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5 Rules of Storm Spotter Survival during Severe Weather Events

These are the 5 most critical safety rules for increasing your chance of survival while storm spotting for your local community.
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  1. Survival and personal safety – this is and will always be the main priority of all storm spotters. Getting information, observing the storm or taking video will never rank as the highest priority over life safety for storm spotting activities. If you don’t honestly consider personal safety as the most important portion of storm spotting, then you might as well give up storm spotting because you have missed the point of being a spotter in the first place. Your reports and observations are nothing without you being alive to tell them. It is very important that you take care of yourself before anything else when storm spotting for your local community.


    In this article, we will be discussing the 5 rules of storm spotter survival during severe weather events and why these rules are so important. There might be other tips and safety precautions out there but these 5 simple rules should be the only main rules that you follow in order to preserve your life and practice safe storm spotting activities. Remember – if you put yourself in danger, you risk death and it also requires emergency services to make you a priority when they should be focusing on actual victims who have not intentionally put themselves in the path of severe weather activity. Abide by the following rules and you will be safer in the field. As a disclaimer though, I am not saying these rules will keep you safe at all times – you should also be using common sense and continue learning more to make sure you can increase your chances of survival while spotting storms for your local community.

    RULE #1 – Never Spot Alone
    This is an important rule for many reasons. As a storm spotter, you should never be storm spotting alone. Now, not all storm spotters are going to be networking with other people locally to invite them along on a storm spotting session. However, there are other ways of storm spotting with people rather than physically having someone in the car with you. You can be a part of the organization such as a storm spotter team or a local fire department where multiple spotters are out in the field maintaining communications. However, if you can bring someone along, you should do so. A second set of eyes can focus on spotting and sudden road hazards while you can focus on driving which is extremely important to your health and the health of others around you. You’d be surprised how many people in your area is likely to be a storm spotter, get out and connect with them so that you don’t ever have to spot alone when the time comes.

    RULE #2 – Learn Your Location
    First of all, this article is geared towards storm spotters. While these tips can also help storm chasers and weather enthusiasts, the purpose of this article is for the local storm spotter more so than other types of weather-minded folks. So let’s get to the point of this rule. Learn and know your location. On non-severe weather days, drive around your local area and learn the roads. Drive on roads that you don’t often commute on. Pay attention to street names and house numbers. This information can eventually be used to help keep you safe or to alert public safety officials of damage in an area that you are driving in during actual severe weather event days. It is extremely important to know your area so that you know where to go when you are being threatened by severe weather during storm spotting activities.

    RULE #3 – Understand the Storm
    Many new storm spotters enter the field of spotting without really learning about the basics of severe weather, storm structure and severe weather behavior. It is very important to know at least the basics of what is going on within and severe storm or other type of hazardous weather event. No one expects you to be a meteorologist or have a college degree in weather-related disciplines but you should be at least attempting to continue your education in the understanding of weather especially severe weather that you are intentionally connecting yourself with. If you go out into a storm dumb and blinded, you might be putting yourself and even others in significant danger. Tornadoes and other severe weather events do not discriminate – they can and will cause you to die if you are caught up in them. Storm spotter training covers very little information in a very short session – you should be continuing to learn outside of the storm spotter class.

    RULE #4 – Understand Storm Movement
    Know which way the storm is moving, how fast it is moving and how it is moving is very important in regards to the safety of storm spotters. If you are observing severe weather to report for your local community, you need to do so as safely as possible. Getting into the path of a storm can cause you a lot of problems within the near future including extreme damage to your vehicle, massive injury and even sudden death. You must know how and where the storm is moving in order to determine the safest vantage point for you to perform your storm spotting activities. We don’t often hear about the deaths of storm spotters because most spotters understand storm movement and practice intelligent storm spotting skills when out in the field during extreme weather events.

    RULE #5 – Always have an Escape Route
    This is a must, people! At all times – you need to have a plan for sudden shelter and/or escape. If you plan to go to an area that provides no escape route, don’t go to that area. Your life isn’t worth your report – no matter what anyone says. You are not immune to serious injury and death from severe weather events. You should always practice safety planning and always have an escape route where ever you go to spot storms. Knowing the area before the storm happens is an important safety rules discussed above, this can help you determine escape routes that you might be forced to use during actual severe weather events where you are performing storm spotting activities.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please like, share and comment on this article with other rules that you feel storm spotters should be following in order to increase their chances of survival during severe weather spotting activities. I encourage you to share this article with others and especially on social media to help support this forum and this article board feature. Please consider publishing your articles today to help grow this section.

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