Taken by Storm – 2004

© Brian A. Morganti

Trt:  120 Minutes


Two Thousand and Four…what an incredible year for storm chasers!  This was my eighth year chasing in the Plains states and it was by far and away my most successful chase season to date!  Between May 15th and June 5th I was very fortunate to experience three significant tornado days.  Our first tornado day occurred on May 22nd in southeast Nebraska and featured a large wedge tornado wrapped in RFD dust.  This nasty storm went on to produce several more tornadoes and eventually a large destructive tornado that devastated Hallam, NE just after dark.  Two days later on the 24th more photogenic tornadoes were intercepted a little further west near Chester, NE and Belleville, KS.  I thought I had hit the jackpot, but the best was yet to come on May 29th in Harper and Sumner County, KS…what an incredible day!  A long-lived tornado was first observed during the early evening to the SW of Anthony, KS.  This cyclic supercell then went on to produce tornado after tornado until well after sunset and at one point entertained us for several minutes with a “merry-go-round” of tornadoes near Milan, KS.  Throw in several more severe storm intercepts, some really close lightning strikes, and a fantastic “mothership” supercell in Colorado on May 20th and I ended up with a “once in a lifetime” chase season.


You would think that I had enough, but I just had to come back and try my luck again between July 26th and August 2nd…I wasn’t disappointed!  Another incredible “Flying Saucer” Supercell was intercepted near Sioux Falls, SD on July 31st.  Severe storms were encountered almost daily and I captured some of my finest lightning still photographs to date!  I went home with another six hours of film to add to the pile from my first trip.


Just as I put my cameras away for the year, destructive Hurricanes began hammering the state of Florida.  I thought about going after Charlie, Frances, and Ivan but kept making excuses why I couldn’t make the trip…”maybe I’ll go after the next week”.  I didn’t have very long to wait, the temptation of Jeanne began calling me…and so did Bill Reid.  That was it, I was going!  I hooked up with Bill near Merritt Island and on September 25 and 26 we intercepted Jeanne from near Melbourne Beach to Lake Wales, Florida.  I came back with nearly three more hours of film.  Now I had a problem, how in the world was I going to fit over 20 hours of great storm video into a tiny two-hour production?  Taken By Storm  is the result of that effort.


As always, I had a fantastic time sharing the storms with my wife, chase partners (in particular, Kinney Adams, Keith Brown, Martin Lisius, Blake Naftel, and Bill Reid) and the Tempest Tour guests!  Please visit my website at www.stormeffects.com for chase summaries and photographs from the 2004 chase season and previous years.  As always, your feedback is welcome.


Brian A. Morganti






[0:00 / C1]     OPENING SEGMENT – 2004 Chase Season Montage

                       Music:  Performance (by Tones on Tail)


As usual, I like to open my video production with a preview of what is to come put to music.  I think the music on this one does a pretty good job of setting the “tone” for what is to come.




A menacing supercell entertained scores of chasers along the I-70 corridor in north central Kansas.  A ragged wall cloud showed lots of motion at times, but never really got fully organized.  This “storm of the day” produced some nice base structure and a few close lightning strikes, but no tornado.  Colorful cloud towers filmed behind a windmill at sunset close out this segment.




An isolated supercell forms off the Front Range near Denver, Colorado and drifts ever so slowly to the northeast.  We filmed the developing structure for nearly two hours before moving in for some close up views of the incredible base structure!  This beast was sucking in air from miles around as is evident by the tumbleweeds racing towards the center of the “flying saucer” updraft base.  Definitely some of the most amazing structure I’ve seen to date!  We followed the storms further east after dark along hail covered I-76.


[13:58 / C4]    TORNADOES!  Thayer, Jefferson, & Saline County, NE – 5-22-04


What a day of good fortune for the Tempest Tour guests!  This was not even supposed to be their first day chasing, but the promise of tornadoes near the central NE/KS border was too great to ignore.  I picked up the last guest at the OKC airport and immediately blasted north along I-35 and 81.  By the time we reached central KS reports started to come in of a large tornado well off to our NW in NE.  We’d gotten a late start so I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for seeing a tornado.  A supercell soon exploded directly in front of us and the chase was on!  This soon became the dominant storm as we raced north and east for an intercept.  Contrast was poor as we intercepted a large dusty wedge tornado to our north near Alexandria.  Tons of RFD dust obscured our view, and we weren’t even sure what we had seen until we later reviewed the video.  We encounter more tornadoes further east between Daykin and DeWitt, NE.  The storm eventually produces the large tornado that devastates Hallam, NE after dark.


[30:54 / C5]     MORE TORNADOES!  Chester, NE to Belleville, KS - 5-24-04


Another incredible day!  We briefly considered blasting after a tornado-producing storm to our east in Missouri, but opt to head west after some new development that would be moving in our direction---and into a more favorable environment.  Somewhere near Hubbell, NE along Hwy 8 we spotted the first cone-shape tornadoes.  We set up shop near Chester and filmed the final and dramatic rope-out stage.  We then followed the storm east and witnessed another and much closer tornado near Belleville, KS.  Later while traveling east and we got pelted with a few large hailstones.  We finished up the day by blasting after the A-Bomb towers that were exploding to our southeast near Topeka, KS. 



 [46:41 / C6]     OKLAHOMA – A TALE OF TWO STORMS –

                         Bill Reid – North / Brian Morganti & Keith Brown South – 5-26-04


We were sitting around waiting for things to happen near Enid when the first storm went up ahead of the dry line to our southwest.  I wasn’t very patient on this day so off we went for the intercept.  The storm produced an impressive wall cloud near Hinton, OK…but no cigar.  We followed the storm east and witnessed a nice LP structure storm near Tuttle, OK.  Interspersed throughout this segment is video taken by Bill Reid of the Sooner Lake storm and tornado, a few counties to the north, to allow the viewer to see what both storms were doing at the same time.  


[53:15 / C7]     TORNADO-WARNED STORM – Waco to Mexia, TX – 5-31-04


After hanging out filming the towers go up near Waco, we head east after the developing storms.  After a brief core punch we get ahead of a tornado warned storm just as it enters the town of Mexia.  The most fun occurs a little south of town as we pull into a field to view the approaching storm and immediately get blasted with several lightning bolts hitting all around our vehicles.


[56:32 / C8]     SEVERE STORMS – MINERAL WELLS, TEXAS – 6-1-04


A couple of brief supercells kept us entertained until early evening in the Erath County area until two storms caught our attention north of I-20 near Graham.  The western-most storm looked the best as we made our approach NW of MWL.  The storm began to merge with others and chased us back thru town as the tornado sirens were blaring and the hail and rain core overtook us.  We later filmed some pretty sunset mammatus and lightning a few miles south of town.


[59:30 / C9]     TRIP ONE – DAYS OF THUNDER – 5-16-04  to 6-5-04

                         Music:  Selecter (by Selecter)


A musical montage that features other “days with thunder” that were encountered during my first trip to the Plains.


[1:03:10 / C10]     TORNADOES…THE BIG DAY!  5-29-04

                             HARPER & SUMNER COUNTY, KANSAS


Harper County Kansas, once again looked like the place to be for what was setting up to be a tornado day with big potential.  We filmed a long-lasting tornado southwest of Anthony and then moved east of Anthony as new tornadoes formed from a cyclic supercell.  We filmed tornadoes just to our north for nearly two hours as we kept blasting east.  At one point a large “merry go round” of tornadoes entertained us for about 10 minutes as an ominous rotating wall cloud dropped numerous tornadoes just to our north near Milan, KS.  I decided to let that segment run in its entirety so it can be fully appreciated.  Overall this day was a storm chaser’s “dream chase day” and absolutely my best tornado day ever…I’m still not certain exactly how many tornadoes we witnessed!  Well after sunset a ghostly white tornado could still be observed off to our east as we end the chase.



[1:32:10 / C11]     TRIP TWO – DAYS OF THUNDER II – 7-26-04 to 8-2-04

                              Music:  Dream of Life (by Patti Smith)


A musical montage that features various “days with thunder” experienced during July and August while on my late-season chase vacation. 


[1:36:20 / C12]     SIOUXLAND “SPACESHIP” SUPERCELL - 7-31-04

                             TURNER & LINCOLN COUNTY, SD.


I played around with some weak storms south of Yankton while keeping an eye on another cluster of storm cells developing about 50 miles to my north.  My storm died just as two of the storms to my north when nuts, one of them producing a tornado in MN.  Fortunately the storms were moving very slowly and I was able to intercept the western-most storm in Turner County, SD.  The best show occurred to my north near the town of Hurley, SD as the storm developed a nicely curved laminar base.  Further south near the town of Viborg the “flying saucer” structure view back to my north was incredible!  A tornado was reported with this storm and I may have captured it on video…see if you can find it!  After dark I filmed some of the most amazing light shows I have ever seen.  The main cloud tower to my east was continuously illuminated by lightning bolts emanating from and encircling the clouds for a surreal visual experience. 


[1:45:30 / C13]     HURRICANE JEANNE - 9-25-04 to 9-26-04

                             FLORIDANA BEACH to LAKE WALES, FLORIDA

                             Music:  Dancing Barefoot (U2/Patti Smith remake)


I thought about making the trip to Florida for Hurricane Charlie, Frances, and Ivan but could no longer resist the temptation when Jeanne began targeting the Florida peninsula.  A last-minute phone called from my chase partner Bill Reid made it official…I was going!  I met up with Bill during the late afternoon near Merritt Island, Florida and we spent the bulk of the next 24 hours “chasing” Jeanne from the coast near Indialantic Beach to Lake Wales in central Florida and then on into the eye within the town of Bartow.   Plenty of daylight and nighttime hurricane footage keeps the pace moving…what a blast!


[1:52:25 / C14]     SKYLIGHTS 2004

                              Music:  Obsession (by Xymox)


My final five minute musical montage incorporates some of my best images from the 2004 chase season, all set to a more relaxed and moody pace.