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Storm Hunters in Tornado Alley

Lisa Varano, staff writer

July 26, 2010 — Mark Robinson is the Storm Hunter. You met him on The Weather Network in the spring. Now, he's back.

Funnel cloud spotted by Mark Robinson
Funnel cloud spotted by Mark Robinson

Mark Robinson, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, has been chasing storms for 10 years. We've got the exciting footage this Storm Hunter shot in Tornado Alley in May.

To give you a sneak peek, Mark answered these questions about his passion for severe weather.

What can we expect from you this time?

I think we had five tornadoes and this incredible hailstorm -- probably one of the best hailstorms I've ever seen in my life -- just outside of Oklahoma City. It was just absolutely one of the best years I've ever had.

How did you get into storm hunting?

As a kid, I was terrified of thunderstorms. They would crop up, and I would go hide under my bed. Until one year, when I was much younger, we saw an incredible thunderstorm from the safety of the Toronto Zoo. We were actually in one of the pavilions underground, and we were able to watch this whole storm go by. It just absolutely fascinated me. Finally, in 2000, I found out that you can actually go storm chasing in southern Ontario.

Mark Robinson and his team chasing storms
Mark Robinson and his team chasing storms

Why do you run towards the storm when most people are running away from it?

That reminds me of every time I go into a hurricane. There are two million cars headed north and three cars headed south -- and one of those is me.

It's something I live for. It's just an amazing feeling to be up close to these titanic storms -- be they thunderstorms or hurricanes -- and to be able to see Mother Nature at her most beautiful, and her most deadly.

When I stood there in the Great Plains this year and saw one of the most incredibly structured storms I've seen in my life -- and you actually get to see this storm in the Storm Hunters episodes -- it was just absolutely humbling and awe-inspiring to see this thing as it slowly spun in the air above us. This thing is probably the size of Mount Everest, or maybe even twice as big as Mount Everest, and you could see it rotating. It was this incredible wind sculpture in the sky. It's there one minute, and gone the next.

What does your wife say when you say: I'm going to chase a tornado or a hurricane?

She's been out on a few tornado chases with me, actually. She loves it because, being an artist, she loves to see the incredible drama of the storms and how beautiful they are. And they've actually inspired her to do a few pieces. But she hasn't come on a hurricane chase yet.

What advice do you have for people who are interested in storm hunting?

Go on a tour group before you try to do it yourself. It took me years of learning to do this. It can be incredibly dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.

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