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Anything outdoors!  Tornadoes, eagles, blizzards, or auroras.  If it is in the sky, running through the woods or swimming in the water, I'm there!


Monday, January 7, 2008

This is the year a *chaser * will die

Read this post from a chaser on Stormtrack. This is the stupid stuff which is going to get someone killed because they obviously are in way over their head.

I think I might get the bonehead award for the day. I had been watching the radar all afternoon in Joplin, MO when I finally decided to hit I-44 and try and get ahead of the first tornadic storm to go through Pineville, MO. It was a little after 4PM. I somehow convinced my mom to go with me. We went east on I-44 and then took highway 37 south. When we got to Pierce City the tornado sirens were blaring and then again they were blaring when we headed south through Monett.

Upon finally getting through Monett, the buildings cleared, the topography leveled out, and a clear view of a nice cone shaped tornado on the ground could be seen to our west. Unfortunately, I did not have my head on straight and somehow I thought we were heading west, even though we were actually heading south on 37. The road had curved a bit and I was not thinking clearly. This had me thinking the tornado was to our northwest and that we were in a safe position.

We watched the tornado for only a few seconds (I'm still driving at this time; I hadn't even tried to pull over) before I realized that the tornado was closing in rapidly on our position, which did not make any sense to me at the time. In reality, we were driving south, directly into the path of an eastward moving tornado. I could have pulled over and waited for the tornado to pass, but I wasn't sure if the tornado would plow right through us. So instead, I stepped on the gas in an attempt to get south of the tornado before it crossed highway 37. This all occurred in less than a minute of time.

I kept trying to tell my mom that we had plenty of time to get ahead of the tornado despite the fact that I wasn't entirely convinced of that myself. Miraculously, we passed the path of the tornado with it only being 50-100 yards to our west. Debris was being picked up by the tornado as it appeared to hit a barn and the winds became quite furious, but we made it into the clear unscathed. A secondary concern of mine was that we might hydroplane right off the road due to the rain.

Afterwards, we pulled over to turn around and could see the tornado continue east as it leveled a trailer home park (which I had no idea was happening from my view because of a hill in the way). It was a harrowing experience that I do not wish to experience again. Thankfully, the news stations here are saying that the park was empty due to it being condemned.

Emergency crews were amazing. It could not have even been a few minutes before police cars, firetrucks, and ambulances were at the scene blocking the road due to downed power lines and structural damage. There was also a car farther behind us that got blown off the road. I hope and pray that the people that were in the car are okay. At this point, more storms were on the way and it was getting dark. So my mom and I decided we had had enough excitement for one day. We headed back home.

I have no pictures of the tornado due to the short amount of time I had to react to our circumstance. I do have a little video of the tornado (after we had driven out of the path) as it moved off into the distance. The contrast is not great, but I may try and pull some stills off it later and post them.

I want to make sure people know that this was not a case of me wanting to get as close as I could to a tornado. This was the result of unlucky timing and me becoming disoriented as I went south out of Monett. I have been forced by this experience to remember that even when you know what you are doing, it's still very dangerous.

Later I asked my mom if she would ever go chasing with me again. She sort of laughed and said, "I don't know." (it was her first experience, ever, storm chasing)

If you have no clue what you are doing, stay home or a long ways away. Man, if I ever screwed up like this I sure as heck wouldn't tell the world. Gads...


mnwxchaser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

Yep, we need a "Yahoo Chaser Dead Pool."

Let's get some numbers and names going......toss in some money too.

Tony said...

I'm going to disagree with you here. I'm glad he posted it, it shows others how you can get yourself in a bad situation without trying to be an ass. If you read a lot of ST posts, you only see success stories, and you'll start to think that it's easy and nothing ever goes wrong. I welcomed this post.

Shane Adams said...

The only difference between this guy and all of us is we didn't post our fuck-ups online. I guess you could consider it "dumb" to post a mistake for the world to judge (and in today's society nobody is afraid of a glass house anymore, obviously) but I kind of had the same impression Tony did; I thought it took balls to say "hey I fucked up, don't ever do this." After all, experienced chasers take risks but they had to "throw themselves to the wolves" sometime or another. You aren't born knowing how to chase, so it's ALL dangerous when it's new. Not sure I understand the "Dead Pool" thing but be ready to take as much as you give out :-)

mnwxchaser said...

I dunno Shane. Maybe the purpose of the pool isn't to be critical but rather to increase awareness. No one likes to be included on a list they didn't volunteer to participate on. Right?

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