For a number of reasons, you’ll find more than a few weather and storm-related accounts populating my Twitter feed. The power and beauty of Mother Nature, if that’s a correct term in this day and age, amazes and frightens us all, and such accounts provide just the sort of non-political diversion one needs to stay sane in 2018. To remind us of our inconsequential status in the Grand Scheme of Things. Violent storms, blizzards, and gorgeous sunsets know no partisan hackery.
Last night, a perfectly creepy photo of an ominous, rotating wall cloud popped up in my feed, dark against the fading daylight, menacing. You could imagine the gathering winds buffeting that dirt road and surrounding fields, rippling the plants like storm-tossed waves. Through this image, just like with so many others, you could sense the photographer’s excitement and apprehension as the cloud threatens to spawn the most terrifying of weather phenomenon: a tornado.
Naturally, I complimented the photographer on his great photo of a Toyota Camry.
Sure, it was not the focal point of the image, but the thought of a storm chaser blasting across the plains or prairies in a perfectly sensible midsize sedan amused me. In reply, he explained his recent decision to trade the Camry in for a new chase vehicle: a still-sensible RAV4.
All-wheel-drive could come in handy on rain-soaked rural roads, especially with those soft shoulders. No one wants to find their parked chase vehicle bogged down to the hubs as an F5 bears down. On a more practical note, the RAV4 gets decent mileage, has a rock-solid reputation for reliability, and isn’t a slouch when it comes to depreciation.
Sure, it’s no Suburban, but good luck finding any vehicle capable of withstanding 300 mph winds and flying houses in the event a chase goes awry.
Naturally, this got me thinking about what would make a perfect chase vehicle. To track nature’s monsters, one must possess a vehicle capable of hauling a certain amount of gear, navigating around (or through) obstacles, and putting on thousands of miles in one shot without fatiguing the driver. Something rugged, practical, dependable.
In the multitude of videos littering the internet, chasers (many of them the obnoxious, bro-dude type who can’t stop yelling obvious observations, like we’re all blind or something) stick with popular favourites. A Dodge Grand Caravan. Chevy Tahoe. Ford F-150. Something solid and cavernous. Compact, front-drive cars don’t seem to do well, but anything works in a pinch.
If money’s no object, sure, there’s steel-plated A-Team-style vehicles that can be cobbled together, complete with lowered side skirts to keep winds from reaching under the vehicle and armor to protect from flying debris. I wonder what kind of fuel economy these contraptions return. But we’re not going to talk about such vehicles today. No, your job this morning is to choose a factory-fresh chase vehicle, completely unmodified, for the task of seeking out tornadoes.
What would it be? Keep in mind most tornado hunters aren’t rolling in cash, and likely, neither are you. Meaning, of course, that this chase vehicle will surely spend much of its time taking the kids to school and picking up groceries. If your job or pastime involved taking potentially exciting, potentially hazardous road trips all the time, what would your long-distance driving companion be?
Sound off in the comments.