One of the most frequently asked questions of me as a chaser (aside from "is it like "Twister") is "aren't you scared"?
I typically answer "no". Chasing tornadoes and the experience I have with them gives me a comfort level with the storms. When specifically asked about tornadoes, I have enough fear to respect them and not be crazy around them. As a kid, I was scared to death of them. It was a fear I outgrew as I got older thanks to learning more about the events.
Other aspects of the storms I also don't fear. The hail, I love, and the bigger and more of it the better. Flash flooding I stay away from. Even at night, most of these leave me with a very limited amount of fear.
What scares me the most, lightning. It's unpredictable, it's fast, and it can happen anywhere and everywhere in a storm. And yes, I am aware that the odds of being hit by lightning are astronomical, but my odds increase just because I put myself in situations more than the average person.
Lightning is beautiful, and it is one of my favorite weather events to photograph, but I always remain cautious and have a tremendous amount of respect for the power of the lightning strike.
I have had numerous close encounters with lightning, with many strikes over my career being within feet of me. It's an odd physical feeling when you are so close to strikes like that. It's a mix of hot and cold with a sometimes nauseating feeling that goes with it. Twice I have seen a lightning strike hit an object so close to me that sparks showered down over my vehicle from the impact.
I feel my fear of the lightning strike will never be outgrown. It is too random, common, and it's unpredictability will always have me looking over my shoulder.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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