DE S T
O; ;;; ;; ; ;;;;;, ;;;;;;; ;;;; ;;;;;;; ;;;;;, ;;;;;;, ;; brother Andy Rice—a former ;; weather producer who now manages the development of weather visualization software at Weather Central—stood in the roadside dirt with his best friend from childhood and scanned the sky, looking hopefully for signs of trouble. If you’re chasing storms, this part of Tornado Alley is
ideal terrain, dotted with hilltops that o;er great vantage points for assessing
the clouds. And now is the time to do it: Peak tornado season runs from April
through July, though twisters can form at any time of year.
;e United States sees more tornadoes than any other country, averaging ;;; a
year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Tracking one down can be an exhilarating experience, but it comes with serious risks.
About ;; percent of American twisters are classi;ed as “strong,” with wind speeds
topping ;;; miles per hour. Although only a handful reach “violent” status, with
winds exceeding ;;; miles per hour, these powerful storms account for ;; percent of all tornado deaths. ;is past April, the series of outbreaks in the Midwest
and Southeast generated at least ;;; tornadoes—more than any previous month
on record. ;is year already ranks as the deadliest tornado season in decades.
Partly because of the danger (and despite its high pro;le on reality TV), storm
chasing is a fairly rare sport. Longtime chasers Roger Edwards and Tim Vazquez,
who maintain an online forum dedicated to storm tracking, estimate that there
are only ;;; or so enthusiasts
who chase year after year. Occa-
sional observers number in the
thousands, though, so a single
promising storm may be pursued
by hundreds of vehicles.