iPhone Found Tornado While Chasing

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by macduke, Jun 4, 2008.

  1. macduke macrumors 604

    macduke

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Location:
    Central U.S.
    #1
    I've been debating whether or not to post this story because 1.) I don't have any proof and 2.) It makes me look like an idiot. So I pretty much can't win, but after reading about the guy who used his iPhone in a robbery I figure I'd post it anyway.

    So a few weeks ago a tornado hit north of Branson, MO. Its that weird town with all the country singers and strange shows. Well I'm a photo major at Missouri State in Springfield, which is about an hour north of Branson. I did some storm chasing after high school but never got a tornado, just some neat lightning shots. So I was driving to the store when I heard on the radio about some tornadic storms that would be hitting to the south. So I do what any sane person would do...I rush back home, grab my gear and roll out.

    I headed south on 65hwy, using Google Maps current location finder to position myself between the cities that were cited on the radio as in the path of the storm. Using the Weather Underground's iPhone webapp, i.wund.com, I was able to view live radar motion and fine tune my location based on the hook echo signature. Turns out I ended up getting WAY too close to the storm. I headed down some rural type road off of 65hwy and passed an overpass that had a bunch of cars under it. I drove past them and felt the wind knocking my car around, and then heard a rumbly, ripping sound. Not good. I did a 180 right in the middle of the road and headed back to the overpass for shelter.

    Under the bridge there was an SUV that I pulled in front of, I believe an Expedition, and a Cadillac car in front of me. I know that you're NOT SUPPOSED TO GO UNDER AN OVERPASS WHEN THERE IS A TORNADO after hearing some terrible stories and new scientific studies about how they can actually amplify the winds in certain circumstances, despite the popularized video of people surviving underneath. However, there were two things that made me do this: 1.) it was up against a massive bedrock outcropping with a ditch and 2.) the tornado was rain wrapped, the most dangerous kind because you can't tell exactly where it is. So I got out of my car and ran along the rocks until I got out to the edge. I could hear the tornado ripping at the earth, the rain stinging my face. I just wanted to see it, to feel it. I know that sounds crazy, but I've always sympathized with Helen Hunt's character in Twister. I would estimate I was easily within a half-mile of it, and I couldn't get my shot.

    Everything was rain wrapped. It was pouring so hard. Most tornadoes have a sort of dry slot around them, sometimes with large hail surrounding that, but from what I've read most of them don't have a heavy core of rain around them and the ones that do are highly unpredictable. It was so dangerous. The winds really started whipping and I decided I should run back to the car. As I was doing so this huge gust came along and knocked me to the ground. I ended up sliding about 10 feet past my car, holding my camera like a football. I crawled through the winds back to my car, opening the door, which slammed into my arm under the wind's pressure. Inside the car I could feel it rocking back and forth. The large SUV behind me took most of the wind so my car didn't get blown over. It was only about a foot behind me. I had crawled over to the passenger side in case I needed to roll out into the ditch right up against the rock. It was so intense. I would estimate the winds outside at about 100-110mph. During the height of it I ended up leaving a stupid "final goodbye" message on my girlfriend and parent's voicemail. People really never do pick up the phone during a crisis! Its ridiculous. At least I covered my bases...at that point I really did think I might die. Its a weird feeling, losing total control of everything and just going along for the ride. It numbs your senses and puts you into a strange state of mind that I can't quite express.

    Anyhow...I felt so dumb after it was all over. The iPhone helped me find my tornado and I didn't even get a shot of it. How pathetic is that? I guess it just wasn't meant to be. But anyway, I'm just posting this here for general interest and how the iPhone can be used to do all sorts of crazy things. This was the first time I've gone chasing since buying the iPhone last June and it will probably be awhile before I try my "luck" (or mother nature's patience) again. Forget multi-million dollar doppler on wheels, all you need is an iPhone!
     
  2. AndyClarke macrumors regular

    AndyClarke

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2007
    Location:
    Fernhurst, Hampshire
  3. gothiquegirrl macrumors regular

    gothiquegirrl

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2006
    Location:
    Planet Earth
  4. sparkyms macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Location:
    Southampton UK
  5. cherrybomb macrumors regular

    cherrybomb

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2008
    #5
    nice story, it's good that you're okay though...
     
  6. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island
    #6
    Glad you lived to tell about it.

    I'd love to see a tornado in person. It's morbid in a way, considering the havoc those things have brought this year.
     
  7. wolfpackfan macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Location:
    Cary, NC
  8. Wingnut330 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Central Ohio - USA
    #8
    Great story. I'm a camera toting, Mac using weather nerd too! I am new to the photography hobby and have never taken my camera out for weather shots aside from the usual sunset. I can't imagine taking my camera out into the elements like that.

    What type of camera are you using? Do you have anything special protecting it? I would be devastated if my XSi were to get damaged!
     
  9. cjmal macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    #9
    I didn't know weather underground had an iPhone optimized site, thanks for that :)
     
  10. Loonytik macrumors 6502a

    Loonytik

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2008
    #10
    You sir.....are not right.

    Good story though.
     
  11. macduke thread starter macrumors 604

    macduke

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Location:
    Central U.S.
    #11
    Its in my sig...Canon 40d. Not exactly water proof, but it has a few more seals than the XSi. I've used it in light rain without any problems, but in this storm I kept it under my Columbia waterproof jacket most of the time. I'm considering buying this Aquatech Sport Shield Rain Cover. Its $209 though...I think I'll try this more "disposable" version first. Its only $8 and has good reviews. Just not sure if its best to go cheap on protecting something like an expensive camera! But I guess that would give me an excuse to buy the 5d mk II when it ever comes out, not that I could afford it though.

    To all those who say I'm not right in the head: Whateva, whateva, I do what I want! Lol...I enjoy the thrill and power of nature. I know enough about storms to stay safe...usually. I'm also a trained spotter and interned at my local national weather service office when I was younger. This one was tricky though. Hands down scariest situation I've ever been in. The sky was so green. It was VERY eerie!

    Hopefully the 3g version with the more precise GPS won't get me sucked up into the next one...I nearly thought I might have the same experience last night. Forgot to mention that we had another tornado warning last night, which also made me want to write about this story. I don't think anything touched down though. Its really been an active season.
     
  12. Wingnut330 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2008
    Location:
    Central Ohio - USA
    #12
    You said you didn't get the shot you wanted - did you get ANY shots? Anything you post here?
     

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