The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Weather watchers

By Susan Tallant/managing editor
   (Part one in a series on storm chasers.)
   While most children are afraid of storms, especially tornados, Clint Perkins runs to find them.
   When he was a child Perkins prayed to see one, a real one.
   While other children were reading library books such as Puff the Magic Dragon, Perkins headed straight for the one and only tornado book.
   “ The pictures sparked a curiosity in my mind,” he said.
   As a young child, Perkins remembers hearing his father talk about a tornado that happened when Perkins was six months old.
   “ As the family watched it from the driveway, my father piled us all in the car and took us to our grandmother’s house in White Settlement to escape the path,” he said.
   As far back as he can remember, Perkins would ask his father about the storm and would have him draw a picture of the tornado.
   “I would just look at it with my eyes wide open in awe,” he said. “I was always curious about it.”
   Growing up in the southern end of tornado alley with numerous tornado watches and warnings furthered Perkins’ intrigue.
   “ All the way into high school, I always read books about weather, and I would go outside and watch the weather at a young age,” he said. “Any time a storm would roll up, I would be out in the front yard until my mother absolutely yanked me inside.”
   Perkins also remembers “Terrible Tuesday,” the Wichita Falls tornado that hit in 1979.
   “ I remember it being on the front page of the paper, and I asked my mom to let me have that page,” he said. “I still have it.”
   Perkins would draw pictures of tornadoes while he was sitting in church or school, and his childhood dream was to see a real one.
   “ I could not wait to see my first tornado,” he said.
   Growing up watching Harold Taft, a television weatherman, also had an impact on Perkins as a child.
   “ I was amazed at the way Harold Taft displayed the weather using those magic markers,” he said. “He would have special shows on television, and he wrote a book about Texas weather.”
   Perkins read Taft’s book and continued to dream about seeing his first real tornado.
   At age 16, Perkins began chasing his dream, armed with a scanner radio, a map and a camera.
   “ I wouldn’t travel near as far as I do now,” he said. “Usually back then it was Tarrant County or a surrounding county.”
   Perkins will never forget the day his dream came true.
   “ A tornado dropped down about a half mile from me and was on the ground for about 15 minutes,” he said. “That put the hook and sinker in me right there.”
   After that day, Perkins started studying the science behind a storm so he could make better predictions, pinpoint locations and have a better understanding about weather.
   “ I have always been the kind of person that if I am intrigued by something, I can’t settle for what I see,” he said. “I want to know what causes it.”
   Perkins traveled a little farther when he was 18 and 19 years old. He began taking trips to the Panhandle and western Oklahoma.
   “ My mother always hoped that this was just a phase I was going through and that I would outgrow it someday,” he said. “Here I am at age 33, and it is now a huge part of my life.”
   Perkins looks forward to the spring season because chasing is also a great get-a-way to help escape the stress of everyday life.
   “ When I drive five or six hours to where I think storms are going to initiate, I like to take the back roads,” he said. “The scenery is really amazing, and I get to see sights that I would otherwise never get to see.”
   Perkins decided to take his career to a different level after chasing hurricane Rita and witnessing first hand how a storm can change lives forever.
   “The biggest part of that chase was not the hurricane but what I saw on the way down there,” he said. “I have never witnessed anything like that.”
   After chasing hurricane Rita, Perkins decided to pursue a degree in journalism to better record his journeys. He is now attending classes on South Campus.
   For more information on storm chasing, visit Perkins’ Web site at www.mesopursuers.com.

Donate to The Collegian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Tarrant County College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Collegian