I suggest we reframe what we do as "weather tourism" or "weather tourism and storm reporting." That would emphasize the positive benefits. What are they?
- Badly needed $$$ to the rural economy, especially in the High Plains. The four local officials who have publicly complained about "out-of-state" people need to realize that storm chasers buy gas, snacks, meals, and sometimes stay in rural motels. Do you really want to drive that business away? I suggest local chambers of commerce speak up on this issue.
- Do you really want the most qualified people to find and report tornadoes not visit your area? That is not to say that official storm spotters are not qualified. They are. The problem is that, by definition, storm spotters are in fixed locations and there isn't always one where needed. The actions by storm tourists were vital in the Joplin tornado. If, after chasing away the storm tourists, do you want to risk a storm striking your jurisdiction with little or no warning?
- Briefing local officials. I have briefed local police on a number of occasions and I know other storm tourists have as well. Do you wish to cut off that source of information?
- Calling in reports of damage and rendering assistance. Again, vital in Joplin, Greensburg and other tornadoes.
In the Eagle story and in comments this morning there seems to be an element of "you storm chasers get out of our way so we local officials can chase storms." If my perception is correct, is that the highest and best use of people trained in law enforcement (police) and search/rescue (fire)? Why not let the chasers chase and preserve fire and law enforcement for dealing with the storms' aftermath?