On June 12, I attended a program at W. Clarke Swanson Branch presented by University of Nebraska – Lincoln alum Jeremy Shields. Shields studied meteorology in college and turned his fascination for weather into a storm chasing business where he actually takes people on a storm chasing adventure to witness storms and tornadoes in action from as safe distance. During his presentation, he shared how he developed an interest in the weather, discussed how he best prepares for a chase, and demonstrated some of the tools he uses, as well as footage and photos of tornadoes he has witnessed.
Program participants asked a variety of questions ranging from times of day that storms are most likely to hit, to how his storm chasing affects his family life. Shields’ experiences weren’t quite like the movie, Twister, but they did serve as a good reminder about how even people who have the most modern technology can’t always predict what the weather will do, or what direction it may take.
I was particularly interested in why some of the people in the room decided to attend this program. One gentleman had lived through Nebraska’s devastating tornadoes in 1975. Whenever the 1975 tornadoes come up, I think of two things… 1) My mom, who very pregnant at the time with my sister (because clearly, I’m not that old…). I always wonder how she felt during the storm and how scared she may have been; and 2) The book, Night of the Twisters, though that book by Ivy Ruckman was about tornadoes in Grand Island in 1980. Either way, I’ve always kind of had my own curiosity about weather and natural disasters, and my past career with the American Red Cross allowed me to see the aftermath of disasters ranging from wildfires to mudslides and tornadoes to hurricanes. After seeing lives turned inside out in a matter of moments, I don’t think I will ever turn into one of those people who becomes complacent about the weather in Nebraska. I’m the kind of person who has a disaster supply kit in my shelter space, along with a weather radio, flashlight, extra batteries, etc.
Anyway, if you want to learn more about how to be safe in a storm, I’d advise taking at look at the American Red Cross preparedness information. If you want to learn more about stormchasing safely, join Shields for his next program at Bess Johnson Elkhorn Branch on June 25 at 6:30 p.m. Stay safe out there! 🙂