The National Weather Service recently reported that the May 31, 2013 tornado that killed four storm chasers presented a deceptive appearance that might have impacted chaser and spotter safety decisions. Well-known tornado scientist Tim Samaras was one of the four chasers who died, despite his reputation for caution.
Below is an excerpt from the NWS Service Assessment: May 2013 Oklahoma Tornadoes and Flash Flooding:
This information should provide impetus for all SKYWARN storm spotters to reevaluate their safety procedures as the 2014 storm season approaches. It should serve to remind us all that:
- Tornadoes can and do make drastic direction and speed changes (don’t expect them to travel in a straight line).
- Life-threatening conditions can extend well beyond the visible condensation cloud and/or debris cloud, especially in the largest and most powerful tornadoes.
The authors of the service assessment recommended that all future SKYWARN training sessions “reinforce spotter safety and the rules outlined in NWSI 10-1807, The Skywarn® Weather Spotter Program.” That document contains the “10 Golden Spotter Safety Rules,” summarized below (the original 10 rules provide significantly more detail about each rule):
No spotter report or storm data is worth any person’s life. Please share this post with anyone you know who participates in storm chasing and/or SKYWARN storm spotting. Buttons below allow convenient sharing on social networks.