Sheriff says chasers clog roads in Barber County

KSN – April 9, 2015


The storm system Wednesday night attracted a lot of storm spotters.

In Barber County, that created some problems for law enforcement as they tried to keep the roads clear.

Barber County Sheriff Justin Rugg says most of the professional storm chasers are not the issue. But the amateur storm chasers with just a cell phone are becoming an issue.

Sheriff Rugg points to dash cam video from a county emergency vehicle that tells the story. The video shows a car not getting ot of the way, even though the emergency vehicle taking the dash cam video has its emergency lights on.

“Then there were the others that would just stop on the highway,” said Sheriff Rugg. “They might pull off a little bit and they’re out there with their cell and maybe have a video camera.”

Sheriff Rugg said cars were on both sides of the roadway, but his main concern is the video of cars not moving out of the way for emergency vehicles.

“I drove through the line of cars and I got on my PA and started telling people to move their vehicles,” said Rugg.

KSN spoke with several storm chasers who said that they were obeying traffic laws.

“Public roads are public roads,” said storm chaser Darin Brunin, who was in Barber County on Wednesday night. “And storm or not, as long as a storm chaser is not impeding law enforcement from doing their jobs helping people, public roads are public roads.”

Brunin said the storm chasers that he saw were not a problem, and not getting in the way.

“We don’t have a lot of issues with the professionally trained storm spotters,” said Rugg.

But there were some amateurs out there, and Sheriff Rugg points to that video as a concern.

“It’s only a matter of time until somebody gets really hurt,” said Rugg. “Luckily last night we had no accidents.”

Many viewers have opinions on storm chasers in severe weather.

Joseph posted to our Facebook page saying:

“The rolling road blocks and choke points that Kansas authorities have been making near storms has posed a much larger threat to the public than the actual chasers themselves.”

Julie commented:

“I would imagine the individuals causing the issue were not qualified or trained and, were just out hoping to be the first to send in video footage of a tornado.”

In Sedgwick County, emergency management says storm spotters were blocking the road at 21st and 295th Street creating a hazard.

Storm chasers say they are doing the public a service and are helping to keep people safe. KSN News is working on each side of this story for 6 p.m.

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