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Friday, May 21, 2010

Storm Chasers Criticized For Unsafe Driving

ears ago- there were times I HAD to pass other drivers on 2-lane roads in no passing zones and on hills.

Sometimes I exceeded the posted speed limit- and went around vehicles stopped at intersections- as well as other driving manuevers not recommended in any state's driving manuals.

Not only would I do these things with EXTREME CAUTION- I had red lights and sirens on whatever fire apparatus I was driving.

And in driving that fire department vehicle I was allowed- with discretion- to violate civil traffic laws while realizing that it was imperative for us to get to where we were called safely and in one piece.

I KNEW better than to try any of that in a personal vehicle- such as that day in 1977 when I was right on the heels of a deadly tornado.

Today it's becoming increasingly clear that there are storm chasers on public roadways who I guess in the name of storm chasing and/or "science-" do not have to follow those traffic laws.

Tuesday's "high risk" of severe thunderstorms and possible violent tornadoes brought hundreds of storm chasers to the plains of Central Oklahoma.

Chaser videos posted on-line since Tuesday show that a few communities dodged a bullet as none suffered a direct hit by a destructive tornado- little damage and no injuries statewide.

Chaser videos- like the one posted here- are also showing what appears to be dangerous and irresponsible operation of motor vehicles by some chasers.

Passing in no-passing zones by multiple vehicles is evident on the video- other reports from chasers say others were driving in excess of posted speed limits and failing to yield to on-coming traffic.

These "chaser convergences" are one reason I have drastically cut-back on the storm-chasing I have responsibly enjoyed since 1969.

Simply afraid of getting in a wreck with some storm-gazing driver rather than getting sucked up in a EF-4 tornado.

This irresponsible behavior is unacceptable- regardless of whatever 'scientific standing' a chaser has.

It does the scientific community absolutely no good to get themselves or someone else hurt or killed in the pursuit of knowledge of something that's already being warned for: as much as one wants to get TO a tornadic storm in a hurry- some others may be doing just the opposite.

Unfortunately- it is going to be the responsibility of the storm chasing community to police their own as law enforcement in those situations have priorities elsewhere.

Otherwise this fascinating and blood-pumping pursuit known as storm chasing will be subject to new civil laws that will restrict both the scientific and civilian community's access to this passion.

ADDENDUM: Here's a story on this very subject from Oklahoma City's KOCO-TV utilizing the YouTube video posted here.

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