Chasing Coincidences.

I am sure there have been a thousand "I left this spot and a tornado hit an hour later" stories. The aim of this topic is....well here I will demonstrate.

In Fall of 1998 my dad and I were making plans for a week long storm chasing trip to the plains (my first chasing out of state trip) We planned it from April 28th to May 5th.

Tragically on April 1st, 1999, my grandpa*dads dad* passed away from cancer. So we cancelled the trip.

May 3rd came along and I don't have to tell you what happened. But the same hotel in Moore we would have stayed at along I 35 was completely destroyed........What could have been?

I am just wondering if there are any stories like this that something happened, that prevented you from potentially meeting your own doom.
 
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In 2004 I chased in North Texas one day and later that evening met up with Tom Tackett for dinner over in Ft. Worth. I had a room reserved at the Motel 6 for that night in Moore, OK. On the way up to the OKC area up I35 a supercell was coming in from the northwest. I decided to stay and see about some lightning. Almost got sideswiped by a tornado that crossed I35 and flipped some trucks and ended up out there for several hours criss crossing roads calling in damage as it was in a rural area and in the wee hours. I ended up at the motel about 6 am for a few hours sleep for the chase that afternoon. I reserved the room for that night as well.

I ALMOST left a bunch of my stuff in the motel to go out and chase but decided not to...only left my favorite pillow behind. Ended up targeting further north up I35....and learned a little later that a tornado had gone through Moore in almost the same path as the 1999 tornado. I got back to find out the Motel 6 was no longer there! Had I decided to blow off the day and sleep in since I was up so late the night before, I would most likely have been asleep in that motel when the tornado came through.

I called the Motel 6 reservation to see if they could move me to another one. Turns out I was the one to inform them their motel was no longer there! In the end I got both nights free.
 
I have one. It was acutally this past year. I just got off of work as a supercell was passing right where I work. I drove home and got my equipment (remind all that I was still new at this) and followed it all the way to Sellersburg, Indiana. At this time I live in Southern Indiana in Jeffersonville. Ironically I got there, I had to fill up for gas. So far two things that weren't going for me. Then I heard my weather radio go off saying a tornado was spotted in Memphis, Indiana (about 10 minute drive north of Sellersburg). I thought I would make it faster jumping on the expressway.

I tell you today that was the biggest mistake I ever made. When I got on there, everyone had stopped. It was obvious that they stopped because of the tornado, but I was in a spot where I couldn't see it.

After it passed, I pulled into Memphis as it was leaving, and I lost track of it there. Luckly it was an F0, no one hurt and barely any damage.

But I learned that day, in area that I live in, chasing on the expressway isn't a good idea since I live too close to a metro area. Its better to chase on the small highway roads instead.

But instead of being frustrated I looked at as a learning experience.
 
I got one.

It was May 4th, 2003 - a day I'm sure every chaser remembers. It was a high risk day, this event was talked about days leading up to it. High risk for eastern Kansas and western Missouri, I head out early afternoon and position myself west of Thayer Kansas near the dry line.

I positioned myself too far west and I missed the F4 wedge that went south of Girard KS and destroyed Franklin, KS. Here's the kicker, I live just 7 miles south of Franklin. I left the perfect spot to go west and missed everything.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't. It wasn't a complete waste, I did get to see a brief rope tornado that formed north of Parsons, KS.
 
March 21, 1991 - I was supposed to be at East Central University in Ada, OK to visit a friend. The trip had been planned for two weeks but was canceled the night before. That same day, a large F3 tornado tore through parts of the town, damaging a portion of the university. Had I been there, my chase career would've started that day.

May 8, 1993 - I had lived in Healdton, OK since 1976, and had been waiting to see a tornado since 1979, after seeing a tornado for the very first time on television (the Wichita Falls F4 monster). And for 17 years, nothing happened. The weekend I moved to Durant, OK, a tornado passed northwest of town, and several friends of mine witnessed it. For weeks after the event, it was like a knife in my heart every time a friend asked me "did you see it?" Had I been there, my chase career would've started that day.

May 7, 1995 - I was back in Healdton, and had been tracking a tornado from St. Jo, TX across the river into Oklahoma for over half an hour. I plotted its course into the Ardmore, OK area and desperately tried to find a ride to get me the 20 miles east I would need to be to see it as it came through. Unfortunately, I could find no one willing to drive me to intercept the tornado. As it turned out, the tornado passed within three miles of where I had planned to be sitting, striking the Uniroyal tire plant. Had I been there, my chase career would've started that day.

So my coincidences weren't flirting with death, but rather, the start of my chasing career. A little over one year later, another chance popped up...

June 6, 1996 - Storms fired rapidly around Norman and surrounding areas, forcing us to quit our landscaping project early. Being as we were suddenly free for the day, I suggested we try and chase one of the storms and see a tornado. My friend mentioned that his mother had a video camera, and maybe we should try and film anything we saw. For everything that went wrong the previous three days, everything on this day went perfectly. After 17 years of anticipation, waiting, hoping, and disappointment, I finally observed my first tornado, and my chase career finally did start :)
 
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In 2004 I chased in North Texas one day and later that evening met up with Tom Tackett for dinner over in Ft. Worth. I had a room reserved at the Motel 6 for that night in Moore, OK. On the way up to the OKC area up I35 a supercell was coming in from the northwest. I decided to stay and see about some lightning. Almost got sideswiped by a tornado that crossed I35 and flipped some trucks and ended up out there for several hours criss crossing roads calling in damage as it was in a rural area and in the wee hours. I ended up at the motel about 6 am for a few hours sleep for the chase that afternoon. I reserved the room for that night as well.

I ALMOST left a bunch of my stuff in the motel to go out and chase but decided not to...only left my favorite pillow behind. Ended up targeting further north up I35....and learned a little later that a tornado had gone through Moore in almost the same path as the 1999 tornado. I got back to find out the Motel 6 was no longer there! Had I decided to blow off the day and sleep in since I was up so late the night before, I would most likely have been asleep in that motel when the tornado came through.

I called the Motel 6 reservation to see if they could move me to another one. Turns out I was the one to inform them their motel was no longer there! In the end I got both nights free.

Actually, that was 2003 :D
 
So it was. My bad. These years are really starting to run together. I don't know if that means I am having so many great chases they are starting to blur, or I am just getting to be an old fart. heh

The day before was a crazy supercell near Cisco, TX, then that one in the wee hours near Ardmore, then the Moore one the next day.
 
Last year, I dont remember the day but Im sure someone does. I was in El Reno between 6:00 and 6:20pm debating between two cells. There was a cell firing to the WSW and another farther south. I decided to take the southern cell that headed for the Chickasha/Anadarko area. When I got to Chickasha around 7:15PM I started hearing confirmed reports of a tornado on the ground at the El Reno airport. I got home at around 9pm and watched HD video of the tornado from the NEWS9 helicopter and saw a few camera angles showing where I was an hour earlier. Oh well, good learning lesson... patience is a virtue.
 
May 3 1999 Bridge Creek, OK

I have told this story before many of times, surely here also, but it is one that stuns me just to think about it.

A few days before the May 3rd event I was over at my girlfriends house (my wife now). She had invited two friends over who just had, then, recently had a baby so that my wife could see the new born. They talked a while as my wife held the baby and do what women do over those things. Some how or another the tiny baby ended up in my arms as well. Newborns have a way to touch ones heart even if it’s not your own. A few days later came and event that would change many lives in Bridge Creek, OK including the lives of this new family I had just met.

I had chased May 3rd , and admit it was an amazing event in the eyes of a chaser. When the supercell reached Chickasha, OK I was located on a hill east of Vernon, OK. I was in aw, the main tornado was crossing HWY 81 and a satellite tornado was then rotating around the outer edges of the main tornado. As the tornado moved NE, hitting the airport, I got a very bad feeling in my gut. I knew this thing was not even close to being finish, and it was heading straight for the Bridge Creek area. As history proves, it did just that.

As the F5 tornado narrowly missed the Bridge Creek schools it hit many homes just to the south, including the home of that family I had meet a few days before. The tornado had hit their home head on. The only thing left of the home was the frame of the room they were in and the concrete pad. The grandmother and passed away during the direct hit and the baby was nowhere to be found and was later found but also had passed away.
The tornado missed my current house by ¾ miles to the north and also narrowly missed the home in which my 6 month old daughter was staying for the day.

It’s not all fun and games doing what we do. Lives are affected directly or indirectly. May 3 1999 bring many memories and feelings back for me. Some chase related and some personal. To think that little baby I held just a few days before was now gone made me stop and think about what I did as a hobby and how I needed to conducted myself while chasing.

It’s a sad story and one I will never forget…

Mick
 
Not really a chase, persay, but worthy of my note...

Lived in Circleville, Ohio for 13 years; watched a ton of storms and the closest I got to a tornado anywhere near my hometown was 30 miles away.

I moved from my hometown in April of 1998; on October 13 of 1999, an F-3 tornado hit my hometown... not only did it do F-3 damage, it did it to the neighborhood I lived in and took out a row of houses across the field from where I lived. My Circleville High School Principal at the time called me here in Denver within an hour to tell me what had happened.

http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/iln/101399.htm

http://thepost.baker.ohiou.edu/archives/archives2/101499/103.html
http://thepost.baker.ohiou.edu/archives2/101599/401.html

circleville_damage.jpg
 
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