October 11, 2022
The podcast's co-founder, Phil Johnson shared his experience with Midland Radio.
Johnson co-founded the Storm Front Freaks podcast in 2016.
“The focus is weather. It’s a weather podcast, but we claim ourselves as the most entertaining weather podcast so our goal was first and foremost to always be entertaining. However, we do want it to be educational in the process. We want to be able to teach people about weather and storms," Johnson said.
Johnson has had a passion for weather since he was a young child.
“Some of my interest started growing up in Minnesota and there’s obviously severe weather. Being around severe weather always kind of peaked my interest, but the biggest thing that really got me going down this path is that I actually saw a tornado while I was living in Wisconsin.”
There have been several co-hosts on the podcasts since its creation including meteorologists, storm chasers, former Weather Channel employees, etc. It's all part of an effort to have an eclectic group of people with various backgrounds in weather.
Photo by: Phil Johnson
Johnson planned a storm chase alongside four others to take place over the course of four to five days in the summer of 2022.
The chasers met in Kansas City and embarked on a chase across the Northern Plains- South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska.
While there weren't any major storm cells over the course of the first two days in the Sioux Falls area, the chasers did get a chance to witness some severe weather.
“The first two days there was nothing that was really going to be a big tornado, but certainly was going to be severe storms with hail, wind, and just a beautiful structure. Being out in the plains you get a chance to see some beautiful thunderstorms and cloud structures that you might not see in other parts of the country.”
The third day the chasers moved to Nebraska .
“That was going to be a potential tornado day. We chased a big super cell in north central Nebraska. That one did go out as a tornado warning and there was a little bit of a funnel cloud, but it never dropped a tornado.”
The final day the chasers were in Minnesota and were expecting to witness what the National Weather Service deemed as "outbreak potential." The chasers didn't see the funnel cloud drop a tornado, but did witness a severe storm.
Because the chasers had to plan the trip ahead of time, there were factors of the trip out of their hands.
"You kind of had to plan it like a vacation. We were at the whim of Mother Nature, hoping something would happen during the time you selected months in advance.”
Photo by: Phil Johnson
The chasers had two vehicles for most of the trip and that meant two MicroMobile GMRS Two-way Radios to communicate back and forth.
They opted for a MXT275 MicroMobile Two-Way Radio for each vehicle.
“I have never chased with radios before because I’ve always been solo. Going into this we knew we were going to have at least two vehicles so the importance of having these MicroMobiles was bigger than I expected.”
Johnson was blown away by how much use they got out of the MicroMobile GMRS two-way radios.
“Because of the radios we were able to make sure we were on the same roads, but also we just talked. In the first car we had two storm chasers including myself. In the second vehicle we had two meteorologists so we were communicating the whole time about what we saw, keeping up on the forecasts, and talking as if we were in the same vehicle.”
One day a third vehicle joined them with a Midland handheld two-way radio. The MicroMobiles gave the chasers peace of mind knowing that if they were to accidentally be separated, they could communicate and link back up.
"We did get a little separated, but because we had the MicroMobiles, the middle vehicle was able to relay information to the vehicle with the handheld because they were further back.”
Throughout their travels, the chasers drove through areas with little to no cellphone service, highlighting the MicroMobile GMRS two-way radio's reliability.
"I mean there were times in South Dakota or in Nebraska where there just wasn’t strong cell service if any. We wouldn’t have been able to communicate at all with texts or calls. Any chasers that are chasing as a team in multiple vehicles absolutely need radios. They are vital to staying in communication, but also for safety," he said.
Johnson's favorite features of the MXT275 were the easy installation and its NOAA Weather Radio alerts.
Photo by: Phil Johnson