Outlaw Chasers Capture Unique View of Twin Tornadoes

By Bridget Blevins | bblevins@kq2.com

Published 06/20 2014 06:44PM

Updated 06/20 2014 07:20PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) When a rare double tornado hit Pilger, Neb. last week, storm chasers from all over the country were there to film the powerful twisters.

One of those chasers was from right here in northwest Missouri. He and the Outlaw Chasers used multiple cameras to show a unique view of the storm.

"Hurry, hurry, hurry, grab it," yelled one of the Outlaw Chasers' team members.

As tornado warnings went out across northern Nebraska, the Outlaw Chasers staged equipment to capture a rare view of the storm.

From a safe distance, Chris Rice watched one tornado turn into two.

"Two tornadoes. Freakin' awesome," he said as his camera rolled.

The images were among the best footage he's captured during his time as a chaser.

"These were actually separate tornadoes from separate wall clouds," he said. "So, that was kind of unique and they were both strong tornadoes."

But, the double tornadoes twisting through the sky toward Pilger only captured a portion of the storm's power.

"Look what it's doing to those trees, Lisa," said Randy "Outlaw" Hicks, Outlaw Chasers.

Closer to the action, Hicks and his chasing partner Lisa McGeough had a much different view.

"Oh, it's a roar. You can feel it from your insides out. It howls and it screams and it eats things. It grows and it's violently beautiful," said McGeough.

They kept the camera rolling as trees flew through the air in front of them and, even hit bounced off the windshield.

The view from inside the car was surreal.

"We're riding it out. It's life or death right now boys," shouted Hicks.

But that was still only part of the what their cameras captured. On the ground, the Outlaw team had deployed a probe.

The instrument, set up with three cameras, added to the triple view of a twin tornado as it roared by them.

"Everything is going in slow motion and it's a hundred miles an hour at the same time," McGeough recalled.

"I put the footage in at home and pulled it up and my jaw hit the floor. I've seen a lot of footage from a lot of chasers, a lot of camera deployments. I've never seen footage like that before," added Rice.

While critics might question chasers for putting themselves this close to an upredictable force of nature, the Outlaw team says they do it to get a better understanding of severe weather.

"It's kind of neat to have the footage where it comes all together. You've got the camera probe in the tornado. You have cameras in front of the tornado that's reading the tornado. Then, you have cameras to the south. So, you have all these different angles of the tornado," said Rice.

"The only thing that's going to increase warning time, other than the man sitting right there giving you that report, which is what spotters and chasers are so important for, is to capture something that's never been seen," added Hicks.

For guys like Hicks, there's always another view yet to be captured.

"I've always told people - because I take such extreme chances - that if I ever get the shot i'm looking for, I'll turn around and walk away from the game and be done with it and then move on to phase four of my life which is growing old," he said.

But, when asked if he really believed that, Hicks had this to say with a big laugh.

"No. I'm a liar."

Hicks and McGeough traveled from Springfield to storm chase in Nebraska. Rice lives in Plattsburg.

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