Interview with Maurizio Signani, a storm chaser from Italy
Hi Maurizio. To begin, please tell us how long you’ve been chasing and how you became a chaser.
Maurizio: Since I was a child, meteorology and particularly thunderstorms have always been my passion. While others were playing football or just having fun, I was fascinated by the observation of atmospheric variances.
Whenever a storm broke out in the summer, it was always the greatest joy for me – while most people ran away looking for shelter, I ran to the fields or to the farthest streets to admire the sky and look at the storm.
Witnessing the rapid change of weather in these cases, with the sky darkening more and more, the thunder gradually louder, and the rapid strengthening of the wind has always been, and remains, an inexplicable emotion for me.
After years of self-taught study of meteorology, observations and above all patience to wait for the right days to test what I’ve learned from various books and meteorology communities on the web, I bought my first professional camera when I was 16, and I started to make the first serious attempts to capture these phenomena, which continue to fascinate me to this day.
The coast of Italy is very rich in exciting weather phenomena. Still, you also have many amazing photos from the US in your portfolio, specifically from Tornado Alley, the storm-chasers “promised land”. How did this happen?
Maurizio: Yes the Italian coasts are quite rich in interesting phenomena, especially in the autumn season. But from an early age, my dream has always been to chase the great storms on the great American plains.
In 2014 thanks to social networks, I got to know several people with whom to share this passion. Some of them had already practised storm chasing for several years, including trips to tornado alley, so from 2015, I had the opportunity to join them and thus start my adventure which I hope will continue in the coming years.
What was your most memorable chase and your favourite photo?
Maurizio: My best and still undefeated pursuit remains the one carried out in Simla, in a small remote Colorado town on June 4, 2015. That day a vast supercell produced eight tornadoes, including two contemporary tornadoes, one cyclonic and a subsequent anticyclonic on the advancing edge of the mesocyclone.
I took some of my best photos there! It was a day of enormous satisfaction because that day, the target for most of the hunters was Kansas, few headed to Colorado.
What type of camera do you use and what is your favourite piece of gear?
Maurizio: The cameras I used most frequently were the Nikon D750, and the Nikon D600. my favourite lens remains the 12-24mm wide-angle lens, without that, in the United States I would never be able to shoot large storm structures.
Tell us more about the storm chasing scene in Italy. What names should our readers be looking for on Twitter or Facebook when it comes to Italy? What are the best spots for chasing?
Maurizio: Italy is a complex country for chasing storms, the best area remains the Po Valley, especially between Lombardy and Veneto, where the most violent phenomena are usually concentrated during the summer months.
And essentially northern Italy is also the area most covered by radar systems. While as regards autumn the area where the most significant phenomena concentrate is Liguria, often here between late summer and autumn you can also have the opportunity to photograph some spectacular waterspouts.
Maurizio: As for the Italian hunters, the best are the guys from ZenaStormChaser, friends with whom I shared the best moments, and from whom I learned a lot, without forgetting my friend Valentina Abinanti from Tornadoseeker.
Thank you for the interview, Maurizio