Chase Vehicle

Now Collecting Data! See it at

Obviously, one of my most important pieces of equipment is my vehicle. Currently, any given spring season will require anywhere between 5,000 and 15,000 miles of travel. That puts a lot of wear of the car and equipment, not to mention the drivers. As of the 2003 season, I started using my 2003 Pontiac Aztek, and have been using it since. It has proven to be a fairly reliable, with most of the major maintenance being induced only by external projectiles, be it grapefruit-sized hailstones or woodland creatures that strayed onto a highway...and my bumper/undercarriage/tires.

Additional equipment that has been installed in the car has either practical use, or is intended to enrich the learning experience on most storm chases. Learning experience??? Please check out the internal link to the left that is entitled "Motivation" for more info on why I choose to observe storms. The following are lists of equipment that the vehicle contains, either year-round or just on storm chases.

Year-Round Equipment:

  • 4 to 8 Blankets
  • Two Handheld Spotlights (1 cordless, 1 coreded)
  • 2 to 10 Gallons of Drinking Water
  • Basic Life Support Medical Kit
  • 6 Cervical Spine Collars (Sizes Range from Pediatric to Adult)
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Front and Rear Mounted LED Strobes for Accident Scenes or Extreme Low Visibility Situations
  • 2-meter Radio
  • SG2000 Super Gain HAM Antenna
  • Wilson Cellular Antenna
  • Window-Mount Scanner Antenna
  • Dashboard Camera Mount (Bogen Pistol-Grip)
  • Center-Console Mounted 14" LCD Screen
  • Toolbox
  • Ratchet Set
  • Brush Gloves
  • 350 Watt DC-to-AC Inverter
  • GPS Antenna Mounted on Roof
  • XM Satellite Antenna Mounted on Roof
  • Slow-Response Thermistor and Relative Humidity Sensor Mounted on Roof Inside an Aspirated Water-Resistant Enclosure
  • Full-Sized Spare Tire

Additional Equipment Carried on Storm Chases:

  • Laptop Computer
  • Additional USB GPS Antenna
  • Canon 5D Digital SLR Camera
  • Panasonic PV-DV600 Camcorder
  • Several Tripods (Gittos and Bogen)
  • 300 Channel Scanner
  • Backup Paper County Maps of Chase Area
  • XM Weather Data Receiver and Software
  • GPS Tracking Software
  • Hail Documentation Kit (with rulers, hacksaw, backdrops, baseball, golfball, softball, etc.)
  • Rain-X!!!

Although the equipment seems like a lot, it has been built up over the past 5 years, and has been paid for with a full-time student's budget. (working several jobs of course!) Obviously, large expenses such as new windshields and mirrors due to massive hailstones crop up ever once in a while, but the most expensive part of chasing is definitely the fuel.

Major improvements to the Aztek since purchasing it have been:
  • Added new tires for better handling of gravel/dirt roads, and better hydroplaning resistance.
  • Added the XM Satellite data delivery system
  • Added a plate with attached Temp/RH enclosure, GPS antenna hail shield, and XM antenna hail shield.
  • Added warning lights for extremely low-visibility situations and accident scenes

  • Greensburg Future Fund