I had spent the last twenty minutes chasing, photographing and filming one of the prettiest and most photogenic tornadoes that you could ever hope to see. What’s more, this wasn’t in Kansas, Oklahoma, or any of the other Tornado Alley states – this was just a few kilometers east of Arthur Ontario! My excitement level was through the roof, however I barely had time to catch my breath because the storm was cycling and still going strong; I needed to stay with it in case it produced again!
The storm was now right-turning and taking a more southeastward path, so I hopped in the car and began weaving my way toward the town of Erin to stay with the storm which was, by this time, ahead of me. I drove south down Wellington Road 25 as the base began to develop a new lowering, and then I turned east onto Wellington Road 22. A new clear slot was cutting in and another well-developed wall cloud was spinning away in front of me; could I really be about to snag my second tornado of the day?!
A new tornado warning was issued as I was approaching Erin, and as I turned onto the Charleston Sideroad on the north side of the village, a funnel cloud formed. The funnel was front lit, a long tapered cone. I turned south onto Winston Churchill Boulevard, threw the car in park, and set up my video camera to record the developing tornado while I watched and snapped photos.
Now, at this point I should explain that, when I left the house earlier in the day, I had been in a rush and forgot to toss my tripod into the car with my other gear. Usually, I set my video camera up on the tripod to record the action and this frees me to enjoy the storm and take still photos with my other camera. So, where did I set up my video camera to record this new developing tornado? On the roof of my car.
I snapped pics and watched as the funnel cloud slowly decended. As best I could tell, the cone made it about as far as halfway to the ground. I kept an eye at its base scanning for a debris cloud which would indicate it was indeed a tornado, but my view was obscured by the trees accross the field in front of me. I decided to reposition.
I jumped in the car and headed south, then east, trying to find a vantage point where I would be closer and have a view of its base to see if it was on the ground. However, as I drove, the funnel began to rope out and retreat upward. My last view of the dissipating little funnel came and went as I unknowingly entered the forested hills east of Erin.
By the time I emerged from the trees, the storm was far ahead of me and dying. A short time later the warnings were dropped as it finally lost steam – which was almost a relief since it had finally gotten away from me. After a truly incredible chase, I was at last ready to call it a day. I drove back to Toronto, parked in the garage, then went to grab my camera and video camera so that I could look over and show Mike all of my incredible photos and video.
Camera… check. Video camera… … …
When I retraced my steps the next morning, I found my video camera where I expected, just south of the Charleston Sideroad on Winston Churchill Boulevard. Of course, I had hoped and prayed that it had been flung gracefully from the roof of my car, landing gently in the soft grass to the side of the road, undiscovered and waiting for me with all of my spectacular footage of the Arthur tornado.
If wishing made it so.