Storm Chasers are not Adrenaline Junkies

Storm Chasers Brian and Tam Barnes with Tornado

Storm chasers are many things, ranging from meteorologists to photographers. Others chase for the mere curiosity of validating their own forecasts. Some are tourists on storm chasing tours. But all often earn the title of “Adrenaline Junkie” in the media.

The term “Adrenaline Junkie” is a colloquialism describing someone who has an addiction to a natural high from adrenaline.  Studies have shown that adrenaline can be just as addictive as synthetic drugs, such as narcotics like cocaine. And addicts of adrenaline behave similarly to addicts of such synthetic drugs.

Adrenaline junkies participate in activities that stimulate the adrenaline glands. The glands are responsible for a broad sense of hormones that cause Acute Stress Response. This is also known as the “fight-or-flight response,” first identified in 1929 by Walter Cannon.


Choosing the Right Meteorology School

Meteorology School

I receive a lot of emails from prospective students asking for advice on picking a meteorology school and/or program.  I have compiled some information that people can use for a starting point in their search for a school or program that best suits their wants and needs. Most of us almost never graduate with the exact goals in mind that we had when we started.  And, within meteorology, there are many different possibilities for possible employment across many related fields.  If “storm chasing” is the goal that a person has in mind when starting a meteorology program, then perhaps they should rethink their goals – there are not any “full time” jobs within storm chasing.  And, the jobs that do exist are related to research which generally requires a Ph.D. Career Paths for Meteorology Undergrads U.S. Government Employment – National Weather Service, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Armed Services. Broadcasting – These jobs are extremely hard …Read more »


The Risks Associated with Storm Chasing

Lightning is a risk when storm chasing

Storm chasing is the pursuit of severe storms, regardless of motive. A chase can be as simple as following a storm near the town a storm chaser resides in. Or, it can be as complex as driving across several states. Like most activities, storm chasing includes associated risks. Mitigation of such risks will increase overall safety through knowledge, preparation, and making good decisions. Is Storm Chasing Dangerous? The honest and simple answer is yes, storm chasing is dangerous. It involves a lot of driving, and whether storm chasing or not, driving is often dangerous. Traffic-related fatalities make up for the largest number of storm chaser deaths while storm chasing. Storm chasing began in the late 1950s when David Hoadley started pursuing storms in North Dakota for photography. Chasing gained in popularity throughout the 1970s and 80s as research into severe storms began to grow. About 50-years after storm chasing began, chaser Jeff Wear lost his …Read more »


Why Do Storm Chasers Chase Tornadoes?

simla colorado tornado

Storm chasers have their individual reasons why they began chasing storms. Most have had a life-long interest in severe weather. All share a commonality, a passion for storm chasing. Storm chasing is the pursuit of severe weather regardless of motive. Some people stereotype storm chasers as being “adrenaline junkies” who only chase storms to get a natural high. While that might be true for a small number of storm chasers, nothing could be further from the truth for most storm chasers. In fact, I’ll bet those who say such things couldn’t name five storm chasers. Further, those they can name are likely all former reality television subjects. Storms capture the imagination. Their structures and processes, while potentially destructive at times are some of nature’s most awe-inspiring beauty. While some people view anything that is potentially destructive as negative, others with positive attitudes realize that storms are natural scientific processes that will happen regardless. There is …Read more »


Tsunami in Japan

Tsunami in Japan

I never thought I would be running from a tsunami in Japan, but that happened. As most know by now, I do a lot of volunteer work in ocean activism when I’m not storm chasing in Tornado Alley. Most of my volunteerism involves working with the Dolphin Project to protect wild dolphins around the globe. I was in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan on March 11th, 2011 monitoring the slaughter of Dall’s porpoises and standing just a few feet from the water on a man-made pier in the middle of Otsuchi harbor when the M9.0 earthquake hit. I’m not going to go into detail on my personal blog about the events that followed.  I usually keep my activism and storm chasing separated and will continue to do so. However, a lot of people have inquired about my well being and I want to let them know that I’m alive and fine. I and a team of …Read more »