E18 – Riders on the Storm

Jana Houser standing next to the mobile radar truck during a storm chase on 8 May 2012.
Credit: Jana Houser.

Few natural phenomena are more difficult to study than tornadoes. They’re short-lived, their locations are notoriously hard to predict, and getting close enough to observe them is both challenging and extremely dangerous.

In this episode, Ohio University meteorologist Jana Houser describes what it’s like to chase these monster storms. Listen to Jana describe the terror and excitement of her first chase and hear her first-hand account of the 2013 El Reno, Oklahoma tornado, the widest tornado ever recorded. Learn how chasing this behemoth storm taught meteorologists that tornadoes form from the ground up – not the other way around – and hear just how much of the 1996 action movie Twister was based on real life.

A special thanks to storm chasers Jeff Snyder and Skip Talbot for providing footage of their chases to Third Pod for this episode. Watch Skip’s original footage here and see Jeff’s videos on his YouTube channel.

Read more about Jana’s findings on tornado formation here

This episode is dedicated to the memory of Tim Samaras, Paul Samaras, and Carl Young, the three storm chasers killed by the El Reno tornado, and the first chasers to die while actively chasing a storm in the 50-year history of storm chasing.

This episode was produced by Lauren Lipuma and mixed by Adell Coleman.

Episode Transcript

Shane Hanlon:                   Hello.

Nanci Bompey:                 Hi.

Shane Hanlon:                   Hi, Nanci.

Nanci Bompey:                 Hey.

Shane Hanlon:                   So what’s your favorite ’90s movie?

Nanci Bompey:                 I must say … It’s not like … Well. I don’t know if it’s a typical ’90s movie, but I watched it a lot in the ’90s, and it was made in the ’90s.

Shane Hanlon:                   Oh my God. It’s an answer.

Lauren Lipuma:                 That is the definition of a ’90s movie.

Shane Hanlon:                   Lauren’s like, I have to say something.

Nanci Bompey:                 Dazed and Confused.

Shane Hanlon:                   Oh.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Oh. That’s a good one.

Shane Hanlon:                   That’s a good one. Why is not a typical ’90s movie?

Nanci Bompey:                 I don’t know.

Shane Hanlon:                   It doesn’t have to be about the ’90s.

Nanci Bompey:                 No, I guess not. I guess because I’m saying that because it takes place in the ’70s which is a dumb reason.

Shane Hanlon:                   That’s a … Yeah. That’s not a good reason.

Nanci Bompey:                 Yeah. Totally not a good reason.

Shane Hanlon:                   Have you … So one of the quintessential ’90s movies I think of is Twister. Have you-

Nanci Bompey:                 I’ve never seen Twister.

Shane Hanlon:                   You’ve never seen Twister?

Lauren Lipuma:                 How-

Shane Hanlon:                   You’ve never seen Twister?

Nanci Bompey:                 I had never even really heard of that.

Lauren Lipuma:                 How have you never seen Twister?

Nanci Bompey:                 I never really heard of this movie. I don’t know.

Lauren Lipuma:                 It’s like a classic ’90s action movie.

Nanci Bompey:                 How did that escape me?

Shane Hanlon:                   I don’t know.

Lauren Lipuma:                 I don’t know.

Nanci Bompey:                 I don’t really like action movies.

Shane Hanlon:                   Is this your East Coast bias?

Nanci Bompey:                 It’s a Twista! It’s that what people say? Is that what they say in the movie?

Lauren Lipuma:                 No. No. Nope. Nope.

Shane Hanlon:                   Oh my gosh. We are going to get so many comments on this.

Shane Hanlon:                   Welcome to the American Geophysical Union Podcast about the scientists and the methods behind the science. These are the stories you won’t read in a manuscript or hear in a lecture. I’m Shane Hanlon.

Nanci Bompey:                 And I’m Nanci Bompey.

Shane Hanlon:                   And it’s the Third Pod from the Sun.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Did you know that Twister was actually based on a real research project?

Nanci Bompey:                 No, because I never saw the movie.

Shane Hanlon:                   I have seen the movie.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Does that make you want to see it now?

Nanci Bompey:                 Perhaps. Perhaps.

Shane Hanlon:                   Yeah, see, I didn’t know that. I want to watch it again.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Yeah. I just found out I met our meteorologist, Jana Houser, and she goes out and chases tornadoes as part of her job just like Helen Hunt.

Jana Houser:                      My name is Dr. Jana Houser, and I am an Assistant Professor at Ohio University. When it comes to research, my general focus is looking at radar observations of tornadoes and the storms that produce those tornadoes.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Tell me a little bit about how you got into studying tornadoes. Was this always kind of a goal of yours in meteorology or did it kind of just happen?

Jana Houser:                      I became interested in tornadoes specifically at a very early age. I wasn’t watching cartoons. I was watching The Weather Channel, and I asked my dad to get me videos of tornadoes and hurricanes. Now this is getting into maybe the early ’90s where we have Jim Cantore who still has hair, you know, back in the day of all that.

Jana Houser:                      And once I really kind of got into that, I just totally fell in love particularly with tornadoes. And ever since then, it’s kind of been a one-track course to get me to where I am.

Speaker 5:                           Power flash. Power flashes. All right.

Lauren Lipuma:                 When was the first time you went out to chase a storm?

Jana Houser:                      The first time I went out to chase a storm was in 2004, I was a Junior at Penn State, and the very first day I was chasing was still probably one of my top five chases, and now I’ve been chasing for over 15 years. The very first day we were out, we were in south central Kansas, and we were driving and sort of out of the blue, like literally it didn’t seem like there should be a tornado, we heard over the radio, “Oh, hey, look, there’s a tornado over there.” And looked out the window, and there’s this tornado that’s just kind of like in the middle of the field, and there was even a rainbow nearby. I mean, it was kind of surreal and almost other earthly.

Jana Houser:                      Because you have this contradiction between this tornado, which hypothetically, you know is incurring damage somewhere, but then you have this placid rainbow nearby that kind of creates this sense of, “All is well, and look at this pretty tornado.” You know? So it was kind of a moment of, “Oh, wow, that’s interesting.”

Jana Houser:                      But the moment that was more energizing to me than that very first tornado was the next storm that we collected data on. And I can remember very clearly, I can picture the deployment spot in my head, I know even to this day when I pass that spot. I’m like, “Oh, that’s the spot where I saw my first real exciting tornado.” And I can remember I was driving the radar truck, and we were sitting collecting data, so I wasn’t driving at the time, but we were operating with a second radar, and the other radar operator was saying, “Oh, yeah, look. We’ve got another tornado on the ground.”

Jana Houser:                      We were looking, and for whatever reason, from our vantage point, we just couldn’t see this tornado. And there was a small rise in the ground surface not too far away from us, and it was just enough that it obscured the tornado from our vision, and we’re like, “Where is this thing? Where is this thing?” And we are seeing it now, on our radar, and it’s relatively close, and we’re seeing it. And then all of a sudden, visually, there it was. And it was close. I mean, I don’t know really how close it was, we weren’t in an unsafe position, but being the first time that I was really out in the field, I was like, “Oh my gosh, tornado! Right there!” And I didn’t know whether to be ecstatic or to cry. It was kind of like this weird conflict ion of emotion, where I was just thrilled to be really seeing a tornado relatively up close for the first time in my life, and at the same time, being slightly petrified with fear and not knowing what is exactly happening.

Speaker 5:                           Beautiful multi vortex, looks like an appreciable tornado, just to our south. Looks like we’re going to be north side, we might get some large hail.

Speaker 6:                           Okay, great, thank you.

Speaker 5:                           Look at the horizontal. Feeding on the left side. Holy.

Jana Houser:                      So we stayed at this location, and I was with my mentor at the time, she is still a faculty member at Penn State, and she’s a very calm woman. And I remember her getting on the radio and saying, “So, this tornado’s getting a little close, do you think we should consider moving south a little bit?” And the radar operator was like, “No, you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine.” So we waited out for a little bit, and it’s getting closer and closer, and she gets on the radio again, a little bit more kind of emotion in her voice, and saying, “This is really close. I think we’re going to move now.” And they’re like, “No, you’ll be fine.” So she stops, she’s like, “We’re moving.” And just, you know, executive decision made right then. So we’re trying to blast south, away from this tornado. And I remember actually laughing, and I think I might have even called my mom as I’m driving away from this tornado.

Jana Houser:                      So we’re trying to drive away from this tornado into winds that are at least 45 miles per hour, we’re basically being sucked into the storm.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Oh my God.

Jana Houser:                      And I had the pedal to the floor, and we were going 45 miles per hour. And that was the fastest I could get that truck to go.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Were you terrified? What were you feeling?

Jana Houser:                      I was … I don’t think I was terrified, I do remember laughing very, probably maniacally. But it was those kind of excitement, and a little bit of fear, and just total exhilaration of what I was seeing and just the craziness of that particular situation and scenario that I was in at that moment.

Shane Hanlon:                   Did she say they were driving a radar truck?

Nanci Bompey:                 So do they actually drive a radar truck in this movie you speak of, Twister?

Shane Hanlon:                   Oh, Nanci.

Lauren Lipuma:                 God, Nanci. Yes. There’s a classic scene where their big red truck gets picked up and dropped in the middle of the road.

Shane Hanlon:                   I’m not even going to say spoiler warnings, because everyone’s seen this movie.

Lauren Lipuma:                 You can’t spoil a movie that’s been out for 20 years. So yes, they drive a radar truck, and it’s basically like a Doppler radar system that meteorologists use to track storms, and clouds, and rain, and weather. But it’s small, and it can fit on the back of a pickup truck, so they can drive around with it, take it wherever they need to go. It’s kind of like a big satellite dish, essentially. With the big antenna.

Shane Hanlon:                   It’s not like Dorothy?

Lauren Lipuma:                 We’re going to get to that later, Shane.

Shane Hanlon:                   Oh, I’m spoiling.

Nanci Bompey:                 What’s Dorothy? Is that part of the movie too?

Lauren Lipuma:                 Yes.

Shane Hanlon:                   We’ll get there.

Lauren Lipuma:                 We’ll get there. We’ll get there.

Shane Hanlon:                   All right. So how do they know where the tornado’s going to be, or where to go?

Lauren Lipuma:                 Well, they don’t.

Jana Houser:                      It’s very challenging to determine beforehand where the tornado’s going to actually form, or which storm is going to produce the tornado, especially when you don’t even have storms to begin with. So we tend to go out in the general direction, and we’re monitoring the conditions essentially nonstop. It’s essentially 18 hours almost straight of constant data coming in, and constant reevaluation of what’s happening. So as we get a better feel for the conditions as we’re going throughout the day, then we start to hone in on potential, more precise areas. Like specific towns where we think we want to target based upon the temperature conditions, and the wind conditions, and what things are looking like above the ground. So depending on how far the drive is, we might need to take four hours to get there. We might be in a good position to begin with, in which case you just basically find a Walmart, or a gas station, and you essentially sit, sometimes for hours at a time, until the atmosphere actually makes storms.

Jana Houser:                      And then the trickiest part is when you have multiple storms that are forming, trying to figure out which one is going to produce a tornado, and there is no science specifically to that. Oftentimes, it is just luck. But there’s a lot of external factors that come into play, like, “Did you get stuck behind the train that’s going five miles per hour and you’re sitting for 20 minutes behind this train,” and then you’re trying to blast towards where a storm is forming, and you end up missing the tornado by 15 minutes. And you think, “Man, if it just were not for that darn train, we would have been there.” And sometimes there’s road network issues, where you have a store, but you just physically cannot get to it because the road network won’t let you. And sometimes that can mean that you miss the tornado as you’re driving and you’re 25 miles away from the storm and it’s producing a tornado, and there’s just no other road there to get to.

Lauren Lipuma:                 What was your most memorable chase? Do you think it was that one or was there another one?

Jana Houser:                      The most memorable chase though that I had was actually my last year of graduate school, and this was 2013, and this was on the tornado that went through El Reno, Oklahoma, and unfortunately killed three storm chasers.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Oh my God.

Jana Houser:                      Yeah, so this was May 31st of 2013.

Speaker 7:                           Good morning from the National Weather Service and Forecast office, here’s a special early morning severe weather outlook to help you plan your day today. It’s a complex forecast, this is not a slam dunk, automatic, easy forecast today. There’s some elements that make it a little bit complicated. We do think we have the highest tornado potential that we’ve seen this week today. The storm’s we’ll be most concerned about will be the area along the dry line there, and we will look for isolated super cell storms to develop, probably closer to that 4-6 p.m. time frame, but we’ll be watching out by midafternoon, and those could be severe very, very quickly with very large destructive hail. We had over softball sized hail reported yesterday. We’ll see that again today, and the tornado threat will be increasing as we get toward the evening.

Jana Houser:                      And I remember deploying on that storm before it produced a tornado. And it was just so mean looking. I guess to somebody who’s never really seen a tornado, you might not understand the difference that the sky is in certain conditions. So in some cases, you might have a tornado that’s kind of like I was describing earlier, like almost delicate and kind of pretty and more aesthetic. The sky looks different. And then you have these rare situations where you have these long lived, violent, multiple mile wide tornadoes, and the storm is very different.

Jana Houser:                      And this was a situation on that particular day, and I can remember watching the clouds just swirling before the tornado happened. And they were so low, and they were so black, and it was sort of this sense of doom. It was very much like this storm could be really bad. So we set up our radar, and we deployed and we were collecting data, and the tornado happened, and it was very much a pretty scary tornado. And it behaved a little bit unusually. It went to the south east. Most of the time, tornadoes that are forming in the northern hemisphere move off to the north east.

Jana Houser:                      So very commonly, people try to escape south on a road to get out of the way of a tornado.

Speaker 8:                           It’s getting big. We’re locked behind it, I think. It’s now south of our … Oh, boy.

Jana Houser:                      So I was again driving the radar, and my colleague was operating the radar in the back, and I wasn’t able to exactly see the display that he was seeing. So as this thing was getting closer, and it was very wide, we started talking about our undeployment strategies, and trying to figure out what our best route was. So we were at an intersection where there was a freeway that went east west, and we were on a state highway that went north south, or very close to a state highway that went north south. So I asked the radar operator, I said, “Jeff, do you think we should go south now?” And he said, “No. Do not go south, you need to go east right now.”

Jana Houser:                      And I’m really grateful for that, because I mean, had we gone south … I mean, there was a slew of people that were going south on this state highway, but that was the road that the chasers that ended up dying were trying to do the exact same thing and go south on this road, and they just … The tornado was so broad and there were so many … It wasn’t a single funnel. It was a multiple vortex tornado, and there were smaller funnels that were kind of rotating around a larger central axis of rotation.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Oh, wow.

Jana Houser:                      And they just happened to kind of be in the wrong place at the wrong time and one of these smaller scale vortices, which by the way, are more intense than the single wider tornadoes. One of those smaller vortices just kind of sucked them up and unfortunately that was that. They were very, very highly esteemed chasers, and it was a catastrophic day.

Jana Houser:                      I can remember then, after that, we didn’t know any of this was going on at the time, so after we blasted off to the east, we had another deployment a little bit later on. And there was leaves and debris just falling from the sky. And this was around the time that the tornado was dissipating, so all of this debris had been lofted up and was basically falling out as the updraft supporting the tornado was weakening. And then later, not much later, maybe half an hour later, we were trying to drive east to stay with the storm that was producing these tornadoes. There was basically … We were getting into the Oklahoma City metro area, and there is basically mass panic about this approaching storm that just produced this huge tornado, which by the way, our radar estimated was more than two and a half miles wide.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Oh my God.

Jana Houser:                      With wind speeds over 300 miles an hour. So this was a beast.

Speaker 9:                           That is the biggest tornado I have ever seen.

Jana Houser:                      And fact, that now holds the record of being the widest tornado on record.

Shane Hanlon:                   I’ve seen videos and things of mass tornadoes like online and stuff, but I can’t imagine being part of that. That has to be just terrifying, and how deadly it is. And just, I don’t know, the loss is so hard to imagine.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Yeah, and I mean it was just huge. It was miles wide. Miles, I can’t even imagine it.

Nanci Bompey:                 That’s insane.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Yeah.

Nanci Bompey:                 So what did they learn from this, I guess from science. Did they learn … They obviously got some science out of this.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Yeah, it wasn’t just a tragedy, they actually learned a lot, and so there were tons and tons of storm chasers on this storm. They were there photographing it, they were there videotaping it. And Jana was there collecting her radar data. And so something interesting happened when she compared the visual observations to her radar data, she discovered something really kind of crazy about how tornadoes form.

Jana Houser:                      So Anton Seimon basically put together this project that was entirely self-imposed, and he collected video and still photography from as many chasers as would contribute to him, and he geo located everybody through GPS as well as identifying landmarks in their still and video photography, and then geo synchronized using lightning flashes, to determine the exact precise time of everybody’s videos. So the videos are all within roughly one millisecond of each other, they’re all GPS coordinated and geo referenced within, I think, around something like ten feet or something like that. Our radar collected an unprecedented data set on that day, where we were collecting data at very low levels to the ground.

Jana Houser:                      We just happened to be at a good location with a really good view off to where the tornado was located. There was nothing inhibiting our viewing angle, meaning there were no trees or phone poles, or barns or anything like that that inhibited the propagation of the radar beam. And we were also slightly on a rise, so we could scan at an elevation that was basically parallel to the ground. Most of the time you can’t do that, because the radar beam is not truly like a laser, it’s more like an ice cream cone. So if you try to scan parallel to the ground, a portion of your radar beam actually intersects the ground, and it contaminates the data, so you don’t get reliable data at that lowest elevation angle.

Jana Houser:                      So from the radar data, since this particular case study was something that was really pretty unprecedented. Then we coupled that with visual observations from Anton’s group to essentially put together a story about how the rotation associated with the tornado formed. So the initial motivation behind this project was that, I was reading Anton’s paper, and he had a picture of a tornado that was about two minutes earlier than what we and my research group published as tornado formation time based on the radar data. So I was a little confused about that at first, I was like, “This is very clear that there’s a tornado at this time, I mean there’s a funnel cloud, there’s no denying from the visual aspect that there is a tornado on the ground. So why didn’t we define it earlier in our radar data?”

Lauren Lipuma:                 So they saw it before your radar picked it up?

Jana Houser:                      That’s right. Yes. So, it turns out that … Defining what a tornado is, when you really get down to the nitty gritties, is very complicated. So we all sort of have this idea of, “Oh, okay, well you have this funnel cloud and it’s in contact with the ground, and you have strong winds, etc.,” and yes, that is what a tornado is. But then you get onto these nuances like, “If you have really strong winds at the ground, but no funnel cloud, when is it a tornado?” And what is required in the radar data to confirm that an area of rotation is a tornado? So getting back to this sort of discrepancy in the time, we had to find the formation time of the tornado, as when we saw a signature of rotation associated with the tornado, essentially throughout the vertical elevation domain that we had in our radar data. So essentially you have this vertically continuous circulation associated with the tornado. And that’s pretty traditionally the way we define tornadoes from a radar perspective.

Jana Houser:                      But then obviously we have this visual confirmation of a tornado before that. So I went back through the data, and I could not find evidence of this tornado. And I’m scratching my head, and I’m like, “What am I missing here?” Well what it turned out to be is that I was not looking at the data from the lowest elevation scan, that zero degree elevation stand. Because traditionally, as I described earlier, we throw it out, because it’s contaminated and we don’t use it. However, this data set had higher quality data at that lowest elevation angle, and it so happened that the only evidence of strong tornadic scale rotation in that radar volume, was at that lowest elevation angle, at zero degrees.

Jana Houser:                      So essentially what we found, was that there was a tornado confined to very shallow vertical heights, again, the low 300 meters. And this persisted for about a minute and a half, not quite two minutes, prior to the onset of the deeper, more continuous vortex.

Lauren Lipuma:                 What does all this tell you about tornadoes?

Jana Houser:                      Let me back up a little bit here. There has been a traditional disagreement about the way tornadoes form. Back in the 1970s, there was a series of studies that came out that suggested tornadoes formed from rotations that strengthened at mid-level, so we’re talking several kilometers above the ground. It strengthens there, and basically draws air in from below, bringing that air toward the center of rotation, causing the rotation to get stronger at progressively lower and lower elevations until it intersects the surface, at which time a tornado forms.

Jana Houser:                      So this is good from a forecasting perspective, because if a forecaster sees this area of strong rotation aloft, they can say, “Oh, let’s monitor this for a potential tornado development.” And the process is relatively long, it takes maybe ten minutes or so. And there was some evidence, observationally, to support that, from the new era, quote unquote, of Doppler radars that were just coming around in the 1970s.

Jana Houser:                      So there’s a second hypothesis that has been used to explain tornadoes predominately not occurring with super cells, which are the parent storm mode associated with the most violent tornadoes. But when you have a line of storms, for example, it has been described as this bottom of the process where you have rotation that’s induced by strong, horizontal changes in wind speed, associated with like a squad line, or basically a big forward surge of fast moving air, and then that kind of spins up into a tornado.

Jana Houser:                      Getting back to your original question, what does this mean, as far as seeing this really low level tornado? What is means is that you are not going to really ever be finding strong evidence of a tornado descending, so we need to stop making that a priority in our forecasting strategies, and we need to reevaluate the way that we are issuing warnings and the types of signals that we are using to make those warnings. And I’m a pretty fervent believer that one of the reasons why we have so many false alarms in this era is because people do look for that mid-level rotation and they say, “Okay, we see this strong mid-level rotation,” and take that to be kind of a trigger.

Shane Hanlon:                   All right, so we’ve been alluding to Twister, this movie that Nanci has never seen. A lot. But there are some obviously parallels, right?

Lauren Lipuma:                 Well, yeah. So Shane, remember the name of the instrument?

Shane Hanlon:                   Oh, this is where Dorothy comes in.

Lauren Lipuma:                 This is where Dorothy comes in.

Nanci Bompey:                 Like Wizard of Oz, I have saw that.

Lauren Lipuma:                 All right, well that’s good. Very surprised. Actually, the Dorothy in Twister is based on a real project, and Jana told me all about it.

Lauren Lipuma:                 So the movie Twister is actually based on a real project that was an instrument called TOTO, go figure. TOTO was an acronym for the Totable Tornado Observatory, and basically it was this big cylinder like a water tank, that was brought out into the field to ideally place it in the line of an approaching tornado, and it was equipped with sensors, light pressure sensors, temperature moisture sensors, et cetera. Now it did not have the lid that came off and all of these fun little whirlybirds going up into the storm. But the scientific basis was, again, based on a real field campaign.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Now we joke in the field about it. These little sensors that just get sucked up into the tornado. I’m not an engineer, so I don’t know how feasible that truly is.

Jana Houser:                      The challenge would be to deploy that safely in a location where it can actually be ingested into the tornado.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Yeah. Right. So what happened with the TOTO project?

Jana Houser:                      The TOTO project ended up basically failing because they could not deploy the instrument where the tornadoes were. Big surprise, right? You have the sort of perspective, especially when you go and see YouTube videos now, and there’s just video everywhere, that it’s pretty easy to make an intercept with a tornado. The reality is, it’s really not that easy. You really have to work hard. And again, as I was mentioning before, really early in our discussion with the logistics of road networks and things like that, for one you got to anticipate where the tornado is going to be maybe five minutes down the road, which may or may not be true. And two, tornadoes are actually really, in general, pretty narrow. The average tornado is on the order of about 200 meters or so wide, so it’s not that wide.

Lauren Lipuma:                 That seems pretty big to me.

Jana Houser:                      Well, if you think about miles, and miles, and miles of road that are stretching, and you have a tornado that’s approaching, and you have to put this instrument in the line of this 200 meter wide tornado as it’s moving across the fields. It’s a pretty challenging feat to accomplish, so Twister was … I mean, not Twister. TOTO was ultimately a little bit of a failure, unfortunately.

Jana Houser:                      But I should extrapolate and say that the idea then has been sort of reassessed and redesigned, and there have been teams to produce these little triangular pods, and they basically aerodynamically get pressed down to the surface as the tornado is moving by. And there has been some success in deploying those pods, and getting video of the tornado as it moves over, and recording pressure, and moisture, and temperature and so forth. And unfortunately the video’s not as cool as you would hope it would be. Like, I love the idea in Twister where you have this little tiny circulation in the very middle and then there’s this clear air, and then there’s the big tornado outside, you know? And there’s actually some evidence to suggest from a radar perspective that something like that might actually sort of exist.

Jana Houser:                      So what we would love to see in a video would be like a confirmation of that. But unfortunately, these little turtles, being so low to the ground, basically just become totally caked with mud, and you don’t end up with … Almost like you need a little windshield wiper there that’s kind of clearing off the camera lens or something like that.

Lauren Lipuma:                 How many times in your career, when you went out chasing, did you not … Was there just nothing?

Jana Houser:                      More times than I went out and saw something. I would say as far as successful tornado days, maybe like 10% of my tornado chases have been what I consider successful.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Wow.

Jana Houser:                      So it’s a lot of driving. But that 10%, maybe 15%, just blow the other 85% out of the water, and just make you sucked into this whole idea of seeing a tornado, and just living that experience.

Shane Hanlon:                   So Nanci, are you going to go see Twister now?

Nanci Bompey:                 I mean, maybe. Although I feel like after this episode, I feel like I have a pretty good sense of what occurs …

Lauren Lipuma:                 Oh, there’s so much more drama.

Shane Hanlon:                   It’s a little different, yeah.

Lauren Lipuma:                 It’s so suspenseful. You have to see it.

Shane Hanlon:                   Yeah. We’ll have a watch party.

Lauren Lipuma:                 Yeah.

Shane Hanlon:                   Yeah.

Lauren Lipuma:                 It’ll be fun.

Shane Hanlon:                   If anyone’s in the D.C. area and wants to come to our Twister watch party, you’re more than welcome to come.

Shane Hanlon:                   All right folks, well that’s all from Third Pod From The Sunday.

Nanci Bompey:                 Thanks to much to Lauren, for bringing us this story, and to Jana for sharing her work with us.

Shane Hanlon:                   The podcast is also produced with help from Josh Speiser, Olivia Ambrogio, Katie Broendel, and Liza Lester. And thanks to Adell Coleman for producing this episode.

Nanci Bompey:                 We would love to hear your thoughts on our podcast, please rate and review us, and of course you can hear new episodes wherever you get your podcasts, and always at thirdpodfromthesun.com.

Shane Hanlon:                   Thanks all, and we’ll see you next time.


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