Three storm chasers were killed yesterday outside of Spur, TX when a Suburban with two chasers ran a stop sign and collided with a Jeep being driven by another chaser. The crash was not attributable to the weather, despite some headlines that suggested otherwise. The Suburban had the Weather Channel logo on its side, and the driver was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the crash. It was also live streaming at the time.
These are the facts either reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety or verified by me after the crash through simple observation of information in twitter feeds. The damage control team at The Weather Channel was quick to point out that the two in the Suburban were contractors:
I didn’t read any opinion pieces today on the subject because I don’t have to. The storm chaser community will claim they provide a valuable public service with data gathering that helps forecasters increase lead times for tornado warnings. Except they don’t. Virtually all the information they actively gather can be passively gathered by Doppler radar. In fact, it’s Doppler radar that allowed the modern era of storm chasing to begin. What they’re actually doing is gathering video for ratings for money. We all know this to be true.
The first thing that will be said in the opinion pieces, though, is that it was a tragedy. What won’t be directly said is that it was an entirely preventable tragedy and that everyone in the weather community knew for years something like this would happen. I expected a massive crash to occur with non-chasing civilians or emergency responders such as the police or EMTs. But the crash occurred with another chaser who was all of 25 years old (third one down, screen cap saved in case it gets taken down).
The fact that this crash occurred is bullshit enough, but the fact that the driver of the vehicle running the stop sign was not wearing a seatbelt makes for double bullshit from a weather community who is way more than happy to lecture the public on safety. This crash comes after three veteran storm chasers were killed in 2013 when their truck got sucked up and thrown by a tornado turning the truck into a heap of twisted metal, the only thing identifying the make of the truck being the wheel.
Don’t get me wrong here – I’m sure the Weather Channel team (as well as the other chaser) were all good people and the driver of the Suburban simply made a mistake. I say that truly and sincerely; we all make mistakes and may they all Rest In Peace. Also, I’m mostly a hypocrite when it comes to this stuff. If a severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning is issued for my immediate area, I’m first opening my door to take a look before going to my basement. But the difference between me and others in the community is that I’m not jumping in my car at the first sign of a thunderstorm popping up on a day that looks ripe for severe weather, then driving around chasing it.
I’m also not blowing through stop signs because I’m looking at the sky (we all know that’s what happened) because I’m not out there in the first place. Back in the 90s, I had decided I was going to book a trip at some point in my life and ride along with storm chasers, but by the 2000s, there were articles appearing stating the chasers and their tourist gawkers were getting in the way of first responders and ambulances after a tornado had blown through. I decided then I would not be doing it, but yea, I continue to love me a good high resolution supercell and/or tornado video and will for the remainder of my life. So, I admit that I’m still a part of the problem.
But given the state of politics and the “reporting” by our fearless investigative “news” teams, there is no doubt in my mind that blame deflection will occur and climate change will be brought up as a reason for this crash and the probability certainly exists that Trump will take some blame given his stance with the EPA. After all, this crash occurred the same day the world’s foremost expert on climate science, Michael Moore, announced the END OF THE WORLD (for the 100th time over the past decade):
It seems likely to me that the Russians will somehow be tied to it as well by our media. All items designed to mask the ugly truth when looking in the mirror. A brief spot check of twitter shows at least one person blaming TX roads for the crash. Given that the photos show a very clear intersection and visible signs, I would think this is satire, the account says it is satirical, but I’m thinking it’s actually serious since the account says it is an advocate for road safety? Who knows? I have no idea what people are actually thinking anymore:
All that having been said, what I’m about to say clearly calls for my very own Unwelcome Idea Rob Base meme (only the dankest of memes for me), if it hasn’t already:
How about we stop with the storm chasing bullshit? It risks the lives of storm chasers, citizens and emergency responders while providing nothing other than XXX weather porn. Frankly, there’s enough people simply living in tornado alley now with cameras on their cell phone to satiate the hardcore weather porn aficionados looking for Two Girls, One EF5. At a maximum, storm chaser teams should consist of actual scientists performing research for NOAA or other agencies, like it was prior to 20 years ago. The amateur chasers, the tourist companies and the tornado porn nightcrawlers like the Weather Channel absolutely need to get the fuck out.
But why have the hard conversations and debate when you can shut down any debate by a choice of screams:
Since the storm chasers, including the ones who died, appear to be white males, the “THAT’S RACIST!” and “THAT’S SEXIST!” argument can’t be used as a distraction in this instance in arguing for the storm chasers, although it could be used as a distraction in other arguments related to storm chasing (WHY AREN’T THERE MORE FEMALE OR TRANSGENDER STORM CHASERS?! DAMN PATRIARCHY!). As for me, I’ll just say I believe the Russians are at fault. God forbid if people find out I can think for myself.