I was recently surprised to learn what a big business tornado chasing has become. Most people who live in what we call tornado alley (defined as northwest Texas, across Oklahoma and through northeast Kansas) would take shelter the moment a tornado alarm sounds. And then there are those adventurous souls who think that chasing a severe storm in order to spot a tornado is a great thrill. If these thrill seekers should be “lucky” enough to come near to more than one tornado, why that would be a huge bonus
Chased by a Tornado in Nashville, Tennessee
Several years ago, I took a vacation trip to Nashville. I had never visited Nashville before, being from New York City at the time. The day before I was to fly, reports on the Weather Channel were warning about severe weather around Nashville that was expected to spawn tornados. I had been looking forward to my trip, so when there were no flight delays, I gave no more thought to the tornado warnings.
When I arrived at the Nashville airport, I rented a car. One of the things I love to do when I travel is explore. I do my own travel planning and map out an itinerary ahead of time so that I get to really know the place that I am visiting. For this trip, my plans were to stay in a motel in Brentwood.
Tornado Sirens Were My Wake-up Call
I didn’t need an alarm clock my first morning because urgent tornado sirens started to blare. The TV was telling people in the Brentwood area to take immediate shelter. There was just one problem – my room and bathroom had windows.
Later that morning, I headed north toward The Grand Ole Opry. I planned to get a ticket for later in the week and a ticket for a cruise on the General Jackson, a river steamboat.
As I sat in my car before leaving the parking lot at The Grand Ole Opry, I could hear tornado sirens in the distance. When I checked the radio, the tornado was now moving north and following me.
As I started my drive back to Brentwood, I kept the radio on so that I could keep track of the tornado, which at that point had been circling Nashville for hours. Being a tourist and being chased by a tornado in a place that is unfamiliar is not my idea of a great adventure. When the forecaster would tell people in a certain district to take cover, I had no idea of how close that district was to where I was.
On the way back to Brentwood, I accidently got off the main road. The only thing I knew was that I seemed to be going in the right direction. As I drove, the wind started to blow
up more and more severely. The right side of the road became as dark as smoke, and it seemed that I was going right into the heart of the tornado area.
Finally, I saw brightness ahead and a highway that looked to be the road I needed to be on to return to Brentwood.
When I got into my room, I headed for the TV and discovered that the tornado that had been to the right of the road I had traveled had touched down a mile away in downtown Nashville.
How to Be a Tornado Chaser Instead of Being Chased by a Tornado
If the adventure of chasing a tornado appeals to you, I would definitely recommend that you check out the many storm chasing tours that are now available. As Michelle Leach, an eHow Contributor, advised in her article entitled, How to Chase a Tornado
“Opt for storm chasing tours. For a fee, you can get the adrenaline-rushing experience with veteran storm chasers and meteorologists as your guides. Only you won’t put yourself or others at risk.”
￼After my experience of being chased around for a day by a tornado, that seems like very good advice.