Published: 15/06/2018 16:00 - Updated: 18/06/2018 15:20

Scott is in the eye of storm in Tornado Alley

Written byNicole Webber

Scott Duncan, Tornado Alley, Tornado
Scott and Ben Pickering in front of a dramatic storm in Nebraska.

 

A storm chaser from Newtonmore had to run for cover from some of the world's most extreme weather in Tornado Alley.

Scott Duncan (24), a former Kingussie High School pupil, has just returned from his dream adventure to the United States with a team of fellow meteorologists.

He got up close and personal with several tornadoes and massive electric storms during the trip of a lifetime which started on May 19, with the quartet returning on Saturday.

The daredevil and talented photographer captured breathtaking snaps of the huge storms as they crossed Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado and Texas.

Scott told the Strathy: "The four of us flew out to Tornado Valley in the hope to witness some of the planet's most extreme weather.

"We decided to put our meteorological skills together and chase the storms ourselves."

The group of Reading University graduates rented a car and travelled 7000 miles over the course of the three weeks.

"We do it for the buzz as we all have a passion for extreme weather and it is also a great way to hit the open road and explore new states," he added.

He agreed that it can be a dangerous hobby but not for the reasons you would think.

"People often think tornadoes are the main concern but lightning, giant hail stones and flash flooding are often the hazards that prove most deadly," he said.

"Careful planning before and during a storm chase is absolutely essential."

Scott Duncan, Tornado Alley, Tornado
One of Scott's dramatic photos from chasing storms.

 

Scott now works for MetDesk, a UK-wide weather service, and he took those skills across the Pond with him.

The friends used the latest weather model data, satellite and radar observations and invested in a portable internet device to ensure they had the best chance of remaining connected to signal while on the move.

Scott said it is incredibly important that the driver can access accurate directions quickly when faced with dangerous and often changing conditions.

Although they had a few close calls, they managed to avoid getting themselves into "major trouble" by knowing when to back off and take shelter.

The Newtonmore man explained: "We avoided driving through storms with tennis ball sized hail stones and 70mph straight line winds.

"But at one point we did have to take shelter in a gas station freezer room – the strongest room in the building – due to a tornado with confirmed flying debris just upwind of us."

Scott admitted that storm chasing is not for the faint-hearted but that "it is an experience" and in the US it is becoming an increasingly popular attraction.

Because the adventurers did not know where they would end up at the end of the day, accommodation had to often be found late and in an obscure towns in the middle of nowhere

Scott, who is now safely back in Hertfordshire where the weather is rather less dramatic, added: "That alone makes the trip more exciting as it holds an incredible depth of freedom."

Tornado Alley is the name of the area in the United States where tornadoes are most frequent.

The term was coined in 1952 as the title of a research project to study severe weather in areas of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

Scott Duncan, Tornado Alley, Tornado
A massive storm brews in Tornado Alley.
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