The Storm Chaser in Me

I have such diverse interests … although I love fashion, and makeup and dressing nicely in name luxury brand clothes, a huge part has “nerd” labeled all over me, and I’m most definitely not offended by it, I’ve embraced my inner nerdiness.  One of the things I am obsessed about are documentaries — other than true crime documentaries, I binge watch nature documentaries …. earthquakes, hurricanes, sink holes, volcanoes and of course the mighty tornado.

I already wrote a blog on how I was in a 6.5 magnitude earthquake which was an extra ordinary experience.  The other cool nature thing that I got to witness was the formation of a near tornado while I lived in Dauphin, Manitoba.

Me: The Amateur Storm Chaser

On that day they were calling for tornado watches … I was watching a tv show when it was interrupted by an emergency alert and 3 loud beeps …. this differs from Ontario where a ticker runs across the bottom of your screen.

Emergency Alert on TV – tornado warning in effect

The difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning means the difference between taking action or taking precautions.

  • A WATCH means that conditions are favorable for a tornado to occur.
  • A WARNING requires you to take shelter and brace for a potential tornado.  A tornado warning is issued when a tornado has actually been sighted or has been picked up on a radar in your area. This means that you need to take shelter immediately in a safe, sturdy structure.

Instead of heading to the pre-designated safe room i.e. basement, I headed out to get my amateur storm chaser on to see if there was a tornado developing near town.  I hopped in my Land Rover and I set out in the direction of darkness … out toward the ball diamonds (I wouldn’t advise to do this).

I watched the clouds move quickly across the sky in search for any type of rotation.  Eventually, after 1/2 hour, I gave up, deciding there wasn’t going to be anything developing … and on my way home, I spotted a wall cloud and pulled over to watch as it continued to rotate.

Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 8.49.45 PM
Formation of a tornado, Dauphin, MB

It was starting to develop and came pretty close to touching down, but, as quickly as it formed, it dissipated and was gone.   I was able to get these few pictures and short slow mo video.

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Facebook post warning for CKDM radio 

During my time living in Dauphin, these watches and warnings were fairly common.  

The one time we had such an intense storm, not sure if they classified it as a tornado or just strong down draft – but it caused such intense damage around town – trees snapping, my umbrella for the patio bent completely in half, advertising signs not only blown over, but actually bent. AND, the scorekeeping tower at the high school had blown over.

Meeting Chris Chittick of Tornado Hunters!

Later that Summer (in August) I further got my geek on when Chris Chittick of the TV show Tornado Hunters came to Kelleher Ford in Dauphin as part of their promotional touring — obviously for me that was a no brainer — I was there.  Chris has been tornado chasing for 15 years and has witness and videoed/photographed 423 tornadoes.

If you haven’t watched Tornado Hunters, you can catch it on Netflix. It’s about Greg Johnson, Chris Chittick, and Ricky Forbes. Outfitted with their truck, Flash and the best equipment money can buy; they target the biggest tornadoes in North America.

It was pretty cool to chat with Chris about some of the biggest tornadoes especially the Joplin and El Reno ones!

Me and Chris Chittick of Tornado Hunters

He also gave me a poster of Flash and signed it 🙂

Dust Devils Are Cool Too!

The other cool thing I was able to witness was a dust devil in the making. We were traveling home from South Dakota after a great time there visiting Mount Rushmore and The Crazy Horse Memorial.  I was driving this leg, from the corner of my eye, I saw a light rotation starting to the left of the truck on farm land. I literally watched the dust devil cross the road in front of me to the other farm field on the right. Since I was the driver, it took me a bit to grab my iPhone to capture the pic and video before it quickly dissipated.

Dust Devil in Rural Manitoba

I have been looking into a storm chasing tour for one of my next vacations – the price is about $2,900 – it’s debatable, because I also want to go shark diving in Cape Cod.

Has anyone been in a natural disaster?

There are two big forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those disasters? Over that I have complete control.

~ Leo Buscaglia

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