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Discovery Magazine 5/1/2002

Storm Chasers

“A tornado has been spotted 5 miles outside of town and is heading this way. Take cover now!” I can remember hearing words like these countless times while growing up in eastern Oklahoma. Parents, teachers, and weathermen all taught me that you should never take a tornado warning lightly. Your hope is for the tornado to either go the opposite direction or, better yet, just go away. This is the attitude that most people have about tornados…but not everyone.

Storm chasers are those who actually “hunt down” thunderstorms in order to find a tornado. They often drive hundreds of miles hoping to see and study “a twister” from a fairly close distance (something we do not recommend you try). Although storm chasers sometimes put themselves in harm’s way by traveling through heavy rain, strong wind, and hail, they are not the thrill-seeking daredevils Hollywood makes them out to be. Actually, the most dangerous things about their job are car crashes and lightning.

On a few occasions (like May 3, 1999 in central Oklahoma), a storm chaser may see 10-15 tornados in one day. But that is a very rare day in the life of a chaser. Tornados usually are seen only about once in 10 trips—and that is only if they live in Oklahoma or northwest Texas where more tornados strike than anywhere else on the planet.

In April 1985, scientists from the University of Oklahoma actually were able to place research equipment (that measured such things as temperature and air pressure) in the path of an oncoming tornado. The information gathered by such storm chasers is then taken back to their offices and carefully studied. The chasers’ desire is to learn as much as possible about tornados so that they can help others in the future be better prepared when tornados strike.

Similar to the work of storm chasers who gather “tornado facts” and warn others of its damaging winds, Christians must learn from the Bible about the destructiveness of sin and warn others of its damaging effects. We must inform those around us that sins like disobeying parents, gossiping, and being unkind to others can cause pain and suffering that could hurt families and destroy friendships. Like storm chasers who provide valuable information that will help us physically, we must provide biblical information about the harmful effects of sin in order to help others spiritually.

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