Do The Twist(er): Local Musician Chases Storms For Fun and Profit

Hank Schyma doesn't come off as insane. Not at first. He speaks clearly and eloquently about being a storm chaser, and as you're talking with him, it seems like a perfectly reasonable thing.

Hank Schyma, front man for Houston band the Southern Backtones, has been chasing storms for more than a decade and says he's determined to keep doing it, despite the recent deaths of storm chasers in El Reno, Oklahoma.

Then you watch the videos. You watch as Schyma points a camera at a tornado, a black vortex of more than 100 mph of wind and power that is heaving and whirling along, ripping apart whatever is in its path. And there's Schyma following alongside it, narrating what's going on outside the window of his car in a voice that sounds as if he stole it from a National Geographic special.

Schyma, 41, the front man for the long-running Houston rock band the Southern Backtones, once found himself at the end of a closed dirt road in South Dakota with nothing to do but watch as a mile-wide funnel cloud moved toward him. He'd been motoring alongside the thing, shooting footage as he peered out his windshield, trying to see through the rain, when he skidded to a halt as the road ended. All he could do was sit there, helpless, surrounded by wheat fields, and wait to find out if he was going to die in South Dakota. The funnel cloud spun itself out into nothing right before it got to his car, but that was just luck. He doesn't take people chasing with him anymore, in case his luck ever runs out.

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Dianna Wray is a nationally award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Houston, she writes about everything from NASA to oil to horse races.
Contact: Dianna Wray