Author Topic: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety  (Read 39606 times)

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Offline Jimmy Deguara

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Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« 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
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Jeff Brislane

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #1 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.

Offline James

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #2 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!)

« Last Edit: 17 December 2006, 04:26:42 AM by James »

australiasevereweather

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #3 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

Offline nmoir

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #4 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
Nick Moir
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Offline Mike

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #5 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.
« Last Edit: 24 December 2006, 06:21:34 AM by Jimmy Deguara »
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Offline Mike

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #6 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!

Darwin, Northern Territory.
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Lightning Research 2010/14

Robert1984

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #7 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
« Last Edit: 28 May 2007, 05:36:41 PM by Jimmy Deguara »

Kris Wetton

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #8 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

« Last Edit: 26 July 2007, 04:55:09 PM by Jimmy Deguara »

Shaz

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #9 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.

Offline Richary

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #10 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.

Offline Mike

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #11 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!
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Offline Harley Pearman

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #12 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

Offline Karina Roberts (slavegirl)

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #13 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
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Offline Mike

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Re: Storm and Storm Chasing Safety
« Reply #14 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!
Darwin, Northern Territory.
StormscapesDarwin.com
Lightning Research 2010/14