Interesting storm stories

Mar 20, 2005
Northeast Missouri
I am pretty new to the forum, and have enjoyed reading recent chase stories, but do you have any stand-out stories to share for those of us who are new? I'm looking to learn from this mostly, and I don't want to clog up the forum with silly posts, so I hope this is ok. I have a couple short stories to share.

When I was little I saw a waterspout. It was on our pond in the front yard. It was a hot summer day, and the waterspout was about 2 feet tall. It made a pretty loud noise, and went from one side of the pond to the other, then disappeared. I still don't reallly know what caused it, but it was really shocking to see it!

Just a couple of months after I graduated with my meteorology degree we had a very interesting storm day. I was at the hospital for my dad's surgery, and we watched a storm come in. Didn't have my camera with me, but there was a very ominous roll cloud, and everyone was watching the sky. The power flickered at the hospital, which was scary for my family thinking about my dad's surgery. Heavy rain and wind followed. Later that same day, as I was leaving the hospital it got stormy again. I had an hour drive ahead of me. When I started out, it was just raining. I got about 5 miles and found myself in the middle of a lightning storm. The lightning was everywhere around me, and so bright that it made it hard to drive at times. The whole drive was like this, and by the time I got home, the rain was so heavy that I had to wade through puddles to get in the house. My husband was coming from the opposite direction, and also had an hour drive through the storms. He told me that he saw lowering in the clouds, and kept wondering if a tornado would drop on him. It was quite a scary day, for both of us, and I'll never forget the lightning. I've never seen so much lightning!!!

I'm sure when I get a chance to chase, I'll have some better stories, but I want to know what to look for before I go chasing, so that's why I'm here.
before I started chasing, I was driving Home from attending a Mustang show in Manhattan Kansas. I'd watched the sky all day, and when we had a mini cell move through, I figured I should book it east to get back to Overland Park since it was moving to the NE. Well, I got about 25 minutes out of Manhattan and the line overtook me and at that point seemed to match my speed. The rest of the trip was done at about 50mph on I-70. We pulled off in Paxico and watched an onsite generator hanging from a crane flying out at a 45* angle to the We started up again, eventually made it back safely. The next morning was the shock. The cross winds (measures at over 70mph), which I'd guessed were gusting to over 80mph, had etched the glass, sanded paint off and knocked the clearcoat off the wheels of the drivers side of my
I had gotten the day off of work on June 8th, 2003 (the 50th anniversary of the Beecher F5 tornado), and I had decided that since the rain had already come that we had a low chance of seeing anything remotely interesting.

By mid-afternoon, my sister called me out of the basement to look at a warning scroll on the bottom of the TV. It read out that a tornado warning had been issued for the next county over. I was living in Holly during that time, and it was a doppler-indicated event headed from Linden to Fenton, so I figured it had a good bearing to come close to us on that kind of path. Since I didn't have my driver's license yet, I called my mom up and asked if she wanted to go on a small chase. She agreed, and within five minutes, she arrived and we took off for Fenton. By the time we reached Fenton, I had realized I had forgotten my camera at home, but I still wanted to see if I could intercept this storm.

We turned north on Fenton Road as I told my mom to take it easy while I looked for any familiar features. Nothing was catching my attention, so I suggested we continue going north and get up near Grand Blanc. After about ten more minutes, it began to rain, signalling that we were now entering an area of precipitation (with the probability that we'd wind up somewhere near any potential tornado). As I was talking on the cell phone, asking my sister if the TV was saying anything remotely useful, I asked my mom to slow down and take it easy. I asked her later, she thought I was talking to my sister when I was telling her to ease up on the gas.

The rain starts getting much heavier, and cell phone reception starts to fail. I tell my sister I'll call her back in a few minutes while I try to find a spot in the road to pull off so I can see ANYTHING. We get around Thompson Road when I pointed out a clearing near a farm. "Pull off here..." She passes right by the spot. "Pull off now!" We gradually pull off, and I start scanning the sky in front of us for any familar indicators. It is at this moment I get this gut-wrenching feeling to turn around.

Across the road, very close to the car is a white funnel with grey stripes, moving steadily across the road like something out of the Rasmussen video from the early 1980s. It slowly crosses the road and proceeds into the woods. My first tornado intercept, and more than likely the closest I'll ever get to a tornado in my life (if I can help it).

With the car still parked on the side of the road, I tell my mom to get back on the road as a fast-moving line of cars and trucks scream past at 70 miles per hour. As we get back onto the road, visibility goes to zero and we're stuck on a crawl as I'm dialing the National Weather Service. The first time, the call doesn't get through due to the poor reception. We pull into a subdivision to get off the main road when I make the call. A tad in shock from such a close encounter, I started saying 'funnel cloud', stopped at cloud and said 'tornado'. I was asked if it was a funnel cloud or a tornado, I said it was a tornado, gave my location near Thompson Road, and the time I saw the tornado.

Visibility clears out quickly, but the storm has quickly moved off to the northeast. We watched as the State Police begin to close off the area, so my mom and I decided we could not reintercept the storm, nor assist in any fashion, so we went home and called it a day.

The National Weather Service determined it was a 300 foot wide F1 tornado, and that it had come down close to where I had been, moved off and damaged a few homes in a subdivision. No one was seriously hurt or killed, as the warning had allowed people to take shelter before the tornado had even touched down.

I learned a lot of lessons that day. First off, I needed to get a better view of the storm than just a projected path. Second, I needed to avoid wooded areas. Third, I should have tried to come in from the east rather than from the south. There was a better view from the southeast in regards to trees, and visibility would not have dropped so incredibly low (so I figure).