jbedwards said: "...Great White Sharks, chasing tornadoes, ShawnTO you do have "living on the edge" streak to you. Have you sky jumped yet?..."
Hah. I just noticed this Forum thread. Just wanted to point out, as a tornado researcher myself, that studying tornadoes in the field is not a particularly dangerous thing to do. There is a common misconception that tornadoes occur randomly and can move in odd, impossible to predict, directions. That's simply not true.
I have been studying tornadoes in the field since 1985, and probably have seen 100 of them, some of them very close up, mostly on my own with a few colleagues, but sometimes as part of a larger government/university research project like VORTEX (very loosely depicted and inaccurately in the movie Twister).
Legitimate and responsible chasers never put themselves in the path of a tornado. Unfortunately, that's what the director had the characters do in Twister, despite advice not to from the severe storms consultants he had, which has left the impression that tornado researchers do that. We simply don't.
The chief hazard we face is from lightning, and some have self-created danger from driving unsafely. I don't.
That's different than the hazard faced by the populace when a tornado comes into an urban area, particularly, at night. The average person does not have the training to anticipate tornadoes, and must respond to tornado warnings unhesitatingly. Once a tornado is in an urban area, there are no escape routes, realistically, and the only response is to take cover.
Oh...on the Andover tornado mentioned by HndsmKansan, one of the most serious misconceptions about what to do in a tornado was perpetrated by the Wichita news-team that was out on I35. One of the most DANGEROUS things to do is to attempt to hide under a freeway overpass. Many studies have corroborated the observations of meteorologists that tornado winds are funnelled and augmented by the structure itself...so that the wind strength in the place in which those idiots hid was actually much stronger than that outside. The safest action for them to have taken was not to try to catch up to the tornado (which is what they were doing, if you have seen the video) thus purposefully putting themselves in its path.
The safest action was for them to have stopped and let the tornado cross the road ahead of them. The next safest action would have been to have gotten out of their vehicle and lain down in the drainage ditch adjacent to the freeway,
If you guys want to see pictures of my storm chases, you can click on this link: http://tornado.sfsu.edu/geosciences/stormchase.html