Looking back at this day there are several memories that I have that will always stay with me. Probably one of the most frightening I've experienced as a storm chaser, and one of the tougher days in seeing the damage it caused. It started out pretty frantically. Early in the afternoon storms started to develop and it wasn't long before the tornado touched down southeast of Hinton and made its way northeast. I had positioned myself to the west of El Reno, at Exit 115 to be exact knowing it was heading in my general direction. As it moved closer you could hear the rushing sound as if a giant waterfall were miles away. It was tough to make out the tornado itself, by this time it had morphed into a gigantic wedge and wrapped in rain. These are the most dangerous of tornadoes because you don't know it's there until it's already on top of you. Watching to the southwest, I was able to capture a few shots although I was without a tripod, and there was very little light to work with (causing blurriness of the photos). Hearing the roar get closer and not fully trusting it would stay on path, I decided to drop back from Exit 115 and move back three miles to the first business loop exit west of El Reno. I was pretty confident that even though I fell back I would still have plenty of visual, whatever was available anyways.
I watched the storm move to the northeast as I fell back into El Reno and eventually worked my way up Highway 81. Just north of town the tornado had already moved through, stripping bark off trees and knocking down power lines. By this time I had also lost my data connection, so I had really no way of knowing exactly where it was other than watching the rainy mess and hoping that nothing was inside the rain curtain I was about to enter.
I drove under a leaning power line and headed north on 81 trying to stay up with it. As I worked my way north I was enveloped in rain and strong inflow winds, literally pulling me sideways. This was one of my scariest moments, mostly for not having my bearings and not knowing where I was in relation to the mile wide beast that had just gone through. I did a full stop on the highway and thought about turning around and heading back south, but wasn't sure what was coming up so I decided to keep heading north. I eventually found an underpass and stopped for a few moments to decompress and gather myself.
This is the pixelated video from my live stream that day that recorded my scariest moment in chasing.
Afterwards, I made my way east, well behind the EF5 tornado that was still marching to the northeast towards Guthrie. I saw houses torn apart, the smell of propane filled the air and debris littered the yards and had collected along the fences. Everyone in this area had survived, but further to the east the storm had claimed lives.
The road east had already been closed off by emergency personnel, so I worked my way back to the south hoping to catch the storms moving though Norman and eastward near Shawnee. I was a few minutes late though, and narrowly missing catching a strong rope tornado that obliterated a semi truck as it sat on the side of the interstate. I managed to catch a cool few photos before calling it a day. A day I will never forget.
Click an ad to support this site!