While a large swatch of native Oklahoma music celebrities including Toby Keith and Carrie Underwood have voiced their concern and support for those affected by this week’s devastating tornado that killed at least 24 people (including seven children) in their home state, Jeremy Dawson of electro-rock band Shiny Toy Guns might be the only one who genuinely wishes he’d been there when it happened.
“Chad [Petree, guitarist/vocalist] and I have been chasing storms since we were 16,” Dawson told Radio.com today (May 21) in an interview. “With my birthday falling on May 19, normally what I do every year is fly home and spend two or three weeks out in ‘Tornado Alley’ chasing storms and working with local emergency management people. But we got hired on to work on The Voice, so I was not able to go this year.”
Instead, he was in Los Angeles on the morning of his birthday when he received a call from his father in Shawnee, Oklahoma, to let him know that something was brewing in the atmosphere back home.
“I looked online to check the upper air readings, and they were extremely bad,” Dawson explained. “My day was done. All I did for the rest of the day was sit in the studio and watch radar. The tornado did this thing called a hook echo, where it begins to wrap inside itself. I ran a scan on it, and the trajectory point was right towards the city of Shawnee, a little tiny town where my dad is sitting in a wheel chair and Chad and I grew up. Sure enough, an EF-4 class tornado drops down, five minutes later a twin tornado drops down behind it, both heading straight for Shawnee.”
(The National Weather Service would go on to elevate the twister’s status to category EF-5, which is the most severe of all tornadoes with winds of at least 200 mph.)