Storm chaser expects an active spring thanks to La Niña

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
A supercell storm in Satanta, Kansas was captured on camera by Zachary Hall, a storm chaser from Greenwood who manages a Facebook page where he updates and compiles data on storms in the area.

Zachary Hall, a storm tracker from Greenwood, expects a very active spring with storms in our area.

Hall runs the Facebook page Zachary Hall-Storm Tracker. He currently has over 35,000 thousand followers who he keeps updated on the various weather conditions in the state. He also runs the page Vortex Chasing with over 92,000 followers.

Hall grew up in Shawnee, Oklahoma, which is situated right in the middle of tornado alley.

"We experienced some wild weather growing up," Hall said. "It was insane, some of the stuff we experienced out there."

His experiences with the weather in Oklahoma created a lifelong interest in storms. He began studying weather in his teens, and never stopped.

"I never lost the passion," Hall said.

When he turned 21 he decided that he wanted to get out and research and chase storms. He created some social media pages to keep a record of his experiences and these pages began to pick up followers.

Hall began traveling all over the country when the chance arose to chase a storm.

"If I had to drive to North Dakota tomorrow I would," said Hall. "It's no biggie to me. It's part of the gig."

Storm chasing and Social media have become his job. Engagement with his followers and reaching as many people as he can with information is important to what he does as an online weather source. Hall said that storm chasing is still very much a passion, but he needs to do what he can to reach his followers.

Hall has a few days to prepare when the threat of a major storm prepares. He has a small weather station at this house that he uses to gather as much as possible. He coordinates with the National Weather Service to not only help him with his plans but also prepare his online following.

He works closely with other storm chasers to share information and get the most data he can. He also works with local media like KNWA.

"Most of the time we're out there to research and document," said Hall. "But that still comes with its dangers."

Hall said he mistakenly drove into a tornado in Texas last spring. Although, the danger was apparent everything turned out to be fine.

"I catch myself being aggressive sometimes and I have to tell myself to tone it back," he said.

Spring outlook

Moving forward, Hall is expecting this spring to be pretty active in terms of severe weather. Arkansas' most active season is late April and early May. Tornadoes tend to be more active when there is a La Niña weather pattern like this year.

A La Niña pattern occurs in the Pacific Ocean when sea-surface temperatures are cooler than average. Typically with La Niña in place, the southern U.S. has above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation.

High winds caused by La Niña weather are instrumental in creating tornadoes by causing the wind to tumble or roll near the ground.

According to the National Weather Service, three of the four most active years in Arkansas for tornadoes were present during a La Niña pattern: 1999, 2008, and 2011.

Hall has only been storm chasing for four years but he has been up-close-and-personal with tornadoes. On March 17, Hall experienced his first Arkansas tornado southeast of McGehee in Desha County.

Most of the tornadoes Hall has experienced have been EF-2 or EF-3. Since Ef-4 and Ef-5 tornadoes tend to be rarer and he has yet to see one while chasing.

Hall can be found on Facebook at Zachary Hall- Arkansas Storm Tracker and Vortex Chasing where he updates daily about the upcoming weather in the area.