SURVIVE THE STORM: The dangers of storm chasing

Two Missouri storm chasers were killed just two weeks ago, not because of a tornado, but because of a crash with another storm chaser in Texas.

Just before Kelley Williamson and Randy Yarnall died, we spoke with Kelley here in the KSPR parking lot about storm chasing.

At first, our story was going to be about how to storm chase safely, but that all changed on that Tuesday afternoon...

"People ask what we do, well, we track weather, tornadoes for the Weather Channel you know. About 50-50. Some people says you're crazy and the other half says - I want to go with ya."

But, when Kelly wasn't chasing storms -

"I raise chickens down in Cassville."

This was Kelly Williamson.

"Most farmers, all farmers just about have a little weatherman in em. All my life, I've watched the weather, you know, to see if it was going to rain, if I could bail hay, you know, what was going to go on. So I just continued watching the weather and just got a lot more into it."

Kelley took it to the next step...and started storm chasing.

"I actually got started storm chasing.. I kind of got into local Storm Warn in Monett, MO up there in Barry/Lawrence County."

But Kelley soon found out he would have to leave home if he wanted to see more storms.

"You know, there just weren't quite enough storms around,, you know, I got to going .. just waitin' for storms, you know, there just wasn't enough of them, so I just started going a little farther and a little farther (laugh)."

He drove all across the country streaming live video to the Weather Channel.

"Every tornado I see is amazing."

Just last year, Kelley captured 37 tornadoes.. a feat that any storm chaser would tell you - is impressive.

"Every storm's got something about its own personality, you know, it's just like a person."

His scariest moments on the chase were in Texas, where his life would tragically end Tuesday afternoon.
"Yeah, you know, we had a couple scary moments in Texas."

His experience taught him the riskiest aspect of what he did was the danger that would ultimately take his life.

"The biggest danger out there is the other chasers and the Grandma that's trying to get her kids. The tornado sirens are going off and she's trying to get them to safety. You know, you've got to watch out for everybody out there, and then the storms come secondary. As long as you go out there and be safe. You know, that's the main thing."
It's important to remember a few things if you do go out to chase.

Never go storm chasing by yourself the first time - always go with an experienced storm chaser.

Always know what is going on around you, pay attention to the road, obey the rules of the road, and wear your seat belt.