JAY COUNTY, Ind. (WFFT) - For many people, they head indoors when there is the risk for severe weather, but not storm chasers, they hop in their cars to confront the beasts.
Dustin Fisher, a local storm chaser, witnessed the tornado that moved through Delaware, Blackford, Jay, and Mercer counties on Sunday, coming within half a mile of the twister. He said,
“Once I seen it, I immediately stopped, pulled over to the side of the road and I actually tried to block the road just so that way if anyone was actually coming down the road, they wouldn’t continue on their path.”
Nicholas Dunn, John Tinney, and David Buckner were part of a storm chase team that took a direct hit from a spin up twister just northeast of Sheridan. The velocity scan provided by our sister station Fox59 in Indianapolis showed the spinning winds inside the yellow circle at the chase teams location.
Dunn remembers the moment the tornado struck, saying
“All of a sudden, we went from a shelf cloud to an instantaneous rain-wrapped tornado. It was intense, winds were easily 70-80 miles per hour, we were shaking in the vehicle, we just had to ride it out, we had no choice.”
Tinney said, “I can recall making the phone call to my wife, yesterday. It was a bit emotional because we felt lucky to have gotten through that as well as we did...It was a humbling reminder that even if you do everything correctly, use all the training that the National Weather Service is so great at providing, unfortunate things can happen.”
Buckner recounted the evening after, saying
“It took a long time to wind down last night because you just had to stop and think about everything that happened and how fortunate we were and makes you realize how much your loved ones mean to you.”
A few storm chasers do it for the thrill, but many also want to help save lives. Tinney and his team helped the National Weather Service survey damage. Fisher physically got out of his car to stop traffic from driving right into the tornado.
“Any time I see something like this I want to be able to help get information to the National Weather Service and local authorities and try to get people the advanced warning that they need to take shelter and hopefully possibly save some lives,” Fisher said.
So, without that training, it’s a good idea to stay indoors during severe weather.