Dallas tornadoes have a lesson for chasers

Just after lunchtime yesterday, I was transfixed (as were many in the NWC) by live video of tornadoes near the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. I did not chase yesterday because (a) it was a work day and (b) every time I’ve tried to chase in the DFW metroplex, it’s been a spectacular failure ending in traffic gridlock. But the supercells riding the warm front meant business. I’ve heard enough nightmare scenarios about a DFW tornado strike from the emergency management community to pass my hand over my brow and be grateful that nobody was killed.

Anyway, I’ve been fascinated by this now-famous video – shot from a helicopter – of the tornado flinging tractor-trailer rigs (or “articulated lorries”, as the BBC calls them) through the air near Lancaster, TX. I don’t know how much these rigs weigh or whether they were empty or full, but I think it’s safe to say that they weigh more than my little Corolla, a substantial SUV, or a pickup truck. I hope some of the “yahoos” watch this video and remember it the next time they consider brazenly driving into tornadoes as though they were little more than glorified dust devils.

2 thoughts on “Dallas tornadoes have a lesson for chasers

  1. But … but … but … how can a chaser prove to his buddies how insanely stupid he is about chasing if he doesn’t drive right into a tornado? Stupid actions, repeated enough times, can be a capital offense …

  2. Looked up some numbers and posted them to A Popular Social Networking site the day of the storms.

    o Trailers were reported to have been empty.

    o National Semi-Trailer lists their 53’x102″x13’6″ dry van tare weight at 14,500 lbs. The GVWR is 68,000 lbs (which would be much more impressive if airborne!).

    o Tare on a 40′ ISO box appears to be around 8000 lbs (59k lbs loaded). I expect a 53′ domestic box would be between this weight and that of the trailer above, but probably closer to the low end.

    o Curb weight of a Chevy Tahoe is about 5600 lbs for comparison.

    So an empty 53′ dry van is only worth about 1.75 Tahoes with no correction for the much larger surface area of a dry van (because I don’t have the foggiest how to do that!)

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