BIO & CONTACT

Mayor Tom Wade watches as Mickey Ptak and I unload 'Dorothy 1' during the 2005 Twister Celebration in Wakita, OK
(photo by Linda Wade)

Who is Shane Adams?

I've been chasing tornadoes since 1996. My passion for these spinning columns of air began instantly at age seven, when I saw footage of the April 10, 1979 Wichita Falls, TX tornado. From that moment on, I was completely obsessed with tornadoes. I didn't wonder about how they formed or worked, I was just enamored with the aesthetic beauty of their physical appearance. I eagerly awaited any television show about tornadoes, and would stare at pictures of them for hours. However what I wanted more than anything was to see a tornado with my own eyes.

Despite the fact I loved tornadoes and lived in southern Oklahoma, I went my entire childhood and teenage years without ever seeing one. The concept of physically chasing a storm had never entered my mind, even though I was very familiar with storm spotting and had attended a few classes growing up. I would just sit in my hometown and wait, hoping something would eventually show itself to me. But nothing ever did.

Three separate but eerily similar events happened over the course of four years, that really cemented my belief that I just wasn't destined to ever see a tornado with my own eyes. In March of 1991 I was supposed to travel to Ada, Oklahoma to visit an old high school friend at East Central University. The trip was cancelled the night before we were to leave, and the day we would've been there Ada was struck by an F3 tornado. Then on May 8, 1993, my hometown of Healdton, Oklahoma was hit by a tornado on the same weekend I moved away, after having spent seventeen years there waiting for a tornado to come to me. Finally, on May 7, 1995, the Uniroyal tire plant in neighboring Ardmore, Oklahoma was damaged by a significant tornado. Although I'd been tracking the storm as it moved into Oklahoma from Texas via scanner, I had no vehicle at the time, and could only sit at home listening to the play-by-play of a tornado strike only twenty miles away, that I could've been there for. It was starting to feel like the Universe was against me and my dream to see a tornado.

The morning of June 6, 1996 started like any other typical early Summer day. I was doing landscape work with a friend of mine, preparing a backyard for the wedding of the owners' daughter. By early afternoon cotton candy clouds began to form, and quickly filled the sky. It was obvious storms were beginning to form, and after a lightning scare we decided to call it quits early. I told my friend we should chase one of the storms and try to see a tornado. He agreed, and suggested we bring along a video camera to document anything we might see. As fate would have it, we dumb lucked our way into capturing a brief tornado on video, even though at the time neither of us was exactly sure of what we'd seen. It had been fairly obvious, but I was so conditioned by failure trying to see a tornado, I couldn't accept it had finally happened. But it had. I guess the Universe was on my side after all.

From the moment I realized I'd finally seen a tornado, a new passion ignited in me: the desire to see as many more as I could for the rest of my life. I had no intention of becoming a storm chaser when we went out on that first chase, I was just trying to check off the biggest item on my bucket list. Little did I know, that hour-long casual jaunt for kicks would be parlayed into a lifelong passion and chasing career. Life is funny that way.

©2020 Shane Adams/Passion Twist Video