I’ve always been fascinated by severe thunderstorms. As a kid I loved watching the annual summer thunderstorms approach from the west over the Oquirrh Mountains and Great Salt Lake from our front porch. I loved going to sleep to the smell of rain-cooled air and the sound of thunder growing distant as the storms passed over the mountains to the east. My parents grew up with tornadoes in the Midwest, but moved to Utah in 1972, the year I was born. While I grew up without tornadoes, mountains to hike and climb were a fine trade off. Still, the vivid descriptions of my mother’s of the Oak Lawn tornado in April 1967 always intrigued me. Utah isn’t exactly a hot-bed of tornado activity, but in August of 1999 while working in the American Stores high rise downtown (now the home of KUTV News) I was watching an approaching thunderstorm when a tornado formed. I watched it charge past the Delta Center and into Temple Square, then up into the Avenues where it dissipated. That tornado was rated F2 and killed one person, injuring 80. Alas, while my view on the 10th floor of the tornado was outstanding, I did not have a camera handy.
In the spring/summer of 2007 my interest in tornadoes peaked with the Greensburg, Kansas tornado and the following television coverage (Storm Chasers, Twister Sisters, GreenTtown to name a few). While my residence in Utah makes storm chasing less than desirable, I have become a historian of tornadoes, and an armchair tornado chaser of sorts, following any major tornado outbreak via whatever methods are available (TV, Internet). There is something captivating about these most powerful of storms for me, that wreak such incredible devastation in such relatively small areas with a minimum of warning (as compared to hurricanes, at least).
My intent with this blog is to write about tornado events that are of particular interest to me, with an attempt to at least try to give a feel for being there in the tornado and it’s aftermath with personal accounts and visuals – I hope you enjoy it.