Lucky to be Alive: Weather Channel Crew Survives Tornado

by | June 1, 2013 at 9:13 AM | TV News, Weather Channel

Here's the Weather Channel SUV after it was battered by an Oklahoma tornado on Friday. Inset: Passenger Mike Bettes (Photos: Weather Channel, Getty Images)

Weather Channel personality Mike Bettes and members of the network’s “Tornado Hunt” team were snatched up by an Oklahoma tornado and lived to tell about it.

The gung-ho Weather Channel stormchasers came a little too close to a tornado near El Reno, Okla., on Friday — close enough for their Torpedo Hunt SUV to be caught up in the furious funnel. The car was tossed and turned like a toy for an estimated 200 yards before landing.

Miraculously, none of the team members were seriously injured. The reason, according to Bettes: They were all wearing seatbelts. “It was like we were floating,” Bettes said later on the Weather Channel. “We were tumbling. We were airborne at least one point and we were floating. Then we weren’t tumbling anymore and we came down hard.”

The problem with getting too close to a storm such as this one: It can be nearly impossible to outrun it after you realize you’re too close. And that’s apparently what happened to this Weather Channel crew.

Even with their long experience as stormchasers, Bettes and his crew underestimated the speed and ferocity of this tornado, which was estimated to be a mile wide. Just before the team began to try and outrun the twister, Bettes said on the Weather Channel: “We could be putting ourselves in a dangerous position here.” That turned out to be an understatement.

And just in case you’re wondering if a camera was rolling inside the vehicle as it was tossed by the twister, the answer to that is yes. Click HERE to watch the amazing video on the Weather Channel Web site, Weather.com.