The day began like so many others. We (MESO) were up early after NOT getting enough sleep the night before, when we had gotten in to Norman, OK at about 1 a.m. We’re not early morning people to begin with, but realizing that we needed to go into central Missouri from where we were, we steeled ourselves for what was ahead.
Once again, all the elements were there, but as the afternoon wore on, initiation of the storms was not forthcoming. We sat in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart somewhere in Missouri, thinking we had gotten skunked again. Then the storms started to appear, popping up in a line that extended from NE to SW. They were about two hours from our location, but we reasoned that if they were moving east and we moved west, we might have a shot at them before dark. Off we went, our target being Nevada, Missouri.
We went beyond Nevada, and caught the storm just outside of Fort Scott, viewing it from a small road out where visibility was good, but not great. At this point we were VERY close to the core, which was about 5 miles away. The storm was huge, and showing on our computers to have 130 mph sheer. It was showing us magnificent lightning, and a bit of wind. It was also showing us a very robust rain shaft that about to catch up with us, so we decided to move a bit south. Moving South, we decided, heck we’re this far and we only have a half hour before we lose sun completely…let’s move a bit closer and go east. We got to a place of fairly good visibility, but then thought; well…maybe the next hill has even BETTER visibility. What ended up happening is that we landed ourselves right smack dab in the middle of Fort Scott, Missouri on residential tree lined streets with ZERO visibility…and sirens sounding, wind blowing, and a growing sense that maybe we had talked ourselves into a predicament.
We found ourselves in heavy precip, which is relative safety when you’re that close to a tornado. A few times in the past, we’ve ducked in to the precipitation of a storm as the tornado cannot exist in there. Of course, the rain started to turn into hail, presenting another problem. We found a good solid bank and pulled under the overhang for the drive up teller, happy that for at least a few moments, we were out of rain, hail, and debris. See the rest of the night's photos CLICK HERE.