Become a Storm Chaser | What Degrees Do You Need? (2023)

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Are you looking for a super exciting career filled with potential danger? Learning how to become a storm chaser might be perfect for you. Maybe this has been a hobby of yours for a while. Why not turn it into a career?

You may have no idea this is an actual profession. Some may think storm chasing is only a hobby. However, it’s a paying job, and you can become a storm chaser with the right steps.

Become a Storm Chaser | What Degrees Do You Need? (1)

How to Become a Storm Chaser in 4 Steps

Step #1 – Start Storm Chasing as a Hobby

Most professional storm chasers start as hobbyists first. However, if you want to get started, the best option is to contact the National Weather Service. They have a course called SkyWarn, which is a great place to start.

This class will teach you the basics of storm watching and predicting storm activity. It will also teach you how to measure certain stats and how to stay safe out chasing storms.

Along with the SkyWarn class, you should consider learning how to use a radio properly. It’s important to know how to use a radio to communicate with other storm chasers and in emergencies.

Step #2 – Become a Meteorologist

It’s very common for storm chasers first to become meteorologists. This gives them a solid career and an income to support their storm chasing. However, as a meteorologist, you will also have the right training and education to understand storms better.

Meteorologists often chase storms as a part of a research project. It can even be a part of their regular job. For example, some meteorologists will teach a college course, work for weather services, and chase storms for just a few months per year. They might do this to collect data and perform research.

If you want to go this route, you will need a bachelor’s degree in science. In addition, a postgraduate degree in meteorology will also be necessary to become a meteorologist.

Step #3 – Chase Storms for Video and Pictures

You can make a living by selling your video and pictures to media outlets or even online. If you want to chase storms, taking videos and pictures can give you a way to make money from storm chasing. Of course, you can also perform research and sell the data you find, too.

(Video) ADVICE FOR BECOMING A STORM CHASER | Meteorology Monday

Step #4 – Become a Photographer or Videographer

Another common route storm chasers go is to become a photographer or videographer first. This allows you to earn a living and also chase storms. Since videos and pictures of storms can be helpful for research and media agencies, this is a way to make money and chase storms.

If you want to become a storm chaser, becoming a photographer or a videographer is a great pathway.

Requirements to Become a Storm Chaser

If you want to chase storms as a job, you will likely go into meteorology or weather service. Hobbyists won’t need to worry as much about requirements.

Professional storm chasers will likely need a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science or meteorology. This is a good starting point. Gaining some hands-on experience will also help.

It’s also helpful to be very tech-savvy. Most storm chasers will use a specific type of equipment to measure data, take pictures, and record videos. Of course, you will also need to be able to drive.

Enrolling in a Training Program for Storm Chasers

You will likely want to enroll in the SkyWarn program from the National Weather Service. The SKYWARN® Spotter Training course is available online and covers the basics of being a spotter. This is a volunteer program and will help you gain the basic skills you need. Even with a bachelor’s degree, this course can be very helpful for storm chasers.

Duties of a Storm Chaser

It’s rather common for storm chasers to work with all types of weather. Some of the common duties will include:

  • Monitoring weather forecasts
  • Collecting data
  • Writing articles
  • Analyzing the data
  • Creating reports from the collected data
  • Locating and following storms
  • Setting up equipment for testing
  • Taking pictures and video during storms
  • Selling pictures and video to media outlets and online

As a storm chaser, you may have many different duties. These are just a few of the things you will do when you become a storm chaser.

Type of Equipment Storm Chasers Use

You will need a vehicle. This is where your equipment will start. It’s helpful to have four-wheel drive and a rather powerful vehicle. You should also make sure your vehicle is large enough for the rest of your equipment.

Other equipment you will likely need includes:

(Video) What it takes to be a storm chaser

  • Camera for photography and video
  • Telescope lens
  • Tripod
  • Smartphones with GPS and data
  • First aid kit
  • Helmet, gloves, and goggles
  • Radios
  • Wireless Weather Stations
  • Laptops

It’s also important to make sure you have a spare tire and other items in case of an emergency.

Become a Celebrity Storm Chaser

While it’s not an easy thing to do, you can become a celebrity storm chaser. If you start to make a name for yourself, you can gain celebrity status in the industry. Excellent footage will help you get there.

While this may not seem possible, there have been a few very popular celebrity storm chasers in the past. Warren Faidley is known as one of the best. He has provided pictures that have sold for more than $10K per picture. Some consider Warren to be the best storm chaser in the industry.

Another celebrity storm chaser is Reed Timmer. He’s known as one of the top storm chasers due to his show Storm Chaser on the Discovery Channel.

You can make a name for yourself and become a celebrity storm chaser with excellent footage and experience.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Storm Chaser

How much can I make as a storm chaser?

Storm chasers don’t earn a large amount of cash, typically. However, some can do rather well if they know what they are doing. This is commonly a second job for serious storm chasers.

The average salary comes in at about $18K per year for storm chasers. You can sell photos, data, and videos from storm chasing online and to media agencies, as well. You will need the right equipment and the ability to travel, so it can cost some cash to become a storm chaser, too.

You can earn $500 or more for storm footage. In some cases, you can earn even more. For example, some storm chasers conduct storm chasing tours, which pay $3,500 or more per tour.

What is a typical storm chasing session like?

If you decide to become a storm chaser, you can expect a storm chasing session to include quite a bit of driving. You will be looking for storms throughout your area.

It will also include analyzing and monitoring quite a bit of data. This can help you spot storms. As a storm chaser, you will have quite a bit of downtime and a significant amount of drive time, too.

(Video) Becoming A Storm Chaser: What it's like to be a Storm Chaser

How do I find a storm-chasing job?

It’s rather common to get recognized for video or photos you have provided from storms. This can help you build up a reputation within the industry. You can also find jobs through your local National Weather Service. Universities may also provide fieldwork assignments.

You will likely work freelance. As a freelance storm chaser, you can sell your footage to media outlets. Expert footage of clouds, tornadoes, and storms can allow you to land job contracts and earn a living.

Is storm chasing dangerous?

Yes, it’s very dangerous. You will be taking risks every single time you chase storms. Severe weather can change without notice. If you misjudge a storm, it can provide flying debris and cause a ton of damage.

Road accidents are common during storms, too. It’s an adrenaline rush and a thrill to chase storms.

Why do people become storm chasers?

Most people don’t become storm chasers as their main job. Instead, they do it as a side job or as a hobby. Some will do it seasonally. The main reasons people become storm chasers include:

  • The thrill
  • A sense of adventure
  • For research

Many storm chasers love a thrill. They love the dangerous aspect of it and probably find storms to be rather beautiful.

What is the cost of the SkyWarn class?

The National Weather Service offers the SkyWarn classes for free. They are found throughout the country at local offices. Most classes are offered in-person and happen in the late winter or early spring. Classes commonly last around two hours.

If you want to become a storm chaser, you will likely want to become a meteorologist first. This is a great career path for those that want to enjoy a bit of danger and study weather. As a storm chaser, you will work outside quite a bit, which can be rather rewarding.

Of course, capturing the perfect video or image can be rather thrilling. So if you want a job with a thrill, learning how to become a storm chaser is a great option for you.

Become a Storm Chaser | What Degrees Do You Need? (2)

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!

(Video) How To Become a Storm Chaser with Jennifer Brindley

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FAQs

What kind of person would qualify to be a storm chaser? ›

Answer: To become a Certified storm Chaser you will need to take a SKYWARN Class with the NWS (if you are in the US), my recommendation is also get a degree in Meteorology and have your CPR and First Aid Certifications.

What do storm chasers study? ›

Majority of storm chasers are meteorologists who study and predict weather patterns. They forecast where and when a particular storm is likely to occur. They analyze past and current data to determine a precise location. They also use visualization by looking at the patterns of the clouds.

How much money does a storm chaser get? ›

As of Sep 16, 2022, the average annual pay for a Storm Chasers in the United States is $59,067 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $28.40 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,135/week or $4,922/month.

Do you need a degree to be a storm chaser? ›

Requirements to Become a Storm Chaser

Professional storm chasers will likely need a bachelor's degree in atmospheric science or meteorology. This is a good starting point. Gaining some hands-on experience will also help.

Can you be a storm chaser without a degree? ›

Storm chasers learn through experience. There are no degrees or certifications available. A background in meteorology is common, but there are other ways to learn about storm chasing too.

Is storm chasing a real job? ›

In case you were wondering: There is no “Storm Chaser” job description at NSSL. The only time people chase storms for NSSL is when a special project is being run to collect data in the field. These projects are somewhat rare.

How long does it take to become a storm chaser? ›

How to Become a Storm Chaser
Storm Chaser Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year$96,880
Avg. Pay / hour$46.58
Education3-4 Years
Outlook8%

What storm chasers were killed? ›

The weather community is mourning the loss of aspiring meteorologists Drake Brooks, Nicholas Nair and Gavin Short, killed in a car accident while returning from a storm chasing trip.

What state has the most tornadoes? ›

Here are the 10 states with the highest numbers of tornadoes:
  • Texas - 155.
  • Kansas - 96.
  • Florida - 66.
  • Oklahoma - 62.
  • Nebraska - 57.
  • Illinois - 54.
  • Colorado - 53.
  • Iowa - 51.

Who is the best storm chaser? ›

Timothy Michael Samaras (November 12, 1957 – May 31, 2013) was an American engineer and storm chaser best known for his field research on tornadoes and time on the Discovery Channel show, Storm Chasers.
...
Tim Samaras
Cause of deathTornado incident
Known forTornado field research
SpouseKathy Samaras
8 more rows

What is the biggest tornado in history? ›

Officially, the widest tornado on record is the El Reno, Oklahoma tornado of May 31, 2013 with a width of 2.6 miles (4.2 km) at its peak.

How close do storm chasers get to tornadoes? ›

How close do we get to a tornado? Safety is our number one priority during any tour. With that said, we position a few miles to less than a mile from a tornado. This all depends on the individual storm, road options, and other factors.

What type of radar do storm chasers use? ›

Out of many, RadarScope is the best radar so far. Many professional meteorologists, news reporters, and even pilots use it for storm chasing. It provides information about reflectivity and dual-polarization from any NEXRAD site, a network of around 160 sites that operate in the U.S. and selected global locations.

Why does a professional storm chaser do? ›

Aside from warnings, meteorologists chasing storms can gain valuable research information. By studying the storms, we gain to understand more about how tornadoes form, which could lead to better advanced warnings that could save lives.

How much does storm chasers make in Oklahoma? ›

Salary Ranges for Storm Chasers in Oklahoma City, OK

The salaries of Storm Chasers in Oklahoma City, OK range from $36,230 to $121,750 , with a median salary of $66,061 . The middle 57% of Storm Chasers makes between $66,131 and $82,450, with the top 86% making $121,750.

What do storm chaser have to endure for the sake of their pursuit? ›

A person who chases storms is known as a storm chaser, or simply a chaser. While witnessing a tornado is the single biggest objective for most chasers, many chase thunderstorms and delight in viewing cumulonimbus and related cloud structures, watching a barrage of hail and lightning, and seeing what skyscapes unfold.

Is storm chasing a full time job? ›

Most Tornado Chasers work part-time at best-no one really does it full-time because you just can't make enough money from it to pay the bills.

How many storm chasers are there? ›

The NWS says there are now about 400,000 trained weather spotters across the US, and while not all chase tornadoes, there has been an anecdotal rise over the past 25 years in the number of people turning out to follow storms.

What dangers do storm chasers face? ›

The storms themselves present dangers to inexperienced chasers who get too close. They can get hit by debris, struck by lightning or worse. Tripoli said he decided to stop teaching his storm chaser class and taking students into the field in the early 1990s after university officials stopped insuring the trips.

Is there money in storm chasing? ›

The salaries of Storm Chasers in the US range from $12,621 to $339,998 , with a median salary of $61,444 . The middle 57% of Storm Chasers makes between $61,444 and $154,274, with the top 86% making $339,998.

What is the part of the tornado that touches the ground called? ›

If it does not reach the ground, then it is called a funnel cloud. If it does reach the ground, it's called a tornado. Debris and dust are kicked up where the narrow end of the funnel touches the ground. Tornadoes, also called twisters, are columns of air rotating dangerously fast.

How much do storm chasers make in Canada? ›

The average storm chaser gross salary in Canada is $92,898 or an equivalent hourly rate of $45. In addition, they earn an average bonus of $2,536. Salary estimates based on salary survey data collected directly from employers and anonymous employees in Canada.

How fast was the Reno tornado? ›

End of dialog window. On May 31, 2013, a tornado struck El Reno, Oklahoma. This tornado was historic in that it was the widest tornado on record and had some of the fastest ground wind speeds ever recorded – 296 mph.

Why did storm chasers get Cancelled? ›

Cancellation. On January 21, 2012, Tim Samaras and Sean Casey confirmed on their Facebook pages that Storm Chasers was cancelled by Discovery Communications. Tim Samaras was reportedly relieved when the show was cancelled as he thought it focused more on interpersonal drama than on the storms themselves.

How big is the El Reno tornado? ›

The tornado ultimately attained EF3 intensity during its existence, according to ground surveys. As the tornado passed south of El Reno across U.S. 81, it grew to an unprecedented width of 2.6 miles (4.2 km), becoming the widest known tornado ever recorded in the United States.

What state has never had a tornado? ›

While tornadoes occur in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., there are several states that typically experience minimal tornadic activity. These states recorded no tornadoes in 2021: Alaska.

Why is a bathtub safe during tornado? ›

Bathrooms have proven to be adequate tornado shelters in many cases for a couple of reasons. First, bathrooms are typically small rooms with no windows in the middle of a building. Secondly, it is thought that the plumbing within the walls of a bathroom helps to add some structural strength to the room.

What state does not get tornadoes? ›

What states don't have tornadoes? Alaska, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. rarely see tornadoes — they averaged zero tornadoes annually over the last 25 years, according to our analysis of NOAA data.

Has there ever been an F6 tornado? ›

There is no such thing as an F6 tornado, even though Ted Fujita plotted out F6-level winds. The Fujita scale, as used for rating tornados, only goes up to F5. Even if a tornado had F6-level winds, near ground level, which is *very* unlikely, if not impossible, it would only be rated F5.

Are storm chasing tours safe? ›

While our name might insinuate that we do things a little different than most, we can assure you that our chasing practices are in line with the safest of touring companies out there. With experience in storm chasing comes better safety procedures and…

How many tornadoes strike the US every year? ›

How many tornadoes occur in the U.S. each year? About 1,200 tornadoes hit the U.S. yearly. Since official tornado records only date back to 1950, we do not know the actual average number of tornadoes that occur each year.

What are the top 3 worst tornadoes? ›

The U.S. has a history of devastating tornadoes. Here are the 5 deadliest
  • TRI-STATE TORNADO, March 18, 1925. ...
  • TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI/GAINESVILLE, GEORGIA, April 5, 6, 1936. ...
  • JOPLIN, MISSOURI, May 22, 2011. ...
  • FLINT, MICHIGAN, June 8, 1953. ...
  • SHINNSTON, WEST VIRGINIA, June 23, 1944.
11 Dec 2021

What is a super tornado? ›

A severe, usually isolated thunderstorm characterized by a strong rotating updraft and often giving rise to damaging winds, electrical storms, flooding, large hail, and tornadoes.

What is the smallest tornado ever recorded? ›

Rope tornadoes can be as narrow as 2-3 feet wide. One such tornado was reported to have a damage path only 7 feet long.

Is storm chasing a real job? ›

In case you were wondering: There is no “Storm Chaser” job description at NSSL. The only time people chase storms for NSSL is when a special project is being run to collect data in the field. These projects are somewhat rare.

How long does it take to become a storm chaser? ›

How to Become a Storm Chaser
Storm Chaser Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year$96,880
Avg. Pay / hour$46.58
Education3-4 Years
Outlook8%

Why does a professional storm chaser do? ›

Aside from warnings, meteorologists chasing storms can gain valuable research information. By studying the storms, we gain to understand more about how tornadoes form, which could lead to better advanced warnings that could save lives.

What do storm chaser have to endure for the sake of their pursuit? ›

A person who chases storms is known as a storm chaser, or simply a chaser. While witnessing a tornado is the single biggest objective for most chasers, many chase thunderstorms and delight in viewing cumulonimbus and related cloud structures, watching a barrage of hail and lightning, and seeing what skyscapes unfold.

Is storm chasing a full time job? ›

Most Tornado Chasers work part-time at best-no one really does it full-time because you just can't make enough money from it to pay the bills.

What do storm chasers wear? ›

All in all, you are best off with long pants and a t-shirt but bring a sweater that you can easily take on and off. Sunlotion, sunhats etc – Even when you chase you could end up spending hours in the sun. On down days you may be out all day exposed to strong sunshine.

How many storm chasers are there? ›

The NWS says there are now about 400,000 trained weather spotters across the US, and while not all chase tornadoes, there has been an anecdotal rise over the past 25 years in the number of people turning out to follow storms.

Is there money in storm chasing? ›

The salaries of Storm Chasers in the US range from $12,621 to $339,998 , with a median salary of $61,444 . The middle 57% of Storm Chasers makes between $61,444 and $154,274, with the top 86% making $339,998.

How close do storm chasers get to tornadoes? ›

How close do we get to a tornado? Safety is our number one priority during any tour. With that said, we position a few miles to less than a mile from a tornado. This all depends on the individual storm, road options, and other factors.

What type of radar do storm chasers use? ›

Out of many, RadarScope is the best radar so far. Many professional meteorologists, news reporters, and even pilots use it for storm chasing. It provides information about reflectivity and dual-polarization from any NEXRAD site, a network of around 160 sites that operate in the U.S. and selected global locations.

What storm chasers were killed? ›

The weather community is mourning the loss of aspiring meteorologists Drake Brooks, Nicholas Nair and Gavin Short, killed in a car accident while returning from a storm chasing trip.

Who is the best storm chaser? ›

Timothy Michael Samaras (November 12, 1957 – May 31, 2013) was an American engineer and storm chaser best known for his field research on tornadoes and time on the Discovery Channel show, Storm Chasers.
...
Tim Samaras
Cause of deathTornado incident
Known forTornado field research
SpouseKathy Samaras
8 more rows

What dangers do storm chaser face? ›

The storms themselves present dangers to inexperienced chasers who get too close. They can get hit by debris, struck by lightning or worse. Tripoli said he decided to stop teaching his storm chaser class and taking students into the field in the early 1990s after university officials stopped insuring the trips.

Why did storm chasers get Cancelled? ›

Cancellation. On January 21, 2012, Tim Samaras and Sean Casey confirmed on their Facebook pages that Storm Chasers was cancelled by Discovery Communications. Tim Samaras was reportedly relieved when the show was cancelled as he thought it focused more on interpersonal drama than on the storms themselves.

What is a large violent storm called? ›

⚡ Quick summary. The word cyclone is a general term for a large storm system, the most severe kind of which is called a tropical cyclone. The words hurricane and typhoon are simply different names for tropical cyclones.

Do storm chasers chase hurricanes? ›

Before the chase, the team determines the region that is most likely to have the type of weather they are looking for. Most commonly, storm chasers seek tornadoes, hail, convective wind gusts and visual cloud phenomena. Some chasers also seek hurricanes, winter storms and/or unusual weather phenomena.

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