Weather experts from across the country will bring the world’s largest meeting of storm chasers and meteorologists to the “dead center of tornado alley”—Wichita.
The National Storm Chaser Convention, or “ChaserCon”, will be held Feb. 8 to 10 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Wichita.
The convention has been around for 21 years, but this year will be its first time in Wichita, after a poll on social media and some persuasion from former AccuWeather executive and keynote speaker Mike Smith convinced organizers that Wichita would be an ideal place for it.
Smith said the convention will be a great opportunity for Wichita to gain some recognition as a prime destination for the growing “storm tourism” trend.
“You have people from all over the world, people from Europe and from Australia, who come to the central United States to go on storm tours. It’s like people wanting to climb Mount Everest. It’s people wanting to have another type of adventure, and I want to see Wichita bring in some of those dollars,” Smith said.
ChaserCon was held in Denver for almost two decades, convention coordinator Roger Hill said, but about four years ago, as the event grew in popularity, there was more push to “bounce it around some different places.”
Hill says the convention will have something for everyone, regardless of expertise.
“The average person will have a great time. We get people from all walks of life,” Hill said. “You don’t have to be a seasoned meteorologist or a have a weather degree to learn a lot about what they have to talk about.”
On Friday, Hill said, the convention will start with some icebreakers, and attendees will have the chance to mingle with some of the event’s speakers.
Saturday will consist mostly of talks, Hill said. Speakers will include Dr. Greg Forbes, from the Weather channel, Tim Marshall, a world expert on engineering buildings to minimize storm damage, Rodger Edwards, a forecaster for the national Storm Prediction Center, and Dr. Jason Persoff, a professor of internal medicine who will discuss how to deal with injuries from severe weather.
“This is truly an all star lineup of speakers form all across the country,” Smith said.
A panel discussion will bring storm chasers together with law enforcement to discuss ways to make storm chasing beneficial for everyone, Smith said, which is something that will be new to the convention this year.
“We want people to respect the storms. We want to save lives, and one of the ways of doing that is to show people storms,” Smith said.
On Saturday night, guests are welcome to stay for the ChaserCon video night, which Hill says is one of the more popular events. Any person who attends the convention can submit a video of some interesting weather — which can be anything from tornados, to severe thunderstorms or lightning, to storm chaser compilations — for the video night.
On Sunday, meteorologist, storm chaser and author Jon Davies is hosting a seminar called “How to Forecast Severe Storms.”
The convention usually attracts more than 200 people from across the country, Smith said, but this year he would like to see those numbers go up even higher.
Registration for ChaserCon is open to the public online at www.chasercon.com and cost for individuals is $130.