Storm chasing is one of the rare instances where science and cool seem to meet, which is evidenced by the preponderance of television shows that highlight storm chasers. In fact, there is at least one reality show based on storm chasing (The Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers). As a language expert and a meteorologist, though, I’d like to point out that the name should be more like Storm Approachers than Storm Chasers.
Chase means to pursue to overtake or seize, such as the police chasing a suspected criminal or a sprinter in second place chasing the race leader. The intention, to be clear, is to capture or to overtake the object in question. That’s not what I’ve seen from storm chasers, who are “chasing” tornadoes.
They want to get close to the storm–close enough to film it, close enough to feel the rush of adrenaline associated with nearly being killed. They certainly don’t want to catch up with the storm, though, and the proof is in the video that’s shown on television. When the chasers actually catch up with a tornado, they scream more than children in the Haunted Funhouse. They drive 100-mph in reverse. They hide in ditches and whimper. Believe me, they don’t want to catch up to a tornado, and I don’t blame them. The closest I come to storm chasing as it’s defined is looking out the window on the first floor as I head to the basement. My only point is that it should be called something else–perhaps storm approaching or storm getting dangerously close or even nearly completing a storm chase.
I guess that’s why I don’t have a job as a writer of reality television show titles.
Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever
Perhaps these TV crews “chase” storms the same manner that dogs “chase” cars; they have no intention of actually catching the chase object. . . and, as in the old joke, wouldn’t know what to do with it if they did catch it.
I enjoy reading your blog, although I’m afraid you may just be chasing the wind, or tilting with windmills. . . so far as having any impact on the decline of the English language. Nevertheless, keep at it; some of us appreciate the effort.
I agree with you. They appear to be lame with their “TIV” and grafiti on their bicycle helmets. They are just like to rag tag bunch of chasers in the movie Twister.
I beg to differ. The chasers do, indeed, anticipate the overtaking and capture of the object storm, but on film. (Insert mirthfully wreathed countenance here.)