August 7th 2020 is a day that I will never forget. This was the absolute best day and the absolute worst day I have ever experienced chasing storms.
On the “best side” I managed to get onto the tornado of the year in Canada and it is in a close race with the Ashby/Dalton MN EF-4 tornado for the tornado of the year. This was my first successful tornado and I will always be proud of being there for it.
On the “worst” side. Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tillbury of Melita lost their lives when the tornado picked up the vehicle they were in and threw it. Melita and area lost two 18 year olds who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This is something that I struggled with and still do to this day. Even as I am typing this almost a year later, I still have a knot in my gut thinking about the devastation that was caused. I know that this is a by product of chasing storms, but even though I knew it, I was not prepared for the incredible feeling of guilt and depression that would follow. It took a few days before the full weight of what had just occurred hit me. I was fortunate to have a support group of chasers that I could talk to. Each and every one of them has at some point gone through this same set of emotions and there is no escaping that.
As time passes I am realizing that this event would have happened whether I was there or not. The benefit to having chasers out is that these cases of severe weather get reported while the event is happening or in some cases even before. Thanks to the reports from chasers on scene the emergency vehicles had an incredible response time and the chasers were already on scene assisting in any way possible. With this being my first I was in shock at what had just happened and did not know how to react. By the time I could comprehend what had just happened Emergency services were on site.