Storm Chaser caught inside a tornado while walking

Sep 25, 2006
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Mason City IA
I watched this one happen...was an odd elephant trunk that came out of the collar of the parent circulation and was out in front of it. Started as a wannabe looking funnel that I wrote off but became an elephant trunk which huge dust plume. Didnt last long and then then parent circulation ramped up more. I'll be interested to get through my video on this later.
 

Jeff Duda

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Oct 7, 2008
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Westminster, CO
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While I'm not a fan of Reed Timmer, after watching the full YouTube video, I can see how that might have sprung up on them unexepectedly. It's not like there was a mothership rotating wall cloud with huge vertical motion and cloud tags zooming up into it. You can tell he wasn't exactly sure what was going on because he goes back and forth between calling it a gustnado and a tornado, and from the video I agree it is not at all obvious.

The saving grace here is that, whether it was just RFD or the beginnings of a more consistent vortex (I tend to believe the latter), it was fairly weak. It's really hard to tell exactly how fast the winds were there, but I'd be surprised if they exceeded 70 mph, which is pretty low-end for a tornado. More importantly, they were lucky to not have been hit by any substantial debris, especially being downwind of the vehicles. Even Reed himself said later in the video, "I was just waiting for a piece of sheet metal to get me."

So I don't think he was being particularly reckless (relative to his usual behavior), and maybe this will scare him into being a bit more cautious in the future (or maybe not). He has to know that someday he may be in that same spot but that there will be debris that will be his demise.
 
Mar 16, 2012
30
2
6
Lenexa, KS
I was there and can clarify some questions.
We had been watching it make ground contact then lift several times for 1/2 mile as it approached us.
It was very weak circulation as it moved across a freshly plowed bean field, so there was minimal debris.
We were immediately north of train tracks, so I personally had concerns with the potential of misc debris or large gravel becoming projectiles.
I took still photos until it was inside of 50 yards then quickly entered my vehicle.
If you watch his video, you will see there were 5-6 other people who chose to stand outside as it passed.
I was a little surprised when it cleared that several of them weren't on the ground and that Reed was still standing outside my vehicle, holding his dog and still recording.
I chose 70mph winds in my vehicle.
 
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May 6, 2017
43
38
11
Minnesota
This is what Eric Treece caught and he was closer and he called it RFD. Said you could see a little funnel in the field and then the RFD came in and slammed the area.

On a side note, having had Valley Fever a few years back form the dust storm or Haboob in AZ, who is willing to bet that anyone that was outside in that dust funk will be out sick next week?
 
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Accuweather is taking the same route as TWC. They are producing evidence. They are well aware of the dangerous antics but don't do anything to discourage such behavior. I trust they have a multi-million dollar policy when it eventually goes wrong -- which it always does in this business. As for Timmer..... tick-tock, tick-tock. He's in the time zone as Steve Irwin was.
 
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May 6, 2017
43
38
11
Minnesota
Accuweather is taking the same route as TWC. They are producing evidence. They are well aware of the dangerous antics but don't do anything to discourage such behavior. I trust they have a multi-million dollar policy when it eventually goes wrong -- whihc it always does in this business. As for Timmer..... tick-tock, tick-tock. He's in the time zone as Steve Irwin was.
It is AccuWeather... Consider this, 8 of the last 9 invoices to AccuWeather from me have been for Copyright Violations.
 
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There had been an obvious meso for quite some time before this tornado formed, including a couple earlier tornadoes. The earlier ones were brief and/or rain-wrapped so he may not have known about them, but it was evident there was a meso and it should have been obvious that they were in the path of it. Yes, it was weak when he and the others nearby were hit, but within a few minutes it intensified to an EF-2. IMHO their judgment was extremely poor, though I will resist any temptation to joke about what he was full of.
 
While I'm not a fan of Reed Timmer, after watching the full YouTube video, I can see how that might have sprung up on them unexepectedly. It's not like there was a mothership rotating wall cloud with huge vertical motion and cloud tags zooming up into it. You can tell he wasn't exactly sure what was going on because he goes back and forth between calling it a gustnado and a tornado, and from the video I agree it is not at all obvious.
I was on this Tornado. Reed drove right past me to get closer to it. Over a hundred chasers had been following this storm for over an hour. There was a small gustnado (or possibly weak and brief tornado) before the main one dropped. Being a little further back, I really thought it was going to be multi-vortex. The other problem (if you look at the photo I took) is that the tornado hit the ground far from where the cloud circulation was.

Reed and his team thought they were at a safe distance (they were near the center of rotation of the main tornado while watching the smaller one). Their biggest mistake was lack of situational awareness. Had they just looked up, they would have seen the actual tornado forming right above their heads.

In Eric Treece's video (the first half), you can see the smaller rotation that everybody was watching. In the second half of Eric's video (after he switches to a different camera), you can see the main tornado moving away from the Dominator. The power lines were still up right behind it (the tornado knocked down power lines a few minutes later), so the tornado was very weak and just forming when it hit. I could be wrong, but after watching Eric's video, viewing some photos and video that weren't published, and talking with some of the people who were chasing with Reed, I believe the tornado did in fact his Reed and his team just as it was forming.

Reed did get injured by the way. First, the Dominator was completely covered in mud. Reed was offering $500 to anybody who would be willing to clean the inside of the car. Second, on Sunday Reed went to the hospital for pink eye. The doctor found something interesting in his eye. Turned out it wasn't mud that hit Reed and caked his car... it was horse manure. Let's just say it was a "crappy" situation for Reed and his team.

There is a lesson to be learned here... practice situational awareness at all times.

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