Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Stormy Relationship



This Couple’s Idea of a Romantic Getaway Is Chasing Tornadoes

Wired  by Laura Mallonee 10.18.16 

Tim Moxon knew from the start that his relationship with Cammie Czuchnicki would ensure some storms. It’s to be expected when you fall for a woman who dreams of chasing tornadoes across the Midwest.

Two Storm cells clash in New Mexico

Soon after the British photographers started dating, they found themselves staring down a storm roaring through Nebraska. It was exciting—and harrowing. “The noise and the wind—it attacked all your senses at the same time,” Czuchnicki says. “It got to a point where we couldn’t shut the doors. We’re like ‘Get in the caaaaar!'”
They’ve since photographed more than 200 twisters and tempests, driving tens of thousands of miles through tornado alley each year.

You could say they’re obsessed. “Once you’ve seen some [storms], you need to see more, and once you’ve seen more, you need to see better ones,” Moxon says. “Then someone else sees something better than you’ve ever seen and you need to see something better than that.”

The photographers spend 10 months a year writing code and analyzing data to make a living in Surrey. Each May, they start their tornado tour in Texas, driving 3,000 miles a week following tornado season north to the Dakotas. They especially like convective storms, which reach as far as 60,000 feet skyward, because they are gorgeous. “It’s so photogenic and it’s so beautiful that you’ve just got to get out of your car and photograph it,” Czuchnicki says.

Tornado hunting means watching the sky for signs of a storm, checking weather reports and satellite images, and monitoring things like the Spotter Network app, where stormchasers report extreme weather. Moxon drives as Czuchnicki navigates, eager to arrive while the sky is clear.

This tornado formed next to the photographer’s car near Wray Colorado

They typically split up at the scene. Czuchnicki shoots with a Nikon D610, while Moxon favors a Canon 5DSR. They set up time-lapses and work as long as they safely can, allowing enough time to reach safety. But there’s always a risk. One massive storm in Montana pelted them with baseball-sized hail, making a mess of the car. “The rental company was very understanding,” Moxon says.

As risky as it is, the pair make amazing photos. In New Mexico, Czuchnicki photographed two perfectly sculpted supercells, an image that won second place in this year’s Weather Photography of the Year competition. First place went to Moxon’s photo of a twister touching down 300 yards from him.

Seeing their photos, you can almost understand why the couple—who plan to marry next year—so love chasing tornadoes.

The storms are as gorgeous as they are terrifying.

Lightning illuminates the Nebraska panhandle

An anticyclonic satellite tornado from a powerful supercell in Simla, Colorado.

A rainbow near Rapid City South Dakota appears as a storm heads for the Kansas/Colorado border

The sun shines through the clouds as a supercell loses strength near Strasburg N. Dakota

A supercell outside Roswell New Mexico

 A Tornado touches down near Wray, Colorado

A supercell in Simla, Colorado in its later stages

A supercell with rotating updraft and an anticyclonic satellite tornado near Simla, Colorado

Lightning illuminates the horizon during a storm near Leoti, Kansas

 A low-precipitation storm near Big Spring, Texas formed a tornado that lifted and re-formed several times over 10 minutes.  Only a barn was damaged.

Dust blows across the plains during a Texas storm.

This storm had been gaining strength all day before it hit hard in the late afternoon.

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