Storm Chaser Interview: Zachary Hall – Vortex Chasing


Name: Zachary Hall

Storm chasing name: Vortex Chasing, Arkansas Storm Tracker

What influenced you to start storm chasing? 

Hall: I grew up in Arkansas and Oklahoma. We’ve dealt with some insane storms. I’ve just always had an interest. I was the nerdy kid who stayed up late watching live severe weather coverage. 

How many storm chases have you been on and what’s your favourite to date?

Hall: I’ve been on a ton, way too many to count. I started chasing back in 2017. Hurricane Ida last year was pretty memorable. My first legitimate solo tornado came in May 2019 in northeast Oklahoma. That was wild!

During a chase, what excites you the most?

Hall: Getting that footage you work so hard for. Not only can you use it via social media to help warn people downstream (people pay attention to videos/images) but you’re documenting something crazy. It’s hard to describe that feeling of being up close with something that can be so deadly. 

What is the most dangerous thing you’ve had to deal with whilst chasing?

Hall: I’ve almost been struck a few times by Lightning. Tornadoes aren’t that hard to avoid and large hail isn’t either.

Photo credit: Zachary Hall – Vortex Chasing

When do you start planning for a chase?

Hall: Sometimes it’s last moment, not every setup is black and white clear as day for a week. Sometimes we plan 2-3 days ahead when the data is consistent on an area.

What steps do you take to plan out where your severe weather (tornado) target will be?

Hall: First and foremost, the meteorology side needs to make sense. I ask myself why I’m targeting an area. Is the setup even viable to go? Then I start looking at the terrain, is it even favourable for chasing? Targeting where we could be, study the area and region – terrain, cities, etc. 

What do you take when you go chasing?

Hall: Usually, general luggage (clothes), snacks,and personal items. We’re often on the road for several days. 

What equipment do you use to chase?

Hall: My buddy Frankie Shepherd drives for us. In his Tacoma, we have an iPad mounted for data (radar and analysis). We also have a cell booster.

Also, what equipment do you use during a chase?

Hall: I have a Sony A7II. We have GoPro’s, iPhones, big cameras for video and more.

Photo credit: Zachary Hall – Vortex Chasing

If someone wants to start chasing, what should they learn or do and what should they expect?
Hall: Attend a local spotter class through their respective National Weather Service (NWS) office. That builds a very basic foundation for someone. From there, they can choose a route of college degrees (meteorology) or building their own personal knowledge through personal studios. Meteorology is tough and doesn’t come easy. You need a good sense of meteorology to succeed in this field. 

Stay tuned to Discover Tornadoes for more tornado news, information, and more. Stay tuned for more storm chaser interviews.

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