Purdue grad students track deadly tornado

The storm chasers took this photo of the start of the tornado that ripped through southern Indiana.

Two Purdue tornado researchers were in the path of the storm Friday and were there to record the birth of the deadly twister.

"You can actually start to see, there's debris here," said Eric Robinson. "So there's actually something going on the ground. This is kind of the beginning stages."

The graduate students were posted on SR 135 near Palmyra. The team took photos as the tornado took shape as a smaller, rope-like tornado.

"Over about a four-minute time period, we watched the tornado grow from a very small vortex to the larger tornado that had been coming out in pictures," said Mallie Toth.

The storm then moved toward the town of Henryville, where it caused widespread destruction.

"It had definitely become a much larger tornado the last time we saw it. I was personally hoping it was going to be short-lived, because it passed out of our line of sight," Toth said. "My biggest hope was, 'Now it's dissipated again.' Then we started hearing reports coming in."

"In the area we were in, we actually couldn't hear any sirens going on," said Robinson.

Since they heard no warning, the team made sure the storm was called in to the National Weather Service, then stopped to help out.

"We were talking to people afterwards, helping direct traffic. A lot of people were stopping us, 'Is there a school bus down there? My son is down there'," Toth said. "It's a very humbling experience."