Storm chasers come too close for comfort after a violent EF-3 tornado suddenly changes course over North Texas
A storm chasing tour van was damaged by tornado debris
LOCKETT, Tex. -- A large and dangerous EF-3 tornado moved through rural areas of Lockett, Texas during the evening hours Wednesday apparently catching some chasers off guard.
The National Weather Service issued Tornado Warnings in the general vicinity and warned of a "particularly dangerous situation" but the unusual track of the twister was extremely close to some storm chasers.
Charles Edwards, owner of Cloud 9 Tours, said his group was heading back their hotel after a long day of chasing, but the final supercell of the night threw them a curve ball.
"Our road was going northeast and there was tornado to our south, and it was dark, and it was wrapped in rain from our perspective, so we couldn’t see it," Edwards said.
"All of a sudden this tornado turned to the north heading right for us. I didn't know if it was behind us, in front of us or what to do. So I couldn’t tell if we should slow down or speed up," Edwards said.
The storm chaser knew the van was close to the tornado, so he said he did one of the few things you can do at that point and pointed the van into the direction of the wind.
"The vehicle is designed to handle winds directly from the front. It's not designed to handle winds from the side. It'll flip the car over. We tried to do our best that we could. Luckily, the tornado actually rotated the vehicle around to continue playing the wind," Edwards said.
Despite busted windows and flying debris, the storms chasers said they only received a few scrapes and bruises during their encounter with the tornado.
After surveying damage, meteorologists classified the twister as an EF-3 with winds of at least 140 mph.
Local emergency managers reported damage to several homes in town and the winds were even strong enough to bend metal utility poles.
Hundreds of homes in Foard and Wilbarger counties lost power during the storm and there were no reported were no fatalities across North Texas.