I chased with Jason at the tail-end of my time out on the Plains this year––actually the last chase day for me––which resulted in my only glimpse of a tornado in 2017. Though it was brief, and at night, Jason did an excellent job in the driver’s seat that day. Having just relocated back to Oklahoma from his native Oregon, I thought Jason Caster would be an excellent choice to begin the Storm Chaser Profile series.
In addition to storm chasing, Jason also produced a documentary entitled Chasing The Hike. The film (available to screen on YouTube) chronicles his journey hiking the entire 2,600 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. A poker enthusiast, Caster maintains a regular vlog on the subject, which you can find here.
The inaugural storm chaser profile (and first storm chaser trading card… yes, you read that right) is behind the jump!
Storm Chaser Profile: Jason Caster
- Years Chasing: 8
- Hometown: Klamath Falls, OR
- Current Location: Edmond, OK
- Occupation: Oil & Gas Landman
Conor Clancy: Can you remember when you became interested in weather? Was there anything in particular––an event, film or television show––that piqued your interest as a child?
Jason Caster: When I was 5 years old, a weak tornado hit about 15 miles from my home in Oregon. My parents drove us to the damage and I saw a big tree uprooted. It scared me, and I started having tornado dreams. That fear turned into a fascination as I grew older.
CC: So did you see many storms in Oregon?
JC: Just standard high-based thunderstorms, but due to their high-based nature, they often had very photogenic lightning.
CC: When did you decide storm chasing was something you definitely wanted to do?
JC: In 2007, I discovered Storm Track, an online forum where storm chasing strategy is discussed. I realized there was a ton of information out there and I could study and learn how to safely see severe weather. I took my first chasecation in 2008.
CC: Did you take any meteorology courses in school, or was everything self-taught?
JC: I took an aviation weather course in my first year of college, but everything else was self-taught.
CC: Tell us a bit about your first trip to the Plains. Who did you go with?
JC: My first chasecation was back in 2008, and my dad Chris Caster came with me. We spent a full week chasing the Plains, seeing numerous severe storms. We saw softball-sized hail and ground-scraping wall clouds, but never a nice daytime tornado. Scott Weberpal agreed to meet with me in Greensburg, KS halfway through the week, and we caravaned with his group for the rest of our trip. It was so much fun!
CC: On that note, you say you didn’t get to see a daytime tornado during your first trip. Where did you see your first tornado?
JC: Technically, I’m not sure which event was my first tornado. In May of 2008 there was a classic supercell that went up after dark over Clinton, OK. I shot video and in some of my screen grabs––lit by lightning––there is a feature that looks very tornadic. That one was never confirmed. My first daytime tornado was south of Wakita, OK on September 17, 2011. A nice cone tornado had formed about a mile to my west, when all of a sudden this little worm of a rope came squiggling out of the clouds, wriggling intensely. This is probably still my favorite tornado just because it danced so wildly in the sky.