Sunday, June 02, 2013

After The Storm: What To Do Next Time





[At the intersection where authorities said the three storm chasers were killed, crews hauled away a mangled white truck Sunday that had been crushed like a tin can. The metal frame of their storm-chasing vehicle was twisted almost beyond recognition. The windows had been smashed to bits.--CNN News]
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A friend of  mine, named Greg, is in the weather forecasting business. He is in the industry in Oregon. Today, he initiated a discussion that included the following list of suggestions. I believe that Greg is point on and that these "suggestions" should be officially drafted into law. Thank you, Greg for allowing me to reprint your list, here:
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[#1. A national standardized training program be put in place for storm chasers. This can be administered through Skywarn, the National Weather Service, and affiliated colleges and universities. The program would be intended to provide a level of training comparable to what EMTs go through. There will also be different levels of training, and this to is very much like what EMTs have. You start at a basic level and then work you way on up to the highest level. For EMTs, this is the paramedic level. THIS will put an end to the true adrenaline junkie being in places they are just not supposed to be in. And, if the couch dwelling adrenaline junkie who gets inspired by watching TV shows and thinks they can do this winds up in jail....maybe more of them will be where they are supposed to be. At home and out of the way. Want to chase storms? GO GET TRAINING!! LEARN how to do this. This is not jumping off a bungee tower. Yes, you can get killed doing that, but your actions will not produce potentially fatal consequences for others.

#2. The states most affected by tornadoes will issue certifications for storm chasers and spotters. If you do not have this, you are not chasing period! Trained, certified chasers and spotters will have identification on the outside of their vehicles, (especially on the rear of them), that identifies them and their certification level. Certain situations will call for only the highest trained most advanced spotters and chasers to be getting anywhere close. If you do not have this....Law Enforcement can pull you over or keep you out of certain zones altogether.

#3. ALL trained, certified chasers and spotters will be registered with the Spotter Network. They will be issued icons and will activate them and use them when on chases. This will identify their positions in relation to storms. As observers watching the storm on radar from home bases can see what is occurring, they will also be able to see where the spotters and chasers are and can then warn the ones at most risk. This will not eliminate completely the risk factor, but it can't hurt either! The more information the better. Look, I know that everybody has every manner of technical whizbang with them....but an extra set of eyes on the situation will prove vital!

#4. The media will NEVER EVER give out such horrific advice as was given out in Oklahoma City on Friday night again. That verges on the criminal to tell people to get in their cars and flee. It creates a panic and gridlock. We all saw what I 40 and I 35 looked like as a result. What would have happened if another strong tornado would have hit those highways and swept them with thousands upon thousands trapped in their cars with nowhere to go? There has to be accountability for that. There MUST be!! They literally caused thousand of people to put their lives in even more danger than they would have been in staying home.

What I am proposing here is just a starter. I hope it inspires some of you to do thought of your own. But, I do think we must professionalize and standardize this business. No other high risk pursuit allows you to basically just get off your couch and do it with ZERO training and certification. Fire Fighting, Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Technicians....you have to be trained and certified to do them all VOLUNTEERS especially. We must standardize and train our storm chasing community. The time has very clearly come.

Can we prevent tragedies like Friday.....no. We can never do that. But, we can do things to help improve the standards and training. We can make sure that everybody is tied into a central tracking system so that we can see who is at most risk potential to help them. I do not pretend to have all the answers. I just know we must do something to improve ourselves collectively.]
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AJC.COM NEWS: Coverage Of Storm Chaser's Death

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