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Dispatches from Tornado Alley
By Bill Steigerwald
Post-Gazette Staff Writer

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Bill Steigerwald

In May of 1998, when the movie "Twister" put the fear of tornadoes on the national mind, I rode with six admitted bad-weather nuts as they crisscrossed the states of Kansas and Oklahoma in search of a tornado.

They found one in four days, thanks to luck and their scientific and intuitive skills. But as I later reported in two Post-Gazette stories, tornado chasing isn’t quite as glamorous as the movie. For nine days they slept in cheap motels, ate lousy fast food, studied local radar sites on the Internet and watched the Weather Channel religiously. They drove hundreds of miles some days trying to get to where their calculations said a tornado would be born in the late afternoon.

Although I should know better, on Saturday (May 13) I am going back to Tornado Alley to chase tornadoes again with the same nice but nutty people.

This time, however, I’m doing it as part of an experiment in Internet journalism. I’ll be armed with a laptop computer, a digital camera and a SprintPCS Web-access phone that can send e-mail. I will, the gods of weather and high technology willing, send  dispatches and photos each day to post-gazette.com. Watch this space for my reports.

Call it Extreme Journalism (TM). Call it an excuse to get out of cutting the grass this weekend.. But we’re going to give this new kind of "you-are-there-live" journalism a try.

Find out more about Bill Steigerwald.

Find out more about the tornado chasers.

 

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