PHOTO: Night Tornado, Sweetwater, OK – used with permission. Copyright Alan Broerse, 2008.
Note from the Editor on May 20, 2013: We’re heartbroken that so many Oklahomans have experienced so much loss over the past two days. We’re especially heartbroken for the Moore community and the massive trauma they’ve experienced both in human lives lost as well as the structures around them. Through the ongoing search and rescue exercises taking place right now, I was thinking about how even more loss could have been experienced were it not for the elite meteorologists and storm tracking teams we have in our state. I’m grateful for them today, and I’m incredibly sad for those who happened to be connected to something or someone they love in the paths of the storm. Love to those who are hurting ~ Red Dirt Kelly
“[Original post written May 29, 2011] Speaking of night time tornadoes….this one tore thru Sweetwater Oklahoma. It lifted near Vici, OK and dropped down on me near Sharon, OK. I was live with Gary England on TV….I went from calm winds and no rain to tennis ball hail and 70mph winds blowing horizontal rain in less than 60 seconds. Gary said: “Alan you need to take your tornado precautions you are in the tornado,” as he watched it on radar. I couldn’t see 15 feet ahead of me, but followed the white dotted line on the highway to escape…..I drove a half mile out, turned around and snapped this monster tornado a few hundred yards away. God had his hand over me that night. I was uninjured and lost no windows. It was pitch black. Lightning will sporadically light up the sky to let you see the storm….My closest call ever while chasing. I really don’t like getting that close. ~ Alan Broerse”
As I sat across from Alan Broerse in an Oklahoma City Panera Bread store, I was contemplating a continuous vibe I kept receiving during our conversation: This man is measured, calm, thoughtful, logical…he knows his limits, he makes decisions quickly but carefully, he follows procedures; he’s pretty cool about this. Alan was teaching me about being a StormTracker. I sipped my coffee and tried to soak up all the vocabulary he was tossing my way while I kept looping back to one thought in my head: “I’m really glad HE’s doing this work and not me.” You can’t talk to a tornado about its feelings. [read more…]