The Chase: Epilogue

April 20, 2009

As my wife, dog, cat and I sat in the basement last night with the tornado sirens wailing, I had a chance to reflect upon our tornado chasing exploits from a week before, recounted below in “The Chase”.  As it turns out, the only sane place to be at such times is in the basement, as safe as can be, and not out on the road trying to get a glimpse of what might bring about one’s final moments on God’s green Earth.


The storm that we chased turns out to have spawned four confirmed tornadoes in Georgia.  I’d bet dollars to donuts that there were more, but, the storm that we were in, one that spawned many funnels, resulted in no touchdowns that have been confirmed.  I’m thankful for that. We had quite a show and no one was hurt.  Law enforcement did officially report a funnel cloud/funnel right at where we were at on Union Hill which came as no surprise to me as we had seen it.  As we drove through the tall Georgia pines and up Union Hill I knew that it was close, very close, and having made a wrong turn right into it, that we were in the bear’s cage.  We could feel it.


While the images of that storm will remain with me, vivid and horrific, the risks taken to witness it were not worth it, not by a long shot.  To borrow a line from Dante’s Peak, we were too close to the show.  Way too close.  Had that storm had the additional strength to drop any of the dozens of funnel clouds that we spotted, we may well have found ourselves in a worst case scenario. My theory is that the hills that we live in, the foothills of the Blue Ridge chain of the Appalachian Mountains, interfered enough with the vortex to prevent a full tilt from horizontal to vertical, breaking up the funnel as it neared the ground. With a little more (or different) energy the results might have been very different.


So, after many years, I am formally ending my storm chasing career.  I’ve been very lucky, and as a good man always knows his limitations, I won’t be pressing that luck.


As my Mom used to say, you don’t need to look for trouble, it has a way of finding you.    


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