Violently spinning. Big hail everywhere. Enough debris to create a whole other storm. When a tornado hits, who are you gonna call?
We talked to professional storm chasers Alec Scholten, Shanda Hinnant, Danny Neal, and Adam Lucio. They all have their separate stories about how they were pulled into chasing some of the deadliest wonders of the world: tornadoes. We know little about this form of weather, this phenomenon, and yet, there are people who dedicated their lives to tracking and understanding them. These tornadoes are always changing, never fully traceable, and never certain.
“It was May 30th, 2008—a supercell,” says Neal. “We didn’t necessarily see a tornado that day, we were on about five or six different tornado-warned storms but the last one was what we call an “Earth Eating Monster,” which is a big high-precipitation supercell. It’s very green and dark. I mean, it looked the end of the world was coming behind you and—what we did we do? We drove right into the middle of it.”
“We were like, ‘let’s see what it has to offer,'” says Lucio.
Fellow chasers Hinnant and Scholten have had their fair share of tornado encounters.
“The tornado was on the ground for 90 minutes; it was EF4 rated in Kansas,” says Scholten. “It went from Bennington to Solomon to Chapman, Kansas and it was just amazing, the metamorphosis of this tornado. It went from a wedge shape to a skinny little rope, back to a cone. And it had incredible supercell thunderstorm structure above. It was an incredible photogenic tornado. It didn’t hurt anybody; it didn’t hit any buildings, so just a really awesome chase day for both of us personally.”
“When you can just follow along a storm for over an hour and just watch it do its thing and it’s not doing any damage, that was kind of an ideal chase day,” says Hinnant.
Find out more about these storm chasers and how their lives move as fast as an EF4 in the Flux issue, coming this Spring.