Severe Weather

Tornadoes around the world!

I think it’s safe to say that when most people think of tornadoes, they immediately think of the Great Plains of America. While the central U.S. is the undisputed tornado capital of the world, they can occur literally anywhere. There are LOTS of tornado reports every year from all over the planet. They are common in Australia, southern Asia, South America, and even Europe.

The map below, courtesy of the European Severe Weather Laboratory, shows all the tornado and funnel cloud reports in Europe between September 1 and December 6. 130 reports in all!

1 Sep – 6 Dec 2012


Admittedly, many of these reports are waterspouts that occasionally come onshore and cause damage to coastal communities and property. A great example of one of these picturesque waterspouts occurrred off the coast of Italy on December 2. Very impressive waterspout!


Other tornadic activity outside the U.S. in the past few weeks includes:

This tornado today near Auckland, New Zealand, that unfortunately took the lives of three people.

This tornado and hailstorm in Tasmania on November 9

This tornado in Japan on November 14

This tornado in Portugal on November 16. Impressive but dangerous vantage point for the cameraman as the tornado all but destroys this small soccer stadium. This person should have sought shelter instead of filming this. Way too close!

And that brings us to the amazing and violent tornado that struck Taranto, Italy on November 28. This is a small industrial city in the southeast part of the country, on the “boot heel.” This was a violent tornado in an urban setting, which is an awful combination. This first video clip is from a very close vantage point, and debris can clearly be seen being thrown about by this massive funnel. This is great footage of the structure of the tornado itself as well.

The following is another vantage point of the same massive tornado, and is easily the best tornado footage I have seen come out of Europe. If I was watching this video without any context and didn’t know any better, I would have guessed this to be from Kansas or Oklahoma. This footage, at least from the point of view of a storm chaser, is nothing short of amazing! Note the power flashes as well. This was quite a rare event.

This just goes to show that tornadoes are not a phenomenon limited only to North America. That being said, they occur with most frequency here in the central U.S., and we have the road network and terrain that is perfect for chasing! Come on a tour with us and we’ll show you the most extreme weather on the planet!

Superstorm Sandy

LaGuardia flooding from Superstorm Sandy

How many lives were affected by Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy? The answer is easy: just about everyone.

The NYSE closed yesterday and won’t reopen until tomorrow. Largely populated areas of the Mid Atlantic are deserted as locals wait for the flood waters in their neighborhoods to recede. LaGuardia and JFK airports are still closed, with flood waters reaching as high as some airline gates. Although many of us went to work today, our thoughts were still focused on the chaos and aftermath of the weather back east.

One thing remains true about natural disasters: it’s never about one person, it’s about everyone. We all come together in time of need, whether it’s rescue efforts or donations. Weather brings us all together like nothing else. What was your Sandy experience like?

I received many first-hand reports from back east last night. I have family and friends in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York. Everyone is okay, several are still without power. Flooding and wind were the main pests. The late night report from my brother in northern Delaware was: “Rainy and dark. And windy, we’re definitely getting pounded from the north.”

My mom lives in Pennsylvania, just northwest of Philadelphia. When I asked her how the weather was earlier Monday afternoon, she only had one word for me: “Lousy.”

Her power went out around 8pm Eastern Time. My brother’s never went out. Even family just south of Atlantic City never lost power. Back east it always seems like luck of the draw when severe weather strikes, you never know who will draw the short straw!

What matters now is the rebuild and recovery of the homes lost and lives torn apart. Although Sandy was no Katrina, she was still costly and cost lives. There is a reason I don’t quite feel ready to chase hurricanes: they’re just so BIG. You can get the perfect shot but you can’t get back out. Always leave chasing to the professionals, and if you do decide you want to chase, do it the right way! Catch a ride with an experienced chaser that’s willing to let you ride along. Or take a tour with a company like Rapid Rotation. The safest way to be a part of the action is to be a part of it with the right people.

But I have to ask—if given the chance, would you consider chasing a hurricane?