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warren faidley storm photographer

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warren faidley

The sky between Johnson and Richfield turned a frightening green.

I now accepted there would be no swift escape. The fun of chasing vanished. We were facing the stark reality of our pursuits. Survival was now the issue. To the east lay a landscape of wheat fields flowing like a white-capped ocean. But this route offered no escape, for the fields were lined with only a handful of tractor access roads that would soon turn to thick mud. Behind us, and to the west, was the vivid bolts of lightning, giant hail stones and the oncoming tornado. No shelter anywhere. Our only escape was due south, where the sun smiled pleasantly in the distance." From Warren Faidley's Storm Chaser.

"If you had to pick one person in the world to get you through the storm from hell, it would be Warren." BBC

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Warren Faidley is a professional storm photographer and adventurer who specializes in pursuing, photographing, filming, documenting and studying extreme weather, natural disasters and related phenomena. During his 25 year career, it has been said he has experienced more assorted severe weather and natural disaster events than any living person.

Warren was the first, full-time, professional storm chaser and storm photographer. He is one of the planet's most published nature photographers. His career is measured by thousands of images posted in editorial, news, commercial and scientific publications around the world. His images have been seen on magazine covers such as Life Magazine and for movie posters like Twister.

Some storm chasers are fakes? Warren is not to be confused with storm chasers who constantly misrepresent themselves. In a recent book by written by Susan H. Grey, she discusses how some clever storm chasers portray themselves to be "scientists" and "researchers," to gain public trust, publicity and make money, but they don't actually work for an institution or produce any genuine science that helps people.

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Outwitting Mother Nature

From his initial storm chasing adventures at age 12 that nearly killed him, Warren has endured hurricane winds of over 170mph, the near passing of an EF5 tornado, a spider colony, landslides, earthquakes, softball-sized hailstones, lightning strikes, firestorms, food poisoning, sinkholes, paralyzing cold, bullets, rogue waves, fire ants, dust storms, a near drowning and even angry farmers yielding rusty pitchforks.

Warren's firsthand experiences of surviving extreme weather have made him the media's go-to severe weather and natural disaster expert and consultant. You have likely seen Warren on news programs like CBS's Early Show, The BBC, The O'Reilly Factor, CNN and Fox "Breaking" News with Gretta Van Susteren and Geraldo Rivera reporting on severe weather and discussing his adventures.

After working his way through a maze of black widow spiders on the ledge of a highway underpass, Faidley captured this now famous image of a lightning bolt hitting a light pole in an oil and gasoline tank farm in Tucson, AZ. A secondary bolt struck so close to Faidley that it lifted him off the ground. Life Magazine featured the image in 1989, launching Faidley's career as a storm photographer and extreme weather adventurer.

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Warren is no stranger to danger. His occupation is filled with both awe-inspiring images and moments of narrow escapes. Warren is careful to point out that such events are an "inseparable" part of his work as a storm photographer and not designed as "stunts" to purposely generate footage or publicity. Here are a few of the most memorable.

Run Forest Run!: During the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski wildfire in Arizona, Warren is filming a rapidly approaching wildfire when it suddenly explodes into a firestorm less than 100 yards away. He makes a quick escape as hair singes on his arms and the grass around his vehicle ignites.

That Old Sinking Feeling: While covering Hurricane Frances Near Juno Beach, FL in 2004, a sea side boardwalk collapses into a sinkhole under Warren's feet. He leaps onto a chainlink fence as the ground disappears into the abyss.

Rogue Wave: During the 1997 El Niño in southern California, Warren leaves a shooting position on top of an ocean side sea wall just seconds before a huge rogue wave swamps his position -- narrowly missing being hurled into the boiling ocean and rocks with little chance of escape.

Bullets and Bats: While shooting lightning on an Arizona hilltop, he discovers he is too close to a cave opening and hundreds of exiting bats. Abruptly, gunfire erupts nearby as drunken target shooters blast away at the hillside. With bullets and bats flying overhead, he takes cover and gets his shot.

Ants in Your Pants: Warren's roadside filming of forming Texas tornado is rudely interrupted when he has to abandon his pants after discovering they are covered with angry fire ants.

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