TORNADOES
The tornado galleries of Eric Nguyen
 

Eric Nguyen passed away on September 9, 2007.  Please consider donating to the Eric Nguyen Memorial Scholarship awarded annually by the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology, where Eric earned a degree in 2005.  It's our honor to maintain our friend's legacy as one of the greatest storm photographers, and we ask visitors to respect Eric's work and seek permission for any usage.  Please read this information regarding the license or purchase of Eric's imagery. 

 

 


Tornadoes are not always the most sought after phenomena in storm observing, however, when they are occurring, you can't help but go after them.  Often times I'm extremely fascinated by their structure and how quickly they evolve into very different looking tornadoes.  I like variety, so tornadoes are one of the interesting things I like to see while storm observing.  I usually try to get the structure along with the tornado, however, I'll sometimes get close to get some debris cloud shots.  I don't particularly like chasing these things at night.  So when it gets dark I usually break off the storm, unless its behaving and is allowing a safe viewing of the updraft.  This is a collection of tornadoes that I have found to be the most fascinating and beautiful of all of the tornadoes I've seen in my 10 years of storm observing.

 
040529-5b.jpg (20280 bytes)     040529-6b.jpg (21872 bytes)     040529-7b.jpg (21549 bytes)     040529-17b.jpg (25869 bytes)     This is a beautiful long-lived tornado that I observed near Attica, Kansas on May 29, 2004.  Notice the bottom half of the tornado is lit by the sun!  This storm was struggling for quite some time until it hit the deeper moisture, after that it was a prolific tornado producer.  This tornado moved north and then northwest, as the updraft began to stretch into a thin column.  At times the tornado would have a large debris cloud, with the bottom half of the tornado doing some interesting movements.
 
050607-10b.jpg (30671 bytes)      050607-9b.jpg (19063 bytes)      A gorgeous LP to classic supercell produces a tornado near Wanblee, South Dakota.  Grapefruit sized hail fell around the tornado which was observed by chasers very close to the tornado.  Image is looking due west on June 7, 2005.
 
040529-21b.jpg (22512 bytes)      040529-29b.jpg (17990 bytes)      This is a large tornado near Argonia, Kansas on May 29, 2004.  The first image is looking southeast as we raced east to flank it.  We lucked out and made it just in time to Argonia before the tornado hit.  It became a large stove pipe as it wrapped in rain backlit by the sun.  Later on it became a large barrel shaped tornado before growing into a large wedge again.  We left this tornado to pursuit another developing tornado a half mile to our east.
 
050609-1b.jpg (19493 bytes)      050609-12b.jpg (17101 bytes)      050609-14b.jpg (16418 bytes)      050609-19b.jpg (15631 bytes)      050609-20b.jpg (20493 bytes)      An amazing display of the life cycle of a tornado that occurred on June 9, 2005 at Hill City, Kansas.  What began as a classic cone tornado developed into a strong wedge tornado 2 miles south of Hill City, Kansas.  The white car you see in the foreground is Scott Blair whom I was chasing with that day.  Once that last image was taken, we blasted north into Hill City as the tornado curved north heading for town.
 
060505-16b.jpg (24075 bytes)     060505-17b.jpg (23929 bytes)     060505-19b.jpg (23804 bytes)     Looking southeast at a tornado near the town of Patricia, Texas, on May 5, 2006.  This evolved into a long thin rope as it drifted northward.
 
060509-4b.jpg (28503 bytes)     060509-6b.jpg (25472 bytes)     060509-8b.jpg (24653 bytes)     The first image is a weak tornado near Gunter, Texas.  One hour later a second and third tornado developed near the town of Anna, Texas.  The two other images are of the third tornado which moved into the town of Westminster, Texas.  This tornado struck at 10:30pm, killing 3 people.  Despite a tornado warning issued for this storm, no siren system existed to warn this town.  Two elderly people were killed while they slept, a third was a young man that took shelter under a staircase.
 
040529-33b.jpg (18981 bytes)      040529-41b.jpg (20333 bytes)      This was a violent tornado that developed north of Argonia, KS on May 29, 2004.  This tornado moved northward as it morphed into a wedge just as it was wrapping in rain.  The video from this tornado shows amazing motion, showing it to be a strong to violent tornado.
 
050612-5b.jpg (23677 bytes)      050612-25b.jpg (23924 bytes)      050612-38b.jpg (27476 bytes)      050612-48b.jpg (25915 bytes)      On June 12, 2005, a long-lived tornadic supercell developed northwest of Jayton, Texas.  These are images of three different tornadoes that occurred on this day spanning two hours.  Luckily these tornadoes occurred in rural areas.  The first tornado developed very close to the town of Spur, Texas, lasting several minutes.  The second and third images is of a strong tornado that occurred much later, near the town of Girard, Texas.  Lastly, the 6th tornado we observed that day, was one that occurred northwest of Jayton.
 
040610-4b.jpg (23371 bytes)      040610-5b.jpg (22245 bytes)      040610-7b.jpg (20530 bytes)      This friendly tornado developed near Julesburg, Colorado moving into the Nebraska Panhandle as it crossed Interstate 80.  Traffic continues without hesitation until after the tornado was north of the highway.  Luckily no cars were damaged as this tornado moved northeast on June 10, 2004.  It later became a spectacular stove pipe shaped tornado.
 
030508-1b.jpg (6338 bytes)     A high risk day in Oklahoma and Kansas on May 8, 2003, the day I had to study for a dynamics final!  Luckily, I was able to drive 15 miles to western Moore as a tornado was just developing a half mile from me.  I shot some video and a few stills as it moved northeast through houses and businesses.  This shot shows it to my east crossing I-35 as the most debris filled tornado I've ever seen.  This tornado was rated F4, however, it luckily didn't kill anyone.
 
050410-31b.jpg (25581 bytes)      050410-36b.jpg (28420 bytes)      A photogenic tornado looking east near the town of Hill City, Kansas on April 10, 2005.  This was a cold core setup where storms were firing along a sfc trough ahead of a stacked low.  Hail was falling at the time which shows up as white streaks in the image.  We observed a total of 5 tornadoes that day.
 
050410-12b.jpg (25471 bytes)      050410-11b.jpg (28205 bytes)      This was an interesting tornado that also occurred on April 10, 2005.  It was the second tornado of five that we observed that day.  The view is looking west-northwest as a weak tornado travels over the Cedar Bluff Reservoir in Kansas.   We wouldn't have know it was on the ground if we didn't see the debris cloud crossing over the water.
 
030509-5b.jpg (4556 bytes)     030509-6b.jpg (6547 bytes)     24 hours later from the tornado image you see above, a large tornado crossing I-35 in OKC a few miles north of the previous days tornado track.  View is looking WNW as we brace for the RFD which has wrapped around us as we are in the bears cage.  This tornado was rated F3 and luckily this one didn't kill anyone either.  These images are video captures since it wasn't safe enough to tripod the stills.
 
040610-8b.jpg (21405 bytes)      040610-9b.jpg (19828 bytes)      A very neat looking tornado north of Interstate 80 in the Nebraska Panhandle on June 10, 2004.   This storm seemed to really get its act together just as it was beginning to produce this tornado.  Later on it had full condensation to the ground and was quite strong.
 
040610-14b.jpg (21393 bytes)      This is the stove pipe tornado near Big Spring, Nebraska on June 10, 2004.  We were just south of it looking northwest and north as it moved east.  We quickly moved our van up the road a few yards to get away from the power lines in case the lines went down from the strong RFD winds.  We had gusts measured at over 80 mph, so at times it was difficult to take stills.
 
040612-10b.jpg (25084 bytes)      040612-6b.jpg (22875 bytes)      This is one of the most beautiful tornadoes I have ever seen, located near Mulvane, Kansas on June 12, 2004.  We were on the west side of this tornado with a gorgeous white tornado with a rainbow.  The left image has some action to it, as you can see the streaks of hail moving inward towards the tornado.  The right image is just as the tornado crossed the road with debris falling from the sky.
 
040612-13b.jpg (21919 bytes)      040612-14b.jpg (17635 bytes)      040612-17b.jpg (25723 bytes)      An amazing view of the Mulvane, KS tornado with small tubes embedded in the top region of the tornado.  This tornado damaged a business and a home, which received an F3 rating.   Luckily the occupants inside were in a basement.
 
040612-20b.jpg (22307 bytes)      Another shot of the Mulvane, KS tornado as it began to rope out.  Even 10 minutes after the tornado dissipated, we still had small pieces of light weight debris falling from the sky.
 
040612-26b.jpg (20554 bytes)      This is a small tornado touching down near Rock, KS on June 12, 2004.  This time we flanked the storm to get it backlit by the sun as well as getting some structure in the shot.  I usually try to get diverse images and this was my opportunity that day to do so.  A beautiful and friendly looking tornado!
 
040612-28b.jpg (19007 bytes)      Can you see it?  its difficult to see tornadoes such as this unless your looking for it.   This is a thin rope tornado moving southeast from Rock, KS on June 12, 2004.   It was small enough that it didn't hit anything except for trees and power lines.   This tornado actually remained thin and lasted for several minutes.
 
030609-8b.jpg (3668 bytes)     This is a tornado near Atkins, Nebraska on June 9, 2003.  This started out as a horizontal funnel which slowly turned towards the ground and developed a debris cloud.  This was the first tornado of the day for us.  Afterward, a second and much larger tornado developed to our south and moved east into O'Neil, Nebraska.
 
030624-9b.jpg (11460 bytes)     030624-17b.jpg (12679 bytes)     030624-25b.jpg (11636 bytes)      These are a few tornadoes from an outbreak of tornadic supercells that occurred over SE and E South Dakota on May 24, 2003.  This was our last chase of the season, so we hoped it would count!  We witnessed eleven tornadoes of all shapes, sizes, and colors.   Our storm originally formed in far northeastern Nebraska and moved north with often times a westward motion as it backbuilt along a northward moving boundary.  We ended the day in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as our storm hit the northern parts of the city.
 
050321-2b.jpg (21118 bytes)      050321-3b.jpg (21105 bytes)      A thin rope tornado moves across the country side near Driftwood, Oklahoma, on March 21, 2005.  This along with a few other tornadoes developed near the center of a stacked low.
 
020505-4b.jpg (16382 bytes)      020505-6b.jpg (12427 bytes)      020505-7b.jpg (13473 bytes)      Here is a wedge tornado that rapidly developed southwest of Happy, TX, on May 5, 2002.  This tornado dissipated and a new one developed over Happy, which unfortunately killed a the parents of a small boy.  Prior to this tornado we received baseball hail and occasional wallclouds that got undercut.  This storm seemed to get very organized in a few minute period prior to the tornado.
 
020505-8b.jpg (12134 bytes)      This is the second tornado that formed just west of Happy, TX, destroying some mobile homes and unfortunately killing two people.  It is just to our north moving east, drilling the ground.
 
010506-4b.jpg (9198 bytes)     010506-6b.jpg (9205 bytes)     010506-9b.jpg (9335 bytes)     A very pretty tornado near Ardmore, OK, on May 6, 2001.  The first shot is taken with a 28mm lens, so the tornado is about 3/4 a mile away as it moved northwest.  Notice the updraft is completely separating from the storm and is stretching into a thin column.   There was one other tornadic supercell to our south near the Texas border.
 
011009-8b.jpg (11158 bytes)     011009-17b.jpg (14739 bytes)     011009-18b.jpg (13071 bytes)     Three images of one tornado that began on the outskirts of Elk City, OK.   Luckily it hit just outside of town, however it did damage some homes further east which was rated F3.  The tornado started out as a gorgeous white tornado and soon grew to almost a wedge, lasting 30 minutes.  This was one of five tornadoes I observed during this outbreak on October 9, 2001.
 
990503-10b.jpg (12914 bytes)     This tornado occurred on May 3rd 1999 and is one of many nighttime tornadoes we observed.  I believe this one is somewhere near Piedmont, OK.  That day we observed eleven separate tornadoes starting from the first one on "Storm B" to the last one near Mulhall, OK.  This is a video capture as my stills didn't turn out for this tornado.
 
981004-11b.jpg (14160 bytes)     981004-12b.jpg (13813 bytes)     981004-17b.jpg (12518 bytes)     This tornado was one of over 20 on October 4, 1998 in north central Oklahoma.   It touched down just south of Watonga doing damage to some outbuildings.  It then intensify and grew wider as it quickly moved east eventually becoming an elephant trunk shaped tornado.   It was rated F2.
 
981004-19b.jpg (15538 bytes)     981004-23b.jpg (15633 bytes)     Here is a different tornado in north central Oklahoma on October 4, 1998.  Although the mesocyclone appears to be very large, only a small and weaker tornado formed near Kingfisher, Oklahoma.  This tornado was rated F1.

Many of these images appear in the photo book
Adventures in Tornado Alley: The Storm Chasers
by Mike Hollingshead and Eric Nguyen (now available)

 

Last Update: 05/30/09

 

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