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