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.

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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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