GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The Storm Team 8 meteorologists spend a tremendous amount of time analyzing data: live radar, temperatures, clouds and winds within a storm; but those pieces don't always paint the complete picture.
And that's why, this storm season, Storm Team 8 is adding another critical view -- a trained team of storm chasers, sending in live video and providing to the viewers real-time, first-hand information.
Storm Team 8's new chasers have nearly 100 years of experience across the United States, documenting at least 250 tornadoes.
"I always compare storm chasing to being a drug addict," chaser Bill Oosterbaan said. "Once you try that first little feel, it's hard to stop."
Tracking these storms is such a passion for the chasers that, on stormy days, most have arrangements to get time off at their day jobs, which range from factory work to computer programming.
The chasers have mobile technology to stream live video and analyze real-time storm data from their vehicles. Part of chasing means being in and near dangerous storms.
The chasers' knowledge of severe weather, and some precautions -- such as rigid covers for a sunroof -- keep these men safe.
"We built an air cannon and shot 2-inch chunks of ice to represent hail -- and shot it at this -- and it was well over 100 miles per hour," chaser L.B. LaForce said.
They intercept storms, get the rush they're seeking and often provide critical information to the National Weather Service -- the organization responsible for issuing severe weather warnings.
"I love seeing the storms out in the open," chaser Bob Hartig said. "They're a work of art. But when they go through an area where they can impact lives, then that appreciation turns to horror."
In addition to Oosterbaan, LaForce and Hartig, the four other chasers are Ben Holcomb, Nick Nolte, Adam Lucio and Kurt Hulst. Read more on their backgrounds here.
Storm chasers can make all the difference between assuming a storm is dangerous, and knowing its true power. When severe storms hit, watch for exclusive reports from these chasers.
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