Are the large number of recent tornado deaths due to "As Seen On TV"

It's been awhile since I posted anything but I have been really busy if you have been following the blog with working the news desk here but there is something I wanted to write about.

I was able to get away this past week for a trip to Kansas to go and pick up a new truck, I had a lot of time to think about and to talk to a lot of my storm chasing friends about the large number of recent deaths due to the tornadoes over the last six weeks. 

Several hundred people have died in April and May due to the tornado outbreaks which seems pretty crazy with the advanced warnings.  Tornado warning times are now longer than ever but yet so many people have died which does not make any sense.

Why are there so many deaths from the storms? 

There has never been any documented death of someone storm chasing who was known to be a storm chaser ether to their friends and family or within the storm chasing community.  There have been some EMS personal hurt and even killed spotting for their community but no real "Storm Chasers" have been killed storm chasing. 

So what some of my friends and I have come up with is the only thing we can think of regarding the large number of tornado deaths over the past two months is that part of the deaths may be due to what is know as "Life Imitating Art", by untrained artists... 

That is the reason why I took on the name Weather Paparazzi was because of the term Paparazzi or Paparazzo which is defined by Websters "as a freelance photographer".  So Weather Paparazzi means that I work freelance to document the weather for a living.   I photograph all kinds of stuff in nature from storms, wildlife and even scuba diving.  I am a professional photographer, unlike the many people that are now documenting severe storms.

Unlike scuba diving where you need sign up to a class with an instructor and learn to scuba dive without killing yourself with the bends or drowning, anyone can grab a camera and film a storm and be called a "Storm Chaser". 

So this got me wondering, how many videos like this one that was shot by Eric Meyers, the Navarro County emergency management coordinator are out there but were filmed by the people that were killed in the recent tornadoes?

The report said "Meyers rode out the tornado inside a vehicle and videotaped the twister as it tore the roof off a school about a block away."  Wow, someone that knows weather and is the emergency management coordinator could not drive away and focus on calling in reports since this is obviously not dash camera footage but hand held footage. 

Yes, I think that Eric Meyers, the Navarro County emergency management coordinator should be thrown out of his position due to the fact that he did not have enough sense to stay out of the tornado and focus staying safe but put himself into a position of adding to the body count.

His video is not the only crazy video from someone that is not a chaser but trying to video tape a storm.  This video shows how stupid someone could be around a tornado but still grabs the video camera to film the tornado. 

Car get hit by tornado with Driver in it

When I saw this video I knew that the number of tornado deaths now has got to be tied to the number of people trying to get video of the tornadoes without concern for their personal safety.

Now someone is going to say "but you filmed them close to you too" and yes I have and I know when to back off to get out of the debris field.  I also have WXWorx with me while chasing along with having internet radar and GPS to know where I am in relation to the storm.  I also plan escape routes using the GPS map setup so if I get in a bad spot, I can get out of the way. 



So what does all this mean? I think that if some college students need a research project, I would start looking at the death toll from the April and May tornadoes and try to collect the cell phones of all the people that died to see if they were recording their last moments. 

I would never want to see the footage but on a research level it would be interesting to see if the number of deaths could have been avoided if people would have taken shelter instead of trying to take video. 

If as I suspect that at least 20 or more of the deaths from the Mississippi and Alabama storms from April and the Joplin, MO tornado are from the public or "Non Chasers" trying to shoot chaser video, then we have a huge problem that will only get worse over time.

If you are not a chaser and you don't know anything about the weather but you see a tornado, don't shoot video of it unless it is over half a mile away, there is no lightning or hail within 5 miles and you are standing in the entrance to a storm shelter where you can save yourself if the tornado hits you.  Severe weather does kill and once your dead, there is no do over.

If you live in an area that gets a lot of tornadoes and you just want to see what hits your place?  Go to Sams Club and buy a multi camera security system with backup power.  You can sit in your storm shelter while watching what happens outside on camera before the cameras blow away.

Project Vortex or V2 spent millions on trying to expand the tornado warning times in 2009 and 2010 but what good will any expanded warning times be if that just means you have expanded time to grab a camera and stand in the path of a tornado hitting your town?