|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
GOES 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.
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
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
But this was just one tornado. Another chase I might call nearly the perfect
storm was in 2002.
This 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.
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
Check out our
Historical tornado photos here