Storm Chasing in Tornado Alley

Storm Chasing is one of the best adrenalin rushes I’ve ever experienced. When its on, its on! Speeding pedal to the metal over sketchy dirt roads, getting as close to the storms as possible, experiencing 100+ mph winds, watching the craziest wall clouds develop right in front of you, feeling lightning hit within a few hundred feet, and enjoying every moment of it.

Several months ago I connected with Jeremy Dawson from Shiny Toy Guns to join his journey and find world’s most violent weather outbreaks in Tornado Alley. Jeremy owns a Storm Chasing vehicle customized with a metal armor to protect the windows from flying debris and hail. The van is equipped with a bunch of radars, satellites, antennas, radios, laptops, wi-fi internet connection, metal racks in front of the windows, large tool boxes, backup gasoline, a chainsaw when trees cover the road, first aid kits and much more.

The chasing crew included Jeremy Dawson, Jason Saint Clair, Laura and I. Check out this 3-minute video clip to give you an idea of a successful storm chasing day full of adrenalin:

The condensation funnel widened giving the tornado a skinny cone-shaped appearance. We watched the tornado for a while as it became wrapped in rain and hail. We went back in the van to get closer to the tornado. A rating for this tornado on the Enhanced Fujita scale cannot be established because no damage was realized however expert observers said it was likely an EF-2, with winds in excess of 111 mph.

This building which was only a few hundred yards away from us was struck by lightning. Right before lightning strikes, it will find something to connect with, such as a building, tree or human. Jeremy mentioned if you are lucky a second or two before you’re struck by lightning, all your hair will rise and immediately you will suspect something is wrong. At this moment the best thing for you to do is to make yourself small by squatting down, putting your hands on your lap and leaning forward on your toes. Your chances of survival are higher if the lightning strikes you and goes straight through your body and into the ground as quickly as possible.

Hitting up Karaoke bars in small towns is a storm chasing tradition. These fine folks showed us an amazing time and served us some great food and drinks. Our windshield was completely smashed in Colorado. Luckily, we made it all the way back to Oklahoma City by 5am.

For more Storm and Dope Clouds, check this out

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