Feb 15

National Storm Chaser Convention Returns to Denver!

Do you love weather? Perhaps you find yourself pouring over weather maps and models every morning. Maybe even jumping in your car with a camera and heading to the nearest report of a severe storm with hail or tornadoes. This weekend the National Storm Chaser Convention will return to Denver for its 19th year and features everything from a severe weather forecasting class, a lineup of knowledgeable and famous guest speakers, storm chaser vehicles, t-shirt and photo contests and a chance for storm chasers to meet up and kick back with old friends.

The National Storm Chaser convention started as a small gathering by Roger Hill and TIm Samaras and has grown into an event that hundreds attend every year

Roger Hill (a well known and respected storm chaser and photographer) kicks off the ceremonies every year. He and longtime friend and storm chaser Tim Samaras started this event with a few friends 19 years ago by meeting up and showing off their severe weather videos and trading chasing stories and eating pizza. The event has grown through the years and is now attended by everyone from storm chasers, well respected broadcast meteorologists to aspiring meteorology students.


The Speakers

Every year the National Storm Chaser Convention hosts a ton of speakers who specialize in everything from radar meteorology, forecasting, emergency management to engineering. It is truly a joy for those who enjoy everything related to weather!

Meteorologist Mike Bettes of the Weather Channel shown here giving a presentation about the 2013 El Reno, Oklahoma tornado.

The Weather Channel’s Dr. Greg Forbes is also a frequent attendee and presenter. Seen here presenting surface observations and 800mb and 500mb mid-lower level air maps.

Dr. Howard Bluestein of the OU School of Meteorology discusses the El Reno Oklahoma tornado. Dr Bluestein is one of the people credited with creating TOTO, a mobile weather device used for measuring conditions inside a tornado. It was the inspiration for the Dorothy machine seen in the movie “Twister.”


The Vehicles

Storm chaser spend a lot of time and money on their vehicles, at the end of the day it’s what keeps us out of harms way and what we spend most of our time in during a chase. Each vehicle is fitted with all sorts of gadgets, everything from flashing lights to radar equipment, scientific equipment for collecting weather data and even broadcasting for TV. There’s a wide variety of vehicles, each tailored to their specific purpose in the field.

A storm chaser truck with hail guards.

“Dominator” Tornado Intercept Vehicle. These types of vehicles are designed to drive into weak tornadoes.

Vehicles like this DOW (doppler on wheels) often frequent the event. This vehicle is used to take mobile radar scans of severe weather.


Storm Spotter Training

On Sunday starting at 1PM, folks from the National Weather Service office in Boulder will be on hand to train and certify new and returning storm spotters. A storm spotter is not necessarily a storm chaser in that you don’t go out and chase bad weather. A storm spotter is someone who calls in and reports to the National Weather Service office when they see severe weather from their homes or workplaces.

This information is invaluable because it helps the NWS see things on the ground. Radars are great at detecting hail and rotation in clouds,  even estimating flooding conditions, but they are not always correct. This is where the storm spotter comes in, by verifying conditions on the ground, the NWS can issue appropriate warnings based on real, visual information.

If anyone has any interest in attending this let me know and I can get you information!


In addition, if you’d like to see or hear more about this convention, I have a ton more stories and pictures to share. If that has any interest I’ll be more than happy to do a few more posts on the subject!

Yes that’s me in the Channel 4 Chevy Mobile Weather Lab!

John R. Braddock
Storm Chaser/ Amateur Meteorologist at Mountain Wave Weather
John R. Braddock is a NOAA/NWS Certified Storm Chaser and Amateur Meteorologist living in Castle Rock, Colorado. A graduate of Colorado State University with a Bachelor's in Computer Science and a Colorado native, he specializes in short range forecasting, severe weather and mountain weather dynamics.

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