A Michiana meteorologist was in Southern Indiana when storms ripped through the region Friday – and he caught it all on camera.
Sam Lashley is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service and he decided to drive South when he saw the system headed for the Midwest Friday.
“It was just an amazing setup for our area this time of year,” he said.
That amazing setup devastated several towns in the southern portion of the state, including the one Lashley was in when a tornado hit.
“We’re still in awe that we experienced that,” he said. “It was really the perfect super cell, which is the type of thunderstorm that produces these tornadoes.”
Lashley, his daughter and his co-worker were driving through Henryville when he looked to the west and saw a wedge tornado headed straight for town.
He pulled over just a couple miles from the storm – but out of its path – to get video.
“We saw it coming and there were cars slowing down and they saw us and they also saw the tornado,” he said. “I was trying to yell at them to stop, turn around and go the other way. Most of them stopped, they looked at the tornado, they took pictures and then they proceeded on toward Henryville. And we have no idea what happened to them.”
It only took a matter of minutes for the system to level portions of towns like Henryville and forever change people’s lives.
Lashley says that’s one of the reasons he brought his daughter, who’s in 8th grade, along for the ride. He wanted her to see not just the beauty of the storm, but the devastation.
“To see the power lines down, the barns that were shredded, the houses that were destroyed, it’s very surreal and it’s something you remember,” he said.
And it’s a painful reminder that people don’t have to see a storm with their own eyes in order for it to ruin everything in their sight.
“There will be warnings that nothing will happen for, but we need to take them seriously and get to safety,” Lashley said.
If in a car, that means driving away from the storm and staying out of its path. If inside, people should go underground, if possible; seeking shelter in an interior room isn’t enough during a powerful storm like Friday’s.
Lashley says some scientists are already comparing Friday’s storms to the super outbreak of April 1974, when tornadoes killed more than 300 people and injured more than 5,000 over a period of two days.
To see the raw footage Lashley captured of the tornadoes, click here.