Most intense "non-chase" storm experiences

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I thought of this after seeing the "most intense chase experiences" thread and reading about Brian Stertz's incredible story. Most of us have encountered severe thunderstorms while not engaged in a chase, but has there ever been a time when you feared your house or your friends/relatives/neighbor's house could be at risk from a tornado? Mine was obviously August 18, 2005. I imagine that has happened to you OKC area residents possibly more than once.

http://sphs.angeltowns.net/movies/August18_1.wmv

You know it's not good when the sky above your house looks like that.
 
May 11, 2005. Ulysses tornado moving to where a few family members and friends live in GCK. Kept hearing reports from spotters with funnel clouds and wall clouds approaching the city limits. That was a beautiful tornado, glad no one got hurt.

November 27th, a tornado Darin Brunin and I were observing was forming within 100 yards of my sister, and my cell phone went out. Pretty scary stuff, but it lifted over her then hit the ground near her as it passed by.
 
Originally posted by Andy Wehrle
I thought of this after seeing the "most intense chase experiences" thread and reading about Brian Stertz's incredible story. Most of us have encountered severe thunderstorms while not engaged in a chase, but has there ever been a time when you feared your house or your friends/relatives/neighbor's house could be at risk from a tornado? Mine was obviously August 18, 2005. I imagine that has happened to you OKC area residents possibly more than once.

http://sphs.angeltowns.net/movies/August18_1.wmv

You know it's not good when the sky above your house looks like that.
Did you actually ever get a complete glimpe of any of the tornadoes in the Green Bay/Stoughton, WI area? Or just the updraft of it. What is that thing floating up there?
 
The May 5, 1995 Fort Worth hailstorm. I was outside at Mayfest when it was going on and everyone started screaming and stuff. Constant CG's and just a general air of chaos with about 5000 peope running around bruised and bleeding. I was only like 10 so I was pretty scared, and that is still the largest hail I have seen to date.
 
Andrew, it was the Stoughton tornado (I'm in Green Bay right now for school). The "thing" is debris of some sort, I don't know what. I did get a couple glimpses of the tornado but none that showed up very well on video. A few seconds before I shot the clip linked above, I shot out the back patio window, and I abandoned that post because of the glaring light which made it difficult to see through the window. However I could very faintly make out the edge of "something" rotating at tornadic speed.

After the storm passed, I shot off to the east at the back side of the supercell, and you can see a power flash that indicates the tornado's presence even though the funnel is obscured by the hook precip between me and the tornado. This would actually have been the F1 "Rockdale" tornado because the Stoughton tornado had roped out and lifted by the time I shot that sequence.

http://sphs.angeltowns.net/A_R_Wehrle/stor...nts/081805.html
 
I see Andy. I also see that the sky right above your head has a "curling" symptom to it...such being embedded tight rotation. You see this often in areas of extreme rotation in a cloud base, it will come out looking like a curl or some sort of "C" that keeps going on. Mike H's website has him encountering an area of rotation like this one day...it's pretty rare. I believe it usually occurs in areas of supercells, where the air is conflicting, and also in the areas where there is a tighter rotation in a broader rotation.
 
Can it not be when two or more air masses collide in a tightlycompacted area, with very little air being able to escape (mountains etc.) and there winds begin to rotate and then you get that curl?
 
I think the most frightening non-chase moment when I felt that my home might be in danger was during Hurricane Frances. We are well inland, and the winds weren't all that strong, but our house is surrounded by very large trees and most of them are shallow-rooted, so after a day or so of torrential rains, it doens't take much to up-root a tree which can do some major damage to a house. We all spent the night in the living room in near darkness except for a few flashlights, and we could hear the transformers popping every hour or so and the roaring of the wind through the trees. I was just waiting for a tree to hit the house, but it never happened.
 
Originally posted by Andy Wehrle
Andrew, it was the Stoughton tornado (I'm in Green Bay right now for school). The "thing" is debris of some sort, I don't know what. I did get a couple glimpses of the tornado but none that showed up very well on video. A few seconds before I shot the clip linked above, I shot out the back patio window, and I abandoned that post because of the glaring light which made it difficult to see through the window. However I could very faintly make out the edge of "something" rotating at tornadic speed.

After the storm passed, I shot off to the east at the back side of the supercell, and you can see a power flash that indicates the tornado's presence even though the funnel is obscured by the hook precip between me and the tornado. This would actually have been the F1 "Rockdale" tornado because the Stoughton tornado had roped out and lifted by the time I shot that sequence.

http://sphs.angeltowns.net/A_R_Wehrle/stormaccounts/081805.html

Andy I believe I can see the upper part of the tornado appearing above the trees on the right side of the screen toward the end of the clip. I'm using a high def screen. Looks like it passes to the right of you.
 
I'd noticed that too, Bill, but I wasn't sure. Darn trees! lol at least thanks to this tornado, there are a lot fewer of them so the next one will be more visible!

Andrew, you might be right about that, but I don't think that's what caused the cyclonic swirls in the clouds I was seeing. 8)
 
My most intense non-chasing experience was the experience that cured me of my longtime fear of lightning, and cleared the way for my love of storms to grow.

Lightning chased me and my friends down a large iron-rich rock formation in Garden of the Gods. It was a summer surprise, an unforecasted storm swooping down off Pike's Peak, and the park rangers were riding around warning everyone to get off the rock, the spot in the park most frequently struck by lightning. Fine, except one of the group had gone offtrail to do photography. So while we were trying to locate him, the storm moved in and dropped a CG barrage all around us. We were running down the trail and every few seconds we'd go deaf and blind. We could hear the electrical sizzlesnap of the lightning before the thunder. Fortunately none of us got hit or fell, and we made it to the car soaked but intact. After that I realized that if I was ever going to be hit by lightning, that was the day, and now I'm much more comfortable around it (tho not stupid).
 
There have been two very frightening non chase experiences at my farm in northern Morgan County, Colorado.
The first was on July 12, 1993. About 9 p.m. in the evening on supercell thunderstorm barreled off the Cheyenne Ridge and was headed straight for us. I knew something was wrong when the winds started blowing into rather than out of the storm as it usually did when storms approached from that direction (I was only 3 1/2 years old at the time so I wasn't familiar with the term inflow :D ) About 9:15 our neighbor Gene Wirth (also my dad's cousin) called us to tell us a tornado had been spotted southwest of New Raymer and was dropping south, so we needed to take cover immediately.
As soon as my mom hung up she brought me over to the north window in our porch to have a look. The lightning was absolutely insane, and illuminated through our windbreak of Siberian elm I could see a massive, black wall cloud with a tornado that looked like Mickey Mouse's head. I know that seems like a typical connection a tyke my age would have made, but to this day even my mom swears it looked like him. The funnel was rounded at the top with two half circlular cloud formations on either side that looked like the bottom of his ears, and sticking out from the bottom of the rounded part the funnel narrowed but then bulged out again, making it look like his nose, the tip of which was obscured by a debris cloud. It was bearing down on us at about 30 mph I would guess, because the tornado rapidly filled the entire northern sky.
We ran down into the basement, got in the guest room closet, and waited. The wind slowly began to howl louder and louder, and then the house began to shake. Me and my little sister were bawling, my parents were holding on to eachother so tightly a crowbar couldn't have pryed them apart, and then suddenly it went quiet. Dead quiet. It was so eerily silent you could have heard a mouse fart. Then the wind started howling again, and you could hear things banging against the steel siding of the house with loud bangs. A minute later it subsided. We were so terrified we stayed in the basment the rest of the night, and went out the next morning to find that miracously, the farm had suffered little damage. Three quarters of a mile north of us it had hit a small natural gas plant on the northeast corner of the intersection of our road and the road that straddled the Morgan/Weld county line, blowing the steel and corrugated sheetmetal building across the road and into our field, completely trashing it. It also flattened a great deal of fence, a few of the posts landing in our farmyard, some of which had smacked the house. It then lifted over our farm, though still downing tree branches and ripping a lot of shingles from the roof, and touched down again at my aunt and uncles farm two miles to the south.
They had seven grainaries about 50 yards northeast of their house. The tornado swept all but one away (that one was on a concrete foundation) dropping them a half mile to the southeast, crushed like tin cans. Lucky for my aunt and uncle the tornado missed the house and they lost only shingles and part of a roof on one of their other outbuildings. The NWS came out and surveyed that storm and determined it to have been a high end F2. We were very fortunate, as later that night that same storm produced an F3 which hit a farm near Hillrose without warning and killed a man in a mobile home that was blown apart. That storm was the catalyst for my interest in severe weather and the weather in general. 8)

Seven years later our farm would again be in the path of a tornado. The date was Tuesday, May 17, 2000. Having watched the SPC forecasts and area forecast discussions closely for several days, I knew there was going to be a severe weather outbreak that day in northeastern CO. At 11 a.m., the meterologist on 9 News KUSA showed a temperature map. At Sidney, NE, just 90 miles to my northeast, the temperature was at 32 degrees. At Burlington, about a hundred twenty miles to the south of Sidney, the temperature was at 80 degrees. :shock: I knew instantly that we were going to see tornadoes that day. Add in the fact that the dewpoint at Sidney was around 30 and the dewpoint at Burlington was pushing 60, a Denver Cylcone was developing, surface low pressure was rapidly deeping over Limon, and there you have a perfect scenario for a northeastern CO tornado outbreak. Severe thunderstorms were already exploding over Denver, dropping significant hail and catching many people off guard. I was sick (read: playing hooky so I could closely monitor the situation :twisted: ) that day, so I was at home. I stepped outside into my driveway and watched the most incredible storm development rates I've ever seen. The storms literally went from 20,000 feet to 60,000 feet in five minutes. It was insane, to say the least. Then about noon, the storms moved in. For the next three hours we would be subject to bouts of blinding rain, quarter to golf ball size hail and two tornadoes, one of which was a brief spinup to the west of the house and lasted only 30 seconds, the other which was a cookie sheet shaped funnel that swirled in open country about five miles to our east for about ten minutes before it dissipated. About 4 o'clock, I was going crazy looking at the LSR's and seeing the number of twisters that had been reported across northeastern CO and southwestern NE. The storm seemed to have let up, so we moved out of the basement and me and my little sister went up into the attic to hang out. I was looking out the south window of the attic when the grass suddenly went flat and the trees leaned over so far you could see the tops of their rootballs. I grabbed my little sister and we fled downstairs as the house began to shake violently. My dad was napping in the guest room in the basement and we went and woke him up. We sat there for a moment, listening in awe to what we were hearing. It sounded like a cross between a vacuum cleaner and a squealing pig. I ran back upstairs to my parents dismay and looked up out the window. A large, fat white funnel was hanging directly overhead, rotating violently and lowering. At that moment every screen on the north side of the house was sucked off, one of them wrapping itself around a honey locust just north of the house, the others disappearing into the swirling funnel. I was paralyzed as I watched some of the tops and branches of our trees fly through the air and crash to the ground in the hellacious wind, a truck tire on top of a granary flying through the air and smashing into another outbuilding, the swingset me and my sister had once played on go bouncing across the yard like it was made of paper. When the wind finally subsided, we went outside to survey the damage. It wasn't insignificant, but it could have been a lot worse. A quarter mile to our southwest on our neighbors farm, there were seven granaries, lined up east to west except for one small one on the west end of the row. The tornado had picked up that granary, bounced it across the tops of the other granaries and dropped it a hundred yards east of its orignal location. It also collapsed an old garage and blew a large tree onto the neighbor's house. The NWS survey indicated that we had been hit by yet another F2. That day over two dozen tornadoes struck northeastern CO alone. Thankfully damage was limited to a few farms and ranches, as it could have been a lot worse if one of them had struck one of the towns out here. This was also the day that the well documented Brady, NE F3 tornado occurred.
Our farm was also hit by an F2 in July of 1980 and a tornado of unknown strength in 1955, according to my dad and grandfather, respectively. Our farmstead has been hit four times in the last 51 years. :shock: That's pretty impressive statistically, I think. It's rare for a tornado to strike the same location twice in a thousand years, let alone four times in 51 years! So I guess we're just a statistical anomaly. :D
Anyway, that's my two most intense non-chasing experiences.
 
For a non chase storm I would have to say it was a snow storm. I think three years ago in Colorado there was a really big snow. I was about 5 miles from where the most snow was laid, 7.5ft worth. I got a mere 6.5ft where I was living, and it took 2 and half days to fall. I had friends stuck up at a ski resort for about a week. The army had to rescue a few individuals from the ski resort due to health problems by helicopter. It took 3-4 days after the storm for the roads to open and that was also about how long the power was out. It also took a week to dig from our garage to the road. The roof on our community center collapsed because of the weight, luckily with no one inside. It was just generally amazing to see just the amount of snow that could be produced. Literally the mountains looked glazed over. Also, I think in that one storm we got 60% of our snow for the year.
 
Robert, that storm was the March 17-20th, 2003 "Supersnow". Out on the plains 100 miles northeast of Denver we only got about 8 inches of snow but before it changed over we got 2 1/2 inches of rain. That was the soggiest storm I have ever seen in my life. That storm was what literally saved Colorado after the once in 500 year drought in 2002. I still wonder if they didn't do a lot of cloud seeding around Denver and in the mountains to bilk that storm for all it was worth, because during the duration of the storm the cloud tops and radar DBZ intensities were just as intense over us as they were Denver and the mountains and somehow they managed to get two or more feet over us. The elevation at our farm is 4980 feet, so we're only three hundred feet lower than Denver, but they got 36"+ and we got only 8". It makes you wonder...
 
7/17/03. My area was blitzed by a severe right-turning tornado-warned supercell. This monster developed in the northwestern suburbs of Chicago, moved east, and then plowed south-southeast through the city and into the south suburbs and northwestern Indiana. At the time, I was near the city limits at a piano lesson. The storm followed and eventually caught up with us on the way home (if it weren't for the fact that my mom insisted on stopping for milk even with the sky being forest green, it wouldn't have caught up to us, but that's another story). Anyway, by the time we got home, the power was out, and we were stuck in the van. My dad was home, but he did not want to compromise the structure of the house. This, though making it a frightfully scary situation for my mom and me, was probably not a bad decision. Only a minute or so after we got to the driveway, the brunt of the storm hit. For 15-20 minutes, we had winds that I estimate as a storm spotter as gusting as high as 110-120+ MPH WITH TENNIS BALL SIZED HAIL FALLING SIMULTANEOUSLY. Sustained winds in that time were probably 80-100 MPH. All sorts of debris flew around our neighborhood. Parts of fences, garages, trees, trampolines all were flying around. It was clearly one of several twisting microbursts that struck our area. That day solidified my obessesion with severe weather.
 
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