Tag Archives: Oklahoma tornadoes

StormTracker: Alan Broerse and the Oklahoma Storm Chasing Culture

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. Continue reading StormTracker: Alan Broerse and the Oklahoma Storm Chasing Culture

My Little Victory Garden: Peashoots, Rain and Tornadoes in Oklahoma

Pea shoots cut in the evening sun. Everything is so green...

We’ve been sent a mixed blessing from the weather gods here in Oklahoma.  On the one hand, we’ve received a wonderful Spring rainfall and our state is green. The vegetables in my garden are green.  The trees, the wheat and the landscape…all green.  It’s beautiful here.

But on top of all that green, at least in some locations across the state (notably Norman and Woodward…ESPECIALLY Woodward) is now a blanketing of debris strewn about by tornadoes.  And in a few cases, there are also grieving people who lost family members, including children.  The losses also go past the people, however. And even if we know and understand that people are what matters, businesses, homes and a large variety of property now has to be cleaned up, rebuilt and managed.

I felt strange today.  And lucky.  Although I slept through the night both Friday and Saturday, and felt assured that we had warning systems in place as well as a storm shelter buried into our garage floor, many Oklahomans didn’t.  People are tired, they’re sad, and they’re trying to help manage their lives as well as figure out how to help those in need.

I was thinking through these various thoughts as I went to one of two patches of peas I’m growing.  One I’ve grown simply to use the shoots and that’s what I’m going to share with you today.  The other, I’ll let grow to fruition and enjoy peas in a few weeks.

Pea shoots, cut early and properly, are an incredible addition to a healthy and balanced meal plan.  There are literally endless ways to eat this beautiful plant that tastes just like the mild side of English peas.  A Chinese graduate student was visiting our home Wednesday night and he said the people in his village ate them all the time, stir fried along with other vegetables.  But you can also use them fresh in salads, on sandwiches as a lettuce substitute, cream them into a beautiful coulis, or in so many other ways.

I urge you to check out this website for all you ever wanted to know about pea shoots, recipes, and beautiful photos of the possibilities.  And, if you’d like, you can grow them inside your home by a window like people grow bean sprouts or wheat grass.

Tonight I used them for a “local Okie” ingredient meal and I must say, this is one of my favorite Little Victory Garden creations to date: Continue reading My Little Victory Garden: Peashoots, Rain and Tornadoes in Oklahoma

Tis the Season -TORNADO

Caddo Co. tornado, I grew up there. This picture was taken near Anadarko.


One of my mom’s favorite hyperboles was in reference to my bedroom. My little brother and I were roommates growing up, and yes, we could get a bit disheveled. Mom would declare, “Boys, you need to get in there and straighten up your room, it looks like a tornado has been through there.”

I’m not sure how old I was when I saw my first tornado, but I do remember the sirens announcing imminent danger. We didn’t turn to Doppler radar in those days; we went out in the backyard and surveyed the clouds. Over the past 50 years I’ve seen more tornadoes than I can count. I have NEVER chased a storm. I never will. (I figure if you wait around in Oklahoma, one will come to a city near you.)

As a kid, high winds and lightning could scare me. But after Mom and Dad built a new home out north of Apache, a brick home, I had no concerns over tornados.  A house made of straw or sticks — now THAT could be a problem. A brick home?  Heck, I figured a tornado would bounce right off.

My assumptions about the durability of a brick home were set straight one afternoon. I was riding shot-gun in my dad’s pick-up truck and we were driving from Apache toward Anadarko. We were exactly seven miles north of town when Dad said something like, “Looks like the tornado when right through here.”

I looked to the west and saw the power of a tornado. Large trees, as big as we have in Oklahoma, had been pulled up by their roots and lay in a row.  Big trees! Fully mature trees!! The tornado had plucked them out of the ground much like I would pull a weed.  I couldn’t believe a tornado or ANYTHING could do that.

I no longer felt safe from a tornado in a brick house. Continue reading Tis the Season -TORNADO

Terrifically-Horrific Supercell

Supercell photo by Alan Broerse, Storm Tracker and morning weather producer for News 9. This photo was captured southwest of Retrop, OK. I applied highlight separating filters so you could see the shape of the activity a little better. ~ RDK

I only get one Twitter-feed directly texted to my phone, and that’s from Gary England.  Therefore, when I hear a little whistle coming from my smartphone, it’s either a text from one of my family members or a weather alert.  Both are important.  Yesterday evening, it was weather alerts.

Throughout the afternoon, an intermittent message came through that activity was possible.  But as the 7:00 pm then 8:00 pm hour rolled around, realtime activity was being tracked within the Oklahoma borders, with more coming northward from Texas.

Alan Broerse, News 9 stormtracker, watched three tornadoes drop from this particular supercell and reports that it was “an awesome storm to be on…”  Well, I suppose that statement is a matter of perspective, but from someone highly trained to do this kind of thing, I’m sure it was.

It’s THAT time of the years, isn’t it?  I’m sure we’ll see much more of Alan’s work, Gary England, Val’s team, Rick Mitchell, Emily Sutton, Mike Morgan…and more. Hopefully, just not TOO much.

Read more about the work of Alan Broerse and the life of a Storm Tracker here.