Tornado that hit Moore OK May 3, 1999, killing 36 people. Photo: Julianna Keeping,

I wasn’t aware of it until my publisher, BelleBooks, pointed it out, but May 4th is National Weather Observers Day.  And maybe BelleBooks wasn’t aware of it until I mentioned it, but the month of May marks the climatological peak of tornado season (see graphic below).  On average, more twisters rip across the U. S. in May than in any other month.


Tornado chasers on the Great Plains.

Tornado chasers on the Great Plains.

As many of you know, I’m a meteorologist in novelist’s clothing.  (Or is it the other way around?)  Well, whatever.  I majored in atmospheric science in college and took a couple of courses in creative writing.  I think I did fairly well in them (it was a long time ago), even though I recall being severely intimidated when I entered a classroom full of English and English Lit majors.

At any rate, though I’ve always been a writer, I really didn’t do much with the creative aspect of it until relatively late in my life.


Was it fun? people ask, knowing I’ve just returned from a tornado chase on the Great Plains.

Sure it was fun. If your idea of fun is sitting in a van for 10 hours a day, reeling in the miles (3500 of them in seven days); or waiting and waiting and waiting for something to happen (thank God for Walmarts, great places to hang out); or falling in a ditch in the dark (next time I’ll bring a flashlight); or clogging your arteries with fast food (I had to double my statin drug dosage).