May 21 - Waco, Texas
- I don't know where to begin, I'm still
in shock. Today we lost a good friend and a member of the Cloud
9 Tours family. Chris Curtis died suddenly overnight while we
were staying in Denton, Texas after yesterday's storm chase.
It was completely unexpected and I still have a hard time believing
it is true. Chris was incredibly enthusiastic about weather and
we've chased hundreds of storms and 50 tornadoes together over
the past ten years.
- My most sincere condolences to his
other friends and family. He died while out doing what he loved.
Today we celebrated his life and passion and mourn the loss of
a great friend. He was a talented writer who knew how to spin
a tall tale, a connoisseur of food and drink, an entrepreneur,
photographer and music lover. His sense of humour is what I will
- Thank you for all the good times my
friend, you will not be forgotten. Below are his last words,
the blog post he wrote last night:
- Im in our chase van driving
south on I35 towards Dallas. We have rooms booked for the night
just north of the city and will be pursuing yet another system
of severe weather tomorrow in that area. Today we woke up in
Shawnee OK, perhaps a mile or so from where a powerful tornado
destroyed dozens of homes and killed two people. Our group leader
lives in Shawnee, and his wife was at home and evacuated to a
local shelter during the storm. Their home was spared, but tonight
in Moore OK many others were not so fortunate.
- Moore is next door to Norman OK,
which is our base camp when we assemble together
to chase storms each spring. We have friends there who work in
hotels and restaurants we frequent, and others who live in the
area. While on the road today we were shocked by the reports
that we could only observe in glimpses. We went south, driving
right through Moore, this morning; along with hundreds of other
storm chasers who all saw the same data and felt that the unpopulated
areas well south of Oklahoma City was the smart bet today. A
few did decide to stay north, and last we heard many were aiding
in search and rescue efforts.
- Sunday afternoon I was looking at
a very short lived tornado out of my van window touch down perhaps
50 feet from me near Viola Kansas. It was thrilling, and as always
profoundly affecting. Nature humbles us, in ways both beautiful,
- Today has been about horrific.
- It is hard to put into words how
we all feel right now; maybe our experience last month in Boston
gives me a unique perspective. The first bomb that Monday went
off in front of the building where my father used to work, and
a few doors down from Old South Church, where my mom was ordained
and on many Sundays gave sermons. The car chase that Thursday
night ended about a block from the house where I lived as a young
boy in Watertown. It was a week of horror, and a week where Boston
stood up tall and strong, and showed good in the face of evil.
- Tornadoes arent evil, they
are random acts of nature, but the literal effects can easily
be far worse. Moore will now become the only town to ever be
hit twice by an EF-5 tornado, and an EF-4 as well, in 1999 and
- As chasers we do more than observe
and record some of the extremes of nature, the internet has allowed
us to collectively create a large network of trained and experienced
people who are available to the National Weather Service both
in reporting what we see, and also at times being available to
answer questions from them directly. We all use GPS and radar
to show our locations and contact information in real time. And
even on a day like today, when most of us saw the same data and
all made the same wrong guess, a few saw things differently and
were there on the ground when this worst possible scenario unfolded.
I have no idea tonight if chasers helped report the initial funnel
cloud faster than it may have been otherwise, but I wouldnt
be surprised. Even an extra minute can save scores of lives in
a situation like that. May of 2012 saw the fewest tornado related
deaths in the US in recorded history. Calm weather had much to
do with that, but tornadoes did happen, and chasers were out
there on their own dime doing their best to pitch in.
- I wish we could do more. Maybe tomorrow
we will be in the wrong place at the right time, and have the
chance to do our part. I know that any of my many chaser friends
feel exactly the same way.
- Chris Curtis. From the road in northern