- Thursday, 12 June 1997

TRAVEL Garden City, KS - Northeast Texas - Oklahoma City, OK 


OTHER Night chasing is very hairy business. You cannot see the storm development except when lit by lightning flashes. By the time you have enough constant light to see the storm, you may not be very happy with what you see, how close it is, or how bad the road condition is along your escape routes. We stayed on well-mapped, paved, main roads. We followed the signals from a vigorous storm we tracked between Wichita Falls and Archer City.  Right about the time we stopped to check the storm outside Archer City, the radio announced a radar-indicated tornado (by the characteristic hook-shaped doppler (precipitation) echo). Good news: we might get to see a spectacular night-time tornado. Bad news: we might not see it before it is too close to run away!

Over the next few minutes we all listened intently for any sound but thunder (and there was plenty of that).  Lightning flashes were firing almost one per second. I was fascinated and terrified at once. I had NEVER seen the sky light up like that in my life. I imagine I won't be frightened next time (though lightning is he biggest danger in chasing after driving/road hazards).  Looking to the soth-southeast, I spy what looked like persistent left-to-right rotation near the ground, fixing my video camera on the spot. By this time, our ears were so fatigued by loud, frequent thunder, it was hard to tell if the roar of a whirling column of air was mixed in the cacophony of rumbles and crashes. After looking over the film later, frame by frame, I think we may have actually seen our tornado. You be the judge as you check the video frame grab below:

Regardless of your interpretation of the picture, you must admit, it is compelling to look over. I can assure you the video is better, and the experience is one that I will not ever forget!
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