Storm Troupers

Storm Gear

May 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
Storm Gear

   Photo: Eric Huang

1. FLY AND DRY "When storms break up, they blow out cold, rain-cooled air—it gets pretty chilly," says Lisius. Be prepared with Outdoor Research's hooded Zealot jacket, a storm shell that uses waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex PacLite to keep you dry. $199;

2. THE WEBMASTER Lisius uses a Nokia cell phone like the 6230 for quick Web access. "I can connect to the Internet at the same speed as a land line," he says. Using Nokia's wireless connection to his laptop PC, Lisius surfs for up-to-the-minute weather reports. $300;

3. SLOP MONSTERS Salomon's XA Raid 3D high-top adventure-racing shoes won't bog down in the mud. The 14.3-ounce kicks offer firm ankle support and beefy plastic-and-rubber protection over the heels and toes. Mesh uppers allow wet feet to dry quickly. $110;

4. SPEEDING CLICK-IT To shoot a tornado rotating at 300 mph, you need a digital camera with a fast shutter. Canon's EOS 20D digital SLR clicks off five frames per second and up to 23 shots in a row, with professional-grade 8.2-megapixel resolution. $1,599 with 18–55mm lens;

5. LOCATION, LOCATION "If I see towering cumulus clouds going up, I'll use a pocket compass to get an accurate bearing on the developing storm," says Lisius. The Suunto DP-65 matchbox compass sits inside a batterproof housing. $72;

6. RADAR LOVE Baron Services' Mobile Threat Net pipes a live local Doppler map onto a notebook computer's screen via a portable XM Satellite weather-data receiver. An optional GPS unit pinpoints your location on the screen. $930 for hardware and software; $99 per month for service;

7. SEE CLEARLY NOW When a sudden downpour overwhelms windshield wipers, keep your eyes on the road with Rain-X. This transparent polymer—which you spray on your windshield before heading out—fills microscopic pores in the glass with molecules that force water to bead up and roll off. $3;

8. MIND THE MAP To navigate remote county roads, Lisius relies on a navigation system like DeLorme's BlueLogger GPS, which is bundled with Street Atlas USA software. The wireless unit sits on a vehicle dash and syncs to a laptop running the road-map software. $150;

9. FIELD REPORTER Operating a ham radio requires an FCC license—a simple matter of paperwork and a written test—but is worth the effort: It's the most reliable form of communication in severe weather. The Icom ICV8000 automatically picks up severe weather alerts. $199;

10. ROLL TAPE Portable video cameras like Sony's DCR-HC1000 MiniDV are standard issue for storm chasers, who need a lightweight camcorder they can carry on the fly. The HC1000 has a high-quality Carl Zeiss lens with 12x zoom, weighs less than two pounds, and uses Sony's image-stabilization system. $1,700;

11. BRAINS OF THE OPERATION The sleek new M275XL Tablet PC from Gateway comes with a bright 14.1-inch screen, and it capably drives the software for Doppler radar and a GPS navigation unit, thanks to 512MB of RAM, a 60GB hard drive, and a speedy Intel Pentium M processor. $1,699;

FOUL-WEATHER SAFARIS Hitch a ride with a veteran storm chaser into the heart of Tornado Alley. You'll fly into a base city, centered in prime storm country, and hit the road. Each day you'll track down that afternoon's maelstrom, sleeping at motels along the way. » The meteorologists at Martin Lisius's Tempest Tours have more than 100 years of combined experience forecasting and tracking tornado-breeding weather. Six- to ten-day packages, $1,900–$2,700; » In addition to working Tornado Alley, Silver Lining Tours chases waterspouts in the Florida Keys. Six- to ten-day packages, $1,950–$3,200;

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