Storm chasing can shed light on strikes and thunderstorms

Posted on January 28, 2016 by heightw in Blog Entry

Storm chasing is the pursuit of severe weather such as thunderstorms. Chasers typically pursue twisters and watch hail and lightning. Chasing storms began as a recreational activity, but can also be a quest to understand extreme weather conditions in an attempt to predict when they will occur.

Scientific chasing presents the challenge of correctly forecasting and intercepting storms. There are several organised groups of “storm spotters” that regularly report their findings to the relevant authorities to help them identify the patterns of extreme weather conditions. These findings are of great benefit to real-time warnings with ground truth information. They also help to increase the accuracy of severe storm databases and other areas of weather research.

Chasing can involve driving thousands of miles to experience only a short window of time in which a storm is severely active. Many chasers are meteorologists and they devote a lot of time to forecasting before they set out after a storm. Their study and experience allows them to understand the intricacies of severe convective storm prediction. Although the majority of chasing is done by driving, some researchers employ aircraft.

Chasers photograph night-time lightning as the light from the bolt helps to fill any foreground in the frame and present a clear picture. As chasing lightning in wide open spaces is incredibly hazardous, many chasers use camera mounts that they can clamp to their car windows so that they do not have to leave the safety of the vehicle while they capture images.

Australian chaser and photographer Anthony Say recently shot an electrostatic discharge during a thunderstorm. Clouds are below freezing and the hail that circulates in the thunderstorm creates an electrical charge in the cloud. This causes an imbalance, and lightning is the result of the thunderstorm trying to remove the charge and restore balance.

Along with other methods of scientific research, storm chasing helps us better understand storms and lightning. This makes it easier to design and create protection systems to keep structures, properties and people safe. Our specialist steeplejacks provide quality and affordable lightning rods that protect the fabric of properties and we offer a professional, helpful and reliable service at all times.

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