Wednesday 16 January 2019

Meet Dub chasing killer US storms ...for fun

WHILE MOST of us loathe stormy weather, one fearless Dublin man spends his free time searching for it.

Ian Carruthers (21), from Finglas, is Ireland's youngest 'storm chaser'. He has spent the past 10 days following the trails left by the killer tornadoes that have caused over 140 deaths in the US state of Missouri.

Storm chasers aim to experience all forms of extreme weather conditions which allows them to then alert the public when there is a potential safety risk.

Once a tornado or hurricane is pinpointed, storm chasers follow it whilst capturing the sights on camera.

Ian told the Herald that in the space of a week, he has chased five different tornadoes as well narrowly avoided being struck by lightning.

"Seeing tornadoes take shape is just awe-inspiring. They all have their own accompanied adrenaline rushes. We saw them from a safe distance and one in particular was about a mile away. They're so picturesque.

"At one stage we were driving away from a dying storm when we went around a bend and a lightning bolt hit right in between the space of the two cars. The thunder was instant and sounded like a bomb exploding. Our adrenaline was flowing after that."

Ian and his nine colleagues travelled within 50 miles of the killer tornadoes that have caused devastation in the city of Joplin. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced that an additional $25m will be designated by the US government to fund relief efforts with 142 people so far confirmed dead with over 150 others still missing.

Ian believes that the tragic number of fatalities in Joplin illustrates the importance of the storm chasers' role.


"We saw the Joplin tornado form on the radar but nobody expected what happened. We all agreed that if anything like that was to happen where we were, we would stop and do our best to help," he said.

"I think storms chasers are a necessity as they send in reports to the national weather service which in turn sends warnings out, thus saving lives."

There are dozens of travel companies throughout America that offer tourists the chance to experience storm chasing holidays.

Ian insisted that it is an activity that provides an "adrenaline like no other". He said that pursuing his dream of storm chasing has been "life changing".

"I realised around my 21st birthday that I wanted to do something different. And seven months later here I am travelling around the great US plains having a blast -- chasing Mother Nature at its best.

"It is all about the raw power of nature, whether it be tornadoes, thunderstorms, wind storms or snowstorms. The adrenaline that accompanies it is what all storm chasers seek."


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