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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Echo
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Siemers: from textbooks to twisters

Student finds passion for storm chasing

Whether it’s the Colorado mountains or the fields of Indiana, sophomore Kali Siemers seeks shelter in storm chasing.

While most people try to avoid splintering balls of hail and thrashing tornadoes, Siemers gravitates toward these intense conditions.

Having a close relationship with her grandfather, the two grew to share a passion for the weather.

“When I was younger, I would always sit in my grandpa’s lap, and we would watch the weather channel together,” Siemers said. “He’s partly to blame for my fascination.” 

Still, Siemers managed to cultivate her own admiration for storm chasing. At a young age, she experienced her first tornado while riding in the back of her parent’s car. From that moment on, she was drawn into a life-long chase. 

“I just think they are absolutely beautiful but different,” Siemers said. “You’ll see a lot of photographers and artists go after sunsets and morning sunrises. There’s just something about the beauty within the chaos that I just love.”

However, storm chasing requires plenty of chaos which Siemers is no stranger to. Hunting after these forces of nature requires strategy, research and planning.

Though Siemers now tracks these storms with an abundance of weather apps, figuring out the unpredictability of these events was something that she had to learn to adjust to.

During her first few chases, Siemers either found herself on the wrong side of the storm or ultimately left in a cloud of dust when the storm outran her.

“Storm chasing is definitely a live and learn type of thing,” Siemers said.

Nevertheless, with time and experience, her tactics improved. Siemers began to listen to a collection of podcasts and storm chasers in order to learn from their mistakes. This helped her establish a more mature and knowledgeable approach to every possible scenario that she could encounter.

Because storm equipment is so expensive, Siemers capitalizes on what she can. She utilizes the sunroof in her car and her camera to capture the event and always carries a paper map with her in case the storm interferes with her GPS.

Siemers acknowledges there is a system that must be in place to stay safe and aware during these dangerous chases.

“You’re never supposed to go storm chasing alone,” Siemers said. “You have to have a designated driver, someone in charge of the maps and preferably two or three people controlling the radars and keeping track of things.”

For Siemers, the chase never ended.

As she is originally from Colorado, she found that storms there weren’t as easy to catch as they are in Indiana. The formation of the mountains would break up the clouds, and it often takes a lot of time for the storm to rebuild. However, she would venture on a 20-minute drive to find the activity zone.

While chasing after her passion in life, Siemers discovered that her calling was the chase itself. She quickly realized that her main draw to the hobby was capturing it with photography.

“I’m like a lot of storm chasers where I do it specifically for the adrenaline rush,” Siemers said. “But I think a big part of it for me is because I’m so fascinated with photography. This is an area that not a lot of photographers go into, and being one of the people who is able to capture the beauty in the destruction is something I’m weirdly passionate about.”

With small steps in the right direction, every storm is like a practice run for her future.

 By working on her photography and chasing skills now, she is hoping that these tips will help her to be able to do her dream job more effectively.

“I want to be someone where people working on science films can ask me to be the one to capture what they need,” Siemers said. “I would be the one to drive out and test out all this equipment and bring back data from the storm for them to use.”

With Siemers’ thundering ambition for storm chasing, not even the sky is her limit.