I attended Chasercon 2014 in February (almost didn’t make it because of the raging winter storm between Pennsylvania and Denver), and as always, it was a good time. A bit more subdued than usual, given that it was the first one since founder Tim Samaras was killed, along with his Twistex crew (more about that in another post). Nevertheless, it remained a bastion of weather freaks and geeks celebrating “the wonder of nature, baby!” Which brings up another real loss to storm chasers everywhere — the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, the actor who played the inimitable Dusty in the movie, Twister. I don’t think I’m alone in believing his character MADE that flick. He was amazing, and his character uttered some of the most memorable lines in chaserdom. What a terrible waste of tremendous talent.
But I digress. What I actually want to share about Chasercon was that I got to meet another interesting young man, Blake Naftel. Blake is a storm chaser, videographer, and the very best kind of storm geek. You can learn about him on his Facebook page, but I got to learn about him in person. I interviewed Blake for a story I was writing about storm chasing and Chasercon for Evolve magazine, a digital-only publication. He’s a cool guy with lots of interests, but his passion is severe weather and storm chasing.
Blake has begun a project I believe will only grow in importance as our planet warms and we experience more frequent and more intense storms. He has dedicated himself to the significant task of chronicling the history of storm chasing, for science, fun and profit. As a history buff myself, I so appreciate what Blake’s trying to do, and as a chaser, I’m grateful for it. His work will give us all a greater appreciation for what this pursuit was when it first began, and how it has evolved to become the high-stakes game it is today, in every way.
Blake has created a Facebook page for the Storm Chasing History Project, and just recently launched a dedicated website to it, as well. I strongly urge you to check it out, and if you’re at all inclined, consider donating to his startup funding campaign, which is about to begin soon. You can imagine what it’s going to cost in money, energy, time and other resources to document more than forty years of storm chasing. And let’s face it — when he’s done, we’ll all benefit from the knowledge he’s gained and the information he’s gathered together for everyone to study and enjoy, from here on.