May 16th 1997 Chase Report

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This day was really not much of a chase. It was more like a chance encounter. My father and I went out to a local Vinton store to purchase windshield wiper blades for our car. I wanted to go with him since there was a thunderstorm moving into town that was showing yellow on the radar. I knew it wasn't much, but I wanted to hear some thunder after a long winter.

As we watched the storm, my father began asking questions about the typical structure of a thunderstorm. I began explaining things to him and pointing to the different sections of the storm. The weird part was that we could see this storm's updraft and hail shaft. Then, right before our eyes, the storm formed a wall cloud! I couldn't believe it. This had become a little pulse storm, and it was blowing up right in front of us. Eventually, a little funnel started to lower. Then I saw a dust swirl on the ground. I moved so I could make sure it was not just a car kicking up the dust. At this point, the funnel became more pronounced. I then called 911 on my cellular phone and followed it. This funnel was about one mile northwest of Vinton. The following warning was soon issued.

Weather Alert!!!

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The tornado was on the ground for about five minutes before the storm died. The reason a tornado warning was never issued was because there was no one to verify what I reported. It was a weak but surprising funnel. Since I wasn't expecting it, I didn't have a camera to catch it. I now carry a Kodak fun saver camera with me everywhere I go to make sure it doesn't happen again.

DISCLAIMER: Remember storm chasing exposes chasers to many hazardous and potentially deadly weather conditions such as lightning, dangerous roads, damaging winds, hail, and flying debris which puts the chaser's life at risk, particularly those who have little or no experience and/or storm structure education. Learning to deal with these is best done by understanding supercells and thunderstorms, and riding with an experienced chaser before attempting to chase on their own. The author of these pages does not encourage storm chasing and is therefore not responsible for any actions as a result of what is seen here!

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