The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

May 27, 2013

Enid residents chased Moore tornado

ENID, Okla. — When a devastating tornado went through Moore last week, two Enid men were close behind it, and sometimes in front of it.

In fact, brothers Bobby and Mike Bennett say they were “too close” to the storm.

The two initially intercepted the storm near Newcastle. They were at 149th and Western and moved west to near Pennsylvania Avenue as they waited for it to cross the road.

At one point, they were about a half mile away from the tornado.

“When you’re that close to one that large, it is just a mass of condensation and debris. You see the swirl; even looking through the video camera, you could only seen one side,” Bobby Bennett said.

Mike Bennett has been a storm chaser for Channel 4 for 10 years. He has always been interested in storm chasing and is assisted by Bobby and several other Enid men.

“The storm started out as an elephant trunk and changed quickly into a wedge. It was extremely fast, which is not usual for it to be that fast,” Mike Bennett said.

It was an extremely violent tornado, moving slowly, which made it more destructive because it stayed over the area longer, he said. They were about a half mile from the storm when it changed direction and they turned to run from it. Mike said they were nervous, but didn’t have time to be scared.

“We always try to leave a way out,” he said.

Mike said they try to avoid getting in front of the storm, and he thought he had the right track on its direction. However, the tornado made a right turn and began coming toward them.

“Instead of crossing 19th, it came down it. When I realized it, that’s when I turned to get away from it,” he said.

Bobby said they don’t have time to be scared. He said the storm was getting larger, because it was coming toward them. He said he thinks he was scared, but there was too much going on. During that time, Mike was talking to KFOR meteorologist Mike Morgan live on the air. Bobby was trying to provide a video stream so people could see where the storm was, how bad it was and to get out of the way.

Mike said even though they realize what a storm is doing, they must disconnect from it.

“You realize it’s doing damage, but you don’t realize until later how incredible the damage is and how many lives are impacted. When you start hearing the reports about how incredibly devastating it was, then it starts to bother you,” Mike Bennett said.

Mike credited the entire KFOR team for helping make people aware of the danger of the tornado. They watched the tornado through the rear windshield as they were moving out of the way, Bobby said.

“There was debris raining down on us, (in addition to) heavy rain, and traffic was gridlocked,” he said. “By the time we turned east toward I-35, the tornado had dissipated,” he said.

Mike also mentioned other chasers who go with him when he needs someone: Brian Kruse, Mark DeBois and Tony Kaufman, along with Bobby. Each one will go if the other can’t.

“This was the most violent I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of tornadoes. That was by far the most destructive. I hope I never see another one again,” Mike Bennett said.

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