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Storm Chasers Seek Thrills, But Also Chance To Warn Others

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When disaster strikes, our natural instinct is to take cover and seek shelter. But in severe weather, especially the type that breeds tornadoes like we saw in Oklahoma and parts of the Midwest this week, there are those who ride toward the storm.

Oklahoma native Chris McBee is one of those so-called storm chasers, and he was on the ground near Moore, the area hit hardest by Monday's massive tornado that experts now say was an EF-5, the most powerful.

McBee told All Things Considered host Melissa Block that he was about a half a mile south of the tornado as it crossed into Moore when he captured his dramatic video.

"There was debris raining out of the air on top of us," McBee says. "It just gave us a sick feeling because we knew it was hitting a lot of structures and really affecting a lot of lives."

McBee says that while chasing storms and documenting tornadoes is a thrill, he also does it to help the National Weather Service know what is happening on the ground so it can warn those in the path of the storm.

"That's really a priority among storm chasers," he says. "It certainly is a thrill to be out there ... [but] we're trying to warn people in the path as well."

A native of nearby Norman, Okla., McBee says severe weather is a regular part of life. Monday's damage, however, is the worst he's ever seen as a storm chaser.

"There's no way to get used to the destruction we saw yesterday."

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