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Amateur Storm Chasers Cause Congestion in Severe Weather

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By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma's professional storm tracker risk their lives to keep Oklahomans safe during severe weather, but their jobs are becoming even more dangerous as amateurs venture out to chase storms, putting themselves and the professionals in harm's way.

At one time, storm tracker was a job for those interested in the helping with tornado warnings. However, now it's turning into an adventure sport where all you have to do is pay and you can join the chase.

Within seconds, storm chasers drive right into the path of the twister. That thrill has caused a growing number of amateurs to pay a fee to a company for the opportunity to see this wonder of nature.

Learn more about how you can chase storms with professionals

Val Castor is a professional storm tracker who has worked for the NEWS 9 weather department for the past 19 years. He said amateurs chasing severe storms on their own have become a traffic danger.

"I've seen a couple of times that I've almost seen a couple of different chasers almost hit each other you know from pulling out in front of other cars," Castor said. "Yesterday there was one storm in northwest Oklahoma, and I got to tell you, we probably saw a string of 80 cars that we were stuck behind driving down the road chasing this one storm."

Castor said he has to use alternate routes to chase storms because people see his vehicle and will start following him. He said he has been rear-ended twice by amateurs chasing severe storms.

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