Storm Chaser Jobs
Weather is an unpredictable force of nature. When the weather takes a turn for the worst, what do you do? If you’re like most people you head indoors and take shelter. If you’re a storm chaser, you get in your car and meet the storm head on.
Storm chasers seek out extreme weather events. They are driven by curiosity, science, and adrenaline. They thrive on severe weather like tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, lightning storms, and hail storms. It’s their job to track and to locate storms, so they can report, observe, and experience these atmospheric events.
The media sensationalizes storm chasing. Hollywood films like Twister, Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers, and mainstream news channels all give this job a certain prestige. Captivated viewers love good storm footage that highlights nature’s finest storms. Who doesn’t enjoy watching the destructive power of a tornado whip across Oklahoma or a category 5 hurricane pound the Florida coast? Imagine seeing it in real life!
Extreme weather happens all of the time. Storm chasers crisscross the nation in search of tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather events. In the US, storm chasers may drive 500 to 800 miles a day to locate a storm. Covering 20,000 miles during storm season, which lasts April to June in Tornado Alley, is quite common. Yet, storm chasers may only witness 15 to 20 storms per year.
Due to the unpredictability of extreme weather, it’s hard to get up close and personal with a storm. Plus, it’s dangerous to seek out an unstoppable destructive force. Most storm chasers say that driving is the most dangerous part of their job, not the cyclones, tornadoes, hurricanes, or lightning.
Storm chasers work solo or in a team. They research developing storms, navigate to a storm’s location, make observations, gather data, document the storm, and capitalize on the experience. To be successful, they need cameras, Internet access, satellite phones, vehicles, GPS, and other equipment. It’s an expensive and time-consuming activity.
Unfortunately, very few people actually make a living in this unique niche. For most people, storm chasing is just a hobby. The best way to become a paid storm chaser is to become a meteorologist. Meteorologists study weather events and get paid by a laboratory or university to chase storms for research purposes.
Committed weather enthusiasts have figured out other ways to make money storm chasing. Many work as storm photojournalists or storm videographers. High quality storm footage or photos can sell for around $500 a shot or clip to news stations or websites. Others start detailed blogs about storm chasing that builds their personal brand and highlights their videos, photos, articles, and experiences.
Perhaps the most interesting way to capitalize on extreme weather is to start a storm chasing tourism business that takes paying clients on atmospheric adventures to witness weather phenomena up close. If you’re willing to assume the liability, this is an exciting way to share your passion for extreme weather.
Storm chasers learn through experience. There are no degrees or certifications available. A background in meteorology is common, but there are other ways to learn about storm chasing too. Websites, mentors, and books are all great starting points. The key to making money as a storm chaser, is to establish your niche – research, blogging, journalism, tourism, or something else.
Storm chasers make $5,000 to $70,000 per year. It might not be a full time job, but you can certainly make money as a storm chaser if you’re committed.
Are you ready to jump in a car to chase the next tornado, hurricane, or blizzard? Why not follow your weather passion and become a storm chaser?
Quick Facts About Storm Chaser Careers
Job Title: Storm Chasers
Office: Vicinity of storms
Description: Tracking extreme weather events
Certifications/Education: None required
Necessary Skills: Knowledge of weather, Access to vehicles
Potential Employers: Universities, Laboratories, Storm Tourism Business, Self Employed
Pay: $5,000 and $70,000 per year