Veteran Storm Chaser Takes on Giant Tornado

Videotape captures Jim Reed running directly into a tornado's path.

ByJONANN BRADY via via logo

May 9, 2008 — -- Veteran storm chaser Jim Reed captured the picture of a lifetime as he ran directly toward a giant tornado in Kansas yesterday, one of four twisters that touched down in the state Thursday.

Reed and an intern, Robin Lorenson, had been following the twister for some time when it stopped directly in front of their vehicle. That's when he decided to make his move.

"I covered storms like this before, very similar, actually, and I determined it … was on the weakening phase meteorologically," Reed told "Good Morning America." "Once I was convinced of that, I wanted to get a shot that I always wanted to capture, that is of a tornado as close as you can get."

As Reed ran toward the storm, Lorenson videotaped the incredible scene.

Lorenson, who is just out of school and training with Reed, said she was more concerned about getting everything on tape than their safety.

"I knew I just needed to document it and keep it all on video," Lorenson said.

"We heard the rushing waterfall sound … then it felt like somebody had a fan rushing cool air at you, and that was comfortable, and actually a relief, because it was very hot outside to the point where I got a sunburn," he said.

When he started "feeling the grit," Reed knew he should go no further.

"It's like being a being in a sandstorm on the beach, with sand that got in my fingers and ears and teeth. That's when I said, 'it's time to stop,'" he said.

Reed said that if the storm had moved he would have dropped to the ground and covered his head.

"What would have happened is I would have been sandblasted."

Reed has been chasing storms for 17 years and stressed that it's not something the average person should do.

"We've been going through rehearsals over and over. We don't recommend this at home. It's like someone skydiving or trying to mountain climb if you've never done it before," he said.

Reed said he thought he was prepared for yesterday's moment.

"I thought, nature will give you permission to do this. I think it's risky, but a calculated risk."

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