Please enjoy our interview with Bill Kranski of Twisted Expectations Storm Chasing.
What first got you interested in Tornadoes?
I first became interested in chasing tornadoes when I heard my first tornado siren go off as a young kid. Like many other chasers, instead of going to the basement for shelter, I would go outside to look.
That day I did not see a tornado, but it was enough to send chills down my spine and really perked my interest. That was a day I knew for sure that I wanted to see a tornado in person.
How did you become interested in storm chasing?
I have always had a passion for anything weather related, and nature related, from a very young age I would go from window to window giving my mom constant updates as to what the clouds were doing.
This passion would continue all the way into adulthood when I would try to photograph lightning strikes, wall clouds, or any other cool looking clouds. Then the movie Twister came out and that really perked my interest that people actually go out and look at storms.
At first, I thought it was just a weird hobby that I had picked up and didn’t really ever see anyone doing what I was doing, at least not in my little area of Western Wisconsin.
How did you get into chasing?
I chased locally and regionally when I was a teenager and early on in adulthood. Back then it was a lot harder, you would look at radar data via dial-up internet and then decide to go chase a local area.
I never had radar data in the vehicle, just me, my car and a camera. Then I really slowed down on chasing when I had a kid; I had a lot more responsibilities, and between work and raising a child I never made the time to go chasing.
Then as my child was getting older, he started showing some interest in it, and he was also getting old enough where I felt ok to get back into chasing. Plus, I also have an amazing girlfriend that would watch my son before he was old enough to stay by himself.
That was enough to really get me active in the chasing community. I started watching a lot of great videos, went to storm spotting class, and got first aid and CPR certified. Then I really got active again, eventually forming a team with Steven Solie, Twisted expectations, which we currently have six members on our team.
How long have you been chasing?
I have been chasing on and off for twenty five plus years. In the last 3 years I have become more active, but I started when I could first drive, unless you count going from window to window as chasing.
Why do you chase? Do you do it for fun or do you have a purpose?
I think seeing the amazing things that mother nature does is astonishing, anything from sunrises, to sunsets, tornadoes, snowstorms, lightning, squall lines, great landscapes of our country and everything in the middle is just one of the many reasons.
I also chase because I feel like if I am spotting and can get people five, ten, fifteen minutes more warning time, it could save lives. Radars work great, but there is still a lot that radars cannot see and that is why spotting and chasing is so important still.
Plus, the more people that are certified to help with injured people the better in my opinion as they may be the first person on a scene, and you could possibly be the difference in helping someone survive or not.
It’s suffice to say you must have been in some close calls. Have you ever been hit?
I have been in the outer circulation one time while chasing. This is definitely not where anyone wants to be, but never in the main part of the tornado.
So, the question is. How close have you got?
This year while in Missouri on the Carl Junction tornado, I was working in from the western side of the storm, and we had just got done driving through an area with quite a bit of tree damage and also debris still in the air (small of course).
That’s when I noticed something very strange happening, along with all the wind, I was watching the front of my car and the rain actually started to be pulled up from under both sides of the vehicle, which is when I knew I was too close.
I pulled over and after reviewing my three sixty footage, I could see that what I was driving into at the time was a huge rotation and figured out for sure I was too close. Another time I was too close, I had some very strong winds, just after a tornado had hit, and it was bending power poles quite a bit.
Last question we have to ask… Do you ever fear for your life?
There were only two times I have felt in danger while chasing, first time was when I had my son with and storms were moving north-northeast at fifty five-sixty miles per hour, we were north of Holmen, WI and I noticed a bear’s cage structure headed straight towards us.
Which in a great road network is not as bad, you can pick an east road or a south road, but here in Western Wisconsin we have hills, curvy roads and lots of trees. I picked an east-northeast escape route knowing the storm was moving more north, well it took a right turn and kept heading straight toward us as we were trying to get out of the way, going through river valleys, wooded areas and lots of hills.
In the back of my mind I was thinking that I better not harm my son, my family would never let me down for this. The other time was when the telephone poles were bending over so much and there was no visibility on a gravel road, also with trees on the side, maybe not as scary as the time with my son but was enough for me to rethink how I chase. I studied more and started researching areas better before chasing.
This led me to take better routes and live to chase another day.
Thanks to Bill for taking the time out to talk to us. Links for Twisted Expectations Storm Chasing’s website, Facebook and other social media outlets can be found below.