Storm Chasers

By Barbara J Eikmeier

Living in Kansas goes hand in hand with spring storms – usually wind and rain, dramatic thunder, sometimes accompanied by hail, and less often, an actual tornado.

On occasion we will see storm chasers on the highway, heading toward the dark spot on the horizon – traveling toward that which we are fleeing. Some are storm chaser hobbyists with personalized license plates: STRM CHSR. Others are meteorologists in official capacity traveling in vans with TV station logos and high-tech gear mounted on top.

In fifteen years in my current home, we’ve had a few hailstorms roll over our property, the most dramatic being April of 2023 when 1 ¼” hailstones pummeled the house depositing a large cluster of hailstones in a pile near the front door. We discovered them the next morning. It looked as if someone had emptied an ice chest there during the night.

Hailstones 12 hours later

It was a curious sight for sure, but the hailstones melted, and we went about our life without another thought. Until the day two young men pulled in the driveway in a tan truck and rang the doorbell. From the kitchen window I watched them approach the porch – their short hair neatly combed, their shirts tucked in, a sheaf of papers in their hands. I was sure they were evangelists. I was wrong. They were storm chasers of another type.

“We’re in the neighborhood giving free roof estimates.”

When I told them I thought my roof was fine, the dark-haired guy asked, “Has someone been up on the roof to check for damage from the April hailstorm?”

He had me at “damage”. Now I wanted to know, was my roof damaged?

They were polite, professional and they had done their homework. They knew my house was in the direct path of the eye of that April hailstorm. They knew the direction it had come from, the size of the hailstones reported in my area and, before climbing onto my roof, they knew they would find damage. They were storm chasers, following the path of the storm.

I have had phone calls from companies offering free roof inspections in the past. I always thought it was peculiar – cold calling to replace worn out roofs. Now I understand, sitting here writing under my new roof, there’s nothing random about it.

Initially, I felt like an irresponsible homeowner for not knowing the amount of damage my home had suffered. For not understanding a claim to the insurance company has an expiration date relative to the date of the storm. For declining all those “free estimate” phone offers. What it took was those young men working the old-fashioned way, ringing doorbells.

If you’re looking for an unusual job for your character and a storm chaser would be perfect for your scenario, consider taking it beyond the storm and make your storm chaser work for a roofing company!

Have you ever given your character a job that begins after the main event?

Barbara J. Eikmeier is a quilter, writer, student of quilt history, and lover of small-town America. Raised on a dairy farm in California, she enjoys placing her characters in rural communities.

2 replies
    • Barb Eikmeier
      Barb Eikmeier says:

      Thank you Donnell! I saved a small town newspaper from NE. I kept it for the interview with a man in his 30s. His regular job was a security guard at a college and he saved all his vacation time for his hobby – chasing storms! It was an enlightening article!

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