Tornado Outbreak - May 22, 2010

Bowdle, South Dakota

Spectacular tornadoes, including a monster EF-4 wedge in South Dakota.

Bowdle, South Dakota Tornadoes You Tube

What a day !!!
The best part is that it was my 40th birthday today. I couldn't have asked for a more exciting birthday.
We witnessed 4 or 5 tornadoes today in South Dakota today. We arrived on scene, just as the storm became tornado warned. We watched a large white cone tornado form to our north, we chased after is and were able to get very close. So close that we were on the edge of the collar cloud circulation. If we had gone even 50 feet closer, we would've likely rolled the van in the hurricane force winds that were right in front of us.
As we tried to get closer, we saw that the road was blocked. The TIV (Tornado Intercept Vehicle, an armored car with an IMAX camera inside) appeared to have taken a direct hit from the tornado. Power poles were snapped and lying across the road and electrical lines were down.
We back tracked and took some dirt roads to get east when we saw another tornado. This one was huge. A massive, violent, dark wedge of a tornado that looked to be at least a half mile wide was churning away. It passed just north of the main road and the towns nearby.
After is dissipated, we stopped on the side of the road to photograph a nicely back lit stovepipe tornado that changed shape into an elephant trunk and a sheathed funnel. I was able to capture stable, tripoded HD footage of this tornado as it spun to our west.
After a quick fuel stop, we saw yet another tornado. This one didn't have much shape. It was a large, bowl shaped multi-vortex tornado that was difficult to spot in the wrapping curtains or rain.
As we continued east, the storm took on an amazing structure, much like an approaching giant spacecraft.
This was my best chase day ever in South Dakota and a wonderful way to celebrate my 40th birthday. It was certainly a birthday I'll never forget.



The first tornado of the day. A white cone that blocks our path with broken power poles.

The wedge. This tornado was big, ugly and dangerous. It was given a damage rating of EF-4 (out of 5)



Another tornado. A backlit, slender cone.

It kept changing shape and size.



A debris cloud is clearly visibla at the ground

Yet another tornado. This one was a large, dusty multi-vortex tornado that took on a ghostly almost invisible shape at times.