I was at work when the sky in Downtown Denver turned that wonderful shade of green and then the sounds of tornado sirens filled the streets. I work in a store with nice large glass store front windows. We had a dozen people taking shelter from the marble sized hail that dumped down on the 16th street mall. This is not a good place to be in the case of a tornado.
What amazed me was the panic I shared with others as the sirens went, and it was announced that a tornado warning was being issued. The feeling was unlike the feeling I get when I am storm chasing with Kevin. I guess it has something to do with a feeling of helplessness. In our car we are usually in a part of the country where we have very good visibility, we are mobile, we generally have access to a lot more information. Contrast to being in a store without easy access to a car or other mode of transport, with shitty visibility (high rise buildings block line of site) and a complete lack of adequate information.
I immediately knew where I wanted to be - not in a store in the middle of a city, surrounded by people. I wanted to be in my car with Kevin out there.
While people scurried to and fro, and our customers continued to shop (nothing seems to get in the way of a good shop) I got on the phone to Kevin, who was also at work. His work had reacted to the Tornado warning in a more drastic way and had herded them into the center of the building and wanted them to keep away from windows. Now I know this is sensible advice. I know it. I don't want people not to follow it. But for a chaser, cooling one's heels in a city and not looking out the window is just torture. I called Kevin to see whether he had access to more reliable information. He managed to get the storm on radar, which did indeed show the typical "bow" shape that is typical of a rotating supercell i.e. tornado's are likely. I then hear from a coworker that a funnel cloud was spotted in Lakewood. I wanted to see whether there was any information about that. While I was chatting to Kevin, the Tornado Warning expired and I could go back to my coworkers and tell them not to panic - that there were spotters and people out there keeping their eyes on the skies to warn others of approaching severe weather.
This experience gave me an appreciation for what normal people go through when tornado warnings are given out. It brought home to me why people react to storm chasers the way they do. But if I had a choice I would not be in a city, waiting, I would be in my car, on the open plains, chasing.