WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Storm chasers from Virginia Tech were in Oklahoma yesterday, just minutes before the tornadoes started touching down.
The group, called Hokie Storm Chasers, tracked yesterday's deadly tornado that devastated the town of Moore, Oklahoma. 14 students and four instructors have been chasing severe weather in the Plains for more than a week.
Dave Carroll has been taking student groups out to Tornado Alley every spring for about 20 years.
He says yesterday's storms were too dangerous to chase up close. "Being in an urban or suburban area with that type of weather is extremely dangerous and extremely frustrating because positioning yourself around the storm is very difficult," he added.
The Hokies were in Moore, Oklahoma earlier in the afternoon, watching the developing storm clouds. They talked with a local resident about the devastating tornado on May 3rd, 1999. They had no idea that history was about to repeat itself.
Carroll says, "It's kind of horrific that just 90 minutes later the tornado took a very similar path to the 1999 storm and cut right through the same zone".
Yesterday's tornado outbreak is exactly what storm chasers are looking for. The Hokie Storm Chasers have mixed emotions about witnessing these tornadoes firsthand, but Carroll thinks they'll be better forecasters with this experience under their belts.
Carroll likes to give his students as much control over the chase as possible, because he believes it is valuable experience they'll take with them in their careers. The Hokie Storm Chasers moved on to the Dallas-Fort Worth area today, in hopes of seeing more funnel clouds and tornadoes.
You can follow their adventures on Facebook and Twitter.