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Storm chasers get in the way of responders

April 16, 2012 at 5:31 PM

ABILENE, Kan., April 16 (UPI) -- Emergency officials in Kansas said storm chasers have been creating safety hazards while on the lookout for tornadoes in the north-central part of the state.

Chancy Smith, director of Dickinson County Emergency Management, said a huge convoy of storm chasers arrived in the area Saturday, when weather forecasters predicted a high probability of tornado activity, and got in the way of emergency vehicles, The Kansas City (Mo.) Star reported Monday.

"It was like a funeral procession, bumper to bumper," Smith said of the storm chasers. "It was horrible."

He said many drivers in the convoy of about 350 vehicles, many of which bore license tags from out of the state, created safety hazards by refusing to yield to emergency vehicles.

"We were going on Solomon Road with lights and sirens, and they wouldn't get over," he said. "Some were driving 60 or 70 mph, looking for videos or photos, and they didn't even notice us."

"I think they just know we don't have time to deal with them," he said. "We couldn't have a response Saturday with that many of them on the road. It was just crazy."

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