While most people try to avoid tornadoes, we seek them out on the Great Plains of America. Each year, with our radar and laptop in hand, we pursue our passion as tornado hunters. During the peak season of April, May and June, these storms—both beautiful and menacing—unleash their power.
So how did we ever get into this strange way of having a holiday––that some believe to be crazy and dangerous. I suppose it started with having recurring dreams about tornadoes throughout my childhood and even as an adult. Perhaps, it was spurred on by the movie, The Wizard Of Oz. I have always been interested in meteorology and when I learned of storm chasing tours that were taking place I decided to join up. Crazy thing is my wife, Adele was interested just as a curiosity. Over time, she has become as passionate about it as I am.
The first time that we went we only saw one small tornado but on our third outing we hit the jackpot––twin tornadoes during one storm––and several others in ensuing days.
On another occasion, we were watching the radar and an intense storm forming above us.
Suddenly, Adele yelled out, “A tornado is coming behind us!” Sure enough, just down the road about a mile away it was approaching us. We jumped in our vehicle and sped away, and watched as the funnel lifted back up into the sky.
The past couple of years we have been doing it on our own with radar and this year we saw a few, including an extremely intense storm in Kansas with a night tornado, lit up by flashes of lightning.
Storm chasing is not always glamorous. There is much driving involved, sometimes eating on the run and staying in outback motels. There are days that are a total bust where you get to a storm only to see it fizzle. However, after ten years the passion for this activity has not subsided.
The pursuit of these storms is not just a reckless hobby, but involves the use of science that is very mentally stimulating. The challenge is to get to the storm which hopefully develops into the right storm––a supercell. If it starts to rotate and a funnel cloud starts to drop, that is when the real excitement starts. When we do spot these elusive wonders, it can be one of the most-inspiring events in all of nature.
Editor’s Note: Dr Adele Thomas, semi-retired medical doctor and Dr Ely Lazar, retired chiropractor, are on a new mission as the Passionate Retirees. They are dedicated to inspiring the over 50s to live fulfilling and adventurous lives, so that “the twilight years will be the highlight years”. Their book, “Travel Secrets For Seniors” was released in early 2014. With more than 80 years combined of professional experience, their articles, books and workshops cover a range of topics from travel, health, relationships, sexuality and finances for seniors.
“Adele and Ely have always impressed me with their exceptional knowledge, professionalism and positive attitude. Mention their name and the one word that always comes up is respect.” – John Ross, Master Networker