This is my 10th year as a high school math teacher. I have also taught physics and physics AP.
But I have been chasing storms since 2001, so this is my 14th year now! I have always had an extreme interest in severe weather and tornadoes, ever since I was a little kid. In sixth grade, my science teacher even had me teach the entire unit on weather!
Witnessing the amazing power that storms are capable of is an amazing sight and experience I have been fortunate enough to be safely a part of. But the thing I like most about chasing is the opportunity I get to relay LIFE SAVING information to the public. New radar technology has made it easier to identify where a tornado may form, but the radar typically is unable to identify if the tornado has actually made it all the way to the ground. Being able to be on the storm lets me see what is happening, before radar is able to see it, and lets that information be relayed to viewers through warnings and live video feeds. There have been numerous occasions where I have been told after storms that people truly believe I saved their life, either through social media updates or by hearing the live reports given through Larry and the team at CBS 11.
Many people try to go out and chase storms, and every storm I see those with beat up cars, people clogging traffic under overpasses, and others that are untrained and are creating safety issues for the few chasers out there that are providing valuable information to assist in the warning process. I strongly encourage you to enjoy the site safely from your home, and not to go out and chase storms if you are untrained. Feel free to contact your local National Weather Service for training opportunities to be a spotter in your community.
My most memorable tornado occurred in Happy, Texas on May 5, 2002. After watching the storm in the same location for around 30 minutes, I got to see the entire life cycle of two tornadoes that occurred during this storm. The first one touched down west of town, and quickly grew into a very large tornado. The tornado weakened before hitting the town, but then another smaller one touched down and hit the town around 6:45, passing less than 100 yards in front of me, with winds around 130 mph. This was probably my most memorable tornado because not only was it the first tornado I was able to witness, but also because, unfortunately, I had to experience loss of life resulting from it. As soon as the tornado had hit, I immediately drove into the damage area to assist with the recovery efforts.
There have been numerous tornado and hurricane events that I will never forget. Seeing the storms at their maximum fury is a dramatic experience in its own, but when those storms start to effect communities, it is heartbreaking.