The clouds above were harrowing. Behind him, a massive twister inched closer.
But the whirlwind moment was perfect for storm chaser Joey Krastel to pop an important question. As the tornado flew toward them Tuesday, he dropped to one knee and asked his boyfriend, Chris Scott, to marry him.
“It all just kind of came together and happened so quickly,” Krastel, a meteorologist and risk analyst for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, told NBC News. “I was like ‘Okay, this is it.’”
He tweeted an image of the moment. “The 2 loves of my life,” he wrote.
He said the tornado was even closer than it seemed in the image he shared.
“I called to my friends to get back in the car,” Krastel said. “I was just so emotional just because it was my happiest place, being with him next to the storms.”
The pair had been traveling across Kansas chasing storms with two friends. The journey began in Salina, Kan., and then took them to Tipton. That’s where Krastel proposed.
Krastel has loved storms and natural disasters from a young age. He told NBC News he saw his first tornado at 4 years old and has chased about 70 storms overall.
And it was the meteorologist’s adventures that in part led him to Scott. His now fiance — who had watched storms with his father — sent Krastel a message on Instagram after seeing pictures of the storms he was chasing.
That connection gave Krastel an idea for how to propose. “That’s why it was always in the back of my mind to get engaged during storm chasing,” he said. “I felt like it would be this perfect way to seal the deal.”
The risk analyst and storm chaser also warned about the dangers of these twisters. As Krastel shared an image of his engagement, a tornado continued its wrath through the state.
The National Weather Service warned that evening about a “dangerous situation” and called on residents in parts of the state to take shelter.
Kansas has been battered by severe storms this week, and a massive tornado ripped through the northeastern region Tuesday, leading to power outages in more than 3,000 buildings. At least 15 people suffered injuries related to the storm, which was part of a cluster of extreme weather events pummeling central and Midwestern states.
Krastel said he and his friends planned to continue chasing storms this week, telling NBC News they were headed next to Oklahoma and Texas.
He shared another image of a view from Texas on Wednesday.