As many know I get out and chase storms as time allows. The past couple of days I left the St. Louis, MO area and chased storms in Kansas on Sunday then Oklahoma on Monday. This trip I was by myself and met up with other chasers to help in in navigation during storms.
On 5/20 I left Iola, KS around 8 am headed towards the Tulsa, OK area to evaluate chase plans. To my surprise there was a severe warned storm just 15 minutes from my location. I did what a chaser does, fired up the video stream on ChaserTV and found a good area to view that storm. After 45 minutes or so it was time to move on, messages were coming in from a friend, Dave Toner, who was chasing that day also, I had decided to follow him along with Brian Hurst and Jason Blum, Targeting the Oklahoma City area. As I continued the plan was made to go about 30-40 miles south of the city for storm development, we met up shortly before 2 pm as 3 supercells were already exploding in the area. We were closest to the middle of the 3 storms as we sat just south of Lindsay, OK. We had thoughts of leaving it several times, but this storm kept drawing us back, one minute looking like it was done only to come out from behind trees with a ground scraping wall cloud. Reports starting coming in from the Moore area of complete destruction, even when we stopped for a closer look at our storm I didn’t look for any images, the descriptions people were giving were enough. After about 3 hours of chasing our storm, we were finished, we went our separate ways and I decided to call the chase trip off and start heading back towards home in MO. I stopped for gas and started taking in some of the media online of the Moore area along with numbers of injuries and deaths. This was one of the longest drives home I have ever experienced, I was 8 hours away from home and just wanted to be with my family. There was nothing that could be done to get home any faster and I would just be in the way in Moore. Everything was done right, the tornado warnings were issued 16+ minutes ahead of time, it was up to the people to take the proper precautions. Most obviously did, although the numbers have been reduced 20+ lives lost is still to many.
Please be weather aware people, if you are not in a sturdy building and a warning is issued, get out, make plans ahead of time where you will go. Have alternate plans in case you are not able to access planned shelter, at just 30 mph you can drive 8 miles in warning time given. Please don’t stay in your car or park under overpasses, these are not safe places to be and you will block traffic for those trying to get away from the storm…..