We are Storm Chasers!
Storm chasers Brian and Tam Barnes welcome you to StormChase.com! Brian is one of the world’s most experienced storm chasers and severe weather forecasters.
Growing up in Oklahoma, Brian has had a life-long interest in severe weather. But, his interest in meteorology began in 1993 after a tornado that struck Catoosa, Oklahoma nearly killed him. As a result, he studied Atmospheric Science while serving in the Air Force where he became a weather forecaster. Valuing public service, he later joined Mayes County Emergency Management as a storm spotter and Public Information Officer.
He studied emergency management at the Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland. In effect, he became certified as an Emergency Management Professional. He also became an Emergency Medical Technician and still to this day maintains his CPR and Emergency First Aid certifications.
After serving as a storm spotter, he joined the First Alert Storm Team at KTUL-TV in Tulsa, Oklahoma. While there, he provided life-saving weather information live on-air to viewers across northeast Oklahoma and southeast Kansas. On May 3rd, 1999, he witnessed his first F5 tornado near Oklahoma City, which did extensive damage to Moore, Oklahoma.
After the Oklahoma City tornado, he created the foundation for his storm chasing tours. He operated his first tour a week later with a single paying customer. That first tour intercepted a violent F4 tornado in Texas on May 11th, 1999.
Brian has operated storm chasing tours every year since. Today, most tours require multiple passenger vans that have been customized to meet the rigorous demands of storm chasing. Tours are based out of Oklahoma City in May and Denver in June. Driving an average of 400 miles per day, Brian’s storm chasing tours serve over a hundred customers per year in just a few months.
Born to be a storm chaser
Brian is a 3rd generation storm spotter, possibly the only one in existence. Oklahoma’s first storm spotter (and likely the first in the nation) was his grandfather. In 1942, a tornado destroyed his grandfather’s farm. In those days, there was no such thing as tornado forecasting or weather radar.
The family narrowly survived the tornado by quickly taking shelter in a hand-dug underground shelter. After wiping out the family’s home, the tornado then traveled several miles and destroyed the town of Pryor Creek. To this day, that tornado stands on-record as the 5th deadliest tornado in Oklahoma’s history.
A few years later, Brian’s grandfather began using CB Radio during severe weather to provide advanced warning of approaching storms. Decades later, Brian’s father was a career law enforcement officer whose job included storm spotting duties. Continuing the family tradition of emergency communications, Brian holds a General Class amateur radio license with the callsign WX0USA.
Not Just Storm Chasers
When Brian is not storm chasing, he works as a USCG licensed Master of Oceans commanding seagoing expeditions. As a captain, his weather forecasting knowledge and skills are highly valuable. His captain’s training and experience have made him a strong leader. Brian focuses extensively on the security and safety of his crew and customers. This is also true while conducting storm chasing tours in Tornado Alley.
Brian volunteers as the Emergency Coordinator for Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project, an international NGO that saves dolphins. While volunteering in Japan during 2011, he documented the 9.0 Mega Earthquake and resulting tsunami from ground zero. Brian’s footage of the event has been part of documentary films viewed worldwide. Brian is likely the only person in history who has witnessed EF5 tornadoes, category 5 hurricanes, 9.0 earthquakes, and mega-thrust super tsunamis!
Brian and Tam married in 2013 and have chased storms together ever since. Tam is a registered nurse and CPR instructor who keeps the storm chasing team’s CPR certification and training up-to-date. She’s also an avid photographer who has taken over the primary photography duties while storm chasing.
Over the past 20 years, Brian and Tam have documented the most awe-inspiring storms on the planet. They maintain a library of storm chasing video footage and photos covering everything from tornadoes to sunsets. Parties interested in licensing video footage and photography can contact our storm chasing team using the Contact Page.