La Plata Tornado

A few days ago was the anniversary of the 2002 La Plata, MD, tornado.  This was a big deal to me, as it was the beginnings of storm chasing.  I wasn’t there when it happened, but I had just started thinking about weather again starting a few weeks earlier.

A few weeks before that, I had some drama in my life and I had begun to reevaluate what was important to me.  As a small child, I watched the NOVA special on tornadoes.  Soon after, tornadoes were everything to me; drawings, dreams, books, and so on.  The first book I was able to read on my own was, “Night of the Twisters,” which I had checked out of the Carroll County Public Library oh so many times.  It was before the days where one could order a book on Amazon and have it magically appear a few days later.

At some point, girls, cars, jobs, and, well, looking cool got in the way of all things related to my interests.  Somehow, what had once been a driving force in my life had taken a backseat.

After the drama (a break up with a college girlfriend, really), I started to examine what was important to me.   Watching the weather had always been important to me, and I had ignored it for a few years.

With each spring day, the promise of storms in southwest Virginia caught my interest.  If storms formed, I climbed up the 12 sets of stairs to the top of Slusher Tower at Virginia Tech, and sat in the stairwell.  It was the tallest building around, and I could see for quite a ways.

At the end of April, the La Plata tornado struck a town a few tens of miles north of my parents’ house.  It occurred to me, for the first time since my childhood, that I could chase storms.

I had no idea how to do this, and, May of 2002, I had no money to do so that season.  Instead, I vowed to get to the Great Plains for the spring of 2003.

The La Plata tornado was a huge turning point for me.

Thank you for reading my little trip down memory lane.


About highplainschasing

This blog is about my tales in storm chasing. My name is Seth Price and I am an instrumentation instructor at New Mexico Tech. My amateur radio call sign is N3MRA.
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