms are cloud to ground lightning and minor flooding. My main focus is on getting cloud to ground lightning strikes on camera (like the one below), everything else is secondary because everything else is much less common.

We have a saying up here, regarding the seasons and climate: "That's New England for ya." The weather here tends to be irratic and annoying. One day its 90 degrees with 85% humidity, the next day its 75 degrees with 95% humidity. The difference between day temperature and night temperature could sometimes vary by 35 degrees. All of the randomness and uncertainty is most noticable in the winter, when the TV news meteorologists make snowfall predictions that never seem accurate. If they say we can expect to get 6-8", it's less than a 50/50 chance that we will see even 5 inches of snow. Last winter, the media tended to overestimate the snowfall with each storm, causing panic that boosted the monthly profits of grocery stores and gas stations around the region.

For storm chasers in New England, if you are a SKYWARN spotter you can expect to be activated very rarely. Some Thunderstorms look so severe that the NWS will activate you for sure, so you turn on the WX and wait to hear that womans digitalized voice... Only to hear her say, "Spotter activation, spotter activation is not expected at this time." I have been out in 20 storms since I became a SKYWARN spotter, only twice has there been activation. There was only one storm system that caused anything that I could report, and that was on June 23rd of this year. A very strong thunderstorm made it's way across Fairfield and New Haven counties. I was in Beacon Falls, watching the storm approach. This storm did not produce any hail in my area, but it caused some of the worst damage I've seen since I was on the ground during Hurricane Irene; not counting the numerous winter storms I've been out in.

Other than severe thunderstorms, we get severe winter weather. When winter happens, my mode of operation switches from SKYWARN to First Responder and Reporter. The winters in New England have been getting worse every year and I spend the full months of September and October preparing for December, January and February. For chasers like me, winter weather can be just as dangerous as chasing tornadoes in Oklahoma. There are no black ice sirens like they have for tornadoes. The roads become slick, cars become weaponized; the conditions are deadly. Most of the time I spend in winter storms, is spend assisting other motorists who do not have the training I have for driving in winter conditions. I have been driving in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont since I was 17, I worked at a ski resort on weekends and had to drive up to Okemo Mountain every Friday when I was working up there.
If you are not familiar with driving in extreme winter weather, do not do it. I spend thousands of dollars every year on the best tires, brakes, windshield wipers and other gear; I also have hundreds of hours of experience on icy and snowy roadways. I have been in two accidents during the winter, both totaled my vehicles. I have responded to over 100 motor vehicle accidents and provided medical aid for 25 people. I have assisted at least 400 motorists who were stuck in the snow since 2013. Again, I plead with you, do not try to replicate what I do without understanding every aspect of what I do. I have gone out during declared states of emergency, do not do this unless you have credentials as well as contacts in the State Police and local fire departments who know who you are, what your training is and why you are driving when nobody is supposed to be driving. In some states like MA, the police can arrest you for being out during a state of emergency.  You do not want to end up like the guy in the photo below (BTW, he walked away from this accident with minor injuries but as you can see, speed+black ice = destroyed car.)

Okay, so other than severe thunderstorms and extreme winter weather, we get the occasional hurricane. The first major storm I ever chased, was long before I even considered a hobby in storm chasing or a career in disaster preparedness. Hurricane Irene was the first major storm that I went out in. Other than a police scanner, Hi-Viz vest, some tools, first aid kit, flashlight and extra food and water; I had nothing. What did I do during Irene? I took damage reports, wrote down roads that were blocked, what the damage was and othe info and I handed all of it to my local PD at the EOC. I was out during the storm as it hit New Haven County, it was an experience I wish to repeat, but I am scared to do so because of how much hell was unleased from that storm.

Chasing hurricanes is more about the thrill, as well as doing something very few people will risk doing. Somebody has to get that awesome prime time footage of the storm; might as well be me. As I said in the About Me page, I do this for the education and experience. There is not better education on disasters than actually being in one.

I cannot strech this enough though, PLEASE GET TRAINING AND THE PROPER EQUIPMENT BEFORE EVER DOING WHAT I DO. If you ever wish to come with me on a chase, send me an email. If you are looking to work with me during winter weather, all I ask is that you have some certification and formal training. Minimum required would be having your EMR or Fire Fighter 1 training. This below photo is of a fatal motor vehicle accident that occured last winter. The driver lost control of their vehicle, went off the road and ended up in the river.