Your First Tornado - what's your story?

Shane Adams

Today is the 8th anniversary of my very first chase & tornado, so I thought I'd start a thread about first tornadoes.

Mine was just south of Wayne, OK, and formed from a severe line, making it an extremely rare event. Since the season was winding down at this time, we never got another shot at chasing in this single chase and tornado carried me through a long nine month period until the next Spring.

This wasn't just a couple of rookies getting lucky, it was Devine Intervention, destiny. This chase/tornado will (naturally) be the opening segment in my forthcoming chase video debut, which will be out sometime next year.
I enjoy telling this story; so thanks to Shane for opening the thread..

My first tornado was back in 1997 back in m homestate of Ohio. It was a May afternoon and I was catching the nig snooze on the couch after running my afternoon paper route. My mother awakened me from my slumber to inform me of a tornado warning for a tornado reported on the ground about 30 miles southwest of where we lived. As I was getting the info, my Dad walked in from work, overhearing our conversation, or enough of it to ask..

Wanna chase it? (famous last words for some, I'm sure)

It was no big secret of my passion for weather.. after practically watching Andover, KS (4-26-91) unfold live on the Weather Channel; my urge to experience this weather was very well known.

We made a quick stop at the drug store so I could load my cheapo camera with some film and shot down towards Clarksburg, Ohio. My dad doing the driving as I briefed him on the text book storm; rains into hail, then pop out and there would be the tornado (in a perfect world).

It was my best forecast to this day.. a no brainer now-a-days, but for a high school student, it was quite a thrill to see everything happen as you explained it.. we drove through the rain, intensifying into hail which grew to quarters, then popping into the clear to see a rainbow and our pot of gold at the end..

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It wasn't anything impressive; but for my first chase (especially with my father), it was the most rewarding feeling on earth. There I was looking at my first tornado and sharing my passion with my father.

Beginner's luck didn't last long; for it wouldn't be til October of 2000 before I logged my second; and then May of 2003 before I recorded my third. This year, well, I've gone bonkers! I have chased with every member of my immediate family at some point, and my dad has been the only one outside of me to see a tornado.

No plans for any family members tagging along with me now; as I can drive my own way. My brother may get some local time with me, but after the close encounter with lightning we had a couple summer's ago, I imagine that EMT will stick to treating lightning victims, not becoming one.

That's my first tornado story; one I enjoy telling over and over cause it does remind me that even as nuts as I sometimes prove myself to my folks, they understand and appretiate this passion that drives me...
What an excellent idea for a thread!

Short story: Oakfield, WI F5 on either July 18 or 19, 1996. (I know, I know, how can I not know the date for sure?)

Details: I have always been a weather geek all my life. Love anything extreme, big storms, big heat, big cold, big snow. It's all good to me. Always listened obsessively to the SKYWARN nets when they'd get activated for southern Wisconsin. But it had never really occurred to me to go out and look for the mesos. Besides that, we have so few in Wis. (and they're usually just little spin-ups) and in our immediate area, the visibility was usually terrible.

By the early 90's I was hearing about this Stormtrack magazine. By the mid 90's, I was aware that some people went out and actually chased tornadoes and I got some videos. (The Tornado Project series)

The day of the Oakfield tornado, I knew a red box had come out. I had a few ham repeaters up on the scanners, but it was still just hot, humid and sunny. My wife was beat from gardening and suggested a run for some ice cream. I'm always up for that. We drove and got the goods, and I brought the scanner along.

Leaving Hartford, WI, I heard about a tor warning 2 counties north and west of us. I usually dismissed these things, but when I started hearing persistent reports of a tor on the ground, my awareness sharpened. We got to a place where we could look quite a ways to the north and OMG!!! I had NEVER seen a storm like this in Wisconsin! (And I was already 32 at the time).

It was just a flat-out classic supercell. Huge, sculpted, surrounded by bright sunny skies. My eyes bulged out of my head. 70,80% of Wisconsin storms are grungy, squall-line type pieces of shat. Midwestern folk know what I mean.

Eyes glazed over, I looked at my wife. We've been together a long time and anyone who knows me knows I turn goofy around big weather. Normal people have been amazingly tolerant of me. :) I told her what I had been hearing in my earphone and even she was very impressed with this supercell. I said, "We gotta get a closer look at this storm!"

We busted north up Highway 41/45. The storm was moving just south of east, well north of us. It was a dream intercept for a newbie. Because of terrain, we could never see the base until we got about 5 miles away. At this time, I wasn't entirely up to speed with where tornadoes formed in storms and such. As we traveled north, I kept hearing more and more reports of damage. This was not a brief spin-up. I was nervous, so I kept pulling off on overpasses, well shy of the actual base. Finally I got to the Hwy 67 off ramp and it was fairly dark by now. We saw cars parked on the bridge and knew we had hit paydirt.

As we got to the bridge, we saw a thin rope snaking back up into the clouds. We saw the last minute or so of what had been a 30-minute (don't quote me) tornado. Later, we understood that it had done it's worst damage in the town of Oakfield, (about 15 miles west/southwest of Fond Du Lac) I did manage to calm down long enough to try chasing a bit farther east, in case it produced again. If it did, we didn't see it and we headed back home (about 30 miles south)

I didn't see my 2nd one until 1999, on June 4 or 5, with Cloud 9, near Bassett, NE. I grew into chasing slowly. I'm not a risk taker at all, and the whole chasing thing just intimidated me, even tho I was definitely drawn to it.

Now I've had easily the best month of my chase life (this May). I realize that's no huge accomplishment, given all the nearly sure-fire systems there have been, but still, I'm very proud of finally getting to where I am.

Without Oakfield, though, I don't know if I would have had that extra kick in the pants to get going. (If anyone wants more info on the Oakfield, WI F5, please search for veteran Wisconsin chaser Don Lloyd's website. He was *all* over this storm from start to finish)
I was trying to get lightning out of a particularly strong storm coming up from the central deserts in Arizona during Monsoon '97. A non-pulse cell with staying power was crossing over the I10 corridor heading toward Queen Creek/Florence during the nighttime hours. The C-A strike photo I pulled out of it was horizontal, confined by this hard, creepy-looking low hanging base that appeared to hover just feet off the ground. Although tornadoes in Arizona are infrequent, they do happen once in while. Normally I chase at night in Arizona, but this unusual cell was warned on for tornado three times in one evening before it was done.

My first chase in the Plains was this bright green rotating meso in Woodward, OK. It was by far the greenest storm I have ever seen. It was kind of funny because I was trying to get a shot of the thing so I asked this guy who was working in his shed if I could drive to the edge of his property, a large lot for storing trucks and farm equipment. He said, "Sure, but why?" I pointed up. He had been working and oblivious to the show overhead, but when he stepped out to take a look he appeared quite startled to not have been paying attention. The pictures I got back of that one were green as a frozen marguerita.
While I cannot locate the event in Storm Data or Tom Grazulis' "Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991"; my first tornado experience occurred on 27-June-1987 from the third-story of my parents home in Kalamazoo, Michigan (200 Stuart Ave. to be exact). By this time in my very young life, I was obsessed with severe weather and tornadoes. The PBS NOVA special had aired a year prior (and the VHS tape was already starting to wear out from numerous plays), and my mother's visit to NSSFC/SELS in July 1986 had returned to KZO with multifaceted pamphlets on "Terrible Tuesday" (10-April-1979), and the original "spotters' guide"... alas, with all these factors combining with localized convection that humid June day... I was pumped (pre-storm; sometime around midday). I can't recall which day it was; but fairly certain it was a weekend (Saturday or Sunday); as I was home all day.

Glued to WKZO Channel 3's (now WWMT-TV 3; my current employer) Enterprise/ADC radar (a modified WSR74C I believe); "green blips" with some yellow began popping to the west in Van Buren/Berrien Co near Lake Michigan. "A.M. Weather"; a fantastic program I watched quasi-relegiously before "Sesame Street", mentioned a strong cold front would push through the western Great Lakes on this day. SELS had a slight risk in place across Michigan/Indiana/Illinois/Wisconsin; and from a current day perspective, everything looked "in place" this day for severe thunderstorms.

Skipping ahead; a warning tone blasted off on my portable, wood-sided (very 80's) Realistic weatherband radio; "SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR VAN BUREN AND KALAMAZOO COUNTIES". I ran downstairs and turned on WKZO's radar; a huge green blob was approaching the tiny village of Mattawan; west of Kalamazoo. My mom was home at the time; and we both ran upstairs to my father's studio which faced south/southwest towards Mattawan (15-20 miles away). Kalamazoo is in a valley; and therefore in June; let alone any time of the year; one cannot see 20 miles to the SW like in say... Kansas. 10 minutes elapsed; along with several journeys up and down the large wooden staircase (to and from the radar.. to the "observation room" (as I used to dub it - yeppers, I was a geek at the tender age of six).

Around 6pm ET; the sky darkened to the west and it began to rain in Kalamazoo. 10-15 minutes later, I was upstairs with my mom looking at the horizon to the S/SW. From what I can recall; the sky began to brighten to the S/SW at this time, and reveal a large, fast moving, white cylinder-shaped tornado; which was only visible for about 15-20 seconds before it became enshrouded in rain. I kept calling it "the cloud wall... look at the cloud wall"; which was my dyslexia kicking in ;0) We didn't realize it was a tornado (it looked like a wall of rain) until after the fact. Reports from Mattawan and points along I-94 were that of a fairly substantial tornado; which unroofed the Mattawan Middle School gymnasium, producing (what appears in video to be) F2 damage in Mattawan, and points eastwards towards Oshtemo.

While my first tornado involving a chase occurred on 30-April-1997; oddly enough near Mattawan, Michigan; the 27-June-1987 tornado will live on in my memory (until that goes) as my *first* tornado. BTW; there are Polaroid's I shot of this event, but the contrast stinks!

I saw my first tornado in Iowa on May 11, 2000. I actually saw 7+ tornados that day including the F4 wedge over Waterloo. Not bad for a first catch. This is a picture I took of the F3 tornado that was moving over Dunkerton, Iowa that day. I'm sure you've all seen Roger Hills infamous video of the crazy RFD he got blasted with less than 1/2 mile from the wedge in Waterloo. I was standing right there!

View attachment c36e7318e76d20fe2ffa7b231c90cb71.jpg
Well my first tornado was 12th of May 2004. That's right just three weeks ago. It was Harper County Kansas near the town of Attica. I was on a my first storm chase tour and did not expect to see anything. As we approached Attica we saw several funnels drop from the wall cloud before someone screamed to the right we all leaned over to the right and just through the rain we could make out a cylinder all the way to the ground.

It only lasted 20 seconds before it became obscured by the rain. We stopped in the town to take pictures and look at the hail when I looked up toward the town and was looking a narrow white shaft over a house down the road. I assumed it was the hail shaft and videoed it when all hell broke loose. Cars screamed past us, the tour guides told us to get in the van and the sirens went off. I had no idea that what I was looking at was a large tornado.

We got there just as the house roof was torn off and the road was blocked by police. By the time I realised what was happening my heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest!!!!!

We saw another tornado near Harper itself about 30 minutes later although it was getting dark by now.

I was excited, terrified, confused and shaking all in the same emotional outburst. Now I am just disappointed becuase I did not know that I was looking at my first tornado and the emotion I felt was not what I expected.

Oh well there is always next year.
First tornado??...Feb 21, 1993. If I knew then what I know now...
Picture a warm, rainy, mid-February afternoon in East TN. The forecast for the day was for scattered thunderstorms with the high in the lower 60's. Looking back on an old newspaper weather map for the day, a classic triple point setup was firmly in place. About 3:45pm, I noticed that it was lightly raining with some thunder...big deal. I noticed after a few minutes, the thunder sounded it was "rolling" through the valley where I live. I went outside and was just looking aroud at the sky when one of the neighbors drove through the subdivision blowing his horn. He pointed behind my house, and I turned around to see a tornado coming through the woods directly toward my house.
The first thought that went through my mind was "Well, that's what those things look like in person"...second thought was "damn it, I'm out of film" Luckily, it lifted a couple hundred yards away and passed over my house (and the subdivision) by a few hundred feet. The little sucker was rated F3 and was part of the second largest outbreak in East TN.
Like my son says, I've not been "right" since 8)
I saw my first tornado back in '91 with the Andover Tornado. We (my family & I) were out to eat at a local restaurant when we saw the funnel & next the sirens so we got in our car & dashed off for home. Seconds after getting home one of my aunts came over saying there's a tornado following me (she didn't have a basement @ her place)...

We managed to get home a couple minutes later and watched just after it moved through the air force base here. My dad & I watched it as it crossed the empty field directly to our south. We took a few pictures, but they all came out horrible. Anyways, the only damage in our area was a couple of power lines were knocked down north & east of us where our neighborhood exit was.
My first tornado:
Place: Velma, Oklahoma (hometown)
Time: March 1987 (exact day unsure..I was only 6 at the time.)
My family and I were driving back from my wrestling awards ceremony. It was lightning and raining very hard and I remember looking to the west and everytime the lightning flashed I could see a funnel lowering and eventually it touched the ground for a few seconds and went back up into the wall cloud.
I wouldn't say this tornado was the one that changed my life considering I was deathly afraid of tornados as a child! In retrospect, it was an interesting thing to see...but I am pretty sure when i saw the tornado at the time...I put my head in the seat so I wouldn't see it (remember..if I don't see it...then it can't be happening right?).
It seemed like March was a very active month for tornados when i was least in southern Oklahoma...but now...not so much....
Good topic.

Great thread!!!

My first tornado was when I was about 6-7. My dad's always been somewhat into the weather, and we had a good view to the W-SW from the top of the hill up the road from my house. One day, we had a supercell in the area that was tornado-warned, and the top of the hilll was in perfect viewing range of the wallcloud, so my dad took me up to the top of the hill. Low and behold, there was a brief touchdown.

I don't have any pictures, though my dad might have taken some that are buried somewhere back at their house in Fort Worth.
Ive enjoyed all of your stories I hope you enjoy mine...........

Coinsedently enough Chaser Circus 2 which was my fifth tornado marked the anniversary of my first tornado. Memorial day weekend, Saturday around 5PM 1996, I was on Surf-Side beach near Galveston, TX. A friend of mine and I threw a huge party the night before (Friday) and did not sleep a wink, we fished all night, drank all night and partied all night. At about 11 AM Saturday we finally got to go to sleep. We were awakened by severe weather moving VERY rapidly through surf side around 4:30PM. As time passed we noticed VERY low wall clouds passing right over the beach house we were in, on stilts by the way. As the storm hit the water it grew more intense and exactly at 5:15PM the storm dropped a funnel right in the waters of Surf Side, you could actually see fish, seaweed and other debris being tossed out of the funnel. I had ALWAYS been scared of tornadoes, until that day which began my storm chasing expeditions, while at the beginning I was a little wreckless, I did not consider my self a storm chaser until about 4 years ago. I studied hard, attend training classes, listened to other chasers, kept my mouth shut and learned. For those of you just beginning DON'T be in a hurry to learn everything and by all means DON'T get frustarated with big terms and complicated weather patterns. BE PATIENT and pretty soon you will be able to forecast all by yourself. Thanks for reading.
Well, the first wall cloud I saw was in Colorado when I was about 13 (not sure on the exact day or year, because at the time, I didn't know what it was). Funny enough, it did not produce my first tornado. hehe.

That did not come until May 4th, 2003. Easy enough to explain we were behind the storms all day that day. Not hard to do when they were moving at excessive speeds of 55 - 60 mph. The first one our group saw was in Labette County, KS. Nice photogenic white tornado that was rated F1, I believe. We didn't get any of the memorable tornadoes that day (Girard, Pierce City, Stockton), but that's okay, there's always tomorrow (especially for early May 2003). We ended up turning around in Springfield, MO at sundown for the long journey back to Norman; arriving at about 4 AM on May 5th. 4 hours before my first final that week at 8 AM ;).
My first tornado is pretty fresh in my mind, as it was just 3 days ago on June 12, 2004.

My wife and I headed for Harper Co. when we heard a developing storm had just crossed into KS from OK. We came to the now infamous Hwy 160 S of Conway Springs and turned west. After 2 or 3 miles we saw a small group of vehicles pulled off on a dirt road on the north side. We pulled over to the south side where one of the guys was watching the storm. He introduced himself as Bob. He invited across the Hwy so we followed and met Chad, who further invited us to tag along. I heard one of the other guys referred to as Shane.

Anyway, we followed the group and watched as the storm intensified and started to get it's act together. There was a persistent, rotating wall cloud in this cell that had produced a TORN warning. After several stops, we pulled to the side of Hwy 15 SE of Mulvane when it finally dropped a funnel and a debris cloud became visible. That was our first tornado. Of course, minutes later that same wall cloud produced the F3 SE of Mulvane.

The next day, as I read the chase reports on ST and recalled the first names we'd heard in the group, I realized we had joined David Drummond, Shane Adams, Bob Schafer, and others.

Now, after having viewed David's video of getting caught in a tornado, I can't believe we followed these lunatics! :lol:

Seriously though, we are very grateful for having been invited along on their chase (thanks Chad!). It was an invaluable experience.
I turned in my notice for my job in South Florida on the last week of April, 1999. I'd been chasing for three years without a tornado. At that point I contemplated what it would be like as the only stormchaser who would never see one.

With five days left on my notice, May 3 happened as I watched from my desk in Fort Lauderdale. When I finally returned to Texas, the season was about played out, or so it seemed. On May 20, Clinton Norwood and I raced off to northwest Texas, along with Blair Kooistra, and stumbled into the Lake McClellan tube, a modest white cone gorged on lake water.

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We saw a second tornado about fifteen minutes afterwards. Later we ran into Tim Marshall, whose windshield bore a giant crater from what he called a 'rogue hailstone.'
Great idea shane!!

I grew up around severe wx. I remember spending hours with my dad (local meteorologist for 30 yrs) at the tv station while he worked a severe wx event doing cut-ins. I always wanted to go see the storms up close. I started chasing in 85 but didnt catch any tornadoes until the following year. I had no equipment (no such thing as internet back then). We also didnt have things like SPC outlooks. I had to do my forecast on the wx charts that printed out at the tv station. I didnt even have a camera. Just wanted to see the storms. The day was May 7th, 1986. I headed towards the NE Texas panhandle when a large supercell exploded near pampa. I worked ahead of it unitl I stopped south of Canandian near hwy83 and hwy 60. This storm then proceeded to drop 4 beautiful tornadoes including a large truncated cone. I would give anything to have had a camera but can still picture it perfectly in my mind. The only pictures I have ever seen of it were shot by Gene Moore and Tim Marshall which even if I did see them that day I wouldnt have known them to be chasers since that term wasnt used much and we were so few in numbers. (I feel old now).
This wa also the longets chase I had been on up to that time. Canandian is about 100 miles from amarillo and I was only 16 (my folks didnt know I had gone that far).
My first tornado, as well as my first microburst, was on 4/20/1988 in Turlock CA (no that location is not a typo). I was in 5th grade at the time and had really started to get into weather over the past year so this was a real treat for me.

The local media was hyping the possibility of severe weather in CA on this day as a damaging tornado had hit the eastern suburbs of Sacramento the day before and the upper level low was still over the area. That day during lunch my school's principal came up to the front of the cafeteria and announced this weather system was a "thunderstorm type storm" and that we should go inside if it acts up during recess. Skies remained mostly sunny with some building Cu during recess, but by the time school got out at 1pm it was beginning to get dark off to the SE and a few sprinkles of rain were beginning to fall. I took the bus home that day - I lived 1 1/2 mi north-northeast of the school. As we headed north we got out of the rain and I could see blue skies and scattered building Cu from my SW-NW. But as we turned east then south towards my neighborhood I could see a big black wall of rain racing up from the SE. It was amazing seeing how quickly this black wall of rain swept northward across the field just a few hundred feet to my east. When I got off the bus just a block away from my house I was greeted to torrential rain and wind so strong that one kid's umbrella turned inside out. Fortunately my dad was waiting for me at the bus stop to drive me over to my aunt's house - who lived 2 miles to the WSW. When I got to her house I was amazed that they hadn't even had a drop of rain. I stayed there and played games on their C64 (remember this was the 1980's) until about 4pm when my aunt drove me back home. On the way back we started talking about the tornado that hit the Sacramento area the day before and she said, "I hope we don't get one of those funnel clouds"

Well at 5:30pm that's just what happened. I went out to backyard to check the sky and saw what looked like a funnel begin to drop from a dark base about 5 miles to my south-southwest. I ran inside to tell my dad, and when we got back out sure enough there was a dark gray funnel slowly dropping from the base. Over the next few minutes the funnel would gradually grow longer and longer, taking on a nice elephant trunk appearance. Because of houses and trees I could not tell if the actual condensation funnel reached the ground, but it would have had to have been at least 80% of the way to the ground. After about 7 or 8 minutes the funnel became ragged and broke up into segments, then it went into a rope stage for 2 minutes before vanishing altogether.

Everybody in my grade pretty much knew of my interest in weather and tornadoes at that point and everybody was asking me the next day if I had "seen the tornado cloud". One kid claimed that his uncle got video of it and sold it to KCRA-TV in Sacramento for $25.

This is definitely an event I wish I could have observed with the knowledge I have now. But trying to apply the knowledge I have now in retropsect here is my guess what happened. I believe this event occurred in association with a mini-supercell on the northeast side of an upper level low - the parent storm was slowly moving either north or north-northwest, and began producing quite a bit of thunder and lightning during the last 4 or 5 minutes of the event. This event is not listed in Storm Data and there was never any damage reported, although I don't doubt that there was a circulation on the ground capable of damage at some point. If it did it probably occurred south of town where there is not much to hit, and with how much rain we had received over the previous week it would have had a hard time producing much in the way of a visible dust swirl. And even though my first "official" tornado according to Storm Data didn't occur for another 8 1/2 years, I'll always count this one as my first.
My first tornado was on September 18th, 2002 near Blackwell, OK. Gabe Garfield, 2 other friends, and myself went chasing the moderate risk in NW OK. Storms ended up forming and then began to squall out. We more or less lucked out when we noticed rotation in one of the areas of the "squall". Turned out that we had an embedded supercell in the line. We watched the supercell (which had a very nice rain free base and vault) spin away for at least 45 minutes. About 7:25 pm, it decided to produce for us. We noticed dust getting sucked up under the wall cloud, and a funnel started to lower. The funnel only went about 1/5 of the way to the ground, but the dust extended all the way to the cloud base. It was on the ground for about 2 to 3 minutes, and almost produced another one a bit farther to the east.

Thats my story. :)
My First Tornado

My first tornado was quite a while back and I was just turning 5 years old but I can remember it quite well. The F5 that struck the Ruskin Heights area of Kansas City, Missouri, which is now known only as South Kansas City, on May 20, 1957 shortly before 8 PM. , is one of the deadliest tornados of all time with 44 persons dead and over 500 injured with almost one third of the over 1800 homes destroyed after a 72 mile track and the heaviest damage being done in the Ruskin area.

My folks had lived in the 3 bedroom slab house for about 2 years, the neighborhood being one of the first in the midwest of it's kind to go up so quickly and cheaply to allow veterans from WWII and the Korean War the opportunity to purchase affordable housing.

I remember the day as being stormy and as I played outside I remember seeing the biggest rain drops falling on the sidewalk in front of the house, not a heavy rain but just large drops. My dad was in and out of the house keeping an eye on the sky.

My aunt had come out with my cousin because she was afraid of the weather and wanted to be safe. Little did she realize what was about to happen.

My mom had my sister and I in my bedroom with my aunt and cousin and they were reading story books to us when suddenly my dad came in from outside and told us to lie flat on the floor. I remember him opening all the windows that he could and turning off the interior lights. He then laid on top of me, my mom on my sister and my aunt on my cousin. I remember crying and the approaching noise.

The next thing I new was hearing my parents calling for us. There was an eary silence and then the sounds of car horns became noticeable and people calling out for their loved ones. It was still raining and as we all got back together we realized that our home was completely gone with only the slab foundation remaining. I remember nothing of the actual moment that it hit.

After digging neighbors cars out from under debris from the homes that were still mostly intact, we were rushed to the hospital where we would learn that there were only minor injuries. My dad had glass blown into his back and I had a gash over my right eye that required stitches. I still have the scar today. My parents car that was in the drive and my aunts car that was in the street all ended up a block behind us.

The days that followed were filled with just hanging out and helping the parents search for what they could salvage. I remember the military personel and eating from the Red Cross truck. We saw also that the high school at the end of my block was mostly destroyed as was the shopping center a few blocks away. How we made it through such a horrible storm I'll never fully understand but someone had to have been watching over us that night.

I've been a storm chaser every since but seriously got into it about 2 years ago. Now I have an 18 year old daughter that shares my love of the weather with me.

I've attached a photo that shows the hood. :shock:

Marc Grant

Ruskin Damage[/url]
Damn Marc, that was quite an account, and the photo you included tells it best maybe....incredible.

Thanks for sharing.
Shane, very cool thread. I hit the jackpot with my first tornado. I was learning to chase while on Cloud 9 Tours. After many days of weak or no storms, there was a traditional Memorial Day Weekend Outbreak. I saw my first tornado on May 25, 1997 in the familiar chase territory of Harper, Kansas. I watched a tower become a supercell and drop a tornado in a period of about 45 minutes. I would have been happy if that was the only tornado but I saw multiple other tornadoes that day including the famous "Dillo-Cam" or Perth Wedge.


Here is a full account of that day:

If only every chase day could be like that. I never came close to that many tornadoes until May 29, 2004 and I haven't again seen the full lifecycle of a supercell from the beginning.

Bill Hark
This is my first post, BTW. How appropriate -- my first post about my first tornado.

I saw my first tornado on 4/25/1993, when I was 17 years old. My dad, my brother, and I were returning to Tulsa from a conference in Missouri. Earlier at a gas stop in MO, Dad (who has seen plenty of tornadoes but isn't a chaser and has no formal weather training) mentioned something about how the something in the air "felt right for tornadoes" that day. A couple of months prior to this, I had first attended a local spotter training session, so I felt pretty "knowledgeable" about severe storms then.

As we approached Tulsa on I-44, we noticed that the sky looked awfully dark ahead of us. But then again, our vehicle had tinted windows, so everything looked dark. A few miles later, around the I-244 junction, we decided that we had better check things out, so we rolled down the windows, and the sky still looked dark, with some green-looking patches. Dad (who was driving) mentioned that there might be some hail in this storm. He was right about that!

We decided to turn on the radio. As soon as we did, we heard a local TV meteorologist saying, "We have a very dangerous situation, with a circulation over the east side of town" -- which of course is exactly where we were. He went on to say that at this point, "we aren't talking about a tornado." Yet.

Then I looked up and for the first time beheld a true, no-doubt-about-it circulation directly ahead (and almost overhead). It appeared as a white ring of clouds, visibly rotating at probably 5 RPM. I pointed to it and warned Dad that we were about to drive directly underneath it. He said, "I know, but there's nothing we can do; we can't get off the interstate." I looked up and saw what may have been a funnel, along with a definite dust cloud on the ground about 1/2 mi. south of us, good enough to be an "official" tornado. Shortly thereafter we ran into large hail wrapped around the back side of the circulation, prompting Dad to stop the car underneath an overpass (in the traffic lane, I think). In retrospect, I realize that was a bad thing to do, as this turned westbound I-244 into a parking lot, possibly trapping people behind us in the path of a tornado.

Of course, we escaped unharmed, but it was a very scary experience. So for my first tornado, I was not a chaser, but a "chasee".

A week later, Dad told me something even scarier. A few minutes before we encountered the circulation, he had tried to pull off the road into a truck stop to "get out of the storm," but traffic in the right lane prevented him from reaching the exit. I'm glad. That truck stop was demolished by the tornado, and several people died there.

I believe the storm was rated an F4. Would you believe that's still my only tornado? Hopefully that will change soon, but with the peak storm season behind us, I fear it may be next year.

This is my first post, but I had to share my first tornado. It was in 1967, I was 12 and visiting my aunt.

She lived 1 block down from an outdoor drive-in movie theater. The walls of the theater was thick very heavy corrugated metal. When the storm was getting pretty severe, she made us go down into her basement. The neat thing about her basement was that it was elevated above the groud about a foot, and it had windows so you could see outside.

When the tornado came through, I was looking out the window at the drive in theater. The tornado hit the theater directly and I saw these pieces of corrugated metal flying around like potato light as air. We then heard this loud crash and my aunt yanked me away from the window. One of the pieces from the drive in hit her house upstairs. We slept downstairs that evening.

In the morning we went out and my uncle asked my cousin and I to move the piece of metal that hit the house. We could not budge it at all, it was that heavy, it took two adults to move it away from the house. That's when it hit me how strong this tornado was. All I could remember was these things just floating about as light as air, the night before.

I have been fascinated by storms ever since.

My love of the weather has also rubbed off on my two eldest children. We are all annually trained with the Advanced Weather Spotting course as well as all Amateur Radio operators, and all go to our designated sites for our weather net during severe weather.

Thank you for reading !

Take Care,