Don't feel like hiding out in the cellar? Head outside and be a storm chaser, instead!
: Chasing storms is extremely dangerous -- obey all law enforcement instructions and posted signs.
Step 1: Head out Between April and June, head to a location in Tornado Alley, a swath of land in the central U.S. known for its active storm season.
Step 2: Listen in Go online to find the frequency for your local transmitter of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Weather Radio All Hazards, or NWR. Then, listen for updates about severe weather nearby.
TIP: Check online for additional information on developing weather systems.
Step 3: Hit the road When you hear of severe weather nearby, head toward the storm. Keep listening to NWR to stay abreast of the storm’s direction and use maps and navigation equipment to approach the weather system. Rely on at least one other storm chaser to share driving and navigation duties.
Step 4: Practice storm chaser safety Approach severe weather cautiously as a storm chaser: flash floods, hail, and lightning can all prove hazardous on the open road. Take extreme care when driving towards standing water, which can cause you to hydroplane and lose control of your vehicle. Keep an eye out for downed power lines.
Step 5: Enjoy the view Found a storm to chase? Ride alongside it. If you can do so safely, pull off the road, put on your hazards, and document the weather with a camera. Head away from the storm when lightning starts striking every 15 seconds or hail begins falling in a sheet.
: Stay inside the car while you’re shooting to protect yourself from being struck by lightning.
Step 6: Record your observations Once you’ve called it a day as a storm chaser, visit a National Weather Service branch online or in person and submit your record of the storm to promote an understanding of severe weather systems. Then, take a deep breath and revel in the thrill of the chase!
FACT: In 2009, the U.S. National Weather Service recorded 1,156 tornadoes in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.