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The Perfect Storm for tornado and storm chasers would be one where it is a slow moving storm, with many long lived tornadoes in a low precipitation enviroment away from any populated area but great roads, oh and no hail. Most people, when they hear the phrase The Perfect Storm, think of  fall of 1991,  when the Andrea Gail left Gloucester, Massachusetts...headed for the fishing grounds off the North Atlantic.
Large View of the Perfect Storm  infrared image at 1200 UTC (0700 EST) on October 30, 1991 NOAA IMAGEGOES 7 (Infrared) Courtsey NOAA -NWS
Called The Perfect Storm because it was three storms combined into one — created an almost apocalyptic situation in the Atlantic ocean, where boats encountered waves of 100 feet (30 meters). This storm was one of the strongest and most terrifying that many could remember. Wolfgang Petersen directed The Perfect Storm moive, starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane Lane, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.

But when we talk about the perfect storm with tornado and storm chasing, we are talking about an event that would be easy to film up close, that drops many tornadoes over several hours. Have I seen the perefect storm myself yet? Not yet, but almost.  In 2000, I was able to film a slow moving storm with my car motor turned off, parked in the path of the oncoming tornado.

2000t.jpg (8049 bytes)I wrote: "During this time I didn't have to move my car once. I sat in the same place for at least 20 minutes making it easy to photograph. This slow tornado movement was truly a chasers dream for photographing and a rare occurrence for tornado photography."

 

But this was just one tornado.  Another chase I might call nearly the perfect storm was in 2002.
Tornado Photos step by stepThis storm kept dropping tornado after tornado. We did have to keep driving to keep up with the movement of the storm, but it almost continually had a tornado on the ground for almost 35 minutes. We had a good view of it most of the time and got some great video of it.

Still, I would say I haven't met the prefect storm that I keep dreaming of getting.   I know that many other chasers dream of chasing some big tornado event.  Even after a great year of chasing tornadoes, most chasers still wish for more tornadoes, bigger tornadoes, a closer encounter. The perfect storm, the grandest of tornado events seems to be just one more chase away.   Maybe someday we will be able to say at the end of the chase, today was the perfect storm.  But maybe not.  Maybe the possibility of a greater event than todays, or yesterdays will make the perfect storm an event only to be chased, but never attained. Even as near as I got in 2003 to an F3 tornado near O'Neil Nebraska, I wonder if I can better that event.
Chase 2003 Tornado Photos and stories
I wrote after that chase: "I realized I had made a stupid mistake and left no way to escape. I was stuck in my car and had to ride out the tornado in the worst possibly location. The large building seemed to be holding, but large debris passed over the top of the car and flew by the sides of the building."

Tornado and storm chasing will always give all of us chasers the possibility of one greater event than the last, one more possibility of new video never gotten before.   Maybe the perfect storm is and will always be, the hope of tomorrows encounter. Most chasers I have talked with are never totally satisifed with their latest encounter.   For most chasers, I believe the perfect storm is still waiting for us to find.   I will be there looking for it (The Perfect Storm), and I know many of you will be there also.  See you on the plains of the US looking for that perfect storm.

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