Storm Australian Severe Weather Forum

Severe Weather Discussion => Australian Severe Storms, Weather Events and Storm Chasing => Topic started by: Jimmy Deguara on 15 December 2006, 04:59:37 PM

Title: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Jimmy Deguara on 15 December 2006, 04:59:37 PM
With the increased media coverage and exposure to storm chasers and storm chasing, it is becoming apparent that a lot of want to be chasers are coming onto the scene with little or no experience in storm chasing and the safety precautions.

Please use this thread to comment on what you perceive as the important components of storm chasing safety.

What prompted this thread, although not specifically related to storm chasing was a near miss of two large kangaroos in between Mudgee and Lithgow on the 13th December 2006 evening.

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Jeff Brislane on 16 December 2006, 11:09:22 AM
Lets face it, as dangerous as storms are, the biggest danger has to be driving, especially as when chasing you tend to be often driving in heavy rain/hail. But even just driving to and from the chase as well.

Jimmy you say you nearly hit two seperatre kangaroos. I hit one as you know two months ago and it cost aami over $2000 to repair my car! It pays to be insured.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: James on 17 December 2006, 04:23:08 AM
Kangaroos are certainly my main focus with Night Driving. I also happened to hit one 3 years ago and although it cost me an excess payment, for AAMI the bill came too $1700. The problem with Kangaroos is not that they like to sit in the middle of the road, it's the fact that they often hide in bushes/trees on the side of the road and make a last second jump onto the road just as your passing by. Any area with trees/shrubs close to the side of the road, I now drive slower just in case. I havent had roo problems on main highways where trucks and cars are frequent although I still see road kill on odd occasions so the danger is still there.

Wombats are another animal I keep an eye out for as well as Echinda's, to a lesser extent during the daytime hours, as their spikes can puncture tyres.

Semi Trailers, especially at night, tend to be quite dangerous. Around bends I have seen quite a few cross over the centre lines so I tend to keep quite a way left when passing one. December 13, I was driving back from Gunnedah after a evening lightning chase when I came across a 40km/h roadworks zone. The road ahead had fresh gravel stones put over the road for 1km so I slowed down. Unfortunately a Semi Trailer coming the other way didnt think they needed too and passed at 100km/h. Needless to say I didnt appreciate the 6 new stone chips in my windscreen.

Lastly tyre choice is something I dont take lightly and at the start of every season, like to check how much tread I still have and if low, change to newer tyres. Speaking to a few of your local tyre centres about your car type, your style of driving and what conditions you will often encounter (ie for me this includes 80/20 tar/dirt ratio, heavy rain etc.) you will normally get a good idea of what tyres to purchase (And the better ones arent the cheapest!)

Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: australiasevereweather on 17 December 2006, 08:05:30 AM
Thanks for the contributions to road safety and driving James and Jeff.

Would anyone like to begin a discussion on what constitutes the typical safety precautions in storm chasing particularly for those reaing through and not knowing any better.

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: nmoir on 19 December 2006, 07:36:18 AM
recently i did an advanced driving course and they mentioned that tyre psi is better around 40 or more in tyres as this gets better traction in wet when braking though the ride is a little harder but better fuel economy
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 23 December 2006, 07:07:32 AM
Probably the most hazardous thing about chasing by far is the wildlife, i agree.  Here in Darwin we don't have roos but we have wallabies, cattle and horses.  I have not encountered any beasts during my driving down the track chasing storms, but it's driver beware i think.  It's hard enough keeping an eye out on where the storm is heading or looking for that vantage point to get photos while keeping an eye on the road also.  Road trains are also prevalent up here as you'd expect - rigs with up to 4 trailers can be an eyeopener for those driving down the track, they're quite intimidating to some!

I've found also in regards to tyres etc, well that goes without saying.  I think you'd have to be crazy to drive in any wet weather with dud tyres, more so up here because our rain curtains and downbursts produce a phenomenal amount of rain in such a short space of time and area.  Highways and roads become flooded once the main draught hits and visibility is down to only a few metres in some circumstances.  I've seen drivers still hooting along at 150kmh in blinding rain - how they didn't acquaplane is beyond me.

Lightning is also a large problem when driving here also.  There's just so much CG activity when you're trying to stop and get photos that it's far too dangerous to stay out of the car.  I've found it's always wiser to sacrifice 'that' photo and try and drive either behind or ahead of the storm front and get the photos from a safer distance.  I've seen chasers standing under the main anvil of a low slung Cg snapping away whilst CGs are striking inside the 'cage'.  That's just plain asking for trouble.

I almost got hit by a CG last year from a passing storm outside what i thought was a safe area and a bolt struck no less than 10 metres away - after having the #[email protected]!! scared out of me and my eardrums popping and ringing, I - through no fault of my own - did not hasten to get in the car and get the hell out of there!  Some photos can wait when you know you'll be getting storms every day during the buildup season here.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 23 December 2006, 07:29:50 AM

I'd like to add some suggestions in relation to this Jimmy, especially for those looking for the first time and chasing for the first time.  I can only go on what i've experienced up here in Darwin, but I would assume this is relevant to just about everywhere.

I guess the first thing is to at least do some planning before you go out on the road.  Check the BOM radar sites and see where the fronts or storms are heading - ie: what direction.  You can then decide whether you want to get behind or in front of the storm for the best visual and photographic opportunities.  Know where you're going as far as location is concerned.  If you know where you want to go in advance you won't have to waste time missing opportunities because you went to the wrong area.  You'll be disappointed if you get stuck in the guts of the storm and you'll then have to drive through rain to try and locate where the storm is heading afterward.

Safety first above all.  You might think that because there's lightning striking 'over there' that that's the best place to go?  Well, if you want to get hit by them by all means do, but you'll never be able to guess where the lightning will strike.  It goes without saying that you should never put yourself in that kind of situation.  You don't know where the CGs are going to strike!  If the storm is mature and strong enough it will produce lightning regardless of where you are, so all you have to do is be patient and beat the storm at its own game by getting ahead of it or somewhere around it where you're not in a vulnerable spot - although saying that - you can be hit by lightning anywhere in the storm's perimeter, but you'll be less likley of getting hit!

Make sure you have some knowledge of severe weather.  There's lots of sites on the net to help you there.  I hunted down a few sites and download and copied a plethora of info on storm glossary lingo.  I also visited the BOM site and downloaded info on storm structure, assessing thunderstorms and their type.  I've found that at least learning about them gives you some insight into what they are about and it is a vauable thing to get to know.  It makes chasing more fun and kind of 'scientific' without the monotenous lingo!  You'll find that you'll learn to 'read' the systems as they come in and if they'll develop or bust.

When you find your location don't just park on the side of the road or in someone's driveway!  Have the commonsense to get right off the road or out of the way of other traffic - some people believe it or not just aren't interested in storms - so don't make yourself a hazard to someone else!

As far as rain is concerned, you'll either get wrapped in it or you won't.  If you do then just slow down and turn your lights on!  People behind and in front will at least see that your'e there.  If the rain gets that heavy that you just can't see and your'e not confident of driving in it (as much fun as it is) then pull over and whack on our hazard lights - that way if someone else has the same idea they won't end up ramming you in the rear whilst your parked.

When you're taking photos we're all trying to get the best vantage point, unfortunately everwhere we stand will be dangerous - as far as light poles, trees and the like - (and i may be corrected here) they aren't the first things lightning will hit - it's you!  We're conductors so if the pole misses out, you won't!  It's photographer be aware but not alarmed!  A location that has a good vantage point away from the storm will still reward you with good shots - better one's actually because your'e getting more depth and scope with the size of the front/storm. Although standing in a grove of trees is not a good idea in any event!

Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Robert1984 on 28 May 2007, 04:00:24 PM
Here in country South Australia our storm chasing policy is very similar although we got alot of Kangaroos which come out at night some of them are really big and cause a fair bit of damage to cars thankfully i havent hit one yet  :)

When a storm gets too close for comfort chasers here often retreat to a safe distance or back home to avoid getting caught in the storm itself
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Kris Wetton on 25 July 2007, 03:05:33 PM
Good evening all,

The following is an excerpt taken from our SSR Storm Chasing Safety Manual. Unfortunately I cannot insert the diagrams, however the text can sufficiently outline the way we do it!.

Best regards

Kris.



EXCERPT FROM STORM CHASING SAFETY MANUAL - SEVERE STORMS RESEARCH (SSR)

WHEN STOPPING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS / VIDEO / VIEWING AND SETTING UP INSTRUMENTS

1. Ensure Vehicle is sufficiently removed from highway, and that it is visible to all traffic. At night, use Electro-flares and strobes if necessary. ONLY use beacon for emergency purposes
 
2. Ensure all personnel and equipment are safe from potential Lighning Strike
 
3. Ensure all personnel are briefed prior to transit and again once inside areas of elevated risk.
 
3. Determine risk involved in positioning module, and/or South-aligning the Anemometer shaft. If risk is too high, STAY INSIDE VEHICLE. Also if risk is too high to exit vehicle to align, consider re-positioning the vehicle.  If neither is an option, ensure that a compass reading coupled to a comprehensive sketch (or preferably a photo) is taken of your location and position relative to any plainly identifiable landmark, thus facilitating directional compensation later on.
 
4.  Ensure any persons exiting the vehicle at night, or during low visibility, are wearing reflective hi-visibility jackets.
 
5. Equipment is replaceable – DO NOT take any risks associated with attempting to save equipment. Again, you must ONLY exit the vehicle if it is not considered dangerous to do so.
 
6. In the event that a person (or persons) is struck by lightning, get IMMEDIATE emergency assistance, administer First Aid, (Remember DR ABC – D is for Danger), DO NOT approach affected person if there are still lightning strikes in the immediate or close vicinity, instead, attempt to place the vehicle immediately alongside the person to effect a safe retrieval.
 

PRE-PLANNING TASKS AND RESPONSIBILITIES BEFORE COMMENCING TRANSIT


1. It is essential that everybody involved fully understands their own specific responsibilities during the transit period, right through to unloading equipment at ‘reccy’ sites. Ask all persons if they have First aid capabilities, make sure those whom have are identified to everybody

2. Ensure that the nominated driver is a person whom has the trust of the entire group, and whom will concentrate on the task of driving despite the many distractions that may occur, it sounds straightforward, but many more accidents happen due to driving inattention than are caused by any facet of a storm

3. Ensure the navigator has all relevant maps, and takes time to study main roads around the region prior to commencement of the chase. Ensure that the navigator has an area available during transit where he/she can unfold and read maps without affecting the driver. It is often best that the navigator sit in the rear of the vehicle. In our F100, there is a specifically designed nav area complete with map storage, lighting and a small table. Attention to detail is imperative, and the navigator can be the difference between success and failure.

4. Instrumentation set up is the responsibility of SSR, data logging is done automatically into the laptop. “Live” data is viewable on the laptop in the front of the vehicle, and on the head unit of the wx station, which is located at the navigators station. REMEMBER, the wind direction readings are only valid after South alignment has been performed after the vehicle has stopped.

5. Prior to travel, ensure all First Aid  and safety / emergency equipment, including phones and radios is present and in good order. Perform a walk round check of the vehicle prior to transit. It is anticipated that oil/water and batteries etc, would have been checked prior to loading. The driver must perform a brakes check prior to transit
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Shaz on 26 July 2007, 02:09:35 PM
With the increased media coverage and exposure to storm chasers and storm chasing, it is becoming apparent that a lot of want to be chasers are coming onto the scene with little or no experience in storm chasing and the safety precautions.

Please use this thread to comment on what you perceive as the important components of storm chasing safety.

What prompted this thread, although not specifically related to storm chasing was a near miss of two large kangaroos in between Mudgee and Lithgow on the 13th December 2006 evening.

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
:) In regards to lightening: If you can hear it, fear it, if you can see it flee it. Quoted from a lightening strike victim.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Richary on 10 October 2007, 05:29:15 PM
The car stuff seems to have been handled OK. So I will my two experiences so far.

Firstly, years ago I was sitting on the back deck of my place near Gosford watching storms all around. Nothing closer than about 5km, all separate storms. With no warning one came out of nowhere and hit the tree in the backyard about 10m from me. Luckily I was high off the ground on a wooden deck so suffered no physical effects. The mental effects were different, at the time I didn't remember a sound - though my ex said how loud it was. For the next 6 months I dreamt of close ground strikes with no noise. Then I had a dream where I heard it and the dreams stopped. Weird.

Last Sunday my girlfriend in Coffs had a strike hit the fron verandah of her house while she was inside, but nearby. Her arm feels like it has been hit with a cricket bat, and she is feeling a little unwell. Her daughter in the kitchen on the other side of the house was thrown off her feet. So the ground effect that I have researched since is also nasty.

Basically stay safe, I think if storms come close I will be shooting the camera out the window rather than standing out there with it. Even if it might limit the shots a bit.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 11 October 2007, 01:08:14 PM
Hi Richary and welcome by the way!

I've been too close for comfort not by planning it and under a verandah at a friends place when the bolt hit 5 metres away and hit the underground phone lines - it affected my daughter for days afterward and certainly proves you don't need to be in the open to feel the effects.

Good post and worth remembering!
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Harley Pearman on 11 October 2007, 02:40:34 PM
Hello

I am going to add my advice here too.

Early morning January 23 2005, just standing outdoors during a morning thunderstorm in western Sydney. Two lightning strikes occurred simultaneously. One hit a tree about 14 metres away in front of me and another hit the ground roughly 9 metres in front of me.

I felt the heat from that closer strike and I was blown back into the wall by the shockwave. I felt the shockwave from it. The strike blew out several lights on small light poles in the car park drive way area.

It is extremely dangerous being out when cloud to ground lightning is occurring. However just before this strike, I heard two brief popping sounds like a helium balloon being popped or loud clicking sounds which gave the clue as to what was going to happen. Immediately after the popping sound, the strikes occurred.

Every thunderstorm must be treated with respect no matter how big or how small and this just emphasises it further.

I treat all storms with respect. Incidentally, in a storm of November 2005, I watched a large Eucalyptus tree struck by a massive lightning bolt in Bella Vista. The tree partially shattered and 2 years later the tree is dead. I was sitting in my car 80 meres away. Upon inspection of the tree a few days later, I found debris from the tree up to 50 metres away. The tree had been partially shattered by the strike. I took a few still photos of it.

Now that I have just bought a digital camera, I will be able to upload photos to this website if I see this happen again. This serves as a timely reminder about the power of lightning.

Harley Pearman
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Karina Roberts (slavegirl) on 11 October 2007, 03:13:39 PM
This is all so very informative,

Im enjoying reading all the advice, im fairly new to this so therefore cant add much to the thread but i will add this,
In all the years that i have seen and watched sever storms- be it in Port Macquarie(where i grew up) Mt seaview(near walcha) or up here on the gold coast i have noticed that right before a close object is about to be struck by lightning you hear this strange static crackling sound and all the hairs on your body stand up on end, so i figure if u notice that its high time to flee the scene and get to safety.
may sound silly but thats all the input i am able to put in

cheers Karina
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 11 October 2007, 03:29:03 PM
exactly Karina.  If you hear the static buzz or feel the hairs on your neck or arms stand on end you really should take cover - a definite sign of step leader strokes searching for a path.  I've been closing the front gates of my yard (old home0 and heard the buzzing through the fencing wires and then whamo, a strike behind the house!
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Karina Roberts (slavegirl) on 11 October 2007, 04:08:53 PM
omg, that would have scared the crap outta me the closest i have been was Boondall where there was a strike bout 8oo metres away i went for cover after that lol didnt hear the buzzing it was more like a sharp crack then all my hairs went up and whamo there was the strike behind the tree's i'll admit a huge cheer went up from all the ppl milling around outside (all of us were there to see manson)
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: bullygirl on 12 December 2007, 08:14:42 AM
[/font I believe that Australia is grossly misinformed when it comes to Tornado Safety. Many people would love to turn around and say that Australia doesn't get tornadoes, but my experience says otherwise. I have personally been in two tornadoes, and have witnessed two from a distance. They were terrifying. Nobody in their right mind would want to be in a tornado, unless it was for research purposes. I hope that the Aussie storm chasers can shed some much- needed light on the subject of tornadoes in Australia.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: bullygirl on 12 December 2007, 08:18:04 AM
A crazy thing happened when we went to see Twister at the cinema in Busselton. A big storm hit, knocked out the power, and a tree over the road blew down. We weren't able to see the movie, after all that.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: bullygirl on 12 December 2007, 08:40:29 AM
When the tornado in Merredin hit in 2002, I knew exactly what to do. I was standing at the kitchen window, and I looked out and saw a mass of dust, grass, and cardboard boxes flying around. Now in the bush like that, you get used to dust, and stuff like that, but something about this storm felt different, kind of alarm bells in my head. I crossed the room, and saw out of my loungeroom window, my husbands Volkswagon flying past the window, and my son's plastic play castle also flew by. As soon as I saw that, I grabbed the kids, and went into the hallway away from the windows. The noise of the storm was deafening, My baby daughter was screaming, and I had to look at her to know that she was crying, I couldn't hear her, the wind was so loud. When my husband got home from work , he told me a story of his own, he was in the lunchroom at work when he saw it coming, and he ran and closed the doors of his work, which just happened to be a war grade hanger, and the twister peeled the tin off one corner of it.It also was able to move a forklift sideways, it dumped a van on my husbands car, and a car trailer was found in the tree. There was one man that was injured , the twister picked up the shed he was in, and then dropped it. He was taken to Perth via the flying doctor.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Jimmy Deguara on 13 December 2007, 02:29:39 PM
Welcome to the forum bullygirl.

I recall your stories during the lengthy conversation some time ago. Certainly an interesting and well documented event of a tornado. Do you recall or have you been able to determine the date of the events?

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: AaronFarquhar on 09 September 2008, 09:03:12 AM
Hey Guys,
                What kind of things can you do to your vehicle to assure a safer drive while chasing a storm? well i know as one person said your tyres at around 40psi is good for the wet which gives more traction, But what about things like your windscreen in hail storms? is there some type of special glass or hard plastic that you can use to protect your windscreen? or maybe some type of wire cage covering the glass? what do you guys think? Aaron
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 09 September 2008, 10:18:00 AM
Go with the manufacturers specs for tyre inflation - that's the best rule of thumb.  Going too hard on PSI can actually make it worse due to aquaplaning and you get a 'smaller footprint' from the tyre on the road if you've cranked up the PSI when there's actually no need to do so when carrying the same load and wrecks your wear ratio anyway!.

I've never seen hail bigger than pea size up here but there's certainly huge hail in the eastern states.  You should never cover the windscreen with any kind of perspex or other plastic coating as it will only obscure your view even further, something you don't want.  As for covering it with some kind of non-shatter film - that's illegal anyway since your only escape exit may be the windscreen and you/rescuers need to be able to smash through it.

Most people just make up some sort of mesh screen - you can get mesh screens for your car from camping or outdoor/4wd outlets but with most cars they're not an off-the-shelf option that's easily available and you'd have to make one up yourself.  It would be somewhat a waste anyway because if the hail is that large it's going to dent and even break the mesh and if it dents it severely then it would only take a direct hit in the same spot to crack your glass.

Broken windscreens/windows are victims of large hail and most folk just replace the glass - although if there's big hail within the core you probably should not be in that zone anyway for your own safety.  Better to follow the storm or wait until that area no longer poses a danger and then drive closer to collect/photograph the hail.

Of course it's not always a visible thing when the heavens let loose...so the best rule of thumb is collect the hail later once it stops hammering down.  Your car would be a tad messed up with all sorts of damage from large hail .

There's no secret or special things to do with your car - remember to keep it out of harm's way and you don't want to be spending money which you don't need to as far as storm mods.  Keep it roadworthy i guess - the safer the better and the cops won't ping you either. :)
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Jimmy Deguara on 09 September 2008, 01:03:51 PM
In terms of tyres, ensure you have good tyres and change them when they are anywhere near losing the tread.

As to windscreens, unlike the United States where there is more freedom to make some form of modification, I guess you have to weigh out the options of what is available to secure vehicle legally and what you want to achieve in storm chasing. Most people do not wish to enter the hail cores as it can really get quite dangerous - reduced visibility, powerful winds, traction problems, inexperienced drivers and so forth. In the end, staying out of the storms is the best option and taking cover for most chasing and it is more relaxing. Always of course take a pair sunglasses in case you get caught in a hail core with hail large enough to shatter windows - the flying glass getting in your eyes is a dangerous hazard.

Hope that is a start.

Regards,

Jimmy Deguara
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Richary on 09 September 2008, 02:30:21 PM
well i know as one person said your tyres at around 40psi is good for the wet which gives more traction,
Definitely don't do that. Read a 4WD magazine and they will all tell you to reduce pressure for more traction, whether it is crawling over rocks, going through sand or whatever. Why - because at a lower pressure the tyre bags out under the car making a wider and slightly longer footprint. More rubber on the road = more traction.

That said, check the vehicle placard and don't go under what is recommended there. Why? Because technically it is illegal and you can be booked - or even worse your insurance might not pay out. There have been cases of the cops booking 4WDs coming off Stockton Beach north of Newcastle with low tyre pressures heading to the servo to air up.

Quote
But what about things like your windscreen in hail storms? is there some type of special glass or hard plastic that you can use to protect your windscreen? or maybe some type of wire cage covering the glass? what do you guys think? Aaron

Hmmm, good question. As I kid growing up in the country it wasn't uncommon to see cars with mesh wire over the windscreens to protect against rocks being thrown up by other vehicles on the dirt roads. I can't find any ruling on a quick search of the RTA website, you might need to contact your local office to see if this is still permissible.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 10 September 2008, 03:47:29 AM
Booking poor drivers going to the servo to air up?  That's an outrageous abuse of power and that would be thrown out of court if one decided to fight that infringement.  They recommended that you reduce tyre pressures not only to limit you getting bogged but that it's also 'easier' on the environment on the sand ! what a ridiculous revenue grabbing stunt.  If the driver was travelling at speed then sure, that's worthy of a fine because the ability to control/brake his vehicle is reduced, so I see that point but waiting for these poor buggers as they hit bitumen ?  How rude!

 
I know from years gone by that you could easily buy mesh screens for windscreens but nowadays mostly off-road vehicles can get them.  The last time I saw a mesh screen for a passenger car was my uncle's HD Holden!  I don't think they're illegal so long as the mesh does not obstruct vision etc - you could check with NRMA or your local MVR office?
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: AaronFarquhar on 10 September 2008, 09:25:23 AM
Thanks To Everyone, You guys have really given me something to think about, Thanks for your advice and experience, Aaron
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: TroyVR on 10 September 2008, 02:03:38 PM
When stopped on the side of the road in hazardous conditions, an amber beacon plus indicator warning lights turned on is a good idea, especially if its raining heavily, has someone mentioned trucks dont always follow the lines so its best to make sure your position is known.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Richary on 10 September 2008, 04:08:22 PM
Booking poor drivers going to the servo to air up?  That's an outrageous abuse of power and that would be thrown out of court if one decided to fight that infringement. 

I am not sure of the law, but the people would have been running 14-16 psi on the beach probably. I normally run 16 depending on conditions. Then it is about 1km up the road through the main street of Anna Bay to find the servo. I accept that low pressures will affect the handling and turning circle (and often thought about running a portable pumping station on weekends to make a few bucks). Luckily I have my own pump and the tyres aren't big 35s so it doesn't take too long to pump them up at least to legal pressure then let the servo finish the job quickly.

As for fairness? Like years ago when you could listen to the cops on the scanner and I heard an umarked car in the local down the hill relaying the rego numbers and descriptions of cars leaving the carpark to the "random" breath test unit up the road. Decided to ring the pub and let them know about that little scam. Not that I agree with drink driving, but that definition of random didn't quite fit the bill.

Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 11 September 2008, 04:37:42 AM
Anyway...to get back on topic re safety...

An important aspect when chasing is not to inconvenience or disrupt any other traffic or passing vehicles.  Keep well off the shoulder of the road and don't drive like an idiot.  I know it's all very exciting to chase, but other road users don't know that that is what you're doing.

At night I always put my parking lights on if off the main road just to let drivers coming that I'm there.  Most often some will stop to see if you're okay, which is polite of them, and thank them for doing so.  Storm chasing is not only about getting your own photos or videos, it's also about portraying a professional attitude to what you are doing.  There's enough DH's out there claiming to be chasers who really make it unsafe for others.  So being polite, courteous and using commonsense will keep you out of harm's way and the police who may stop to see what you're doing will give you the nod of approval.  The public are much more aware of chasers these days, so make a good impression and they'll remember who you are and spread the word for you.

Be patient, stay safe!
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Hardy25 on 29 August 2010, 10:16:35 PM
When im out for days on end i make use of the information found here, alot is common sense

another thing i always make sure of is if your out all day in the heat or for few days away from home
i know it sounds silly, but eat well and stay hydrated when driving or even being the person in the passenger seat make sure your chase partner is well looked after because they are concentrating on the road and sometimes not on themselves

if your the support person in the passenger or back seat also keep your eye out for potential hazards and alert your drive partner

i know these things have probably been said few times, but doesn't hurt to reiterate it =]

keep chasing and keep safe
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 16 September 2010, 08:43:19 PM
Most of us stand out in the field taking lightning shots..it's something that we enjoy even though it's a risk!  I've been doing some studying on lightning physics and the like for my research and I tell you what, if you have read the data and articles I have on lightning there's no way you'd stand out in the open again!  I've just finished reading a book titled 'The lightning flash', an electrical engineers series book dedicated to the mathematical and physics of lightning...strewth...it's put me off standing out in the open for good I think!

When the doco team were here with me filming as soon as they saw a strike from a storm 10km away they high tailed it back into their car and given they had extensively filmed and chatted to lightning experts in the US prior I was pondering what all the fuss was about! Part of storm chasing is being out in the elements, but there are risks involved and one of the biggest dangers is lightning.  It never actually dawned on me how highly dangerous it is given the 4 times I've almost been frazzled by close strikes (one less than 25 metres from me) and thought nothing of it and simply casually entered the car!  But from what I have been researching on how lightning actually works, it's physics and iniitation I have come to the somewhat regretable decision that me standing out in the open is quite honestly NOT the thing to do once you hear thunder!  The way the lightning actually works is phenominal - so complex and unpredictable that there is no way you can avoid being struck if the perameters are right!

I thought that it was a simple thing of collision and charge...not so...the amount of leaders, both step, dart and progressive is incredible in a millisecond of electrification. So I guess the safety aspect here in short is...if you're enjoying the thunder and big bolts close at hand I would highly recommend that you absoultely do not continue to stand out in the open!  Never, ever be under the anvil when taking photographs - it's the most dangerous region of a thunderstorm because most of the positive charge in the storm is concentrated there and that's why those 'bolts from the blue'occur during dissipation stage.  But commonsense will probably be thrown out the window given the adrenalin rush this part of chasing has...but this is just a reminder that you cannot see what is happening during the stages of lightning initiation, there's a multitude of things happening around you - yes, around you - you are a conductive source and if the positive leader is going to be initiated from ground - your head is the first thing that will create a connection!

Stay safe all !!
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Paul D on 17 September 2010, 06:52:26 AM
As Mike has pointed out there are a number of good reasons for thinking twice about standing out in the open when a storm is close by, as is often the case a number of these reasons aren't particularly obvious when charged up on chase adrenalin.
My reasoning for not standing out in the open when during storms probably comes from having been out in the open during storms too many times whilst not being charged up on chase adrenalin...
The logic behind my reasoning can be explained by thinking of some simple stats
Lets say the overall chance of being physically struck by lightning in Australia each year is 1 in a million
If you are not near a storm i.e. further than 15km from a storm, or you are in a building, taking appropriate shelter in an enclosed metal cage (car) chance of being physically struck - nil
If you are outdoors near but still at a distance say >5km from a storm, chance of being struck - extremely unlikely.
If you are outdoors under the anvil / just starting to get the first drops or rain from a highly charged electrical storm - most people would recognise "you are in danger" - even if it is still say a 1 in a thousand chance of being directly hit.
On that basis - stand out in the open under the anvil of an electrical storm a thousand times, chance of being directly hit- 1 in 1, almost certain..

Logic:- the more you undertake a risk the more likely it is the outcome will occur..

Remember the total number of people who get hit by lightning is a lot higher than the number killed (the ones you tend to here about) "Australia has app 5-10 deaths and 45 serious injuries per year as a result of lightning strikes" - http://www.lrc.com.au/doc/LightningSafetyRecommendations.pdf (http://www.lrc.com.au/doc/LightningSafetyRecommendations.pdf)
(although data from the 1990's showed a decrease to only 23 fatalities with a mortality rate of 10% of lightning strike recipients, for that 10 year period - http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/177_01_010702/mak10009_fm.html (http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/177_01_010702/mak10009_fm.html) )

The following is a few more ideas and reasoning that you can do some more research on before you let the chase adrenalin out way your rational thinking on your next chase. 

If you are out in the open during a storm being in the vicinity of (but not near / right next to or under in the case of trees) tall objects, preferably metal, can (but see below for potential difference from close strikes) offer a radius "cone" of "increased" protection depending on height of up to app 30m from the object, whilst that "cone of protection" is not failsafe - lightning may still hit you rather than the tall object, it apparently does decrease the chances of being hit. I guess one analogy would be how many people get struck in cities where there is a likely greater number of people outdoors but a lot more tall objects. As opposed to say golfers out on an open golfing green.

If you have no other option but to remain in the open, reduce your height, squat low with your feet together. (Do not lie down)
Why feet together.. if lightning does strike nearby lets say within 10m and you are out in the open on a grass surface for arguments sake, if you are standing side on to the strike, you will have a large potential difference in voltage between one leg and the next. If you are standing feet apart, facing the strike or the strike is directly behind you the potential difference between your legs is small or negligible. Likely result.. person standing legs apart side on to the strike dies, person legs apart facing the strike lives.
You do not have to take a direct hit to be killed by lightning. If a person was for instance standing feet wide apart, on wet grass, with bare feet, that would mean a lot less resistance = easier and bigger flow of electricity, danger distance from the strike increases significantly, in this case it may be up to 100m. Hanging on to or being in contact with other objects esp. metal ones i.e. leaning up against a car, or being in contact with a fence just increases the likelihood of a big potential difference between you and the possible strike. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/uruguay/3249895/Fifty-two-cows-are-killed-after-lightning-hits-a-wire-fence.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/uruguay/3249895/Fifty-two-cows-are-killed-after-lightning-hits-a-wire-fence.html))
To give an instance of electric shock away from the actual strike, a mate of mine Mick was standing (bare feet)under a carport app 1m closer to the edge of the concrete, app 4-5m back under the carport roof during a wild storm, the rain had blow in under so he was standing on wet concrete I was standing on dry concrete. A lightning bolt struck over 100m away Whilst Mick wasn't standing feet wide apart or side on he still received a mild electric shock whilst I didn't.

If you have a vehicle in most chase cases you will have, you should be safe inside the vehicle as long as you don't touch the frame or any metal objects linked to the frame.
If your car is hit by lightning keep away from it's tires, don't change any blown tires immediately they can re-explode (unless completely shredded) from a detonation of explosive gasses (not pressure build up). Take it easy don't drive like Mark Webber after taking a lightning hit, as your chances of tires blowing out in the period up to 24hrs after the hit has just increased dramatically. Tires are most likely to blow out directly after or in the few minutes following a hit but may take up to 24hrs to blow.

Bit of extra food for thought and reasons to do your photography from inside your vehicle...

Cheers
PD
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 17 September 2010, 09:07:22 PM
"f you are not near a storm i.e. further than 15km from a storm, or you are in a building, taking appropriate shelter in an enclosed metal cage (car) chance of being physically struck - nil  If you are outdoors near but still at a distance say >5km from a storm, chance of being struck - extremely unlikely"

You can in fact be struck at least 20km from any thunderstorm.   A thunderstorm is as high as it is wide so that usually equates to something 40-50,000 feet high or higher, so your chances of being hit as 'Nil' is incorrect.  Less than 5km from a storm and éxtremely unlikely"?  I doubt that!  The statistical ratio of being struck by lightning is 1:400,000.

Feeling drops of rain under the anvil is exactly where you should not be...that precip is simply droplets flung out by the updraft aloft and although the precip from the anvil region is not a conducive electrification area, as opposed to rain core shafts which are negatively charged, what is the high risk of being struck is because the anvil contains a region of positive charge made available by falling negatively charged graupel which when falling through the core it collides with supercooled drops on the way up in the updraft region.  Upon colliding with downdraft ice the updraft ice is positively charged and is sent aloft into the anvil region...this is why you get the positive strikes from the crowns/domes to ground.  They carry the most amperage because they negate the negatively charged area. 

Some food for thought:

 The rain core region represents the largest percentage of negative strikes due to mixing.  The anvil region - whilst producing much less Cg's - is regarded as the region where the discharges are more powerful due to positive polarity.

 Standing anywhere in the vicinity of a thunderstorm is considered dangerous, and yep, i'm guilty of doing just that!  What the boffins don't tell you is how high the actual chance of being struck is...you may not be the tallest object on the road or field, lightning differentiates not between pole, cow, fence or human.  Sure the path of least resistance for a step leader is to make a connecting leader to a grounded object...but bear in mind that óbject'can be anything from a blade of grass to a camera sitting atop a tripod!  What you don't see are the leaders searching within a 10-100m radius of you...you can't see them but they are most definiately there.  A connection will be made between a negatively charged step leader to a postively charged connecting leader (you perhaps) without you even knowing it.

For me?  I will still enjoy taking lightning shots from outside the car...but given the absolutes of being hit - well, my opinions have changed considerably!

Better to be struck dry or wet?  Wet is the answer.  It's called 'flash-over'and this allows the charge to flow over the body rather than enter it...it still can but it is lessened.  Being struck whilst 'dry'creates all sorts of problems because the lightning will enter ears, eyes, nose - and yep the rear end - as an entry point, but generally the head is the first point of contact...the damage it causes to the body is incredible but it depends on the amount of charge the body absorbs.

I liked your post...lots of info there and thanks!
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Simon McCombe on 12 December 2010, 08:03:11 AM
Thanks for the info regarding the chances of being hit,its opened my eyes up. I do vaguely remember hearing of a report a few years ago when a person on a jetski was hit,and the storm was about 50 k's away so apart from them being on the water at that time,how far away are you safe !. Another topic i thought i would share is when setting up for photo shots or chasing and you are parked,either on the side of the road,in a paddock,etc.,avoid parking in long dry grass or stubble from harvested crops that may come in contact with hot parts,particularly your exhaust system,that may ignite and destroy your vehicle. It can happen and i have seen it happen,twice. 
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Michael Kelly on 22 January 2011, 03:30:06 PM
Could i also add reflective tape on the vehicle would be a wise idea. Decent tape lights up very bright and can be used to define edges of vehicle. Reflective tape on clothing may also be a good idea. Like the road workers use.
Title: Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
Post by: Mike on 11 February 2011, 07:01:33 AM
There's many things one can do safety wise...the most obvious one is commonsense.  Just be mindful that people have no idea what you are doing on the side of the road during storms or bad weather...some may stop to ask if you're okay (they do here quite often in Darwin's rural area).  I don't beleive in the orange flashing strobe lights and such like they do in the US...I think it's actually illegal to use them in non official business on private cars anyway...could be wrong...but it gives the impression to other drivers that yes, there is caution to be used when approaching, but they were not intended to be used for storm chasers!  No objections to them, just not seen then used in Oz.

Agree with parking in an area away from long grass...def a must - even for the risk of being bitten by snakes and the like!  At least find somewhere that your car and you will be visible from a distance for oncoming traffic.  Not always possible with the vantage points that chasers are looking for, but so long as you car is visible, and at night leave the parking lights on...even better.  Park away from culverts or drains or low lying floodways...just in case of flash flooding from large storms.

A reflective vest is a good way to go, but not very fashionable but everyone has their own likes and whatnot whether to wear one!

Because the eastern states here get a lot more aggressive type storms, make sure you have an exit point from where you are situated with the storm, know the road network in the area, or at least have a map if unsure.  Finally, if you're chasing alone (not advised) at least tell someone where you are likely to be heading and if you intend to move, where you will move with the storm's steering.

A general mature, commonsense approach should be the key. ;p