FOX 17 Rides Along With West Michigan Storm Chaser

Posted at 6:06 PM, Nov 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-18 18:06:37-05

LAFAYETTE, Ind.– Tornado chasers certainly have a love for severe weather and get a thrill out of the chase. But the real purpose for storm chasers is to know what to look for and how to warn people ahead of a dangerous storm.

I was invited to chase with Kevin Barton, part owner of Extreme Tornado Tours, and headed to Indiana where we planned to intercept the line of storms that spawned reports of tornadoes in Illinois.

We typically think of severe weather happening just in Spring. But Fall can see just as severe outbreaks because of the clash of warm and cold air this time of year.

FOX 17 meteorologist Jon Shaner says weather events like the kind we saw affect a third of our nation over the weekend can happen every few years.

“What was really important here was the winds, coming from all different directions and at really high rates of speed,” said Shaner.

“Obviously the winds we saw during the day on Sunday as well as Sunday night really were a testament to just how strong the  winds were not just at the surface but at the upper level of the atmosphere. Those came together in a way that was really fortuitous for storms around the area.”

We intercepted the storm outside a gas station in Lafayette, Indiana. The winds blasted through and sheets of rain pounded our van.

We took to the road to try to get ahead of the storm once again, but we couldn’t keep up as it roared through the Indiana countryside.

Super cells generally move through at 35 miles an hour. This super cell blasted forward at 75 miles an hour, making it impossible for us to stay ahead of it.

The best way to experience one of these chases is to go along with a professional chaser.