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Today is August 13, 2022

North Mississippi Storm Chasers & Spotters: The calm during the storm

Their motto is “We are your calm during the storm.”

By Steven Ward

North Mississippi Storm Chasers & Spotters: The calm during the storm

Every time a severe weather event stirs up in the state, a group of 35 Mississippi storm chasers volunteers their time to make sure the public has the latest information they need to be safe.

“Storm chasers” is not a nickname or a figure of speech, either.

“We do literally chase storms. Before a severe weather event, we look at forecast models and information from the National Weather Service and Storm Prediction Center to help determine the best place to stage ourselves for the storms to develop,” said Stan Dorroh, a 4-County Electric member who also serves as a volunteer member of the North Mississippi Storm Chasers & Spotters group.

The group has more than 70,000 followers on their Facebook page. 

James Bishop, vice president of the North Mississippi Storm Chasers & Spotters and also a member of 4-County Electric, said the group was founded by people with a passion for severe weather who wanted to use that passion to help provide lifesaving information to the public so individuals can take action to protect themselves and their families.

“The workload can be pretty heavy in the days leading up to a severe event, especially during the event. The ones who will be chasing the storm are busy studying forecast maps to try and determine precisely where to go and making necessary plans to be able to chase,” Bishop said.

“As our social media administrator, I am extremely busy publishing the graphics, disseminating information to our Facebook page and other sites, and answering questions from members of the public concerned about what may unfold.”  

Dorroh said storm chasing is dangerous work.

“Storms can change direction without notice and, especially here in Mississippi, they often move more than 50 mph. They also tend to occur more at night. Another danger is that our terrain often severely limits our view of the storm. Combine all of those factors with the fact that we usually try to position ourselves within one to two miles of the storm/tornado, and it is very easy to find yourself in a very precarious situation,” Dorroh said.

The response from the group’s Facebook followers has
been enthusiastic.

Dorroh said a recent video of a lightning storm in Union
County received more than 45,000 views on Facebook.

“I think it gives people peace of mind that they can watch
from behind the scenes. People trust they can leave a message on our Facebook page and get a reply almost instantly, depending on how active the weather is. Most of the interaction comes at night when people will send a Facebook message to our page, asking if it is safe to go to sleep, or when they are awakened by
a storm and want to ensure they are safe,” Dorrah said. 

Bishop said his group has a different approach than TV
weather teams.

“We don’t tie ourselves down to particular regions like TV stations have to do. We will travel to where the storms are and provide that information to the local National Weather Service office,” Bishop said.

The group also spends time answering direct questions from the public via their Facebook page.

The group is affiliated with WTVA in Tupelo and provides weather coverage, photos, videos, and live streams for the
station when they are near its coverage area. 

“Many people are justifiably scared of severe weather, especially if they have already lived through a traumatic experience,” Bishop said.

“They know they can come to our Facebook page any time of day or night for the latest information. Our audience knows that the page will be updated, and that we have spotters/chasers and people watching to keep our community safe.”  

 

Follow the group on Facebook
@NorthMississippiStormChasers

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