Storm chaser Adam Simpkins has swapped Tornado Alley in America for rolling storms in Wiltshire as a result of the pandemic.

The 33-year-old, from Calne, has been fascinated by weather storms since the age of 10 and has spent the last few years travelling the globe to track down the most dramatic weather conditions.

Pre-pandemic, he would zoom across America in a rented SUV tracking down tornados and twisters.

On one occasion in 2019, he was left cowering underneath a crumbling petrol station after getting slightly too close the storm he was chasing.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Mammatus clouds, Nebraska 2018Mammatus clouds, Nebraska 2018

But 2020 has been far less dramatic, as he has been mostly confined to his home county of Wiltshire.

He’s swapped the SUV for his work van - he owns Emjay Engineering in Chippenham - and has learned a lot about the weather systems of the UK as a result.

He said: “I’ve always been fascinated with weather and how weather systems work, all the elements which come together to create a storm are fascinating.

“It doesn’t look like I’ll be going anywhere abroad this year sadly, so there probably will be more storm chasing in Wiltshire.”

On a typical storm chasing day, Adam checks weather models online, which give an indication to the path of storms.

He then prepares his chasing kit, with two DSLR cameras, a GoPro, two iPhones and a couple of phone mounts to put on the car window.

While Wiltshire’s weather, including heavy snow last month, has on occasion been exciting it cannot compare to the sights in America, Adam admitted.

He said: “Anywhere, storm chasing is exhilarating. But in America those are dangerous life-threatening storms, if you are on the wrong side of the storm you will be in a lot of trouble.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Supercell thunderstorm, in Texas, 2019Supercell thunderstorm, in Texas, 2019

“I’ve had a couple close calls. Back in 2019 my chase partner and I were following a real big tornado in a field, and ended up getting slightly too close. We had to shelter under a petrol station and the roof was literally shaking. We had to put pedal to the metal and get out as quickly as we could.

“The storms in America are brutal, so it has been a very different experience here. What’s more, the road network in the UK makes things a lot more difficult than it would be in America.”

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