Stay Away From Tornadoes!!

I mean that literally.
So far this spring, I have watched two dramatic videos of tornadoes that ended when the person taking the video was killed and one where the person was seriously injured.

Before we get back into a weather pattern conducive to tornadoes next week, I believe it is appropriate to highlight the deadly hazard of flying debris from tornadoes.

A tornado is defined by the whirling winds around the tornado, not by the visible cloud that extends from the thunderstorm to the ground. If you look at the frame capture to the above video, you can see the flying debris near the ground is at least twice the diameter of the funnel cloud. 

I suspect people viewing and photographing tornadoes think they are safe because the cloud had not reached them. Tragically, in real life, the hazard extends well away from the tornado’s cloud.

As far as I know, this has never been better illustrated than by the amazing video (above) taken near Katie, Oklahoma, on May 9, by Darin Brunin and Dick McGowan. The frame captures, below, are from their video and illustrate, better than words, the extreme danger anywhere near a tornado.

Sheet metal (circled) falling to earth has no conscience. Note that the funnel cloud is not even in the photo. It falls on you and it is likely you'd be critically injured.

The circled items are a tree and much of a displaced home an instant before it crumbled. As a tree moves through the air at high speed, the branches become as dangerous as knives. 

In this photo, one of the power poles begins to fall while large pieces of debris, likely from the crumbled home, begin spinning around. 

You will not miss anything by taking shelter during a tornado warning. There will be plenty of opportunities to view video of the tornado. Let the professionals take the video. You and your family: Take shelter!

SPECIAL UPDATE, 7:10am Saturday:

I just became aware that the winds in this tornado were measured by mobile radar to be 217 mph. That would make it an EF-5 if the EF scale allowed the use of wind speed measurements rather than estimates from damage.
For the non-meteorologists who read this blog, the caption says,

Doppler-on-Wheels one second (duration of measurement) winds were 217 mph at 17 meters (54') whereas our [tornado measuring device called a] POD O got 112 mph just north of the core (upper left in graphic) one minute, 13 seconds earlier!! After dropping the POD, we drove east on Buel Green Road, then south on U.S. Highway 177 and got blasted by the thunderstorm's rear flank downdraft winds.  Note: Just heard from Darin and this measurement is from the second tornado, not the tornado in the photograph. It is my opinion the winds in tornado in the photograph above were at least as strong.


  1. Mike- THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! WeatherCall will make sure this is distributed far and wide.

  2. Please note: Darin and I have been doing this a long time and the reason of showing these videos, is to show the true power of that it scares the public into talking shelter! We were BEHIND the tornado and I, was personally, watching for falling debris THE ENTIRE TIME. We only get as close as we are comfortable and did search and rescue on this house afterwards and missed the rest of the tornadoes.

    Dick McGowan

  3. As Ron White put it (in a joke about an idiot thinking he could ride out a hurricane outside)... "It's not THAT the wind's blowing; it's WHAT the wind's blowing." And that's usually pieces of broken buildings and vehicles including torn metal that can literally slice you in half or impale you when propelled by hurricane/tornado-force winds.


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