An American storm chaser captured some astonishing video over the weekend. He managed to intercept a tornado with a drone, and the footage is something else.
Storm chasers are a really interesting breed. I had an opportunity, as a reporter at the Toronto Star, to join some chasers through the US Midwest many years ago. Some earn their living by chasing storms and selling footage, while others merely fulfill their passion by witnessing and capturing photos and videos of Mother Nature at her most spectacular. All of the chasers I met were weather geeks with really deep knowledge about forecasting. (Several, in fact, were meteorologists.)
And many of these guys (and gals) take drones on their trips.
A safe distance
The chasers I met were cautious and always acutely aware of the deadly power of tornados. And so nearly all of them carried long lenses so they’d still be able to capture footage without having to get too close.
But wow, the Holy Grail for a chaser would be a safe intercept – where they could capture the storm up close and personal without putting themselves at risk. And that’s precisely what Brian Emfinger did.
A weather guy
Brian is a very experienced chaser who works as a photographer at KATV Channel 7 in for Little Rock, Arkansas. And, as Brian points out on his website, he’s been into drones for some time.
Besides storm chasing, lightning & meteor photography, and waterfall hunting… the other thing people seem to associate with me is flying drones. I was one of the first people in the country to use drones (or UAS) for newsgathering. I used it primarily in weather-related news events like flooding and storm damage. In April 2014 I flew my UAS over the damage in Mayflower moments after the tornado struck there. I let KATV use the video that night and I uploaded it to youTube. By the next morning I had been contacted by every major news company in the country and many others outside the country. My video was featured on the front page of YouTube and racked up over 2 million views.
And on the weekend, Brian struck gold.
A tornado intercept
Brian was able to get his drone up close and personal with a tornado just southeast of Yazoo City, Mississippi. And we’re talking close. You can see the debris being hurled around in this destructive maelstrom:
That’s pretty amazing. And he posted the full-length video, all 7:32 of it, on YouTube:
Well, Brian captured once-in-a lifetime footage. The downside? He lost his drone in the process.
We’ve reached out to Brian with a few questions – including what drone he was flying – and will update if we hear back. A couple of other things worth mentioning: Brian has won three Emmy Awards for his previous work. He’s also had a pretty busy month. In early April, he was in Iceland:
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