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Jun 01, 2021
Addicted to the Wind
When I was a boy of about 13, a Tornado hit my hometown of Wichita Falls. That was over 40 years ago and if you mention the term "Terrible Tuesday" there, most folks will know exactly what you are talking about. April 10, 1979, was a day that Wichita Falls made national news with one of the most deadly tornados in history.
We lived away from where the tornado hit town. My folks were not home and I did the most dangerous thing you can do in a storm like that, I watched it. When the sirens blow I was outside playing and started in but I looked up at the sky and became mesmerized. It was like nothing I had ever seen in my short life. I stood there transfixed at the drama that was being played out on the stage of sky and clouds. I was too far to see the tornado itself but the theater that plays in the sky around a tornado if visible (often it is not because of rain or other clouds) was so filled with beauty I was hooked.
Fast forward to ten years ago when fellow photographer and storm chaser and one of the best guys in the world, Ben Jacobi, asked if I would like to tag along to photograph a storm, I couldn't resist. Since that date, I have been a sky junkie. If you look at the body of my art, the sky is the most prominent feature of the majority of my images.
Not long ago a novice photographer asked me what angle to approach storm. I immediately suggested he take a storm spotter course and strongly advised he not chase alone. Storms are dangerous and unpredictable. I have lost friends who were killed while chasing. I have seen cars totaled. More than one chaser has been hit by lightning since I started. Chasing storms is a bit like photographing rattlesnakes. If you get close enough there is a strong chance of being bit. I never chase alone and my chase partners are usually far more educated than me in the ways of storms. I still consider myself a novice after 10 years and having taken courses and reading dozens of books.
These chases I went with fellow chaser Doug Black. Doug is a 30-year veteran and super knowledgeable. Doug has been doing it professionally for over 3 decades. He has some incredible stories, photos and videos. This year he has gotten me under some of the most incredible things I have ever seen including this Mesocyclone that had just dropped a Tornado (we missed that event by minutes) near Sudan Texas.
Near Sudan, Texas 5-16-2021
It is not just storms I am addicted to. Doug is a wizard at getting in place to watch the start of the storms. He understands forecasting very well.
The drama around storms is so incredible from the intensity of the Mesocyclones to the rainbows and sunsets and lightning.
Sometimes the storm just adds the beauty of the landscape. While we missed this storm, as it raged on in the distance it seemed to make the flowers all that more intensely poetic and radiant.
The big lesson for me in storms is that no matter how intense or violent, they only last a while, eventually the storm passes. No matter the damage, the storm passes and clear skies will come again.
Looking at the storm moving off and the clearing skies behind me.
Here is a distant view of a storm that had recently passed over me, tornado warned but never dropping a funnel.
Whatever storms you are going through in life I hope they are short lived and that if you get a chance you are able to breath and look around for the beauty in life in the middle of the wind and fury. Not always easy.
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