The Dramatic Harper Night Tornado
of 12 May 2004

All images and text
© copyright Gene Moore

More intense lighting keeps the funnel in view as it continues to move east across our field of view.   The base of the funnel widens in this shot only to return to its previous shape. The funnel was throwing a large plume of dirt in the air. Fingers of condensation were shooting to the ground during this time.   The intense lightning persists, usually it slows after the tornado gets planted on the ground, but not this time.  

Bolts of lighting hit the ground from the anvil behind us to our southeast lighting up the ground. All the lightning responsible for backlighting the tornado is intracloud or sheet lightning. Here, the view of the tornado clears the trees.   The tornado approached the road we are on. In the darkness it's difficult to gage the distance. At this time it's probably about one and one half to two miles north of our position. It seemed closer because the funnel was tall and wide at the top.   The base of the tornado continued to violently change shape as it neared the rural dirt road. Again I tried to set the camera so I could look over the top and watch the scene real time, not through the viewfinder. This was difficult because the tornado's movement through the darkness.  

As the tornado crosses the road the strong inflow wind begin to subside. This was great because it had been difficult to hold the tripod still and the equipment was getting full of dirt and dust, including my eyes. Now the main channel of winds feeding the tornado moved further east.   The tornado persisted in a rather steady state as it moved east-northeast. We still had a very good view of the events in progress.   It's at this time that one tends to worry about the hook, or rain wrap spinning around the south side of the tornado. This would do two things, reduce the view of the tornado and put us in blowing rain. This time it did not happen so we were able to hold our position.  

Pulling up stakes and moving the equipment would not have been good, we would have lost much of the tornado's life cycle. I changed the position of my tripod to move up the road a bit as to shoot under the highlines, instead of through them.   The funnel established a wider condensation tube on the ground at this time. The tornado was slowly getting larger. Around us we could still hear the thunder, but the winds were much quieter.   The large plume of dust had diminished during this time. I suspect the tornado moved out of plowed fields into open grass land. Also, it had rained in this area about an hour before helping to keep the dirt from going airborne.  

Go to Harper Page 3 for the rest of the pictures

Return to index page