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Chasing Winds: A Breezy History of Storm Chasing Culture


Storm chasing is a big deal. And not just in the traditional sense of hopping in a car with a skilled guide in the hopes that that ominous bank of storm clouds one is chasing will become a potential tornado that you can video or possibly take a selfie beside from a safe distance. 

I’m talking big as in TV shows, special editions of magazines, and movies like “Twister.” There is even a minor league baseball team called the The Omaha Storm Chasers in Nebraska. People just love the act. People just love storm chasing and it is a growing passion for many.

But have you ever stopped for a moment to consider the activity, the history, and all its perks and perils?

Lucky for us locally our Grand Rapids Public Library will host a special GR Reads summer lecture event at the downtown location titled, “Chasing Winds: A Breezy History of Storm Chasing Culture.”

The free lecture begins with David Hoadley, a North Dakota resident who is credited with beginning the craze we enjoy still to this day. Hoadley began chasing storms in 1956 and later went on to found the Storm Track magazine.

Hosted by Journalist and Filmmaker Blake Naftel, this special presentation will include plenty of visuals to excite the imagination as well many images rooted from places as close as West Michigan and Kent County. Thursday event will present a historical context as Naftel examines tornadoes and severe weather events that are familiar to many locals.

But as a reminder to the curious of heart, tornados are very unpredictable and dangerous. There is no such thing as safe storm chasing, so even with a trained guide, never forget that Mother Nature always bats last. 
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