Recently, my co-worker, Shay revealed why Spring is her favorite time of the year.  While she listed some good reasons, I have a different reason why Spring is my favorite time of the year - it's tornado season!

tornado lancaster

It's no real secret that I'm a huge weather buff, especially when it comes to thunderstorms and tornadoes. Even if they aren't necessarily here in Abilene; like the one that hit Dallas/Ft. Worth in April of last year.  So, anytime a storm fires up, you can be sure I'm checking out the radar, reporting on it, or outside taking a look at it.

Here in Abilene, we live in what is famously called 'Tornado Alley', which includes Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Kentucky.  We're on the southern edge of Tornado Alley, but we still get our share of severe thunderstorms that can produce tornadoes. And, when Spring hits, the chances for those severe thunderstorms and tornadoes go way up, as well as my excitement.

Don't get me wrong, I realize the dangers and destruction of these storms.  It's not like I want to see a tornado rip a community apart, I just dig the heck out of watching them form, and seeing the beauty of nature at work.

My obsession with twisters started at a young age when, anytime a major storm came pushing through, I would watch it until it completely passed by, hoping a tornado would drop out of the sky. It wasn't until later that I learned how they were formed and the destruction they caused.

One of my first attempts to chase one of these bad boys was around 1995. A friend and I were driving around on the back roads near the Clyde and Baird area when a strong thunderstorm seemed to come out of nowhere. Now first of all, not only were my friend and I not not too bright to begin with, we did not have any kind of training at all as far as chasing storms. Yet, we decided it would be cool to see if we could chase the storm and see if a tornado formed. To make a long story short, we gave chase and the storm kicked our tail. We think we may have seen a tornado, but we were so busy trying to run for our lives that we weren't sure what we saw. Meeting a storm head on is a very stupid thing to do. We were blown all over the road, the windshield got all jacked up because of all the hail, and I needed new underwear. Come to find out, the storm we were chasing did have a funnel cloud spotted with it, but it never touched down.

Dallas/Ft. Worth Tornado
YouTube / Jason Coffman

That experience pushed me to learn more about how thunderstorms work and how tornadoes form.  I have even taken a few SkyWarn classes to get certified in storm spotting and I am happy to say that I've now seen several tornadoes up close. The difference now is that I know a lot more about safely seeing one of nature's most beautiful, yet dangerous wonders.

So, any time you see me out looking at the sky, see me with my face stuck in a radar, or talking about severe storms on the radio, you know it must be Spring.

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