Frequently asked questions about storm chasers, storm chasing and
storm photogapher Warren Faidley

By Elliot Jones and Sandra Coleman
Revised 10-04

E-mail note: Due to the overwhelming amount of e-mail we receive each week (over 100 inquiries at times), we cannot respond to personal questions concerning chasing, weather, school projects, etc. Below, you will find the answers to the majority of questions we receive. Thank you.

Media and business inquiries please visit our Media Center.

Some links may be outdated. We update quarterly.

Topics (Click on a topic)

Basic and commonly asked questions about storm chasing and storm chasers
    What is storm chasing and how can I get involved?
    What are the actual types of storm chasers?
    Can I chase with Warren?
    Can I make a lot of money chasing?
    Chase equipment, techniques, forecasting, etc.
    How do I find a chase partner or tour group?
    What is the history of storm chasing and storm chasers?

Educator/Student Questions
    Obtaining photographs and data.
    Can I interview Mr. Faidley or his chase team for a school project?
    Is there a good severe weather and natural disaster site for kinds?

    Where can I find information about weather-related school projects?
    My class would like to send Mr. Faidley a letter -- how do we do this?

Media Questions
    How do I find a a storm chaser or get in touch with Mr. Faidley for an interview?

Meteorology Schools
    List of meteorology schools

Photographs, Videos and Books
    Commercial images, video and film resources
    Consumer products
    Where can I find Warren's new book How To Survive Any Storm?
    Where can I find Warren's best-selling book Storm Chaser?

Severe Storms, Natural Disasters and Safety
     Severe weather/natural hazards data sites
     Severe weather/natural hazards safety and emergency data
     Severe weather/natural hazards facts for kids

Questions about Warren Faidley
    Was Warren Faidley the first person to chase storms?
    Does Warren have a "Copyright" on the term Storm Chaser?
    How was Warren involved with the Twister movie?
    Why does Warren accept sponsorships and paid advertising?

Business and photography questions
    What is the difference between real images and "special effect" photographs?
    Does Warren use colored filters for his photography?
    Why do the colors of his pictures sometimes appear more vivid?

    Can I copy images from your pages?




 How do I get involved in storm chasing and what is storm chasing?

Except for a few complex exceptions, there are few occupations involving full-time storm chasing.
Unfortunately, many television shows and printed stories about chasing are misleading -- mainly because the producers or editors need to legitimize the use of graphic or tragic footage, so they distort the person's (chasers) actual purpose for chasing -- or the person's actual occupation. This creates the false impression that many people are chasing as a successful occupation -- when in fact, the vast majority of "chasers" are hobbyists or amateurs, chasing for excitement during a few days in the spring. In recent years, this irresponsible media reporting has enticed inexperienced persons (including youngsters) to go out and chase storms for the wrong reasons, endangering the chasers and the public. There are however, legitimate and honorable reasons for pursuing storms, as outlined below.

In reality, there are very few people who make a full-time living from chasing storms or from storm- related activities alone, and even fewer people who actually chase beyond a few seasonal days or weeks in specific locations. The majority of people who chase storms have alternate sources of income or jobs that have no relationship to chasing. A few "hobbyist" chasers and photographers have been able to make a part-time living from selling their photographs and video footage or working with news organizations or for chase tour groups. The majority of people who chase storms do so because they crave the adventure, travel and excitement of the chase.

If you desire to become involved in chasing storms, some options are listed below for you to consider. One of the best ways to become involved in severe weather, is to volunteer as a "storm spotter." Not only will you be able to watch wild weather, but you will also be helping your community stay safe. Many local spotter groups are seeking people to assist them. Always remember that any activity near any storm, small or large, is dangerous. Even the smallest, weakling storm can drop a deadly lightning bolt with little or no warning.

 What are the actual types of storm chasers?

By Elliot Jones

Media alert.... we strongly suggest that all media and commercial sources confirm an individual's actual chase-related background and history before committing to interviews, features, etc. Unfortunately, some media sources have recently reported serious problems because they were mislead by individuals (or groups) in regards to storm chasing activities, including the person's experience, background and actual purpose for chasing storms.

The National Storm Chasers and Spotters Association™ (NSCSA) offers free referral services to the media and commercial clients for locating professional storm chasers, amateur storm chasers, scientists and storm spotters.

There are nine basic categories of people or groups who chase or intercept severe weather, often referred to as storm chasers, tornado chasers, storm spotters, storm trackers, etc.

Scientists and Researchers: Generally, individuals or groups from major universities or government organizations, including support personnel who occasionally (or seasonally) chase storms and severe weather conditions as part of a legitimate and active research project.

Hobbyists, Recreational and Amateurs: Basically, anyone who chases severe weather -- not in a bona fide public service, tour guide, scientific or media capacity. Hobbyist, amateur or "recreational storm chasers," pursue severe weather as a hobby -- enjoying the adventure and challenge of traveling hundreds of miles to witness some of mother nature's most glorious creations. The majority of hobbyists storm chasers photograph or video tape severe weather for their archives. Hobbyists do not make a living from chasing storms, but they occasionally sell storm footage or pictures on the side to help finance their chasing. Some hobbyist storm chasers have occupations relating to meteorology. A growing number of hobbyists are retired individuals who have extended time and resources to chase. Many hobbyist storm chasers also serve as storm "spotters" and will often relay critical information to authorities via mobile phones or ham radios. As opposed to "thrill seeking" chasers, most hobbyists chase in a responsible, professional manner. A number of hobbyists have built customized chase vehicles, similar to those used by news crews and researchers. Of all storm chasers, hobbyists comprise the largest group. The hobbyist and amateur storm chasers have their own outstanding homepage: Stormtrack.

Spotters: Spotters are seasonal and usually localized volunteers who observe and report threatening weather. The majority of storm spotters are amature radio operators. Spotter training and experience varies. Law enforcement officers and fire department personal may also serve as "spotters" in some locations. Spotters are often the unsung heroes of chasing, risking life and property to perform their valuable services. For more information about storm spotters, visit the Skywarn homepage.

Media/Editorial/Artistical: Part-time or seasonal personnel who work for a bona fide news gathering source such as television stations, news agencies, cable channels and radio stations. A few professional photographers, cinematographers and videographers also chase storms, usually as a part-time, editorial or seasonal pursuit to augment their off season work. Media (radio and TV) chasers and their "spotter" reports saved many lives during the Oklahoma City tornado outbreaks in May of 1999 and 2003. In addition to commercial and editorial applications, the images and footage shot by media chasers are often used for safety, news, scientific and educational purposes.

Imposters, Thrill Seekers, Klingons, etc.: Individuals who have absolutely no purpose or reason for chasing other than the "thrill of it." Unlike hobbyist and other types of storm chasers, this relatively new group is comprised of individuals who have little or no respect for other chasers, meteorology, storm spotting or the consequences of their sophomoric and sometimes dangerous actions. "Klingons" are inexperienced individuals who follow (without permission) experienced or scientific chasers. Imposters are generally inexperienced individuals who purposely misrepresent themselves in order to justify or legitimize their chasing activities. Some imposters have gone as far as posing as scientists, media chasers or even rescuers to gain access to closed or evacuated areas. The media needs to be especially weary of these individuals. (Not to be confused with non-professional hobbyists or amateurs who chase in a responsible manner and do not misrepresent themselves).

Tour Guides and School Groups: Tour guides lead groups of people (for a fee) on actual chases during the spring severe weather season. Tours are a viable option for chasing if you have no experience. Group chases are sometimes conducted by the meteorology departments of collages and universities. Some tours (field trips) are sanctioned by the school while others involve clubs or non-sanctioned groups.

Locals: People with little or no chasing experience who chase or observe storms near their communities. Local chasers usually initiate and target their "chases" from watching live television weather reports. They poise an ever-increasing hazard by clogging roadways and preventing emergency vehicles and legitimate chasers and spotters from preforming their work.

Hurricane Hunters: (The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron): The Hurricane Hunters are Air Force Reserve, (403rd. wing) pilots and crew members who fly special planes into tropical weather and report their data to the Tropical Prediction Center.

Full-time Professional: A chaser who pursues severe weather year round, for a living, in the capacity of a professional occupation and background.

Many chasers are hybrid combinations of the above categories.


 Does Warren ever take people along while he's working?

N0! - except for selected media crews. Several companies offer "chase tours." (See the "links" section below for tour information).


 Can I make a lot of money chasing?

It is very difficult to make a substantial income from chasing storms alone. As noted above, the opportunities are quite limited. The best option is to find a job related to chasing. As for storm photography, there are additional limiting factors. The demand for photographs, film and video has declined due to the growing number of chasers and the resulting glutton of footage and images. Some experienced chasers have resorted to allowing professional stock footage shooters (disguised as production companies and news crews) to chase with them for free, allowing "non-chasers" to further destabilize the markets. The recent advent of "royalty-free" photo sales and the merger of large stock agencies has also disrupted and devalued the storm image and footage markets.


 Questions about storm photography, equipment, film, a specific storm or disaster, safety, meteorology, etc.

PLEASE NOTE...... Due to the volume of mail we receive, we cannot forward individual data concerning storm chasing, photographic techniques, locations, equipment, chase vehicles, etc. There are many excellent sites, as listed, on the Internet that contain extensive data on these subjects.


 How can I find a chase partner or a "chase tour" company?

We do not endorse any specific chase tour company. The best place to find a chase partner is through your local weather spotter group.


 What is the history of storm chasing and storm chasers?

An excellent (and accurate) history of storm chasing can be found here.




 I am a teacher or student and I need weather-related resources, teaching aids and/or pictures.

Since we are a privately funded business, WE CAN NOT SUPPLY (e.g., email) PHOTOGRAPHS, nor do we maintian or distribute free published information. However, due to a generous grant from storm chaser Warren Faidley, educators and students are allowed, under specific terms, to copy images from our web sites. Please visit this link for information. You may also want to visit the Weatherstock® Royalty-Free CD site. This CD has 100 weather photos. There is a special discounted price for educators.

Additional resources and links can be found through the The Storm Chasers and Storm Spotters Association™


 I am a student and I have some questions for Mr. Faidley and/or his chase team.

We are sorry, but due to the overwhelming number of student interview requests we receive, we cannot respond to individual questions, surveys or interviews. Mr. Faidley's biography, located here may answer many of your questions about his work, etc. You may also want to check with your school library to see if his book Storm Chaser is available.


 Is there a good severe weather site for kids and teachers?

YES! Click here for a wonderful site just for kids and teachers.


 Where can I find information about weather-related science projects?

The Storm Chasers and Storm Spotters Association™ has a special page for educators and student projects. The page is located here!


 Our class would like to send a letter to Mr. Faidley -- how do we do this?

You can write to Mr. Faidley here: Warren Faidley, PO Box 31808, Tucson, AZ 85751. Please note that it may take 30 days or longer to receive a reply. From mid-April through June, responses may take several months due to chase operations. We kindly ask that classes submit letters as a group instead of separate mailings to speed up the response time. PLEASE include a legible return address on all cover letters! We do receive letters that do not include legible or return address information and we are unable to respond.



Media Questions

 I'm with the media - how do I get in touch with Mr. Faidley or obtain press materials about chasing?

Click here.



Meteorology Schools

 Where can I find information about meteorology schools?

Visit the extensive list located here.



Photographs, Videos and Books

 I'm looking for photographs or film footage for a business, editorial or commercial use - where can I find them?

Visit the Weatherstock® Homepage. Weatherstock® has "the world's largest and most extensive collection of weather, storm and natural disaster photographs, film and video footage.™"

 Does Weatherstock or Mr. Faidley sell products such as videos, books, posters and prints? We do maintain a page that will forward you to weather and storm-related products. The site is located here.

 Where can I get a copy of Warren's new book How to Survive Any Storm - A severe weather handbook? The popular new book can be purchased here.

 Where can I get a copy of Warren's best-selling book "Storm Chaser?" Warren's book Storm Chaser is no longer being printed. We are seeking a printer for a revised version of this best-selling book. Information on a new release will be posted soon.



Severe Storm and Natural Disaster Information and Safety

 Where can I get general information about severe weather or natural disasters?

Use one of the Internet's "search" engines, or see the Storm Chaser® Homepage. We do not supply general weather data or statistics.

 Where I can get information about severe weather or natural hazards in my area?

Caution! We do not suggest that you use the Internet during emergency situations. Links and sites may be overloaded during busy periods. Rely on your television, radio or National Weather Service Radio for critical information. Never ignore warnings or advisories concerning storms, wildfires or any dangerous natural hazard!

 Is there a good severe weather and natural hazards site for kids?

YES! Click here for a wonderful site just for kids.  


Questions about Warren Faidley

  Was Warren Faidley the first storm chaser?

No. People have been chasing storms since the 1950's, and possibly even earlier. Warren was however, the first person to chase all forms of severe weather as a full-time, year round profession (journalist) and make a living solely from photographing, filming and writing about severe weather.

 Does Warren Faidley have a "copyright" on the term Storm Chaser so no one else can use it?

It is impossible for someone to completely hoard or "trademark" the generic use of a term. A person cannot register a "patent" or "copyright" on a common term. False and misleading accusations about Warren's marks were posted in several news groups by misinformed individuals and business rivals who wanted to defame Warren, alienate him amongst other chasers and cause harm to his business interests. Warren holds several service marks and trademarks on the term Storm Chaser® for specific business services or products. It is important to note that the US Trademark office goes though an extensive investigative process before issuing a mark to insure the claim is valid and does not conflict with common terms or other marks. In addition, a period is required before the mark is made "incontestable", to allow discussions and challenges. All of Warren's marks were clearly justified, since he was the first person to use the terms for the specific business use.

The generic, non-business conflicting use of the term "storm chaser" is not affected by these marks. The mark is for products and services, it does not apply to the physical act of chasing. A person can still call themselves a "storm chaser." A trademark or service mark restricts a person or business from using a term for a business (service) or product venture protected by the mark. For example, numerous marks exist on common descriptive terms such as "Fireman" (over 76 marks) and "Pilot" with over 250 trademarks. Obviously, firemen and pilots can still use the term!. Unfortunately, Warren has been forced to take action to stop the spread of false and misleading information about his marks. He currently offers a substantial reward for information leading to the successful prosecution of individuals or businesses who spread false information in attempts to damage, weaken, confuse or defame his marks.

If you have additional questions about trademarks please see the US Trademark Office Homepage.

 How was Warren involved in the movie "Twister"?

Warren served as an initial consultant for the movie. (The filming period had no official "technical advisor," but rather, a set meteorologist for weather reports and crew safety.) The actual characters were based on scientists from a midwestern university. (Warren, is a journalist not a scientist). Warren's black chase truck was in use many years before the movie and had no relation. In an interesting footnote, the original "Chaser" script by Warner Bros. (Peter Iliff script) was going to be partially based on Warren's character but it was dropped for the final "Hollywood" script. Who knows, maybe Warren's amazing adventures will be the subject of a future movie.

 Why does Warren accept sponsorships and paid advertising?

As a journalist and professional photographer/cinematographer, Warren must sell his footage, images, products and written materials in order to run a business. Because of the ever-changing nature of storm chasing and increasing competition, Warren must expand the scope of his income-generating operations. Now days, it is very difficult to survive on selling storm pictures and video footage alone.

Like all media or news sources, big or small, advertising, promotions, and public relations campaigns are an important and necessary part of a successful business. Warren recoups some of his chasing expenses by allowing corporate interests to sponsor his chase activities or use his character in advertising.

About 20 to 30 percent of the work conducted by Warren and his business interests involves educational, safety or public awareness. The cost of such non-profit operations, including discounted products, website bandwidth, printing, office expenses, communications, travel, labor and related expenses comes out of corporate expenses, with no government assistance. Without sponsors to assit with the cost of operations, charitable, public service and educational offerings could no longer exist.

Every year, Warren donates materials and services for public education and storm safety. You may have seen some of his photographs in National Weather Service and American Red Cross literature.



Real images and special effects.

 What is the difference between real and "computer altered" images?

Special effect or "digitally altered" photographs are those which have been created on a computer. Just like special effect images seen in movies like the Wizard of OZ and Twister, many artists and photographers create their own images for commercial clients who are seeking custom or creative illustrations that do not require editorial accuracy. All of the images used on our pages, in books, prints or other printed material are the real thing, unless otherwise noted on the image's caption. Unfortunately, a few editorial clients have confused the issue by publishing altered images as the "real" thing. They obtained the image(s) without the creator's knowledge, by either illegally copying the images from web sites, and/or failing to secure or publish accurate caption data. Mr. Faidley is a respected journalist who abides by professional journalism etchics. He is against any type of dishonest image manipulation. Acceptable editorial corrections include dodging areas (lightening), burning areas (darkening), cropping, color corrections or additions, contrast and brightness corrections and sharpening of the image. Weatherstock offers up to a $2,500 reward for any information concerning false, slanderous or libelous statements (including newsgroup postings) made about any Weatherstock image or business pratice.

 Does Warren use colored filers for his photography? Why do the colors of his images sometimes look more vivid?

Warren rarely uses any filter other than a protective UV filter over the front lens. If he uses filters to alter a shot beyond the journalistic norms, he will make note of it on the picture caption.

As for the vivid colors, Warren is well known for his style of seeking out images just before or after sunset when the film can be saturated with "beauty" light. This light, combined with long exposures can generate vivid colors. Warren often uses Fuji Velvia, which has a tendency towards warmer colors. Many people would be surprised to see the original transparencies. Even with contrast additions (often needed for Internet images) the originals are often exact matches in color.

Warren's quest for the right color and contrast has a price, he notes. "I have missed many shots because I tried to position myself for better color, contrast or perspective. I'll often opt for the outside chance of a visible, dryline tornado instead of a big, grey HP (high precipitation) cell because I hate the lack of contrast usually associated with the monster cells. My goal is never just to see a tornado. I'm always looking for the "art" in a storm and the perfect shot."




 Can I copy any of the images seen on your pages?

Click here for information about copying our images.

End of FAQ's



Storm Chasing Web Links

Official US Storm Chaser Homepage

Weatherstock Homepage (Images, film and video for commercial clients)

Warren Faidley's Biography Homepage

Storm Chase Products

Sponsor a storm chaser!

The Storm Chasers and Storm Spotters Association™

Storm Chase Media Information

Royalty Free CD! (100 Stunning weather images on a high quality photo CD!)

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