Call for Data

Dear storm chase colleagues,

Did you observe the El Reno, Oklahoma tornadic supercell on 31 May 2013? If so, we would greatly appreciate your assistance to help serve several major research objectives. Our project, the El Reno Survey, involves the consolidation and analysis of storm observations, records and visual material collected by the multitude of chasers who witnessed this tornadic supercell event. As is now widely known, the El Reno tornado is of major significance for its size, extreme wind speeds, and uneven rapid forward motion, as well as its momentous impact on the storm chasing community. Such characteristics also make it a high priority target for research investigations. Initial attempts to reconstruct events of that afternoon have already been strongly informed by the numerous chase accounts and video excerpts posted on the Internet. For the most part, however, this information remains unconsolidated and lacks supporting information in terms of the exact time that imagery was obtained and specific locations of observers. As time goes on, some of these resources may be taken offline, video and still imagery may be erased from personal archives, other records may become irretrievably lost, and our own memories of event details begin to fade.

The principal objective of the El Reno Survey project is to capture this information while we still can, in an open-access research database. We intend for this database to be made available to all researchers and chasers, where it can be applied in many ways. For example, for the El Reno case:

  • to better understand the evolution of this exceptional storm;
  • to provide time and location-fixed imagery synchronous with radar scans;
  • to document visual characteristics of the complex tornado evolution and the tornado’s extraordinary dimensions;
  • to document visual characteristics of the storm’s lightning activity;
  • to explain the unique hazards confronting chasers and the public that day.

Many of you might also benefit from access to this data collection in developing your own research projects and understanding your experience that day in the context of a broader body of information.

To achieve this goal, we have developed a crowd-sourcing approach to begin the process of data consolidation. Our starting point is a short questionnaire that we aim to distribute as widely as possible to reach all parties who might have data to contribute. If you observed the El Reno storm, we would greatly appreciate if you would fill in the survey form, giving information about your experience and what data resources you might be able to provide. We will follow up by email with each respondent. For those able to provide video or still imagery, we recognize the importance of ensuring copyright protection for any such materials utilized, so will rigorously ensure that all information, imagery and data used at any point in this study will be fully accredited to the contributor.

The survey form can be filled out online HERE on this website  or  by downloading and emailing  it HERE. The form is in MS-Word format and can be downloaded from the “File” menu on the toolbar.

We will be posting this request on several forums used by the storm chase community. Please feel free to pass along this survey request to others who might have information to contribute. If you encounter problems downloading the form, please email us at ElRenoSurvey@gmail.com so we’ll send you the form directly.

Anton Seimon and John Allen are co-leading the development of this database with the active support of David Hoadley, Elke Edwards and Tracie Seimon. We will provide periodic updates to all contributors, along with links to the database and products developed thereof as they become available.

With our thanks and regards,

Anton, John, Elke, Tracie and David