Sunday, August 28, 2011


Who would ever believe they could actually drive into a down draft of a tornado on Rte 24 in Chester, NJ? Certainly not Victoria Backle, founder of MCOM United Storm Chasers. Inspired by weather books at the age of 6, she has dreamed of becoming a storm chaser her entire life. Her goal is to be enrolled in University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology, the best in the country in the next year.
Meanwhile, on an overcast April 28, 2011, Vicky was sitting in her office in Morristown when her weather defender program, displayed the ominous TVS; Tornado Vortex Signature on the screen, over-come with exhilaration, Vicky ran out the door jumped in her car and realized her first ever storm chasing experience was happening in her backyard!

Just a few miles down the road somewhere where Mendham ends and Chester begins, she was lost in a sea of break lights and impending darkness. Even more excited she kept driving as her car swayed and she felt like she was “driving under a waterfall”. A tiny wave of fear washed over her as the lightening seemed to be right outside her door. Finally she pulled over, rolled down the window and scanned the sky. The overcast clouds had returned, the raging storm was gone, she thought..” I was just sideswiped by a dangerous storm”. Her mind was racing as she returned to work, realizing later, she drove through a “downdraft” This is a roll-off of a cumulus cloud, combining a multitude of rain and powerful wind, that moves outward from the storm and weakens as it moves.

As I spoke with Vicky about this experience, I was moved by her passion for storm chasing, “this was and always will be my first ever storm chasing experience”. She loved that it was so close to home and considers it a “preview” for what is to come. When I asked her if she ever thought she would see a tornado in New Jersey, she replied with an emphatic “No”. She was very moved by the recent storm damage across the south, describing Alabama as a “catastrophe”. She expressed feelings of guilt knowing how much damage these dangerous storms cause, while she lives for the excitement of studying and chasing them. But, the optimist she is, finding a silver lining in these overwhelming dark clouds, she plans to help out in recovery efforts as part of MCOM's mission. In case you were wondering, MCOM stands for My Crew Of Misfits.

Victoria was born in Ridgewood and lived in Vernon for most of her life. One year ago she birthed the reality of moving to Tornado Alley in the near future to pursue her dream. Our little state here, gave her an experience she will not forget. Thank you Vicky for sharing. Stay in touch so we can follow you chase your dreams.

 Since this interview, Victoria has relocated to Oklahoma, and will begin classes at Oklahoma University.
She has joined forces with Red Cross to bring relief to many storm victims. Njgreats applauds the efforts of many providing evacuation saftey and dry safe shelter to those victimized by Irene this weekend. While some of us were spared, the flooding and power outages are still plaguing the state.
You can find Victoria and MCOMUnited
on Facebook and 
and Twitter @mcomchasers