Between March and May of 2018, I made a journey through the American Midwest, an area known as Tornado Alley.
This is where the most tornadoes in the world hit. Every spring hundreds of storms thunder over the Alley. These twisters grow, whirl, destroy and fade away randomly, not following any rules or patterns yet influencing the lives of thousands on their way.
I travelled from Dallas, Texas through seven states to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
I visited towns that were wiped out by tornadoes and I met people who encountered severe weather. Some were chasing twisters to get an adrenaline fix, others had spent their lives trying to understand the science of the twirls.
Then I met people who had lost everything: their homes, their businesses, their cars and even a valuable Beatles collection.
I met a mother who had lost her 5-year-old daughter to the wind and rubble.
I heard rumors. Tornadoes never hit big cities, I learned, and opening windows might save your house.
Both are false.
I heard a story about a vortex destroying a church but leaving an altar and a Bible untouched.
I also heard of chicken losing their feathers and spruce needles piercing a barn door after a storm.
During spring seasons it is not unusual to hear storm sirens go off weekly in Tornado Alley. That is when people run to their backyards and hide in their storm shelters or cellars. Some open a can of beer and stay on their porch to watch in wonder.
That is, until, the tornado comes right over your house. After that you won’t leave your shelter until the sky is blue again.
Everyone has a story to tell, yet nobody exactly knows where and why tornadoes strike.
They are mysterious monsters.