It’s May, and another severe weather season has arrived for Kansas. Many Kansan’s think of storms as a terrible thing and wish they’d never happen. Other Kansan’s have a strong interest in these storms and want to learn more and experience them. KSAL’s Justin Dean has had a lifelong interest in weather and remembers watching the radar on newscasts and severe weather coverage on local tv as a child. As he got older, he would eventually pursue storms in Central Kansas and chase them on his own.
Justin began his college days at Fort Hays State and eventually came back closer to home at Kansas Wesleyan University where he graduated in 2009 and was involved in all sorts of broadcasting and sports productions. It was in his college days that he discovered there were other people who also have a fascination with Kansas weather and storms. He eventually became interested enough to where he met mutual friends from North Central Kansas who were similar to him and they grew the hobby and started chasing storms much further than just around Salina.
Until March 28, 2007 Justin and his friends had never chased more than 100 miles from where they lived. This changed dramatically as they went to west of Colby, Kansas for a moderate risk of severe weather. The conditions were strange on the drive out to Western Kansas as they were overcast and cool. Towards early evening thunderstorms began to erupt along the dry line and multiple storms produced tornadoes. Justin and Bryce Kintigh (who chases for KAKE television) documented many tornadoes south of Goodland that lasted a few minutes and were over nothing but open country. As the sun set and storms continued to fire, a major storm erupted just southeast of Goodland. Justin and Bryce took a call from their nowcaster, Salina native Jon Behle, who saw strong rotation on radar and heard of a large tornado just north of where they were. Eventually they caught up to it after dark and chased a large wedge tornado that just missed Bird City, Kansas. With several thunderstorms around and it being dark and new terrain, Justin and Bryce got stuck in the mud in the 2001 Chevy Impala they were driving and had to run to find shelter in an abandoned garage. They got towed out much later that night by a local farmer and this day marked the beginning of ForeverChasing even though it was not known at the time.
Justin’s company ForeverChasing likes to think it can entertain and educate anyone with a level of interest or fear in weather. It offer tours, live video feeds, an interactive web site and chat room, pictures and video on youtube. Justin encourages people who have never chased to ask questions or to come along to learn the basics before going out on their own. “Storm chasing is perceived to be dangerous but its not near as dangerous if its done with caution and a safe strategy,” says Dean. If you want to know more about Justin and his company and team visit their website at www.foreverchasing.com. They are also on Facebook and Twitter and love to interact with everyone!