Gorilla Hail
May 16, 2005 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Being caught between a tornado and softball sized hail is probably not something you should try at home, but it does make for some rather incredible video, as this storm chaser's video from May 12 in Texas demonstrates. A lot of really good chasers and even storm tour companies were caught completely off guard by this storm. I'm sure the auto glass companies near the caprock in Texas were thrilled. WARNING: Perhaps understandably, this clip contains some very strong language.
posted by chakalakasp (26 comments total)
Is it just me, or is there a formatting issue?
posted by digaman at 8:43 PM on May 16, 2005

Sorry, it's fixed.
posted by digaman at 8:44 PM on May 16, 2005

nice links, thanks. I haven't been keeping up with recent chase happenings and had not even heard about this. some incredible videos and some of the nicest mammatus pics i have seen in a while. =)
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 8:47 PM on May 16, 2005

I like how a popcorn ball is used as reference here, as if the human hand wasn't a good enough one.
posted by santiagogo at 8:47 PM on May 16, 2005

Nice links, thanks.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:00 PM on May 16, 2005

That's just viral marketing santiagogo.
posted by FlamingBore at 9:18 PM on May 16, 2005

This stormchase brought to you by Vic's Corn Popper!
Those guys in the video remind anyone else of Bert and Ernie?
posted by blendor at 9:31 PM on May 16, 2005

I remember hailstorms like that when I was growing up in Colorado. I had some hailstones in the freezer for years..
Bigger than a baseball, not quite softball..

Car windows smashed, scratch and dent sales for years, and a new roof..
Snowstorms where the drifts would be from rooftop to rooftop.. 6" privacy fences could be walked over.

Storms like that just don't seem to happen anymore..
posted by Balisong at 9:45 PM on May 16, 2005

Not picking. I love a fortuitous typo:

6" privacy fences could be walked over

IAN: Are you telling me that this is it? This is scenery? Have you ever been to Stonehenge?

Artist: No, I haven't been to Stonehenge.

IAN: The triptychs are...the triptychs are twenty feet high. You can stand four men up them!

Artist: IAN, I was...I was...I was supposed to build it eighteen inches high.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:53 PM on May 16, 2005

Heh.. 6 Foot...
posted by Balisong at 9:56 PM on May 16, 2005

Caught off guard? Obviously they didn't have the Chase Hotline.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:58 PM on May 16, 2005

I'm sure your tongue is firmly in cheek there, rolypolyman, but the Chase Hotline is designed to get you to the storm that produces a tornado. It's up to you to position yourself, make sure your escape routes are planned, and not stand gawking at the gorgeous tornado for too long before skee-daddling. While storm behavior is generally understood, they can't all be trusted to act in a "textbook" fashion - as evidenced by so many experienced chasers getting nailed by this one's icy payload.
posted by spock at 10:06 PM on May 16, 2005

it's lost footage from napoleon dynamite
posted by quaeler at 3:27 AM on May 17, 2005

In Austin, May 1986, I got caught out in a thunderstorm that featured only golf-ball-sized hail, and that was enough to raise welts on my shoulders and a couple good lumps on my head. I hate to think about hail this size.
posted by alumshubby at 4:06 AM on May 17, 2005

It looks like they got caught on the wrong side of the Tornado. Generally speaking, there is a safe direction to observe the tornado from (i.e. the back side of the storm) and some unsafe directions (not just right in front of it, but the north side and the core side of the storm). I've chased before and seen a few, but generally from behind the storm front as I didn't really want to pay for repairing that sort of hail damage.
posted by Numenorian at 6:27 AM on May 17, 2005

OK, here's a lesson for you: when your friend the video producer tells you that there's fame and fortune to be made videotaping tornadoes and posting them on the web ("there's nothing to it, man. You just go where the other guys are, click-click, and there's your video. Hell, I GOT the camera equipment already."), DON'T go with him. If you do, DON'T agree to loan him your car. And if you do loan him your car, DON'T let him drive.

Seriously, am I the only one who thinks these guys come off as total amateurs, totally unprepared? Is everyone in Texas chasing tornadoes these days? And is it just a matter of time before a tornado sucks up a couple of these doofuses?
posted by coelecanth at 7:10 AM on May 17, 2005

I like this quote: Body damage to my Rodeo is pretty severe. I'm hoping the insurance opts to repair rather than totaling it. Do you think they'd still cover it if they knew this guy was out chasing tornadoes?
posted by Roger Dodger at 8:01 AM on May 17, 2005

Fuck. What a great post. Thanks, chakalakasp. The other video clips are gripping, too; the last 1:30 of the 2nd clip here gives a real sense of the chaos.

SCENE: Car with a cracked windshield stopped in the middle of a wet, gray hell.

1: "Ah, crap. I've got problems man; I've lost a side window, I lost a windshield..."
2: "Go forward go forward goforwardgoforward! The wind...could be a meso right back..."
1: "Charles, I can't see, I'm blind."
2: "Back up! Turn around! Turn around! Turn around! Turn around, John, turn around!"

posted by mediareport at 8:26 AM on May 17, 2005

Posting stuff like this on the www? These guys are clearly not married.
: )
posted by spock at 10:27 AM on May 17, 2005

Actually, these guys are not unskilled amateurs. The fact that they got that close to begin with should say as much. The truth of the matter is, this storm did not behave in a textbook fashion, and many very good chasers were caught between trying to beat a tornado about to cross the road to the south or take the core/hook pounding to the north. Most wisely took the north option. I'm a bit surprised to see Cloud 9 Tours, which is basically a van full of tourists, willing to (at first) consider the southern option, but in the end wisdom prevailed and they chose the hail.
posted by chakalakasp at 11:24 AM on May 17, 2005

At least one of car's occupants -- its owner, ha ha -- turned out to be totally unprepared to sit in a hail of giant ice balls, or even to be that close to the tornado. I know this because Mickey the video huckster's camera recorded it. I don't think it's reaching to say that if you let yourself be driven in your own car into the path of nature's most destructive winds by someone who doesn't know which way they're going to blow, you're a bit of a doofus.

chakalakasp, this sounds like something you're especially keen on. I don't think of it as great sport chasing after tornadoes. Of course I see the importance of studying them. But tourists and dudes in Saturns, and sellers of weather pr0n, should stay home, precisely because tornadoes are unpredictable and deadly.
posted by coelecanth at 7:31 PM on May 17, 2005

It's morons like these than cause my insurance rates to go up.
posted by keswick at 8:47 PM on May 17, 2005

Dude: (CRASH!) "aaah! Goddamn!"
Mickey: "Was it glass, man?"
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:44 PM on May 17, 2005

because tornadoes are unpredictable and deadly.

Eh. Life is unpredictable in general.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 10:34 PM on May 17, 2005

chakalakasp: Actually, these guys are not unskilled amateurs.

They may not be amateurs but they are either foolish, foolhardy or stupid. They allowed themselves to get into a position where their was only one line of retreat while chasing a storm that was putting down funnel clouds.

At least they weren't dumb enough to try and drive thru the hail.

coelecanth: chakalakasp, this sounds like something you're especially keen on. I don't think of it as great sport chasing after tornadoes.

Storm chasing is great sport, and not just tornadoes. To be successful and safe requires skill, knowledge and practise. Actually there are a lot of parallels to golf and I'd bet more golfers get killed every year then chasers, from lightning even.

Unfortunately there are way to many people who got all their extreme weather knowledge from Twister. Even up here in Alberta you see these yahoos driving too close to a storm or in such a way that there is only one way (or no way) to retreat. They also tend to be the guys who drive thru fields and park in unsafe locations and manners.
posted by Mitheral at 6:55 AM on May 18, 2005

keswick: It's morons like these than cause my insurance rates to go up.

Well there are morons all around. People eating / drinking / shaving. Talking on cell phones. Driving while tired/ stoned/ drunk. Mechanically unsafe automobiles. Driving while distracted. I doubt storm chase damage is significant.
posted by Mitheral at 7:53 AM on May 18, 2005

« Older Imagine a Bill Moyers and Kenneth Tomlinson...   |   radical torrents Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments