Storm chasers head to Hurricane Florence

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

As millions flee from Hurricane Florence, a category three hurricane as of Wednesday afternoon, some are driving and flying into the storm’s path. Many of them are volunteers, but some are also storm chasers.

Stephen Jones is used to chasing tornadoes, but he and his crew have packed equipment and emergency supplies, as they plan to cover Florence.

“It’s just strangely calm, on a day like today (Wednesday) when you have a monstrous storm just offshore,” said Stephen Jones, a KAKE First Alert Storm Tracker. “It’s a totally different ballgame. With tornado chasing, you can drive on a full tank of gas and go to a storm that’s producing a tornado. Chasing a hurricane, you’ve got to get prepped days in advance.”

So he and his crews did just that. They flew in and collected enough food for weeks, and enough gas to last them longer. They’re hoping they’ll still be able to do their job in the worst case scenarios.

“Just in case we were to be stranded on an island, in a parking garage or wherever we’re going to be held up,” he said.

Emergency officials have warned people who live in the area to get out while they still can. Highways have been lined with cars and traffic flows diverted to speed up the evacuations.

Jones admits it seems reckless to go into a storm while the focus for everyone else is to get out, but he said he’s there to do a job that can be vital for emergency officials.

“To experience and document what will be Ground Zero,” he said.

The trip was personal to him, too. Jones grew up in the area and has family further inland. He admits they’ve been on his mind a lot since learning of the storm’s track. And he also said that experience gives him valuable insight on staying safe near the ocean.

“You never turn your back on that ocean,” he said. “You always respect it, the moment you don’t respect it is when it will come to get you.”