June 12

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by Hummer Storm Chaser

Tornados On Screen

Hummer in Missouri supercell
Supercell in Missouri
Will Gray in road during storm

English journalist Will Gray and Australian journalist Tim Anderson were riding in the HUMMER H3T as we began to deploy our instrument pods minutes before the EF2 tornado in Goshen County, Wyoming, crossed our paths on highway 85. As they jumped out of the car while we quickly set down the 130-pound pods, the two journalist passengers snapped photos of the coming twister.

Following the twister, the two journalists jumped back in the H3T and rode south two kilometers to avoid the tornado while it made its 35-minute journey across the Wyoming countryside, and for the next 30 minutes we retrieved our instrument pods, anchoring them safely in the bed of the H3T, which was covered by a specially built steel and marine plywood box.

After the tornado dissipated, we drove to the Wal-Mart store in nearby Sydney, Nebraska, to fuel and pick up more water and food for our long trip east on I-80, moments before the raging supercell rained hail and another tornado down in the darkness near Paxton, Nebraska, about two hours east. While in the Wal-Mart parking lot in Sydney, one of the employees had rushed home and photographed his television screen while The Weather Channel’s Mike Bettes was broadcasting live images of the tornado’s genesis and life. The store employee was excited to show his images of the historic live broadcast to Gray and Anderson, who in turn showed the employee their own pictures of the tornado. The exchange of photos took place no more than 30 minutes following the tornado’s creation and dissipation. Compared to tornado chasing just 15 years ago, before GPS, mobile broadband, and accessible digital cameras, this exchange would otherwise not have been possible.

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