USA storm trip had a twist!

Macclesfield Express - - BARNABY FESTIVAL - EMMA CURRY

WHILE most peo­ple go on hol­i­day to en­joy some much needed sun, Mike Upjohn seeks out the wettest, windi­est lo­ca­tions he can find.

That’s be­cause Mike, of Wor­ley Road, Bro­ken Cross, is a storm chaser fas­ci­nated by ex­treme weather.

Mike has re­turned from a ‘weather hol­i­day’ to the Mid­west­ern United States where he en­coun­tered mas­sive tor­na­does and 17 storms in one day.

The 24-year-old, who works as a com­puter pro­gram­mer in Wilm­slow, was part of a group of 11 tourists and four guides who headed out across the re­gion in five cars to pur­sue storms.

On the first day, in Dodge City, Kansas, they saw 17 storms and wit­nessed trees, roads and en­tire build­ings be­ing wiped out by the twisters.

Mike said: “We got way more than we bar­gained for. We saw trees stripped, bits of road where the tar­mac was ripped up and rail­way tracks moved.

“One storm wiped out a building and sucked out its base­ment.”

The fol­low­ing day Mike and the group were in Chap­man, Kansas, and wit­nessed an En­hanced Fu­jita (EF) scale four storm reach­ing speeds of 180 miles per hour.

Storms are graded zero to five on the scale, and Mike ex­plained: “A zero would take off your roof tiles, a two would dam­age most of the build­ings here in Mac­cles­field and a four will flat­ten a brick building. Very few fives have hap­pened – I’ve never seen one.”

The storm that day swept across Kansas, dam­ag­ing build­ings along its path and over­turn­ing cars. Be­tween 15 and 25 homes were ei­ther sub­stan­tially dam­aged or de­stroyed and at times the twis­ter reached half a mile in width.

Mike has been fas­ci­nated with storms since he was a child, and also vis­ited America last year, but was dis­ap­pointed not to see any­thing very dra­matic.

He said: “It’s my favourite hobby. I’ve been fas­ci­nated since I was lit­tle – I don’t know why, no-one else in my fam­ily is.

“I just re­mem­ber watch­ing storms in this coun­try and wish­ing I could see big­ger ones. We didn’t see much in 2015, but this year it re­ally kicked off.

“We got re­ally lucky – or un­lucky, as most peo- ple would say. One tor­nado passed within 100 yards of the front of our car.

“There were a cou­ple of mo­ments when I asked for a po­si­tion change, when there was a tor­nado com­ing straight at us, it did get a bit nervy.

“We could feel the car rock­ing, but it was pretty thrilling.”

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