Sports step aside … for an entire week

Grover, Colorado -- a long way from home!
While I type this, I’m on my way to chase a supercell storm that may produce a tornado.

I’ll take “things I never thought I’d type” for $500, Alex.

But here I am, spending a week with The Weather Channel’s Tornado Hunt, and I’ve been on board for a full 24 hours now. Sure, this won’t be a sports blog, but I think I gave you ample warning on that in the title.

I really didn’t think I’d thoroughly enjoy this trip, and it would be a lot like a job — I was going to the middle of nowhere to grind out stories and hope we didn’t get hit by a tornado. I was excited, but I wasn’t sure I’d walk away saying, “Wow, this was really awesome.

But after 24 hours, I think I can say that it’s a week that will top all of the ones I’ve spent with The Weather Channel so far.

I must be my father’s son, because even after living 24 years as a city boy, I’ve been soaking up every second of peace and quiet that I get on this trip. And boy is it peaceful out here!

We’re en route to Taylor, Nebraska right now, and I have seen a lot of northern Colorado and western Nebraska so far, and here’s what I’ve learned in the first day:

– Stormchasers are awesome people to spend an entire day with … especially if you’re a guy. I’m feeling pretty at home with these dudes, and they took me under their wing from the minute they met me and made sure I knew exactly what was going on all the time. They know the weather — I do to an extent, but I’ve been asking questions the whole time. Their patience has been much appreciated.

– The folks in these little towns are a lot of fun to mingle with. Imagine you lived in a town of less than 500, in the middle of nowhere, in a tornado-prone area. Suddenly, you’re at the town school doing a chili cookoff to raise funding for the town cemetery and a caravan rolls through town with “TORNADO HUNT” scrolled across the side of the trucks. That’s what happened in Grover, CO (all of those details really happened, by the way). But once we assured them that we were just passing through town, they were relieved and were very happy to see us.

– Speaking of the folks being happy to see us, it’s been very cool to see just how many people recognize what we’re doing, and recognize Mike Bettes from television. It’s funny to sit there and watch people try to figure out where they have seen our vans, and that moment when it clicks is even funnier. But the way these folks will stop and talk to you is pretty cool, and also a sign that we’re in really small towns.

– We’ve been chasing with another group, and their love for chasing storms is awesome because most of them are novices. It’s a tour group where people pay to chase with guys who do this for a living, and ever since we rolled up, they have been so excited to have us aboard. It’s fun to see just how passionate everyone is that we come across.

As we prepare to depart from our gas station and chase a developing storm, we are possibly going to get our first action since I joined the chase. Hope it’s a mile away and nothing is in its path if a tornado touches down!