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The Manchester Tornado

Posted by
Jason Politte (Conway, AR, United States) on 26 June 2011 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

[June 24, 2003]
My wife's shot of the Manchester tornado as it was going through Manchester as a large wedge.
Please check out the above link to my wife's shot of the Manchester tornado. This is one of the most incredible shots ever captured of a tornado and shows dramatically the destructive power of these phenomena. All the bits of debris are from the homes and buildings that once stood in Manchester.

After the Woonsocket tornado dissipated, I observed two more brief tornadoes while tracking the storm toward Manchester, South Dakota. As the storm neared the town, it rapidly organized and produced a large wall cloud. The wall cloud's rotation increased rapidly and soon two large cones were on the ground and dancing around one another. The seperate vortices eventually coalesced into one very large wedge tornado that was on a direct path for the small village of Manchester. As the tornado entered Manchester it was between 1/4 and 1/2 mile wide. A shroud of debris flew up and around the tornado. It was obvious now that people's homes were being destroyed. I could only hope that those people had heeded warnings and taken shelter as the tornado bore down upon them. (For a photo of the tornado at this point, see the link to Karen's photo above.)

As I closed to within 1/2 mile of the tornado I pulled over to document it, and it's structure changed rapidly. The furious winds morphed from a menacing wedge into a tall undulating tube that reached gracefully into the sky while slowly meandering northward next to the road.

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jpla from St Barthélémy d, France

Je me serai planqué ! Je te souhaite un agréable dimanche !

26 Jun 2011 5:33am

Chris Pereira from San Jose, CA, United States

Oh no! hope you were unharmed from the event. (actually, I hope no one was injured). This is some really scary stuff. (yet people from the midwest probably look at California's earthquakes with a similar fear).

26 Jun 2011 5:39am

@Chris Pereira: Thanks Chris! Yes, tornadoes can be very scary if one's in the wrong place at the wrong time. And you're exactly right, I can bet that almost everybody who lives in the Great Plains would rather deal with tornadoes than earthquakes. I guess it just depends on what you're used to, eh?

Paco Díaz from Palma de Mallorca, Spain

An incredible document! Great details of the tornado, very close!

26 Jun 2011 5:50am

tataray from france, France

Wow... EXtraordinaire capture mais terrifiante .
Félicitations pour ces clichés .)

26 Jun 2011 6:32am

CElliottUK from Reading, United Kingdom

The word awesome is completely overused, but this is one of the few times that it is completely appropriate!

26 Jun 2011 8:28am

Thierry from Bordeaux, France

Waoou, impressive. Great capture :)

26 Jun 2011 8:48am

Mhelene from Paris, France

I can't tell something else in this series : impressiv ...! Superb photos !

26 Jun 2011 8:50am

@Mhelene: These are three different images as the tornado moved slowly northward along the road. Have a look at the light, clouds, and shape and position of the tornado. Thank you very much!

Loukas from Ilioupolis, Greece

Really impressive. Honestly I could never imagine that something like this could occur in Manchester

26 Jun 2011 9:09am

@Loukas: This was in Manchester, South Dakota USA - a village with a very small population. Thank you very much.

Romana Svatoňová from Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic

OMG, another thrilling and frightening... (and your wife's picture is also great) , is it your job or dangerous adrenalin hobby? Awesome shot, taken from incredibly mad and short distance...

26 Jun 2011 10:19am

@Romana Svatoňová: Thank you! It was a hobby of sorts although I have received a small amount of income from it. I didn't do it for a rush but simply because I have strong interest in severe weather.

Shaahin Bahremand from Tehran, Iran

wow ! fantastic series

26 Jun 2011 1:02pm

@Shaahin Bahremand: Thank you Shaahin!

Rick from Toronto, Canada

Talk about visceral thrill and awe and worry for those impacted by this monster! Between these three images and that mind blowing shot of Karen's, what a blog post. The whirling debris in her shot is terrifying to behold in such detail. You think of how buildings are constructed, built to last, and can be torn to shreds in nanoseconds. Buildings and lives. I am struck anew by how remarkable it is that life flourishes on this planet despite the many forms of natural destructive power that exist in a widespread and indifferent reality.

26 Jun 2011 1:17pm

@Rick: Thank you very much, Rick! Yes, there are many different forms of natural disasters that occur, but humans and life in general has just learned to deal with it. We certainly can't do anything about it, and that is why nature should always be respected. Thanks again!

Ahmad from Isfahan, Iran

I can only say that it's a great shot .

26 Jun 2011 2:07pm

MARIANA from Waterloo, Canada

Am I blind or what but I see no difference in these 3 pictures ! Great capture !

26 Jun 2011 2:33pm

@MARIANA: Look at the clouds and the light as well as the tornado progressing left toward the road. Thank you!

Roman from Thiersee, Austria

great shots of these nature phenomenons, they could be so beautiful if they weren't as destructive

26 Jun 2011 3:28pm

Francisco Romero from Carbajal de la Legua, Spain

Again, awesome images, Jason. I'm really impressed.

26 Jun 2011 4:14pm

@Francisco Romero: Thank you, Francisco!

Twojays from Southwest Montana, United States

That is so mindblowing; even frozen in film, it is overwelmingly gulp -- in charge and humbling! Your very well written description is about as close as I need to be to "get it," thank you very much. Karen's photo of the confetti that the town became, almost brings tears, though it is a beautiful image in it's illumination and colors and well, spectacular action. History captured. Photography is more important than just a string of goofy Tuesdays.

26 Jun 2011 4:45pm

@Twojays: Thank you very much, Joyce. Yes you're right, photography, aside from being enjoyable, is the perfect way to capture those memorable and historic moments in time. When I first saw Karen's photo of the Manchester, I was astounded. She was on the north side of it with it coming toward her while I was on the south side observing it (we didn't know each other at the time). Considering this tornado literally wiped the small town of Manchester off the map (nobody rebuilt), she did indeed capture history.

skarlet from kerman, Iran

superb images! very well done Jason!

26 Jun 2011 6:22pm

Phil David Morris 2011 from Saskatoon, Toronto, Canada

Another amazing set of photos that deserve a spotlight award, then talk
about being there for a great photo, I don't know if I could take the eerie
wail of the sirens going off, telling those caught outside to take shelter, or
then being outside and hear a banshee's cry as the devastation begins.
There are so many variables to deal with as you chase a tornado, but the
beauty of it is that you are chasing a dream, as a tornado sometimes do
appear, and you never know until it can be almost upon you. Must be an
awesome feeling to chase a dream like that. These photos show superbly
the danger and the awe inspiring events, nature at its most volatile and a
deadly game I hope you keep winning. 5*****' s !!~

26 Jun 2011 6:54pm

@Phil David Morris 2011: Thank you very much, Phil. You actually described chasing and what it's like to see these phenomena perfectly with your excellent words. I don't chase anymore, but I cherish the moments from those many years that I did. Thanks again!

franz from Baden, Austria

incredible series! and karen's hot of this tornado really gets across the tremendous forces active within this storm! an amazing document!

26 Jun 2011 8:27pm

@franz: Thank you very much, Franz!

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

Karen that was a phenomenal image with all the "stuff" just flying around and reflecting the some sinister christmas tree, and Jason - just fabulous as always bith of you! Have a great day and I will catch up with you this week..all the best

26 Jun 2011 9:56pm

@Denny Jump Photo: Thank you very much from us both, Denny!

Eric Cousineau from Sherwood Park, Canada

Both your and Karen's shots capture wonderfully the awesome power and destructive capability of these tornados. Having experienced close up and first hand the F5 tornado that blew through Edmonton in 1987 I know how damaging they can be! 5-stars to each of you for these wonderful images! ;-)

26 Jun 2011 11:07pm

@Eric Cousineau: Yes, the Edmonton F5 is a very well-known tornado - I bet that was quite the experience. aThank you very much, Eric!

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

Karen's shot again shows the destruction of these monster storms and you've captured the beauty.

27 Jun 2011 3:18am

Marzia from ., Italy


27 Jun 2011 8:46am