Local storm chaser describes tornado dangers - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Local storm chaser describes tornado dangers

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A local storm chaser knows all too well how deadly severe weather can be. He gained national attention after he was actually sucked inside a tornado.

Videographer Austin Anderson was injured and almost killed during a tornado outbreak last year in Oklahoma. It was a day he will never forget.

On the ground one minute and in the air the next. You could call it a brush with death as you see The Weather Channel's Tornado Hunt team get swept up; trapped inside the tornado for about three minutes.

"It seemed like an eternity in mid-air and I was holding onto the steering wheel super tight. I had my back against the seat as we started to turn over and smashed down on the roof, on my side," Anderson said.

Just one week after the devastation in Moore, Oklahoma, another tornado hit El Rino on May 31.

It's the widest tornado on record.

"Can you imagine something that's 2.6 miles wide shooting through Austin? It would cover from South Congress all the way past the Capitol," Anderson said.

Anderson, along with the rest of the tornado hunt team, survived the nearly 200 mile per hour winds; categorized first as an EF5 tornado but later downgraded to an EF3.

"We were rolling across the grass where the windows had blown out by this time and every time we hit the dirt on my side of the car, my face would hit the dirt. We came to a stop still inside the tornado and because the tornado was so big, it took us more than a few seconds to pass by," Anderson said.

Almost a year has passed but the recovery process hasn't been easy for Anderson.

"I had a broken sternum, which I was told by the doctor it is very hard to break. The rib cage all the way around my chest crushed some vertebrates between my shoulder blades," Anderson said.

The Weather Channel Tornado Hunt team was lucky, about a quarter-mile away was another team that didn't make it.

A star of the Discovery Channel show 'Storm Chasers,' his son and a colleague. This experience hasn't stopped Anderson's passion, instead, it has fueled him to do more.

"I think that I would go back there because I've learned in a year's time so much more about what spawns these great giant dangerous storms and dangerous tornadoes. I'm more informed now than ever before," Anderson said.

In total, that tornado that hit El Reno was blamed for eight deaths and 151 injuries. The National Weather Service referred to it as the most dangerous tornado in storm-observing history.

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