Tornado Extravaganza


Austin Kennedy writes, Tornado Extravaganza”Scout, BACK UP!” Mike yelled into the radio.

Tornado Extravaganza”Scout, BACK UP!” Mike yelled into the radio. He saw the tornado cross the road right where the scout car had been a few seconds ago.”That’s a little too close Scout,” Mike said, “Storm chasing is about safety, got it?”Ironic, some people said when a storm chaser used the word safety while talking about chasing. But it was true; storm chasing was about safety, the chasers chased so more lives would be saved. Storm chasing was also a test of courage, but not to the point of foolishness. Some people call it a daredevil stunt, some call it a science in itself, and some people just think it’s plain crazy. Most people side with the many people who think chasers are crazy, but the few who understand the science of chasing realize it is an act of safety.”This super-cell is dissipating, let’s head to the new storm to the south,” Mike instructed to the rest of the team.”Head to the east part of the storm,” he said to Jim, who was his driver.”Listen for more directions as we get closer,” He told the rest of the team.His car was the key to the whole chase. Everyone got information from him and his radar. He kept them in a safe position, mostly. Mike had been interested in tornadoes since his early teens, when he watched as the small town he lived in was destroyed. He had been scared, scared out of his wits when he saw that horrible sight, the debris flying in the air. But it gave him hope when he saw the town rebuild with a spirit he could not describe. The town was new, better than the last one and it warmed his heart to see so many volunteers helping the devastated town. Once rebuilding was done his curiosity about tornadoes overcame his fear and as he learned more he wanted to know more.His team consisted of 6 cars: Scout, Probe 1, Probe 2, Observation, Navigation, and Mike’s radar car.Towering storm clouds loomed up ahead as they got closer to the new super-cell.”Watch out for a hail shaft, everyone,” Mike warned the team. He had experienced the destruction that hail could do to a car. On one of his first storm chases, he had not recognized a hail shaft and drove right into it. The hail at first did not at all seem dangerous, it mostly consisted of marble sized hailstones, and they bounced harmlessly off of Mike’s car. However, as he got deeper into the hail area, the hail started to get bigger. From marbles to golf balls to baseballs and pretty soon they were as big or bigger than softballs. All of his windows were shattered, every single one of them, even the small windows in the back were gone. As for the rest of his car, it was nearly destroyed. Each dent was about 5 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep. His car was totaled, beyond the point of salvaging the few remaining parts. He had learned from that, he made chicken wire nets to catch any hail coming towards his windows. It was a funny sight, but it worked.Today the storm action was in southeastern Kansas, a line of supercells had formed along a front, leaving one isolated on behind. That isolated supercell was the one he was going after. Storm chasers tend to like isolated supercells more than clusters of them, because they don’t get any interference from other storms. Some people may think that if two storms collide, they make a mega storm, but they almost never collide and would just mess up the air currents for a tornado. Mike got closer to the storm and saw a beautiful anvil stretching out from the storm. The clouds towered up and lightning flashed everywhere. Mike and his team approached a developing wall cloud.”Look! There’s two lowerings forming now!” Mike exclaimed to his team. A funnel slowly dropped from the wall cloud to the right and eventually Mike and his team saw dust kicking up on the ground.”Watch it! Watch it! two tornadoes coming down!” Mike yelled.”Probe, I would like you to go east one mile and deploy a pod in front of the new tornado,” Mike said, but then he saw danger for the Probe, the power lines were coming down.”Power lines coming down! Watch it! Wait! Back up!” Mike yelled. The falling power lines barely missed the backing up Probe team.”Alright, that way won’t work, deploy one where we are, the old tornado is coming towards us,” Mike told Probe, “I want everyone except for Probe and Observation to go south on this road. Probe, deploy four probes and then get out of there. Observation, get close to it and video tape it and then get out of the way.”The tornado that knocked down the power lines crossed the road and dissipated. The older tornado grew in strength and got closer to the road.”Probe’s done”The Observation team was very close to the oncoming tornado.”Observations done, we got some great footage.Mike and the rest of the team watched the tornado cross the road. Suddenly, they saw a pod fly through the air, flung by the tornado.”This must be a very strong tornado, I hope at least one pod survives.”Mike and the rest of the team drove to the probes, not a single one was left.”That was extremely strong, not a single one left…” Mike trailed off.”Wait, is that one on the side of the road?” Jim said.”Yeah, it is!” Mike exclaimed. The chase had been a success.Mike reviewed the information as they drove through the core of the storm to get to the base. The information was record breaking. Mike looked over the probe and was about to look away when he said,”Hey! Who put a video camera in this thing?”Jim just grinned and said nothing. They had the first footage of inside a strong tornado. Mike laughed and sat down feeling very successful.”Just wait until next year,” he said