Mar 11, 2012

Here's my story:

May 27, 1997, Jarrell, Texas. Even those who don't chase storms or pay a whole lot of attention to the weather know what happened there that day. A series of tornados touched down, from near Waco to north of Austin, all down the west side of I-35. But the one that bore down on the Double Creek Estates in Jarrell is the one we all remember, an incredible F5 monster that slowly moved through and swept the land clean.

I first heard of it the next day on the news, and when I got to work I began looking for more details on the internet. I had lived in Georgetown (a few miles south of Jarrell) for a few years, and had been IN Jarrell on several occasions, so this particular tornado caught my attention. I watched video of it (on CNN's website I think) and I read many accounts of eye-witnesses. One of those accounts was Craig Green's account of actually chasing after the Jarrell tornado, even though he and his wife arrived on the scene toward the end of this particular event. For some reason, the idea of playing 'tag' with a tornado intrigued me, and I began searching the internet for more information. I eventually ended up on Gilbert Sebenste's "Storm Chaser" web site, where I ran across a really neat little "find a chase partner" page. I contacted Steve Miller who was evidently looking for some help with navigation and/or gas expenses, and he agreed to take my wife Bronwyn and I along on his next chase! A few days later, Monday, June 9, Bronwyn and I were in the car after work and I spied a large cloud northeast of us. I talked her into 'chasing' it, as a practice round of course, and we headed out. We drove east on Loop 635 across the north side of Dallas, then headed south on Loop 12 in an attempt to cut it off 'at the pass.' We ended up heading east on some back roads and eventually came out on Hwy. 80 in Forney, on the east side of Mesquite. The cloud was moving faster to the south than we could really keep up with, but we got to drive through where it had rained. As we worked our way back to I-20 I turned on the radio and WBAP-820 mentioned that this storm had put out a funnel just north of where we caught up with it! Just after this we passed a storm spotter scanning the skies for further activity. The fact that we came so close to the 'action' on what was really just a whim only further fueled my desire to chase storms. I was hooked! Our first 'official' chase with Steve took place on June 11. Little did I know at the time, but it would be just over a YEAR before I would see my first tornado! That's my story, what's yours?

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