Brandon Copic had no idea what he was getting into when he sat down in the driver’s seat for his test drive. He wasn’t aware of my internet fame, although I was well aware of his.
My brain scrambled, and instead of going over the features and benefits of the vehicle on the test drive…I asked him every question I could think of about tornados. You know, since they’re my worst fear, and he chases them for a living.
So without further ado – an interview with Brandon Copic, a Toledo Tornado Tracker.
Do cows ever fly by? You know, like in that one movie where a cow flew by?
No. Never. The movie was Twister, and there are so many meteorological inaccuracies.
What type of equipment will go in this storm chasing Colbalt?
A laptop stand. And an interior light bar for the front and back, you know because if you get caught in a heavy rain, you don’t want to get hit by anything. We use that for protection. We were thinking about getting a weather station, too. You get a hitch on the back and then you can weld that and get a weather station on top of the pole. We’re probably going to put ski racks on the top and put a hail guard around it – that way our windshields don’t get busted up. Just stuff like that.
Yeah, just some regular stuff like that. *smirks* Is there ever a winter tornado?
In life. I guess what I’m asking is, can I sleep better at night because I know my worst fear, of being swept away like Dorothy, won’t come true?
Well typically the thing is, if it’s below 50 or so degrees, there’s not really a chance. On average, it’s not 100%, but you need the dew-points to be below about 55 degrees, they say that stuff on the news, then the cloud bases are too high for tornados to touch down. But if it’s higher than that, then there could be a possibility if the energy is in the atmosphere. So if it’s a really warm day in the winter, like November 17th, then yes. On a really warm day in the winter, be ready for something.
What scares you more? Lightening or tornados?
Lightening. I know my limits with tornados.
My window shattered the last time I went out, but that was because I pulling people over to stop them, not because I was getting too close. We had just installed a PA siren system, which is why we didn’t sell footage, because they’re only supposed to be on emergency vehicles. I found that out after I had talked to the State of Mississippi. They weren’t mad at me though because I didn’t use it to get people to move out of the way so I could go on by. I used it to stop people from driving into a tornado. So they said it was good I used it since it was an emergency.
You saved those peoples’ lives. Do you feel like a hero?
That’s what I’ve been told… and no.
Well, you are a hero.
Not really, I just do what I love. This is what I love to do.
How old were you when you began chasing storms?
May 7, 2010 was my first chase. I was 16. It was a week after I got my license.
So you’re only nineteen-years-old?
Yes. I don’t think people really realize my age.
Are you a Math and Science wiz-kid? Because I feel like you’re a child genius.
I am smart, but I’m not very good at Physics, which is why I didn’t go to school to become a meteorologist. I knew I wouldn’t really be able to pass those classes, but on my own I can forecast from what I know. There really isn’t much that has to do with Physics. Meteorology is forecasting. And I can’t sit behind a desk when I know there’s tornados around.
You’re a big deal. As far as social media goes, having 19,000 Facebook Fans at 19-years-old, is unheard of. I am so proud of you, and I’m not even your mom! Being a fellow social media junkie, I’ve gotta ask. How did you blow up on Facebook?
The morning of November 17, 2013, I had about 3,000 “likes”. The next morning I had over 15,000 “likes”. The Storm Prediction Center had issued “High Risk”, and I was giving real-time details of the storm. And now that I’ve seen how that works, I wouldn’t be surprised if when storm season comes around this year I surpass 50,000.
You’re the Mark Zuckerberg of tornados. And I’m guessing you’ve had over a million Facebook views in a week?
I see all of these people asking you weather questions everyday. Do you try to respond to everyone?
Yes. Even on November 17th. I set aside two hours and posted that I would answer as many questions as I can for as long as I can.
But as for people giving me criticism, I just ignore them. If those people want to have a voice, they can have it, but I’m not going to respond to it.
I feel like you’re going to go so far in life! What’s next on the horizon for you?
Well, I started studying storms when I was twelve. That’s when I started working with Norm Van Ness at Channel 24, and then I moved over to Channel 13 to Jay Berschback and all of them. Now that I’ve added chasing and the Facebook page, I see big things happening soon. That’s why my girlfriend and I chose to get an economical vehicle because it’s easy to put 50,000 miles on a car if you’re chasing every storm. I’m going chase every storm I can and start my own tour company, and live the dream for the rest of my life.
EDITORS NOTE: This interview took place two weeks ago. Two weeks ago, Brandon correctly predicted today’s snow storm TO THE INCH! The kid is a genius. Please “like” his Facebook page! Watch him chase storms all over the country!
Do you have any questions for Brandon? He’s ready to answer all of them!