October 12, 2001 Decatur, Texas Tornado

My housemate Jason and I (Simon) left Norman in the late afternoon on Oct 12th and were bound for the Weatherford/Mineral Wells region. Jason is not a storm chaser, so I let him drive and I told him where to go, which proved very helpful/life-saving later that night.

We encountered what I thought to be a broken squall-line near Joplin, TX. We watched brief wall clouds form, but no rotation was seen. When darkness descended upon us I decided we should drive back home. We were heading N on Rd 1156 approaching Vineyard, we were driving thru the FFD of the updraft we were watching previously. Nickel and some quarter size hail began to fall on us at the 1156 and SR 380 intersection, which made me believe our storm was intensifying.


Wall Cloud and Tornado 





Wall Cloud & Vault


Wall Cloud & Tornado


Wall Cloud










Soon after turning E on 380 a tornado warning was issued for our storm, so I instructed Jason to get out of the FFD. In Bridgeport we exited the FFD and I watched a large rotating wall cloud to my S. I instructed Jason to continue driving E on 380 and then to turn onto a small dirt road on the West side of Decatur only a hundred or so meters south of 380.

I jumped out of the car and tried frantically to set up my tripod as the wall cloud quickly approached our position. I finally got my tripod up, when a lightening flash revealed what seemed to be a large funnel out the corner of my eye, which would put the funnel just to our SW. So I stared in that particular direction waiting for another lightening flash, but the lightening completely stopped(Note: earlier the lightening in front of the wall cloud was like a CG strobe light, nothing like I have ever seen before).

Finally, a bolt illuminated a large cone shaped funnel rapidly approaching our location. I yelled at Jason to get in the car and go! Jason, already scared-to-death, jumped in and put the car in drive before I opened my door. I threw my tripod, camera and all, in the car and told him to go. My door was still open as we were flying N to 380. I told him to turn E on 380 and hall ass. Soon after turning E on 380 power flashes lit up the sky behind us illuminating the tornado perfectly. I wanted to make sure we were not in the tornado's path and not have the lights of Decatur affecting my pictures. So we pulled off on a small road on the E side of Decatur and I snapped a few pictures, one being the pic below. We were only yards from 380 and looking NNW when I took that particular pic.




Above images are copyright property of Simon T. Brewer. Any unauthorized reproductions are strictly prohibited by law.


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