Monday, June 14, 2010


Since I always love those “previously on” synopsis things at the start of television shows – and since this entry is a continuation of last week’s blog – let’s do one of those previously on things...(!!!)

Announcer voice:

Pete runs away from a rampaging twister:
PETE: We’ll never make it! Why is it so mad?!

Frosty looks at a computer monitor – these numbers are off the charts! He looks at the rest of the team.
FROSTY: We’re through the looking glass here, people!

Debbie and Scott argue as the storm rages
SCOTT: We’ve got to cut them off at the pass!
DEBBIE: The twisters will never fall for that…they’re just too smart!

CHASE: Hate to ruin all y’alls party but, we got us some unexpected company.
Over Chases shoulder a SECOND twister touches down.



So, where were we? Oh yeah –

I was busy putting the field Doppler through the warm-up sequence when I heard Chase yell.

“Hey kid! Look out!” And just then, it started to HAIL.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a hail storm, but if you’d like to simulate the experience it’s pretty easy to do. All you need is twenty thousand ice cubes and twenty thousand friends to throw them at you in all at once and – ta-da! Instant hailstorm!

Needless to say – I did some low-grade panicking once the hail started to come down. I think I must have gotten a little disoriented when I was dodging the hail, because next thing I knew, Scott was pulling me toward the chase truck.

Once we were inside, the hail was absolutely pounding down, and the wind was rocking the truck so much that I thought it was going to tip over at any second – and then all of a sudden...

It stopped.

We stepped out of the truck, and that’s when I saw the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Across the fields, the clouds started to reach down from the sky, and a huge funnel started to form right in front of us. Watching the tornado take shape was weirdly peaceful, and we all couldn’t help but stop and watch – but then the reality of the situation hit us – tornado! Tornado! Tornado!*

* (Tornado! Tornado! TORNADO!)

We scrambled into action, breaking out the equipment that we had to cover up when the hail came on. Scott was shouting out orders fast and furious, but it was almost impossible to hear him over the wind. In a minute we had everything set up again – the twister was tearing through the field, right where Scott had predicted it would go, but then, it turned and started heading directly toward us.

There really isn’t a good phrase for describing the feeling of having a tornado heading directly for you, so I’ll make one up. It was…TerriblAwesoFrightnaciously bad. I’ll be honest, I really wanted to run away. In fact I’m pretty sure I said:

“Hey everybody, let’s run away now.”

But Scott just checked his anemometer, shook his head and just said “Wait for it…” The twister was getting closer, and CLOSER. We were goners!

But then, at the last possible second, the winds shifted and the funnel cloud changed course just ever so slightly – we were no longer in its path...but we weren’t out of the woods yet. The storm was close enough now that flying debris started reaching our observation post, everyone finally agreed that it was time to evacuate.

Five minutes later we regrouped a half mile down the road. Everybody was chattering about storm data captures, and pictures, and Fujita estimates, but all I could think was –

“That was a tornado, and I WAS THERE.”


  1. Storms are interesting to watch (thunderstorms can be awe-inspiring in a kind of scary way) but I think if that tornado was coming for me I would have yelled "Bye everyone!" and run toward the nearest ditch or shelter. I wouldn't have been able to wait when Scott told everyone to. :P

  2. I agree! Also, if you think about it, it makes much more sense to run away from a tornado than to...not do that. But, on the other hand I still can't believe I finally got to see one - it was beyond amazing - and also I'm glad that they're not things that happen everyday.