The professional weather guessers employed by our friends at the US government told us that there was no hope that we would be skydiving this weekend. Rain, wind and low clouds would keep the planes and jumpers grounded, no hope, go home and see a movie or something. So of course we managed to fly fifteen loads of skydivers on Saturday and six on Sunday. They were, on the other hand, correct about strong thunderstorms moving through the area on Sunday afternoon. Towering cumulonimbus clouds were building as I went up on the last load to film 8 relatively inexperienced skydivers attempting to link up in free fall and build multiple formations, they were spectacularly unsuccessful by the way. When we landed I looked at the weather radar and saw that a line of strong thunderstorms was heading right for us. This happens often in Wisconsin and one of my harder jobs is deciding weather or not to fly the aircraft out of the way of the approaching storms to avoid damage. It’s a tough call because if we flew the plane away every time a thunderstorm is threatening us it would cost us thousands of dollars a year that we can’t afford. But yesterday I made the wrong call. As the storms approached the drop zone the radar showed the classic “Hook” of a possible tornado. Shortly after the sirens went off and the radio warned us that a tornado had been sited in the area and was heading right for us. It was too late to jump in the plane and fly it away so all we could do was watch as the wind got stronger and stronger. My heart was pounding as the wind speed hit 75 Mph causing the plane to dance on the pad and strain against it’s tie downs. We could hear the unmistakable roar of a tornado overhead but luckily it didn’t touch down and finally passed us by leaving the runway littered with the remains of the plastic lawn chairs. It was a close call but we suffered no major damage, thank God. It’s gonna be a long summer.
Watch of video of the storm HERE.
Apparently the link doesn’t work, I’ll try and fix that.