BLOG: Storm Chasing

Clouds+were+rotating+forming+a+tornado+in+the+distance.+This+was+the+start+of+the+storm+that+wrecked+Van+in+May+2019.

Photo By Wendy Phillips

Clouds were rotating forming a tornado in the distance. This was the start of the storm that wrecked Van in May 2019.

Caroline Phillips, Social Officer

Storm chasing is just as fun as it sounds. I typically go storm chasing with my brother and mother. We fill the car up with snacks, our phones and I grab a few blankets and pillows. The long chase then begins with my brother driving, my mom navigating and me enjoying the adventure.

I got into storm chasing the year after Hurricane Ike came through Lindale. I was seven years old, and the hurricane absolutely freaked me out. I had been home alone with my brother who was 17 at the time. He grabbed a bunch of pillows and rounded up all the animals into my parents closet in their bathroom. Then he told me to go in the closet, and he called my parents and sister to find out where they were at. My mom and dad were nowhere to be found. I do not remember exactly where they were at, but they were not going to be home for the next hour or so. So, I sat with my brother in the closet while he left to periodically get updates on the news. 

When deciding to chase storms, my mom monitors all the radars and decides where we are headed. She texts some of her meteorologist friends and finds out good locations for viewing and pictures. Mainly we watch the news and I keep it pulled up on my laptop to watch the radar. We just wait for Mark Scirto to tell us where to go.

When the storm came through in May of last year that rampaged through Canton and Van, of course there we were, my family and I, chasing it. We first headed to the Chandler and Brownsboro area. That’s where it was building up before it destroyed Van. The adrenaline rush I feel each time as we speed away from the clouds rotating overhead is exhilarating. I would not trade that feeling for anything. 

       There have been some times where we have had to call in tornadoes or storms into the local weather station because there are not enough meteorologists to cover the area we might be in. When that happens, we try to dedicate ourselves to monitoring the storm until it is no longer a threat, or until it moves on out of range. Oftentimes we will run into other fellow storm chasers and photographers following the storms.

        A few years ago we were in the Dallas area and a nasty storm was brewing overhead. Next thing we knew, there were three spots rotating overhead. Three potential tornadoes bubbling up over our heads. We booked it to safety because you are never supposed to drive into a storm. My mom ended up calling it in to the local news station, and then from there the tornado sirens deployed.

       Sometimes after getting all geared up excited for something to pop up, we get false alarms. It will be a complete dud. When that happens, all we can do is sit and wait for the next adventure to begin.