There’s been no shortage of twister footage on cable news the past week…
Not only have CNN and other news organizations run a ton of footage, they’ve interviewed the storm chasers on camera as eyewitness experts. Raising the question, are these dudes community heroes or mrely thrill seekers?
"No, they’re not heroes," says KSHB TV weather wonk Gary Lezak. "I would say there are legitimate meteorologists who have a knowlege of what they’re doing and understand the science. And then there’s a whole lot of thrill seekers who go out there and risk there lives."
Is storm chasing even legal?
Probably not, given the likelihood they’re out there breaking the law by speeding and commiting other traffic violation,s Lezak says. Then again, who’s gonna go out there in the middle of a tornado and bust ’em?
Tornado chasings have "increased in the last 30 years," Lezak says. "And in the last three years it’s exploded. And now the networks actually pay them. So perhaps storm chasers make a few hundred dollars here and there."
Some storm chasers have likened themselves to Paul Revere – saying they’re out to warn the public.
"That’s what they all say," Lezak says. "And I do think that’s part of their motivation. But I think it’s mainly that they’re thrill seekers."
Now a confession…
"I’ve been tornado chasing myself about 50 times," Lezak says. "I’ve seen one tornado up close and I don’t want to see any more. I saw it and it ended up chasing me and my brother. It was an EF 3 and it was a perfect funnel – a perfect tornado. My brother wanted me to get out and look at it and I wish I had. But I was so afraid I just kept driving down the road."