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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Are you crazy?
I don't think so. If you know what you're doing, storm chasing can be quite safe. Safety is always my #1 concern. I minimize the risks by taking extra precautions and by knowing what parts of the storm to avoid.
Why do you do these things?
Chasing storms and exploring extreme environments combines all the things I love in life - Nature, travel, exploration, photography and adventure. It is a thrill for me to document these places and events and then share them with the rest of the world. I go to the places that most people either can't go to or wouldn't want to.
Is tornado chasing like what we see in movies like "Twister" ?
NO. Hollywood has done a good job of over glamorizing storm chasing. 95% of the time is spent driving under blue skies while getting into position, trying to figure out where the storms will form. Tornadoes are very rare and huge outbreaks of them are even less common. The characters in the movie put themselves into situations that are dangerous and irresponsible. The reality of storm chasing is far less dramatic than the movie producers would like you to think.
How can I become a storm chaser?
There is no such thing as "adventure college" or a "storm chasing school". Most storm chasers do it as a hobby and chase for only a few weeks each spring in the U.S. It is expensive, time consuming and can be very frustrating at times. I'm one of the very few in the world who are fortunate enough to be able to make a living from it. Some storm chasers sell photos or videos to help cover the costs of equipment, gas, hotels etc but being profitable at it is difficult. The vast majority of them do not have a meteorology degree (but some do) and we tend to learn on our own by studying weather maps, learning how to read satellite and radar images and by getting out there and getting some field experience. A good way to get a taste of storm chasing is to go on a tour with a reputable company. I've worked with Cloud 9 Tours since 2004 and we get lots of people from all over the world who want to see what it's all about. You might also be able to convince an experienced storm chaser to let you ride along in exchange for paying for gas or expense.
Can I ride along with you/ carry your cameras/ hide in your luggage?
I get a lot of requests to come along with me on adventures and most of the time it is not possible because we are typically filming for Angry Planet.
How may countries have you been to?
At last count it was just over 30. I've visited all 7 continents at least twice each.
Where are some of your favorite places?
Each place I explore has a certain charm but Iceland, Antarctica, and Desert Southwest of the U.S. are some of the most picturesque.
Have you had any really close calls over the years?
Yes I have. I've been caught inside the circulation of a tornado, I've been tossed across a parking lot by hurricane winds, dodged flying chunks of hot lava in the South Pacific and had lightning strike so close, I could feel the heat on my face. I've also been hit by a car in Jamaica, caught Dengue Fever in Dominica and had a scare after being bitten by a bat in a African cave known to harbor an Ebola-like virus. I've had my breathing get off during an extreme ice test in a wind tunnel and I've been washed downstream by surging white water rapids. Should I keep going?
How long does it take to film an episode of Angry Planet?

It typically takes weeks of research and planning for each episode, then 2 weeks or so of actually filming on location. We will sometimes shoot 25-30 hours or more of material for each half hour episode. The footage gets edited for about 6 weeks or so and I can watch the progress of the edits on the internet from wherever in the world I am. That way, we can be planning several episodes ahead while on the road filming one and reviewing edits of episodes we filmed months ago. The schedule is intense and It's normal for me to spend more than 200 nights a year away from home.

Some episodes have to be filmed at the drop of a hat if there is a storm brewing or a forest fire is raging somewhere. In those cases, if we are available, we drop everything at get moving! I try to never book anything during the peak of hurricane season, just in case I have to hop on a plane at the last minute.

What is your opinion on global warming and the state of the environment?
Climate change, pollution, and loss of ecosystems all directly or indirectly are a result of one thing... Human overpopulation. We as a species need to realize this and take some massive action to control the population curve which threatens our planet and our existence, as well as the existence of every other species that calls this planet home. We can all "Be Green" and take tiny steps like switching to fluorescent light bulbs but as long as the world population keeps exploding, it will amount to nothing more than a drop in the bucket.