Keyboard Commando – Albertans, is storm chasing worth risking your lives for?

by Mac Olsen

This isn’t a call for ‘Nanny State’ supervision, but rather a warning about involving yourself in storm chasing, especially here in Alberta.

There are recent reports of avid storm chasers in this province. Whether it’s for curiosity and excitement, or simply the belief they provide a public service, I can’t think of something more perilous when it comes to nature and the elements.

Twenty years ago, I saw Steven Spielberg’s movie, ‘Twister’, depicting two groups of people who try to collect information about tornado-like conditions in Oklahoma, aka ‘Tornado Alley’.

One group loses their lives when they underestimate the forces they’re dealing with. The second group barely survives and (implausibly) manages to acquire the information that scientists and meteorologists can use to predict occurrences of extreme weather.

Then there was the movie ‘A Perfect Storm’, starring George Clooney. It tells the story of a New England fishing trawler that heads out on the Atlantic in the face of an imminent gale.

Three storms converge in the area to create the “perfect storm.” Tragically, that ship and its crew go down.

True, these are only movies, but the message is that going into harm’s way for adventure or curiosity is to unnecessarily put yourself and others at grave risk.

Don’t fool with Mother Nature. Don’t go looking for trouble because you may pay a severe and tragic price for it.

Who isn’t fascinated about the extreme conditions of nature? Who isn’t curious to see what a tornado can do as it cuts a swath across the land?

You can find plenty of examples of that on Facebook and other social media. I’ve seen numerous video clips of tornadoes occurring in the U.S. and the damage they cause. I certainly ‘like’ and share those video clips with others.

But if a tornado were making its way through the Peace Country, I would not go chasing after it to get my own videos.

Common sense would prevail and I would follow the mandatory evacuation order.

Once the tornado ended, I would go into reporter mode and get pictures and videos of the aftermath.

But here, too, I would be cautious because I would not want to exploit someone’s grief over the loss of their property or the death of loved ones.

And here’s more food for thought. Next year, on July 31, 2017, will mark the 30th anniversary of the tornado that hit Edmonton and Strathcona County.

I did not witness to that horrific event, but I sympathize with those who lived and suffered through it.

From sourcing, it is said that that tornado killed 27 people, injured over 300 more and caused in excess of $300 million in property damage.

So, for those who are eager to take up storm chasing, think of that tragedy and put your egos in check.

Don’t go out and risk your lives to satisfy your own curiosity.

Leave storm chasing and tracking to the weather satellites and Environment Canada.

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