Watch: Tornado strikes Weather Channel storm chase team
It's been quite the week for tornado storm chasers. On Monday, noted storm chaser Sean Casey got his specially-designed tornado chase vehicle into the path of an oncoming EF-4 tornado in Kansas and got video never seen before from inside a twister.
On Friday, a team of storm chasers for the Weather Channel led by Mike Bettes also found themselves in the path of a tornado in Oklahoma -- only this time it wasn't intentional.
They were tossed approximately 200 yards when their van was caught in the crosshairs of a large tornado near El Reno at around 6:30 p.m. local time. Bettes said the team suffered only minor injuries.
Bettes said it felt like the vehicle tumbled over several times and was floating in the air before crashing to the ground.
"That was the scariest moment of my life," Bettes said. "I had never been through anything like it before, and my life passed before my eyes."
The Weather Channel said all the occupants were wearing safety belts and walked away from the banged-up vehicle.
It's the first time one of the network's personalities has been injured while covering violent weather, spokeswoman Shirley Powell said.
And here is the aftermath:
Bettes did have this rather prophetic Tweet in the moments before the tornado hit:
Tornado southwest of El Reno. Intercept shortly. Live coverage on @weatherchannelMike Bettes (@TWCMikeBettes) May 31, 2013
It's the fourth year that The Weather Channel has sent crews out actively hunting tornadoes, Powell said. Last year, one of the network's crews was among the first on the scene after a devastating twister hit Joplin, Mo., bringing back gripping video.
For the first two years, The Weather Channel was embedded with a government research team. But in the past two years, the network has sent its own crews out. Bettes' white vehicle is emblazoned with the phrase "tornado hunt" and the network's logo.
Powell said it is too early to tell how the close call will affect the network's tornado coverage, but it will be under review.
"Tornadoes are violent and unpredictable, but covering them keeps the public at large informed and, as a result, safer," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.