Participation in the Mizzou Storm Chase Team is open only to undergraduate and graduate students in the Atmospheric Science Program, members of the Storm Chase FIG (while a freshman), and to faculty of the Department, who have a valid waiver (Hold Harmless Agreement) on file. Participants must have a waiver (Hold Harmless Agreement) on file before the day of a chase. Failure to comply with all Mizzou Storm Chase Team Guidelines may result in the voiding of a participant's waiver.


The goals of the Chase Team are:

  • To observe severe weather as it occurs;
  • To see the material presented in class, played out in real-time;
  • To inform the public through radio; and
  • To serve a role as a storm spotter.

The primary criteria for deployment will be the probability that severe thunderstorms, including tornadic supercells, squall lines, etc. will occur within a 150-mile radius of the Columbia campus. Other severe weather cases that look promising will be evaluated.

Teams and Responsibilities

Base Team. The base team is very important as they are the source for the data that are essential to the field team, helping to promote a more successful chase and to insure field team safety. Members assigned to the base team are required to stay in McReynolds during their assignment period. Members are required to work a base team shift before they will be allowed to participate in a field team. The base team should have at least one person having base team experience. The responsibilities are as follows:

  • Radar: Keep the field teams abreast on what is developing, where it is heading, and the intensity of the storm.
  • Special Weather Bulletins: Monitor the Convective Outlooks and discussions. Also keep the field team informed on special weather statements that are issued and what they entail. Also monitor the latest severe weather watches and warnings.

Field Teams. Participants are expected to provide transportation. Each team will consist of three or four people, with at least one person having storm chase experience. Each member will have a specific duty:

  • Driver: The person who is in charge of the vehicle. He/she must obey traffic rules and regulations, and will be responsible for any tickets or other traffic violations. The driver must keep his/her eyes on the road at all times.
  • Navigator: The navigator is in charge of road maps and planning routes. This includes contacting the home base for advice on the target area. The navigator should have experience reading road maps, and should be effective at judging distances.
  • Communicator: The communicator is responsible for contacting the home base for the latest radar and satellite updates, as well as for advice on where to go next. This person is also in charge of calling in severe weather reports, and for giving the live report from the field for radio purposes. The communicator also keeps in touch with the other chase vehicles by CB radio, and monitors the weather radio and police scanner.
  • Team Leader: This should be the most experienced person in the group. The team leader is in charge of making final decisions, and should consider and respect the input of the other members.

Field Equipment: The following equipment is essential to the success of the chase and should be carried with each chase team:

  • 35MM Camera. Carry at least 200-speed film (higher speed is more desirable), at least enough for 40 pictures. You don't want to be out of film with the tornado of the decade on the horizon. A telephoto lens is a good idea, as is a tripod.
  • Road Maps. You do want to know where you're going, don't you? The maps that are used should be detailed; the Missouri Atlas and Gazeteer is highly recommended. Being trapped on a dead-end road with that monster tornado bearing down on you is not the way to go.
  • Phone Numbers. In order to obtain the data that is needed, keeping in contact with the base team is necessary. That can't happen if you don't know the phone number! Also, some emergency numbers (local law enforcement, etc.) should be brought along just in case.
  • Communications Equipment. This consists of CB radio, cellular phone, and police scanner, if available. This is useful in gathering information about the storm from other spotters in the area, as well as getting updates from the base team.
  • Weather Radio.
  • Car Equipment. Spare tire, jack, and a board for the jack in case of a muddy road.
  • First Aid Kit.
  • Personal Items. Money, identification, etc.
Copyright 2003-2011 . Atmospheric Science Program . University of Missouri-Columbia