I've always found tornadoes rather terrifying, due in large part to my years spent in tornado-infested Middle Tennessee. It seems like I spent a lot of nights huddled into windowless bathrooms or basements with my family, listening to weather reports or watching vicious DOPPLER-envisioned storms swirl behind a TV meteorologist. And then sometimes I'd stare out into the gray madness, equally fearful and hopeful that I might glimpse a vortex swell and descend in that signature destructive dance. I think that's why they fascinate us so. They're beautiful and terrible, "awesome" in the true, Biblical sense of the word.
Fortunately, I have never glimpsed an actual tornado, though I've observed their ferocity in the damage they leave behind many times. And fortunately the storms that ravaged parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi this week (see this NYT article) didn't affect anyone I know. But in this age of smart phone cameras and YouTube, we don't have to risk catastrophic injury to glimpse these amazing storms. Let's look at some of the clips, shall we?