Severe weather hasn't changed. Tornados still spin counterclockwise, hail still leaves dents in cars and rain still makes you wet. But the tools we use to cover the storms have changed drastically.

It is hard to believe that it has only been 11 years.

The severe weather outbreak this week with hail and tornados spinning their way through Kansas brought the events of that day back to mind.

Severe weather hasn't changed. Tornados still spin counterclockwise, hail still leaves dents in cars and rain still makes you wet.

But the tools we use to cover the storms have changed drastically.

I remember May 3, 1999, as well as I remember May 3, 2010.

I got home from the newspaper and heard the emergency warning come across the radio. A thunderstorm had sprung up just south and west of my hometown of Chickasha, Okla., and it was rapidly growing in intensity.

Predictions were that it would produce a tornado - and soon.

I ran in the house and grabbed my Nikon FM2 - a film camera that had no automatic features - and headed back to the car. As I got back outside, my wife got home from her job as a preschool teacher.

She looked exhausted, but I told her to jump in the car and come along for the ride. We had only been married a year and had no kids, so she decided to see what I was up to.

My plan was to head up to an outcropping where you could see for miles. From my perch safely away from dangerous weather, I would shoot photos of a cute little dustup in a wheat field and have some nice art for the next day's front page.

It was a great plan. That isn't what happened. But it was a great plan.

Somehow, the volatile storm lost its way and headed in a more westerly direction. It did produce a tornado. At one point, my wife and I saw several funnels dancing around before they combined into one huge twister.

The hail kept getting bigger, but I wasn't too worried about our old Buick LeSabre that I often referred to as an albino Holstein thanks to it shedding spots of white paint, leaving patches of gray primer showing.

After withstanding the golfball sized hail as long as I could while shooting the initial moments of the incredible storm, I decided we better flee for our safety. It isn't a great idea to stand in the path of a tornado. Ideally, you want to be alive when your photos run.

As we started up that muddy section line road, my wife cautioned me to slow down. I told her that ending up in the ditch was the least of our concerns as the tornado grew in size and seemed to be catching up to us pretty quickly.

We finally reached a highway and turned back to the east and got out of the path of the twister.

As we drove along the highway, my wife was snapping photos as the twister smashed through homes and barns in its path.

When I was sure that we were safely out of harm's way, I climbed up onto the trunk of the car to have an undisturbed view of the storm as it headed for the municipal airport.

We followed the storm until it left our vicinity. At that point, it was almost a half-mile wide and was destroying everything it got close to.

It ripped up homes and their foundations leaving only pipes sticking up from the ground. Even people in storm shelters were at risk from this monster of a storm.

It continued to grow after leaving our county. It was more that a mile wide at one point during its long, sustained trek across the state.

At that point, the difference in today's newspapers and those of 11 years ago became evident.

Now, with digital photography, we would have had an update on the website within minutes of getting back to the office. I would have updated our Facebook page on the way back to the office and tweeted about it, too.

Back then, three of my more daring reporters and I were stuck trying to coordinate how to find a one-hour photo store that was still open to get our film developed.

We all did and met back at the office that night.

We didn't even have a website to manage yet, and if I would have mentioned tweeting, they all would have looked at me like I was crazy.

Instead, we set up a command post and had one of the newsroom members who wasn't involved in the story stand guard to protect us from people who just wanted to gab about what had happened the night before.

We had just a few hours to produce eight full pages of copy on nothing but this storm.

We did it and won multiple awards for the quality of what we did.

I am proud of what we did with the tools available. But it would have been so much different today.

When the tornado threatened Wednesday night, I grabbed a camera and got ready for the chase. But as much as I love a good adrenaline rush, I am still glad that it was a minor event and not the apocalyptic beast that swirled across the Oklahoma landscape in 1999.

I love exciting news and newspapers, but I prefer calm, sunny days to storms that can kill.

Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta (Kan.) Gazette.