When I first started chasing, one of the things I found most awesome was the ability for a chaser to have a direct impact on climate data through reporting. Not just real-time, life-saving, dire straits kind of stuff, but post-event, detailed analysis submissions. Writing up a report, and sending that email along with the video. I found that often, forecasters were impressed and quite grateful for the extra effort. Back in those days, we didn't have any equipment at all, including a cell phone. So, all of my reports back in the day were always after the event had happened, which gave me time to gather the facts and present them in a very meticulous fashion. I was of course happy to contribute, but the simple fact my actions had helped shape the climate data (which was forever) was the main draw. For example, my very first tornado is officially the narrowest in Oklahoma during 1996, at a whopping ten yards. This is of course an estimate, as no survey was ever done, but still...that's kinda cool.
As the years started to go by, and I kept reporting with almost ridiculous vigor, I began developing a relationship with some of the southern region offices, most notably Norman, Wichita, and Amarillo. My correspondences were now moving beyond simple report submissions, they were back-and-forths consisting of follow-up questions and sometimes, just a "thank you" and small talk. I enjoyed working with the NWS, because I felt it was important that tornado climatology be as accurate as humanly possible. I still do.
As I learned more and became a better chaser, my reports improved as well. I was able to add details and answer questions that sometimes, were invaluable to the forecaster because it shed light on storm and tornado behavior in conjunction with real-time radar observations. One example was our tornado from June 4, 2005. There had been no tornado warning at the time of the tornado, and when I submitted my report and video, the WCM emailed me back to ask if I thought this had been a landspout tornado, because during the time their radar had shown no signs of a possible tornado. I explained to him that it was very much in fact a mesocyclonic tornado, and hypothesized that perhaps all the heavy precipitation and the storm being so close to the radar might have masked the circulation. For whatever reason though, he didn't seem to fully accept what we'd seen was a true supercell tornado. I always got the impression he felt like I'd stepped on his toes, for whatever reason, but all I was doing was simply providing the information as it was, to try and help him understand why their radar missed the tornado. In any case, our working relationship was never the same afterwards, and I don't think we've corresponded since.
There was a time, back when the energy center was all the rage in Norman, when many scientific/meteorological people began to scoff at lower-end tornadoes, as they pertained to overall tornado climatology. They began to include only F2 and stronger tornadoes in their data, when charting frequency maps and other climate information. The reasoning was that these weak and often brief events weren't significant enough to include. This is the same type of mindset observed with chasers, when they scoff at weak tornadoes by calling them "bird farts", a term I have always hated. Basically, the opinion that a tornadic event has to be "worthy" of scientific attention or inclusion or, to chasers, a photo or video. Maybe I'm just a "tornado apologist" or whatever, but I love the process of a tornado as much as the aesthetic beauty. Dust whirls don't bring me down.
Because of the growing dissension towards including weak/brief tornadoes in the overall data among some groups of both scientists and chasers, my attitude towards reporting them began to change. I was still very adamant about my reports, and thus a lot of effort went into them. As the weaker tornado reports began to be scoffed, I stopped caring so much about presenting them. All through this, the NWS was always cooperative, but I just began to think it was a waste of time. I'd had a few instances in the past where my reports were taken, but the tornadoes were never introduced to the storm data. I began to feel jilted, having put forth so much effort (when few other chasers did) only to have my reports seemingly ignored, as far as long-term data inclusion. I publicly spoke about my feelings on a few grouplists and forums, and the overall reaction, at least from the scientific community, was to stop whining and not let a few bad experiences stop me from reporting.
I went back and forth over the next few years about whether I wanted to continue reporting the tornadoes I saw post-event. By this time we'd had cell phones in the field for years, and always made real-time reports when we could get a signal (some of these proved to evoke negative responses/experiences as well), but my desire to spend the time putting together post-event reports was waning. Another big reason (along with my perception the interest on the part of the NWS just wasn't there like it had been before) was the fact that by then, there were so many chasers out there reporting that it seemed everything was already known about by the time I called it in. Almost every event I called in was met with "we are aware" or something to that effect. In all actuality this was a good thing, because it meant tornadoes were being reported far more often and accurately than in the past. The down side to all of it was, it was making my old, meticulous, post-event reports obsolete.
Fast forward to today. I've long since stopped sending in video post-event, mostly because it's more of a pain in the butt to create a DVD versus a simple VHS tape that only required one step for the recording process. But also it's because, like so many other things that were vital when I started chasing, it's simply no longer needed. For several years, I've been over the novelty of personal enjoyment from putting post-event reports together. Between my lack of interest and the lack of necessity, it was a natural process of extinction. Sometimes I think back to those old days and miss them, but then my current day laziness kicks in and I'm glad I no longer bother. I'm happy to contribute real-time reports when we can, and in today's chasing world those are really all that matter.