Name: Chris Riske
Storm chasing name: High Risk Chris
What influenced you to start storm chasing?
Riske: Ever since I was a little kid I was fascinated by the thought of seeing a tornado, my mum saw the 1967 Oak Law F4 [tornado] and stories of that always fascinated me. Also the show Storm Chasers on the Discovery Channel and Pecos Hank were huge inspirations.
How many storm chases have you been on and what’s your favourite to date?
Riske: I have chased maybe 50 times? The chase in Iowa this past week was my favourite. Nobody was hurt by the tornado, and it was extremely beautiful. I also got video of my friend’s (More Pi on YouTube) car being struck by lightning.
During a chase, what excites you the most?
Riske: Tornadoes, however, I also love lightning and structure of a supercell thunderstorm.
What is the most dangerous thing you’ve had to deal with whilst chasing?
Riske: I was once stuck in a ditch when I was right in the path of a supercell. Fortunately, a tornado didn’t form on top of me.
– LET’S DISCUSS CHASING IN DETAIL –
When do you start planning for a chase?
Riske: I start about a week out, looking at the long range models to see if a severe weather setup is wroth my time and effort to travel out there and chase. I live in Denver, so I have quick access to the entire plains (all the way from North Dakota down to Texas).
What steps do you take to plan out where your severe weather (tornado) target will be?
Riske: I use the short term models to pick my targets. I am fire believer in the HRRR, and have been quite successful following that model. Generally I position myself down stream of where I think the storms will initiate, so that when they were mature I’m ready to pounce.
What do you take when you go chasing?
Riske: I have WAY too many cameras. My main camera is a sony A7siii, I also have two other mirrorless cameras, a drone, a 360 camera, and my cellphone for quick reports. Also I modified my Prius to allow me to sleep in the back (it’s actually really comfortable). Coffee and snacks of course! I do not take any weather stations, or any sensors, as I am there to capture video of the storm. Although, video is important scientific data too.
What equipment do you use to chase?
Riske: My Prius! Equipment is not super important, if you want to go observe storms, go do it. Nobody needs as many cameras as me!
If someone wants to start chasing, what should they learn or do and what should they expect?
Riske: I say they should go for it! It’s really not that dangerous if you drive safely, and I have another experienced chaser in the car. Prior to chasing, they should learn basic supercell structure, and have a good radar app like radarscope. I think they should not expect to get a tornado on their first chase since tornadoes are quite rare. They should also expect to spend a lot of time on the road, because chances are the setup isn’t close to home (chasing locally is a better way to learn in my opinion).
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