WATCH: Man films tornado as it hits his house
Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 3:23 PM - Clarence 'Clem' Schultz was lucky to escape with his life when an EF-4 tornado took a direct hit on his house in Fairdale, Illinois, on April 9, 2015.
The house was completely destroyed, burying him in rubble. Though injured, he survived. But his wife, Geri, was killed, as was a neighbour, with 20 others injured.
Now, almost a year later, footage he shot of the tornado has emerged on Vimeo, showing the massive twister slowly edge toward his home, first engulfing a neighbour's house before falling upon him with full force.
Schultz told the Daily Herald he was upstairs getting lanterns when he spied the tornado. It seemed as though it would stay south of the community, so he pulled out his phone and hit record. From the Herald:
But that black monster had other intentions, hopping the railroad tracks a block away. There was no time for the 85-year-old to hurry back downstairs to the kitchen where Geri was.
There was no point in getting in the cellar, which was basically a hole barely big enough to hold their furnace.
In an instant the tornado passed right through -- literally -- his house. Schultz rode the debris from the collapsing chimney down, losing his grip on the phone, getting entangled in a bedsheet, and becoming buried.
As for the video, Schultz eventually shared it with a meteorology student, who included it in his studies. It was uploaded to Vimeo this week, and the Herald reports it will shortly be shown at an international atmospheric science convention in California.
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Weather Network meteorologist Dayna Vettese, after reviewing the video, noted that it would have been difficult to tell with certainty whether the tornado was moving away from the house, toward, or from one side to the other at the start. It would have been especially difficult for someone who has never observed a tornado up close.
"By the time it's evident in the video that the tornado is coming to the house, it was already likely too late for him to get somewhere safe," Vettese says, adding it was especially remarkable Schultz survived and his wife did not, given his incredibly dangerous vantage point.
Vettese, who has chased storms in the U.S., recalled one incident in Kansas where she and her team were observing one tornado, and almost didn't notice a second one forming behind them. She says when watching a tornado, particularly in the age of smartphones, it can be difficult to hold onto your situational awareness.
"The fact you have this device between you and the tornado, makes you think you have a barrier between you and it," she says.
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