The Origin Of My Fascination With Severe Weather

I didn’t always have a fascination with weather, specifically severe weather. I used to fear it with my life. As a child, I would hide under the bed when a severe thunderstorm would move over us. Growing up in Northern Ohio, severe thunderstorms are different than those in the central plains. I rarely ever experience hail larger than pea sized and I’ve only seen a wall cloud once.

I have no idea when the transition occurred but at some point, instead of fearing the weather, I became infatuated with it. Everything I know about mother nature is self-taught. While the general public looks at the graphical forecasts, I read the forecast discussion.

While I have a deep interest in all things weather related, my favorite aspect is severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. Growing up, my grandmother and step-father purchased CDs and DVDs filled with Tornado video to fuel my curiosity. Little did I know that a particular group of tornado videos would leave a lasting impact on me.

The most prevalent is the Andover, Kansas tornado of 1991. A magnificent beast that tore through everything in its path. What I vividly remember about this tornado is seeing a gigantic twister that looked like it was right behind a row of nice houses but didn’t touch them. This is the same tornado that went through McConnell AFB. It’s also the same twister responsible for the infamous video of people surviving a direct impact from a Tornado by securing themselves under an overpass.

The more I viewed clips and movies of Tornadoes, the less afraid I was of them. Now a days, I know enough to realize if a cell is going to move right over my location. While I don’t want to see destruction to any property, especially mine, there’s a part of me that wants to witness mother nature’s worst. It’s the ultimate natural high I can think of. There is a huge adrenaline rush of seeing a wall cloud in person or being within the polygon of a tornado warning. Think about it. Here comes a powerful storm and there isn’t anything you can do about it except hope for the best. You have to face mother nature head on, no ifs ands or buts.

I believe that severe thunderstorms are different depending on your location. For example, we rarely see hail above pea sized in northern Ohio. In the central plains of the US, it’s common to see hail the size of golf balls and baseballs. In Ohio, we just never seem to have the right thermodynamics to support that kind of event.

I’ve never seen a funnel cloud in person, let alone a waterspout. Part of me wants to see and experience a tornado while the other half fears it. When severe weather strikes, I know what to look for in the sky while others around me have no clue. If you live in tornado alley or even outside of it, I think it’s beneficial to learn about severe weather and what to look out for. The information could save your life.

Just once, I’d like to be in position to see an F-5 rated Twister in person rip apart an open field. It would be a moment of life I’d never forget.

Almost Too Close

On May 13th 2009, a tornado was bearing down on Kirksville, MO. Bart Comstock who is a storm chaser for almost became a victim when he looks to his left and sees the Twister moving right towards him. Thankfully, he was on the outskirts of the circulation. Make sure you listen to the noise this thing makes when his driver side window is down. This thing is producing the classic ‘freight train‘ noise which is most commonly reported from witnesses.

Here is one with a little more emotion:

And here is footage of the same tornado by a chasing tour. This could have turned into a storm chasing disaster.

Personally, I would have been scared to death but I can almost guarantee that in the video, you would hear me say “this is $%#%^$# awesome”.