USA storm trip had a twist!
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.”