As many people ducked for cover during the past weekend’s storms, some folks were actually trying to get closer to them. Most days Richard Thompson is a lead forecaster at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. On Sunday, he became a storm chaser zig-zagging his way through parts of Missouri. But Thompson says they missed the actual breakout of the storm by about an hour and spent the afternoon trying to catch up with the rapidly moving storms. Their success was limited; 10 minutes behind the deadly storm that hit around Sedalia and lost sunlight as another line of storms blew up near Nevada. Thompson says his team doesn’t chase storms just for the excitement of the chase, this kind of research is essential to forecasters, helping them better understand storms. Thompson doesn’t recommend storm chasing to anyone except for professionals who know what they’re doing.
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