Plains, Texas - May 12, 2005
We were in the "Bear's Cage",
caught between a tornado and the giant hail that was now wrapping
around it. We had no choice but to retreat at the last second
as we were on the edge of the circulation. Dave Patrick from Fergus,
Ontario was there as well and his video camera instantly fogged
up from the rapid drop in air pressure. Our new problem was the
giant hail that was now pounding us like an angry gorilla on the
roof of the van. We sustained a lot of damage including a smashed
windshield & passenger rear window, destroyed windshield wipers,
a damaged antenna and various other dents. The baseballs that
came through the side window showered the passengers in the back
with huge shards of glass and each time the windshield would take
another hit, I'd have glass bits flying at me and landing in my
lap. Some other chasers (Chris Kridler, Dave Lewison, Scott McPartland
& Pete Venture) got pounded up even worse than us with tremendous
damage to their vehicles. We even saw a Saturn (with its dent
resistant side panels) get a fist sized hole pierced through the
door panel. This was the most intense hail I've ever experienced.
It was huge, fast and rock hard.
Here is a radar image of the supercell
thunderstorm that produced the tornadoes and giant hail on May
12th. You can see that we were "in the hook" of the
storm while the curtains of monstrous hail wrapped around us.