With the rise of social media, armchair storm chasing has become an effective means for meteorology enthusiasts to cope with (or exacerbate) their FOMO on bagging that sweet High Plains LP wedge on a late spring day. As a severe weather event unfolds (or fails to unfold), those on #wxtwitter can participate in the same real-time severe weather prediction exercises as the real storm chasers. If your forecast verifies, you impress your followers with your operational prowess. If not, well, at least you were wrong from the comfort of your armchair, and you don’t have to drive 10 hours overnight to get home in time for work tomorrow. While armchair storm chasing is the low risk, low reward cousin of authentic storm chasing, there are ways to maximize the benefits of your online observing and reporting, which AtmoLife has conveniently detailed for you in these 8 easy steps.
1. Explain to everyone that you’re super busy.
It’s important that all of your followers understand that you don’t have the capability to drive out to the middle of nowhere every week. Unlike other people who seemingly don’t work between March and July, you have a real job that requires you to actually show up. Be sure to remind your followers of this fact multiple times over the duration of the severe weather event while you spend all day at work tweeting about storms.
2. Pick your hypothetical target.
The night before a potential outbreak, you might be tempted to setup hypothetical shop wherever you think the best storms will occur. It’s more important however to ensure your target is creative. You won’t gain any street cred for thinking the greatest risk will be along the dryline if that’s also the SPC’s forecast. Instead you can tell your followers the real show will be along the warm front because you always hypothetically chase high shear over high CAPE. Furthermore, choose a location that’s fun. If all the nerd chasers are targeting Emporia, you can hypothetically hang out an hour away in Lawrence or Manhattan and have yourself a hypothetical college party you big hypothetical party animal you.
3. Marginally adjust your hypothetical target.
As the severe setup begins to unfold the morning of your hypothetical chase, tweet out some hand-drawn analyses justifying your decision to move toward the dryline. #wxtwitter eats that shit up despite a basic algorithm’s ability to produce maps with the same exact analysis way faster and more accurately than you. Even if your decision to move was truly fueled by the morning HRRR runs or SPC guidance, share some crudely drawn analyses anyway. Your followers want you to prove that your target is based on observations and instinct. Make sure your target adjustment would be realistic for an actual chaser though. If you spent last night in North Platte, you’re not making it to Abilene today.
4. Adjust your target to wherever you want.
Remember that this chase is hypothetical, and hypothetically, you’re flying a fuckin’ jetback baby! You can zip between multiple chase targets hundreds of miles away with ease. After that first minor target adjustment, your followers aren’t going to care about the plausibility of any subsequent changes, and they’re guaranteed to smash that like button when you send your “See you tweeps in Abilene!” tweet.
5. Do actual work at work (OPTIONAL).
By the late morning of your hypothetical chase day, you should have settled on your hypothetical target, but storms may not initiate for a few more hours. These are the hours in which real chasers might be stuck at a Dairy Queen parking lot, but you have the luxury of being stuck at work. Use this time to prepare for the afternoon eruption of supercells. Send progress update emails early to dissuade your superiors from keeping tabs on you during peak storm hours. Experienced armchair chasers know to book meeting rooms for additional afternoon privacy.
6. Tweet out MDs, watches, and warnings.
Just like real storm chasers, armchair storm chasers like you save lives. Make sure to send alerts of every severe weather update to your followers who are nowhere near said severe weather.
7. Share radarscope screenshot of all the dots.
“Wow that has to be at least 100 dots within 10 square miles” you tweet from your phone while stuck in urban traffic on your drive home from work. You continue your twitter rant about the dangers of chaser convergence until you become lightheaded from sitting in your garage for 30 minutes with the engine still running.
8a. Claim your victory.
Quote-retweet storm photos and videos from actual storm chasers with a nice “BOOM CALLED IT.” You knew the tornadoes were coming to Moore all along, and if anything, the real storm chasers have you to thank for pointing them in the right direction with your online predictions.
8b. Blame your bust on the Government.
You spent an entire day staring at a computer screen to not see even a single damn debris ball. “The few weak, rain-wrapped tornadoes hardly justify today’s Moderate risk (1/8)” you tweet into the abyss your former followers used to occupy. Now you’re pissed, not because you wasted an entire day continually refreshing satellite and radar imagery (Oh, it’s most definitely not that), but rather because the public’s perception of meteorologists will surely deteriorate for this. This entire situation could have been avoided if the government put more funding and resources into weather research and forecasting. “I can only save so many damn lifes om my own,,, (8/8)” you conclude 8 beers in.