Among the storm chasers: witnessing the terrifying power of tornadoes

Witnessing the destructive power of a tornado can be exhilarating. Now some amateur enthusiasts are helping scientists predict these awesome weather events

Eight years ago on 20 May – a Monday afternoon – the most destructive category of tornado, known as an EF5, touched down just outside the town of Newcastle, Oklahoma. For 37 minutes, with winds estimated at 210mph, it snaked its way northeast towards the city of Moore, forging a catastrophic path. More than 1,000 homes were destroyed, 24 people were killed and 377 were injured. The damage was estimated at $2bn.

Late that same night I drove from my then-home in Austin, Texas, the five-and-a-half hours to Moore to report on the aftermath. On the way into town the following morning, I passed abandoned cars that told their own story of panic and terror. I saw houses that had been ripped from their foundations.

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