Weather chasers come to North Texas looking for a perfect storm

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by MARCUS MOORE

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WFAA

Posted on February 4, 2012 at 1:31 AM

Updated Saturday, Feb 4 at 6:33 PM

WISE COUNTY - Storm chasers flock to North Texas as severe storms move through the area.

The hot spots Friday were north of the metroplex in Wise County.

"I saw my first tornado when I was seven," said Andy Gabrielson while driving his black Chevy Tahoe. "Ever since, I've been interested in weather."

It's equipped with a laptop computer for radar and camera to stream video to the web, all as he chases storms through Texas.

His SUV also has a protective coating, similar to the dark material you'll find in the bed of a pick-up truck.

It would come in handy on Friday as he intercepted a hail storm near Decatur.

"This is definitely damaging hail," Gabrielson said, with his voice nearly drowned out by the sound of rain and ping-pong sized hail pelting his windshield.

One motorist caught in the same storm was not as well equipped.

"I was like what in the world?" she said. "So I just had to pull off the road, because I couldn't drive anymore on it."

It was the most activity Gabrielson witnessed Friday. A sign of how quickly things can change.

"All of the sudden, this storm came out of nowhere," Gabrielson said. "Weather is ever changing, my friend. That's why I keep coming back."

Gabrielson has chased storms for more than 10 years, and has replaced just shy of 40 windshields.

It's the price he pays for his passion, which shines through even when clear skies give way to dark clouds and the perfect storm.

E-mail mmoore@wfaa.com

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