When a meteorologist yells “Lets get out of here, It’s time to go NOW,” they mean it.
I learned this on a recent storm chasing trip to the Great Plains, where on one day a bright-green core of baseball-sized hail was headed directly to us threatening to destroy our truck.
My goal on the trip with my storm chase team the Severe Weather Alert Team (SWAT) was to photograph tornadoes in the Plains. Despite not getting a tornado, photographing severe weather is an amazing experience. Getting up close to these powerful performances of nature, watching the beautiful storm structure and rotating clouds come at you and visiting parts of the country few venture to are some of what makes it great.
I find it amazing that you can wake up in the morning, the meteorologist looks over the weather models and pinpoints an area to target, then you drive to that area (sometimes 5-6 hrs). Then like it was all planned out perfectly, you sit and watch the storm clouds build up just off in the distance.
Shooting storms is a challenge, one minute you feel that you have all the time in the world to watch and photograph the storm creep up on you, the clouds becoming more and more dramatic the closer it gets. The next minute it is right on top of you and you have to move quickly to reposition yourselves to stay out of large hail and damaging winds, while dealing with an often bad road network.
Overall and despite not getting a tornado to shoot, it was a great adventure and I’m looking forward to getting back out next season.