In the Eye of the Storm: All About Hurricanes and the Men Who Chase Them

The Southern part of the US just can’t seem to catch a break. With Irma on Florida’s doorstep, the country is now facing its second potentially deadly storm in the span of only a few weeks. Meteorologists are warning that as soon as Irma lets up, another hurricane, named Jose, could slam into the East Coast. However, while thousands are evacuating, fleeing the area to save their lives, others are heading straight into the center of the horrific storm for the sheer thrill of it. Let us take a closer look at these catastrophic, yet fascinating events, as well as the daredevil enthusiasts who dare to chase them.


The basic classification


Meteorology is extremely complex, and it might be hard for an amateur to distinguish between all of the different storm types. With recent devastation in the continental US, hurricane is the term we have been hearing the most in the media. Sometimes, there is also talk of cyclones and typhoons. But how are they different? In fact, all of these are the same type of storm called a tropical cyclone. The specific names are determined by the location of the storm: when the phenomenon occurs in the Northeast Pacific or the Atlantic, it is called a hurricane. The same phenomenon, caused by warm air rising quickly over the ocean, is referred to as a typhoon when it forms over Northwest Pacific, and a cyclone if its place of origin is the Indian Ocean or the South Pacific. Each new storm in a year is named in alphabetical order.


The power of nature


For almost fifty years, experts have been using the Saffir-Simpson scale to assess the strength of a cyclone. Once it is headed for land, the storm is given its own moniker, and its category is established. To qualify as a hurricane, a tropical cyclone must have sustained winds of at least 119 km/h, placing it into category 1. Category 5, the highest on the scale, is characterized by winds that exceed a whopping 251 km/h! The notorious Katrina is a prime example: the category 5 cyclone rolled over Southeastern US (most notably New Orleans), leaving the area flooded and in ruins.  While the Saffir-Simpson scale only takes wind speed into consideration, it can still be used to predict the potential damage, rainfall and flooding that the hurricane will bring. Both Harvey, which devastated Huston, and Irma, currently raging across Florida, are category 4.


Catch it if you can


As far as hobbies go, it just doesn’t get more exciting than storm chasing. Be it in the name of science, or just a good old adrenaline high, chasing has gained an army of followers who are willing to put their lives on the line just to find that perfect storm. Perhaps due to the 1996 movie Twister, chasers in our collective mind are mostly associated with tornadoes. However, you are likely to encounter them wherever there are extreme weather conditions, such as strong winds, powerful thunderstorms or severe hail and torrential rain.

If you’re looking to catch a hurricane, their season in the Southeast US lasts June through November. Tornadoes, on the other hand, are prevalent in the Midwest, the Great Plains, the Southern US and east of the Rocky mountains, and can occur any time, but are most common from March to June. Before you decide to seek out your first big storm, it would be wise to learn as much as you can about meteorology. Knowledge will both help you find that perfect storm faster, and help you avoid risky situations. When starting out, bear in mind that tornadoes are still relatively rare, and while you will probably encounter many awe-inspiring natural occurrences, not every trip will yield a tornado sighting.


Stay safe!


Even if you have nerves of steel, and storms excite instead of scare you, make no mistake about it: these tropical giants are undoubtedly life-threatening. Some of them are so powerful, they level everything in their way, taking hundreds or even thousands of lives, and causing billions of dollars in damage. It is therefore essential to engage in storm chasing in a way that is safe and responsible, without endangering yourself or others. Newbies should always team up with someone more experienced. Before you go, make sure your car is fueled and in perfect working order. Be sure to bring food and water, a working radio, and a first aid kit. Brush up on your CPR training beforehand  if you are expecting high lightning activity. Avoid obviously dangerous situations, such as driving into dark, heavy precipitation, especially if you don’t know what is waiting on the other side. Racing a tornado or driving into rising waters is too risky, and should never be attempted. In general, assess your risks and always err on the side of caution.


While storm chasing might seem crazy to some, chasers are in fact, very often true heroes. They challenge themselves and go courageously into the unknown for the thrill of adventure. But not only that: since they are often trained in first aid and other life-saving procedures, chasers are commonly the first responders at disaster sites to aid those injured in the storm.


Island of St. Marten was battered by Hurricane Irma. 90% of Buildings were destroyed. If you want to help victims of Irma in St.Marten please donate to Dutch Red Cross using the following link

Step 1: Scroll down to where you can choose the amount you want to donate (check xe.comif you want to convert Euros into a different currency)

Step 2: choose how you want to pay (credit card, PayPal, etc)

Step 3: enter your fist name, last name, gender and email address (all marked with a red asterix). Then tick the box saying you are over 16 years of age (assuming you are).

Step 4: Click on “Doneren” (= Donate) to make your donation and finalize your payment.

The Red Cross is the official aid organization in the Netherlands. This is the safest way to donate money to help St Maarten, Saba and St Eustatius, which are all part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

Taken from

Alejandro is a chemistry graduate who has pivoted into the world of exercise and nutrition, with a special focus on fitness supplements.
He has 8 years’ experience in the area, including coaching and writing research-based material for clients across the globe.
With the world’s quickly-growing obesity rate, his ultimate desire is to have fundamental nutrition taught in schools; an effort to ensure that the next generation grow up to be healthy, strong, and well-informed about their food and lifestyle choices.

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