Cover Story: The Dark Wall

Categories: Cover Story

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Most people take one look at a tornado -- a whirling vortex of power capable of obliterating everything in its path -- and run the other way, but most people aren't storm chasers.

It takes a certain kind of person, a specific hunger, to make someone want to find the worst weather possible, the epitome of a bad situation, and go set yourself in the middle of it and hope the sky spits out a twister. Storm chasers risk everything to get in that spot and be eyewitnesses to some of the worst that nature can deal out.

Sometimes they live. Sometimes they don't.

On May 31, storm chasers gathered near El Reno, Oklahoma as the clouds gathered overhead.

Hank Schyma, a storm chaser and front man of Houston's Southern Backtones, was there. He saw the massive funnel cloud descend and he watched as other chasers hurled themselves into the storm.

Schyma chose to stay along the tornado's edge, filming as he drove alongside it. The tornado was huge, more than two miles wide, and he could see why the other chasers were drawn to it, why they kept chasing.

"It's like the whole world is bending toward you, and there's this energy and there are these monsters and they're moving and alive, and you're just so intrigued," Schyma said. "And as they're moving toward you, you think, 'I'm going to die.'"

After the storm had passed, three famed storm chasers from Dallas would be among the dead, as recounted in this week's cover story.


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