The Norman Transcript

June 11, 2013

Storm chasers, safety


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — The death of four storm chasers in Oklahoma last month has raised new questions about the practice that became popular with the movie “Twister.” Three scientists and one amateur tornado chaser died in the tornado that came through El Reno May 31.

At first, it was only scientists chasing the storms in an attempt to collect data and film footage. Now, the entourage in the countryside includes television crews, still news photographers including some from this newspaper, amateurs trying to make a few dollars or get noticed on Youtube and thrill-seeking tourists as well as the scientists.

Add in first responders and folks frantically trying to leave the area, and you have a recipe for a traffic disaster on top of the storm. No storm chaser has the right to break traffic laws.

While we’re on the subject, we’ve been hearing concern from folks who took to the highways on the suggestion of television meteorologists, only to find the interstate crawling like a parking lot.

The meteorologist’s advice conflicts with local public safety officials who are now recommending that residents shelter in place. The most injuries, officials say, occur when people are trying to find a shelter.