The Coffee Shop -It’s tornado season, time to flirt with death?

The Coffee Shop is an open thread-style discussion forum for human interest news of the day.

Having been raised mostly in the south, I am no stranger to the destructive power of tornadoes and hurricanes. Many of my younger years included living in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi. Those states are definitely in tornado alley.

My first real experience with a super tornado was the Judsonia, Arkansas tornado of March 1952. That monster spawned eleven separate tornadoes which killed 209 people, fifty of them in a single long track tornado near Judsonia, Arkansas. Of course, by the time I was a young adult, I had seen the aftermath of smaller tornadoes, but up to that terrible March in 1952, nothing matched the Judsonia monster.

When in college, I was working a radio station. Tornadoes were in the forecast, and storm clouds were gathering outside. The station manager came into the control room, peered out the back window, and called to me: “There it is.”

I ran to the window just in time to see the biggest tornado I had ever seen passing by our broadcast tower out behind the station. It was so close I had to look straight up to see the base of it in the clouds. Smaller wispy vortexes spiraled around the main “stovepipe” shaft, which was a purple-gray color. That was on May 2, 1957.  I had no time to duck for cover, but ran to the microphone to get the warning on the air. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but to my listeners it may have sounded like incoherent babbling. However, the word did get out. Later, many people told me when they heard my announcement, they took cover. The thing did hit my younger brother’s school, and his fourth grade classroom fell in. No one was hurt because the teacher had time to herd the kids into the hallway.

As the atmosphere slowly warms due to the changing climate, expect to see more and more major weather events such as tornadoes and hurricanes.

One of the newest tornado season fads is storm chasing. Some are professionals, while all too many others are hobbyists or curious adventurers. No one is immune from getting injured or killed. Meteorologist Mike Bettes of the Weather Channel had a close call when his vehicle was flung from the road into a field in 2013. The same El Reno tornado killed the highly experienced meteorological research engineer Tim Samaras, 55, his son Paul, 24, and crew member Carl Young, 45.

Tornadoes are the most destructive forces in nature. They may not cause the widespread damage of hurricanes, but when winds of two to three hundred miles per hour are crammed into a vortex that may be only a few hundred yards wide, there are very few man-made structures that can withstand them. They kill without mercy.

This is why I was totally blown away (pun intended) by the video taken a few days ago by these chasers. I keep waiting for their car to pull off the side of the road and stop. But no, they keep charging ahead toward the vortex. Near the end, they realize the main vortex is spawning smaller vortexes, one almost directly over their vehicle.

What could possibly go wrong?

Their survival was due to pure luck. My take on this? It was not skill, but simple raw luck. And it’s obvious this is a lark for them. Reed Timmer is good at what he does, but seems to be taking more and more chances in order to get even more dramatic video.

Do you have a tornado or storm story? Discuss.


This is an open thread. There is no hard and fast rule about staying on topic, especially if you have a personal story burning a hole in your pocket trying to escape.
Pictures and videos are welcome in the comments.  If photos are used, please be sure you own the copyright. We would rather see your personal photos anyway, rather than random stuff copied from the internet.  Our only request is that if you use pictures or videos, take pity on those who don’t have broadband, and don’t post more than two or three in a single comment.

Coffee cup

This is an Open Thread. Grab your cup, pull up a chair, sit a spell and share what’s on your mind today.




About Chuck Stanley

Dr. Charlton (Chuck) Stanley is a board certified forensic psychologist, with interests in aviation psychology, peace officer selection and training, ethics and communication skills.
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12 Responses to The Coffee Shop -It’s tornado season, time to flirt with death?

  1. rafflaw says:

    That is one crazy video!

  2. wordcloud9 says:

    Wow – I’ll never understand why people who live in areas where tornadoes are common think earthquakes are so scary!

  3. Idiots!!!!! That’s about all I have to say.
    TY, Chuck.

  4. pete says:

    “Hey, ya’ll check out this tornado” said no sane person, ever.

  5. I lived in Tornado Alley for awhile. I saw a tornado, but it wasn’t as close up as in the video. I actually didn’t think they were that bad mostly.
    The standard drill is that you go outside and look. If the tornado is going away from your house or at an angle, wait it out in the basement. If it actually looks like it might move over your house (very unusual) then you get in a car and drive away.
    The tornado missed us. There was a bit of wind damage to the outside of the house, and we found rocks, debris, and part of someone’s rake in the kitchen when we came back out.
    The vast majority of tornadoes are never even notice. They appear way out in the middle of nowhere and wander around. Every once in awhile one hits town and then you have a really big problem.

  6. Chuck Stanley, I thought that this was interesting. One rule that was mentioned was one that prohibits hijacking a person’s identity. Would that apply if a person posted a comment under an alias instead of their true name? The reason I ask is due to some people who may be politically active and yet don’t want to draw too much attention to themselves.

    • Jeff,
      Many commenters post under pseudonyms for that reason. Some are employees with bosses of opposing views, and others have other reasons. In some locales, personal safety may be an issue. Posting under a pseudonym is fine. However, if a person establishes an online identity, it is probably a good idea to keep that username, because having an online identity is not a bad thing.

      The only thing we ask at FFS is that commenters should avoid foul, racist, sexist, or insulting language in a username, and don’t write anything that will get us sued or bring down the wrath of the Secret Service.

  7. Chuck Stanley, thank you for explaining.

    • You are welcome. What the rule refers to is someone hijacking another user’s identity, or presenting themselves as someone they are not; such a famous person. For example, if I wrote something under the name of Jeffrey Liakos, that would be hijacking, and is a bannable offense.

  8. Chuck Stanley, I have no problem with rules in a forum like this, however, I think rules can be a little excessive in some regards. What are your thoughts? Also, what are your thoughts on tax reform, sound currency and a balanced budget Amendment?

  9. Eight rules are hardly excessive. The main rule is to not highjack somebody else’s account or username, or do anything illegal. The second main rule is to have as much fun as the law allows.

    As for tax reform, it is needed badly. Back when the top tax bracket was 90%, there was no motivation for CEO and other boardroom types to steal as much as they could. The incentive was to invest. I recall the late Colonel Parker, Elvis’ manager, quoted as saying it was his intention to keep Elvis in the 90% tax bracket as long as he could.

    JFK’s management of interest rates bordered on genius. He controlled inflation through judicious use of interest rates.

    The cap on Federal spending is one of the most ludicrous things I have come across in government. It is a requirement that Congress approve the government paying their bills for money already spent. If they fail to approve, then the US government defaults on legal debts, which creates a constitutional crisis, violating the “full faith and credit” clause. What if everyone who owed anyone money had the right opportunity to vote on whether they pay their bills at the end of the month?

    In the same vein, the faux outrage about the US sending planeloads of money to the middle east recently was hardly a loan, and certainly not a ransom. We had seized billions of dollars of their money years ago, and international courts finally got around to hearing the case. They ruled that the money had to be returned immediately, and any delay would result in additional penalties and interest tacked on. The optics of the timing could not have been worse, because it created an opportunity for the opposition party to go into full pearl clutching and congressional investigation mode.

    Eliminating the cap on Federal spending creates a certain amount of instability for our currency, because investors in bonds get nervous when prominent members of Congress advocate us not paying our bills. I would be too. I don’t invest savings in banks that are whimsical about whether they pay interest when a CD comes due.

    The wild card in all international economics, and a real conundrum for the IRS, is the increasing use of virtual money, such as Bitcoins. The situation is not helped by the fact that all too many government agents are totally clueless. One of the funniest, and saddest, illustration of the current state of affairs is this exchange at a TSA checkpoint:

  10. Chuck Stanley, my reference to rules being excessive was generalized. Not related to the rules in this forum.

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