My old man worked for the National Weather Service for 40 years. Weathermen of his generation were mostly ex-military guys who fell into meteorology by accident, like becoming a bartender or something. Staring in the 70s, however, most of the young men who hired on with the NWS were guys who went and got their meteorology degree someplace. Becoming a weatherman these days is something someone does because they really love weather.
This shift from quasi-blue collar weathermen to educated professionals was probably a great thing for the NWS and the forecasting of weather. The majority of meteorology grads I have met have been bright fellows, committed to their job. My dad certainly preferred supervising those eager young kids better than the irritable civil servants who were his own age. But there is definitely a profile for these guys, and that profile, for lack of a better term, is “total geek.” Weather geek, to be precise, who in the hierarchy of geekdom, should probably be placed somewhere between erotic fanfic writers and people who have Klingon wedding ceremonies. Nice guys, all of them, but they’re odd ducks.
Within that group of odd ducks, exists a smaller subculture: the storm chasers. My dad had a couple of them who worked for him back in the late 80s who I got to know pretty well. They would take all of their accrued vacation time in the spring, drive out to Texas or Oklahoma or someplace, and spend two or three weeks chasing after tornadoes, one hand on a camera, one hand on the wheel, all while hanging out the driver’s window with reckless abandon (note: way more of these dudes die in car wrecks than by getting sucked up by tornadoes). I know that there is a TV show about them now on the Discovery Channel, but remember this: producers of those kinds of shows try to find the most interesting people in that subculture to put on TV. The mass of them — and certainly the ones I knew back in the day — are just way too geeky for TV and, unless you knew them better, wouldn’t be the sorts of people you’d feel comfortable around for more than ten seconds.
I offer all of this because yesterday the franchise formerly known as the Omaha Royals — the Kansas City Royals’ Triple-A affiliate — changed their name. Ladies and gentlemen I give you . . .
Yep, this is happening. The Omaha Storm Chasers. Because I suppose it would be a step too far to name a team after furries. According to MLB.com, this was the result of a fan vote. Ya don’t say.
The best part of this will be when a team named after people who get a chubby off of cumulonimbus clouds, hail, lightning, torrential downpours and tornadoes has a game delayed because of a passing shower.