Storm Chaser Interview: Scott Hollinger

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Name: Scott Hollinger

Storm chasing name: Scott Hollinger Storm Chasing and Photography

What influenced you to start storm chasing? 

Hollinger: I’ve always been a weather geek. I have a passion for all weather, especially extreme weather (tornadoes and hurricanes). In 2010, my son and his friends built a replica of Reed Timmer’s storm chasing vehicle called The Dominator. They covered out 4 wheeler with PVC piping, chicken wire and cardboard (painting it). It was really neat! After posting a video of it on YouTube, it went viral. Soon after, I received a phone call from Detroit Productions from Chicago and they flew 4 of us up to film a commercial with Reed Timmer (Watch below). Meeting him inspired me to start officially chasing full time.

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

Hollinger: My main chasing months are by far in the Great Plains in April and May. I drive thousands of miles every year. I’ve chased from Mississippi to Texas up to Illinois all the way to Colorado and Wyoming. Some of my favouritte chases have been mainly in the Texas Panhandle and Kansas. I’ve seen at least 16 tornadoes in the last 2 years near the Lockett-Memphis area in Texas. I had a gorgeous chase in Kansas with the Rozel sunlit EF-4 and also another gorgeous EF-2 in McCook, Nebraska. 

During a chase, what excites you the most?

Hollinger: What excites me the most? The unknown…The forecasting…Every chase is different. You may drive many hours for a clear sky bust and then the next trip you may just see tornadogenesis.

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

Hollinger: By far the most dangerous thing is the commute to and from the storm. The traffic, the irresponsible chasers that will drive on the wrong side of the road, pass numerous cars on a double yellow going up a hill. I have also been inside the circulation of 4 tornadoes. This is not safe at all and not planned. Flying debris is dangerous and the win in a circulation is horrific.

Photo credit: Scott Hollinger

– LET’S DISCUSS CHASING IN DETAIL –

When do you start planning for a chase?

Hollinger: Planning for a chase can start days to weeks out. I watch and study long range models. I look at weather patterns, start looking at my work schedule, and start talking to some of my chase partners to see whose interested in a road trip.

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

Hollinger: Plans to choose my target area are by far going over different model data. From long range, to mid range to short range High Resolution looking at where I think I need to setup. I also watch satellite data boundaries, warm fronts, dry lines etc. Another thing I use is Mesoanalysis on finding out where the best moisture, instability, and backed winds are.

What do you take when you go chasing?

Hollinger: I carry changes of clothes, and sleeping gear. Because I’m a firefighter (EMR certified), I carry a full medical/trauma bag in case I come across injuries. I have a winch on my truck as well as a chainsaw. If you chase long enough, you will use all of this gear at some point.

What equipment do you use to chase?

Hollinger: I have a Mini iPad for radar and road networks. I use a MiFi so I had internet. I carry a Nikon camera with different lenses, a Sony 4K video camera mounted in the window with a Quick Connect to a tripod, and a GoPro. I also have my phone.

Photo credit: Scott Hollinger

If someone wants to start chasing, what should they learn or do and what should they expect?
Hollinger: Anyone that wants to start chasing hands down needs to find and experienced chaser and stick with them. It’s very dangerous to go out and not know what you are look at. Study, know how to read radar, the velocity on radar. Watch what the storm is doing, keep your distance and always have an escape route. It’s always best to chase with someone else to help watch radar, help find road networks and keep an eye on the storm.

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

If you’re a storm chaser and would love to be interviewed! Email us at discovertornadoes@gmail.com.

RELATED: Storm Chaser Interview: Jim Tang 

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