Amazing tornado footage, and two really dumb guys (video)

Two guys from North Dakota, who apparently are vying for the title of dumbest midwesterners on the planet, thought it would be a neat idea yesterday to film a tornado that was coming right at them from like a block away.

It’s an amazing video. It’s “Surrender Dorothy” quality.

And amazingly stupid of the two guys.


While it’s possible that the guys grew up in, oh I don’t know, Alaska, it’s difficult to understand how two midwesterners didn’t understand the significance and deadliness of a tornado. We grew up in the midwest with tornado warnings, real and test, all the time. It’s something every midwestern kid has drilled into his head. Tornadoes kill. Run to safety.

And whether or not these guys were in some kind of home without a basement, I just can’t fathom how you don’t know – again, as a midwesterner – where to go, and what to do, when a tornado hits.

Here’s what you don’t do: Stand outside and laugh while filming it with your camera.

Second thing you don’t do: Sit in your car and watch, and then roll the window down to get a better video.

I did a little googling, and while you can try to make a home like this more secure, the smartest thing to do is leave and find a shelter, like a local school.

Wikipedia has more – you do NOT get in a car:

The least safe place to be is inside something the tornado can pick up; you’re actually better off outside.

Mobile home
If you are in a mobile home and there’s a tornado warning, you should seek out the nearest storm shelter or protected building. People morbidly joke that mobile homes and trailers must somehow attract tornadoes because they are so often shown on TV as twister disaster areas; the serious truth is that their vulnerability is why they make for the most sensational news clips. Studies have shown that a mobile home is the worst place you can be during a tornado; the broad sides of the structure are like a sail in the wind, and there’s nothing to hold them in place. It may sound counterintuitive, but you should leave the mobile home and get in a ditch, culvert, or drain pipe, low to the ground. If you are staying in a mobile home and trailer park ask management if there is a tornado shelter close by. These may be cellars or sturdy buildings.


If you are in your automobile and you see a tornado coming, don’t try to out-run it; tornadoes can easily outrun a car driving into a 100mph headwind. Your safest option is to leave the car and get in a sturdy building. If that is not available, get out of the car and get in a low area such as a culvert, drain pipe or ditch. If you are staying in your car, attempt to drive at right angles to the tornado to get out of its path. If the tornado does not appear to be moving left or right, chances are it is coming straight for you. A car is probably safer than a mobile home (less wind-catching surface to drag it into the air), but it’s still safer to get out and hunker down low. The best option is to find a ditch to lie flat in, and cover up.

As a midwesterner, I can’t even imagine being that close to a tornado and thinking it’s funny and worth a YouTube.

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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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39 Responses to “Amazing tornado footage, and two really dumb guys (video)”

  1. Nathan Merchant says:

    To say “I don’t know anyone is the Midwest who chases tornados” is a meaningless statement. The midwest is a very large area which has a LARGE amount of chasers. Take a second on google searching for storm chasers and you will find them located in the region on the U.S. described as the Midwest. I think people take videos of things they don’t want to forget, or of thing that are very extreme and want to document them. The people in the video seem somewhat dumb in the sense that the danger level was very high, and I have no idea how early of a warning they had upon seeing the funnel cloud form. These types of spin ups happen very often and don’t stay on the ground very long, if you can tell from the clip. They can often come from one cell and being for the most part very unpredictable. I would just like to say I don’t believe these guys waited around for a tornado just to get it on camera so they could become youtube famous. They don’t seem smart enough to think that all out. Even the uploaders channel will show you that they aren’t just uploading videos all the time. They are just workers living in a camp like setting from the boom in ND and happened to catch a quick funnel form, drop, and then break apart quickly. This footage is completely real. I was paying attention to the weather that night, heard about the tornado, then looked on youtube for any tornado footage recently uploaded. At that time the clip had only had 78 views and matches up correctly with the timeline of that specific and short lived tornado.

  2. RangerJoe12 says:


  3. nicho says:

    I dont’ know anyone from the mdiwest who chases tornadoes.

    I do.

    And more people have been killed walking to the 7-11 in DC than have been killed chasing storms.

  4. I was in Oak Lawn, four years old. We were under a mile away, but fortunately it was heading east towards the city, and we were several blocks south. All I remember is being in the basement with the my mother. And seeing the high school afterwards. That’s the corner where the cars that were stopped at a light simply got picked up and thrown – lots of people died. And yeah, green skies – something every midwesterner knows all too well. I’ve gotten good at “feeling” tornado weather. I suspect we all have.

  5. Something about the video seemed fake to me. It’s too perfect, too good of a video. The tornado is too “wizard of oz.” I’ll be curious to see if this turns into a hoax. Curious where you see the pixellation, I just looked and don’t see it.

  6. I dont’ know anyone from the mdiwest who chases tornadoes. And the storm chasers on tv are professionals driving what look like tanks (google em, the pics are amazing of the armored vehicles in they’re in). These guys were “dudes” who thought a tornado barreling down on them in biblical proportions was funny. This video, in many ways, exhibits the worst of youtube and the worst of the internet- instant-celebrity- culture.

  7. The_Fixer says:

    Yes, but storm spotters and storm chasers have some knowledge about weather in general, and severe storms in particular. They also know about escape routes and when to take cover. These guys knew neither. They were clearly not storm spotters or chasers. They would have known to either take cover or get the hell out of there.

    Since this first broke, I’ve learned a bit more about this. This was a work camp, temporary housing for people who came to the area to work in the oil industry. Some have likely come from parts of the country where tornadoes are not common. In fact, the last time this particular area saw a tornado was 15 years ago. I suspect that these guys have never seen one before.

    Then there was the construction of the camp. There were no shelters, because the company never thought about it. The locals themselves probably grew complacent because it’s not a common thing. The camp was at the end of a road, the only escape route, and the tornado was barreling right down that road.

    Interestingly, the county had no requirements for shelters, and don’t even have much in the way of zoning ordinances. It’s that rural.

    What you wind up with is a situation that is ripe for teaching lessons. There’s one girl who was visiting, and she was seriously injured. Thankfully, no one died. But you can bet that this will be looked at and there will at least be another way out of that place in the future. Because we are going to see more frequent occurrences of severe storms in years to come.

  8. Jafafa Hots says:

    Middle-aged men calling each other “dude” repeatedly… the mark of stupid.

  9. nicho says:

    OK, everybody, on the count of three, get up off your fainting couches and stop clutching your pearls. Midwesterners or all ages and descriptions have been “storm chasing” for decades. It’s actually quite common. Is it dangerous? Could it be considered stupid? Sure. But you could say the same about living in DC.

  10. keirmeister says:

    If it’s real, that really is some dramatic video. But you’re totally right, John. I’m from Ohio, and tornado safety was drilled into us. When that funnel cloud touches down, you should already be in a shelter because you never know what direction that beast takes.

  11. caerbannog says:

    Another version:

    “Hold my beer and watch this!”

  12. Island In The Sky says:

    Looks fake as hell to me – especially the first part between 0:25 – 0:35 (the pixilated artifacting on the ground looks like a dead giveaway).

  13. olandp says:

    Almost a Darwin Award winner, missed it by that much.

  14. Indigo says:

    I remember that one, or one very much like it. I grew up in northern Indiana, about 100 miles east of Chicago in “Michiana.” Similar weather, horrible “lake effect.”

  15. Indigo says:

    Exactly! LOL!

  16. lynchie says:

    Requiring shelter for trailer parks is the first step to Obama taking their guns. Too much government regulation. On the other hand without regulations on businesses and the like we would do a good job of weaning the gene pool.

  17. HeartlandLiberal says:

    Run like Hell to their left perpendicular to the obvious path of their tornado, which was bearing down on them just barely to their right.

  18. HeartlandLiberal says:

    I have seen multiple videos over the years of tornadoes picking up not just cars or pickups or SUVs, but sending entire semi-trucks into the air.

    Here is one example of a couple of semi trailers hurled into the air like they were leaves off a tree:

    This is very short, but top the point. Entire truck and trailer spun like top by tornado making a direct hit.

  19. HeartlandLiberal says:

    Favorite old joke:

    Q. What are a Redneck’s last words?

    A. Hey, Bubba, watch this!

  20. AnitaMann says:

    What could those people have done instead?

  21. Poechewe says:

    Let’s see, the guys lived in a trailer park and are oil workers new to North Dakota. The were going to try and drive out of there but the road out of the trailer park led directly to the tornado. They were stuck. Being in the truck was a lot better than being outside. They were also luckier than a nearby trailer park where 7 trailers were destroyed.

  22. The_Fixer says:

    I’m sure after that, they probably at least wanted to be.

  23. The_Fixer says:

    Yeah, even an EF0 can be deadly. Debris carried by the wind can impale you or otherwise fatally injure you. Especially if it has just ripped apart some not-too-handyman’s shoddily constructed garden shed.

    I was too young to remember it, but in 1959 a tornado followed Northwest Highway (US 14) in Palatine. My parents had pictures of a shoe store with the front ripped out and boxes upon boxes of shoes spilled out onto the highway. It defintely stuck with me, and gave me a lifelong respect for the power of these storms.

  24. The_Fixer says:

    Good Godfrey, there is not a finer example of a pair of idiots on this planet!

    “I don’t know where to go!”

    Obviously, stupid, go away from the tornado!

    “I can’t tell which way it’s going!”

    That’s because it’s coming right at you!

    Have these dimbulbs never watched a newscast? Have they never seen what one of these can do? Even if they were raised in a part of the country that has no tornadoes, they should have had some inkling that the place to be is not a damn trailer park. Hell, every time there’s a massive tornado on the news, there’s always video of a destroyed trailer park.

    Oy, I can’t believe this.

  25. RobT says:

    This tornado looked pretty small so I Googled around. It was an F2 with F1 being smallest and F5 being largest. Peak winds of 120 mph. – The dust on the ground was picked up and made this twister look deadlier than it was. All that being said, I would have been looking at the sucker from the bottom of a ditch. I was 10 when the Oak Lawn tornado hit. I was in Glen Ellyn but we drove down to see the aftermath. Later in the early 90’s I was in Naperville when the Plainfield tornado hit. It was an F5. Never seen the sky so green.

  26. Mark_in_MN says:

    While it’s amazing video, these guys are indeed really dumb. And if they didn’t have a shelter, whoever built the camp/trailer park without one is even more dumb. And to ratchet up the level of stupidity one more notch, the bureaucrats or politicians that haven’t thought to require a shelter in a place like that belong to an even dumber group.

  27. Cletus says:

    Reminds me of the old joke about why divorces are like tornadoes? Because with both someone always ends up losing a trailer…

  28. I can’t believe they were that close to it. I kept waiting for the video to be fake. They’re extremely lucky they’re not dead.

  29. Parts? Try flying cars. Seriously. That’s how a lot of people died in the tornado I was in back in Chicago in the late 60s. Fortunately I was home with mom in the basement, less than a mile away from where it hit. A lot of people died in their cars at a stop light.

  30. BillFromDover says:

    Like car pieces-parts?

  31. Drew2u says:

    “Well now that a RV park got hit by a twister, perhaps its good time to discuss requiring RV parks/man camps to have a storm shelter big enough for the amount of people at the park, and a siren or audible warning system for bad weather. A lot of the people in RV Parks are sitting ducks right now in case of bad weather, and if they are sleeping they have 0 warning unless they have a weather band radio. What are your thoughts?”

  32. AnitaMann says:

    At least they sought some kind of shelter in the vehicle, though they didn’t drive away. Much of the danger from tornadoes comes from flying shrapnel.

  33. BeccaM says:

    Having done absolutely everything wrong, those guys were beyond lucky.

  34. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    You have to admire any state that can have snirt.

  35. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I can’t imagine being stoned and being there. It might involve running in circles and screaming.

  36. Indigo says:

    Drunks, maybe.

  37. Krusher says:

    God looks after fools and drunks.

  38. emjayay says:

    It’s a work camp in North Dakota. So, that’s where they live. Pretty grim lineup of all those trailers right next to each other on the dirt. And of course pretty clueless to not drive away when the thing is really close and looking like it’s standing still. Being anywhere near all those trailers would not be helpful if it came even nearby.

  39. heimaey says:

    I hope they were stoned.

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