What it takes to be a monsoon storm chaser

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by Natalie Brand

azfamily.com

Posted on July 25, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 25 at 9:40 PM

PHOENIX -- Staked out ahead of the next big storm, Bryan Snider, a photographer, pilot and skilled weather watcher, is always ready to capture Mother Nature’s next show.

“When it comes to monsoon season, I’m all in,” said Snider. “You never know in Arizona where a storm could be.”

Thursday afternoon, 3TV met Snider at the corner of Hunt Highway and Val Vista beneath an ominous looking collection of clouds.

“When I look at the skies, I look for clues,” Snider described. He’s searching for any sign that could point him in the right direction, such as a growing cloud.

“A lot of it is just based on visual,” said Snider.

But what initially looked promising for a storm chaser eventually fizzled out.

“I’m one of the more patient storm chasers, but this year, it’s paid dividends,” he said.

Especially this past weekend, as he captured images of a so-called shelf cloud and dust storm at sunset in Tempe on Saturday.

To take his stunning images, Snider requires a trunk full of tools, from a basic map to sophisticated gadgets to sense lightning and measure wind.

“I’m also a trained spotter (for the NWS), so wind can be a big factor,” said Snider.

But beyond science, the job takes gut instinct and passion. Snider, originally from Missouri, has been storm chasing since high school.  His one word to describe Arizona’s monsoon season is unpredictable.

“It’s interesting how unpredictable, how localized it can be,” said Snider.  “I think that’s what fascinating. It’s crazy weather!”

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