It’s a question that professional storm chasers get asked all the time. Newcomers or hobbyists always want to know, how much money can you really make chasing storms? And how do you make any money at all? Where are the tornado hunter want ads?
With the hype that has been surrounding storm chasing in the entertainment and news media recently, it’s not surprising that this happens.
A tough pill to swallow
The harsh reality is that it’s almost impossible to make a living from chasing storms. Some notable figures in the field, like Warren Faidley, who many consider to be the world’s first professional storm chaser, are just immensely good at what they do.
They didn’t start getting paid right away. They made a name for themselves and developed a market for their talent. Faidley, for example, was an excellent photographer due to his newspaper business background. This set him apart from others in an advantageous way.
The majority of storm chasers simply aren’t as lucky as those who have already found lots of success. So before you try to figure out how much money you could make doing it, ask yourself if you love the work enough and can afford to do it without pay. Because that’s the most likely outcome, unfortunately, unless you catch a break.
If you sit down and draw up a business plan, you’ll probably realize pretty quickly that there’s a good chance it won’t be possible. Firstly, you need some proper equipment, including a high-resolution camera, not to mention a car that you can run into the ground.
Do the math
It would be fair to estimate that you’ll have to spend $5,000 for some basic level equipment, assuming you already own a car. And that’s a conservative estimate.
The gas costs and wear and tear on your vehicle will be significantly high and will keep you spending thousands on your car every year. Simply put, the first year of storm chasing will probably cost you over ten grand and almost certainly won’t make you a dime.
Even if you drum up some business by selling images, videos and storm data to news stations, it’s going to be tough for an inexperienced enthusiast to turn a profit until you’ve made a bigger name for yourself.
You have to love doing it
Your best course of action may be to consider storm chasing a hobby at first. Keep your day job, because unless you’ve got extraordinary amounts of cash, you’ll probably run out of it very quickly.
Get a feel for what it’s like, and see if it’s something you love to do. Be patient and think about what you can do to set yourself apart from the others out in the field.