A Calculated Risk: One Storm Chase Group's Experience with the El Reno and OKC Tornadoes
Estimates suggest that as many as 200 chasers crowded the roads on May 31. Based on several risk criteria, one group, a cohort of Virginia Tech undergrads studying meteorology, decided not to engage with storms firing close to urban centers. This Virginia Tech field studies course offers meteorology students a chance to put their forecasting skills to practice each spring as part of a two-week trip across the Great Plains. Students learn to assess meteorological data and make forecasting decisions about where to chase each day. I conducted participant observations and semi-structured interviews with the 12 undergraduate students and their four adult leaders. This poster offers an overview of the concept of risk through one storm chase group's experience on the road that day in May. It concludes by suggesting common ways that chasers conceptualize risk and offers ethical alternatives that might become the foundation of new policies that ought to govern the activity of storm chasing in the future.