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Storm Hunters intercept tornado

Lisa Varano, staff writer

May 22, 2011 — Watch as meteorologists from The Weather Network get close to a tornado.

Tornado forms in Oklahoma Saturday
Tornado forms in Oklahoma Saturday

It happened when they weren't expecting it.

A “beautiful cone-shaped tornado” landed right between the trees where storm chasers could see it.

“We got to watch the whole thing happen, start to finish,” says Dayna Vettese, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

She is hunting down storms in Tornado Alley with a group of weather experts.

Vettese and team had been on the road, in pursuit of tornadoes, for a week before they saw one touch down in a rural area near Ada, Oklahoma -- southeast of Oklahoma City -- on Saturday.

“The chances of seeing a tornado are very slim. It's one of the most elusive things you can get with weather,” says Vettese.

But last year, when the same team went on a storm chase, they were lucky. The weather set up perfectly for them to see several tornadoes.

The “Storm Hunter,” Mark Robinson, another meteorologist at The Weather Network, captured incredible videos, then and now. He says the tornado on Saturday was a surprise.

“That turned out to be the big, tornado-producing storm that we weren't expecting. But we managed to be just in the absolute right position to see the tornado as it crossed the road about a little less than a kilometre away,” he says.

The storm hunters are continuing the chase in the hope of seeing tornadoes this week.


On the phone Sunday from Ardmore, Oklahoma, near the Texas border, Vettese said it was feeling like feeling like 45 with the humidity.

“The sweltering heat means there's a lot of energy in the atmosphere. And the fact that it's so humid means there's a lot of moisture -- which are some of the ingredients we need. We do have a dry line sitting near us, which is like a front, so as soon as that comes through, we'll get some lift,” she says.

Vettese says she is not aware of damage reports from the Ada tornado. But tornadoes left paths of destruction in other areas over the weekend.

A tornado killed a man and destroyed homes in Reading, eastern Kansas, which was pounded with baseball-sized hail on Saturday, The Associated Press reports.

Tornadoes hit the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in Minnesota on Sunday. A local newspaper, The Star Tribune, reports at least one person was killed and more than a dozen people were injured.

Stories about tornadoes continued to unfold Sunday evening. The Weather Channel reports “extreme damage” in Joplin -- near the Missouri border with Kansas and Oklahoma.

Brian Dillon, a meteorologist at The Weather Network, was tracking the storms from our Oakville, Ontario office. He says severe thunderstorms will cross into southern Ontario Monday, and he is not ruling out the risk of tornadic activity on this side of the border.

“There is a chance of tornadoes in every thunderstorm because it's that time of year. With temperatures in the upper 20's, and humidex pushing the 30's, the parameters are there for severe weather in southern Ontario Monday afternoon and night,” he says.

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