USA Storm Chasing Expedition - 31 May, 2013

Driving towards Oklahoma City from the Tornado event last evening near Tulsa. Sensing it's going to be a big day.

Overlooking the skies which are about to explode near El Reno, Oklahoma. (With Mark Robinson & Greg Ansel)

Brad Rousseau measuring the size of the updraft forming.

Parked and waiting.

Here we go.. Storm initiation has begun.

This is in an explosive environment.

Driving into the hail core.

Still small hail at this time.

A few target cells at this time.

Watching this area for rotation. Hail is falling.

Storms are organising into one giant supercell.

Heading east to watch the updraft.

Rotation ahead.

Tornado warning is present at this time.

Saw a funnel to the right a few moments ago, now embedded in rain.

Traffic is blocked on I40 Westbound. Terrified drivers seeking shelter in the worst possible place (under an overpass)

Didn't realise at the time, but you can see the northern part of a forming mesocyclone ahead.

This is one giant storm.

Tornado forming.



Wedge forming.


Re-positioned to watch the storm roll to our south. Lots of chaser traffic today, keeping away from it.

Watching the rain wrapped wedge tornado with Greg Ansel.

See the tornado? No...  Well, you are looking right at it.

A little better defined now.

Heading south to get behind it.

Storm motion is south east.

Massive tornado, wrapped in rain.

Hard to see it coming.. It looks like a giant hail shaft.

About to head north to keep ahead of the storm. Storm motion is around 25-30mph.

The next shot is terrifying. The Tornado grew from 1 mile to 2.6 miles wide in 30 seconds,
took a violent turn to the north, increased in speed and headed straight for me.

This semi trailer was following me because he didn't know where to go. I lost road visibility rapidly and the semi ploughed through the back of me.
I pre-empted he would flip over, moved out of the way and that's what happened.

We then rode out the violent EF5 2.6mile wide tornado for over 4 mins (in estimated EF3 Winds)

This is my visibility inside the tornado. (This is the highway 5 mins into the "event")

Parked the car into the top section of the overturned semi.  It was a decision that very likely saved my life and possibly the trucker's.
The semi shifted (whilst overturned) a number of times. Absolutely terrifying.

Looks like rescue has arrived!

Drove the car on a flat tyre for 3 or so miles to a nearby gas station that got hit by the tornado.
The car was abandoned and I escaped north with fellow storm chaser Greg Ansel to the north.

We were hit with roads that were subjected to significant flash flooding.

Greg watches the road very carefully. (Thanks for the ride!)

The 3 other tornado warned storms have passed. We are heading back to the Gas Station.

The car survived the other 3 tornado warned storms, but I'm looking at the damage from the semi trailer hit.

think I will need a new tyre.

On our arrival, there was an off duty nurse and local fire fighter in this building.
We came back to fix the damage to the car, but ended up doing first aid instead.

No photos of the work being done.. Greg drove to the local hospital to call for an ambulance.
All phone comms were down, and I assisted and treated 3 people with the support of the off duty rescue crews.

They had no first aid kit and the nurse was "very pleased" to have the EMS kit at his disposal.

One of the rescue blankets giving comfort to a local resident. (The Semi driver was helping out as well)
Two of the three dogs were severely affected by shock and were wrapped up in the blankets. Didn't know they work on animals as well.

Ambulance assessing which patient gets transferred to hospital first.

This is where the first aid treatment was done. Broken glass everywhere. No other safe shelter. Partial roof collapse.
No power... etc... (perfect working conditions)

The EMS kit on the front counter.

Now that the patients have been looked after and treated, it's time to fix the car.

"Chucky" the Semi Trailer driver helped out (he felt bad for driving into me)

A bond was formed.. I would likely have been killed if he didn't drive into the back of me.

Thanks Chucky... this will buff out just fine.


Perhaps some Gaffa tape to hold the car together first.

Both Greg and I drove Chucky home and re-united him with his family in Moore, Oklahoma.

Watching local news to find out what happened today. The tornado track turned violently north.

The SD Card with terrifying footage of the impact. This will be backed up a number of times.  (7 times to be precise)