This awesome shot of the supercell that produced several tornados was taken by Accuweather Meteorologist Brandon Sullivan in Stephenville,Texas, on April 26.
Quite a few of our more unlucky stations have encountered a tornado. But Michael Kennedy's Vantage Vue survived (for the most part) not one, but TWO tornados within a couple of hours!
The hearty little station has been peacefully reporting on the drought-stricken weather of Cleburne, Texas, for several years. Michael told us he bought the station because his home is far enough south of Fort Worth that most of the time the forecasts don't apply to his location.
"There is no such thing as a weather warning siren this far out in the county," he said.
But on the last weekend in April, the dry spell changed to downpours, flooding, lightning, huge hail, and reports of at least EIGHT (and as many as 19!) tornados touching down near his home. When Michael's Vantage Vue was hit by the second tornado's 120 mph/193 kph winds and huge hail, it lost its wind cups, but otherwise didn't miss a beat.
"On Sunday, April 26th," Michael wrote, "we had been experiencing hours of 15 to 20 mph [24 to 32 kph] winds and constant thunder and lightning for almost six hours. However, no rainfall. At about 10:15 p.m. we went to bed only to be rattled within minutes by a tornado striking our property. I jumped up and ran into the kitchen and looked at my weather station console and it was showing a 121 mph [195 kph] wind with a rate of rain at 72.00 inches [1,829 mm] per hour. We experienced major property damage, but the weather station was still functioning. At about 12:30 a.m., another tornado struck our property and unfortunately this time was accompanied by large hail. My station did not perform quite as well. Two of the wind cups were sheared off by the hail."
Others were not so lucky. The tornados sheared off roofs, tossed trees onto homes, and even flipped 18-wheelers, but miraculously, no serious injuries were reported.
Michael, who is an engineer, and his family were left rattled and picking up the pieces, but impressed by the Vantage Vue's toughness.
"The remaining features worked as advertised. It was a very scary event for everyone in our rural community, but I just wanted to let you folks know how impressed I was with what your equipment was obviously designed to withstand. I assure you my next equipment purchase will also have the Davis name on it. However, if your equipment can withstand two tornados in two hours, it may be some time before I am in the market for new equipment. Thanks for producing a product that is truly worth what you ask for it."
(For a little taste of scary, check out this video taken by storm chasers Spencer Basoco and Lawrence McEwen, as their chase vehicle's windshield is smashed to smithereens by the sudden downpour of 5" to 6" (13 to 15 cm) hail.)
Michael's replacement wind cups are in the mail. May they live long and hail- and tornado-free!
This was featured in our May 2015 newsletter.