I am a storm chaser based out of Wichita, Kansas. I began chasing storms in 2001 and have worked as a media chaser since 2004. I have documented around 200 tornadoes across nine different states and several major hurricanes along the US coast. As a fan of extreme weather, I count myself lucky to live in the central plains where the most violent storms on the planet occur each spring. You get to experience the entire spectrum of emotions in this sport and I love that about it. It motivates and challenges me to work hard and strive for greatness. Although I have a career outside of storm chasing, it has been and always will be a major part of my life.
Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, I have been around severe weather my entire life. As a kid I would watch severe weather coverage on the local TV networks whenever storms came through the area. I never knew anyone that chased growing up, so the idea of chasing storms never even occurred to me until 2001 when I was watching coverage of a tornado warning by Kingman, Kansas. At that moment I realized I didn’t have to just watch this on TV. Kingman was only about 45 minutes away, I had a car, and seeing the storm for myself was easily within reach. I had no idea what I was doing, but I drove out to Kingman and watched the storm go through town. Between the dark clouds, the tornado sirens blaring and watching the DOW crew (doppler on wheels) drive by I was hooked immediately and knew it was something I would do for the rest of my life.
At the time I was attending Wichita State University and they did not have a meteorology program, so I drove down to the University of Oklahoma bookstore that summer and started buying their course books on meteorology. WSU did offer an introduction to meteorology course, so I took that class and then did an additional independent study course through WSU on mesoscale meteorology with Dave Schafer, who was a local TV meteorologist in Wichita at the time. I continued buying meteorology books and chased pretty hard core for a beginner through 2002 and 2003 with very limited success (never saw a tornado).
After three years of hard work my luck finally turned in 2004. It was a good year for tornadoes in the plains and I cleaned up, documenting 21 tornadoes that spring. With success in the field came additional opportunities and I started chasing for KWCH out of Wichita that spring, who is the #1 rated station in Kansas. It was a break out year for me and it felt really good to finally produce results on something I had worked so hard at for so long. It also taught me an important life lesson, which is to believe in yourself, because the rest of us think you’re an idiot lol. There’s a meme with a guy in a kayak going over a waterfall that says that and I’ve always loved it. I usually show it in most presentations I do. It’s a bit of a joke, but not really. I faced a lot of adversity those first three years and through a belief in myself and an unwavering focus on my goal I finally accomplished what I had set out to do. I think it’s one of the most valuable lessons you can learn in life and I make a point to emphasize it, especially when I’m talking to kids.
As I write this, it is 2021, and I have been chasing for 20 years now. I lost exact count several years ago, but I have documented right around 200 tornadoes now (give or take a few) across nine different states. I’ve been fortunate to work with numerous television stations helping with coverage and have contributed to several national and international television shows (for some weird reason I’ve actually done more TV shows for Europe than the US). I chase storms because I love it, but I also take a lot of pride in helping with coverage and getting severe weather information out to the public. There are few times in life when I am happier than I am when I’m out in the field chasing. It is challenging at many different levels and you get to experience the entire spectrum of emotions. It takes a gamblers mentality to chase at a serious/elite level where you will drive thousands of miles across the country on the hope of seeing a good storm. It is both exhausting and exhilarating. The fear, depression, and failure you experience just make it all the sweeter when things do go right and you get to witness the most violent storms on the planet.
My video and pictures have been featured on numerous national and international networks including Discovery Channel, National Geographic, CNN, BBC, The Weather Channel, Planet Green, Virgin, The New York Times, Weather Nation, and News Nation.
National Geographic, Inside the Mega Twister // Gethin Jones, Danger Hunters // The World’s Deadliest Weather