Hannah's cousin Berta passed away and left her a farm in Oklahoma. Since she doesn't want to move away from River Heights, Carson offers to go with her and settle everything so she can sell it. Nancy is waiting for them to come home so they can head to the airport when Carson shows up with a big surprise, an RV! He thought it would be fun to drive there instead of flying and surprises her with the news that Bess and George are coming with them.
It turns out that Hannah is petrified of tornadoes but brought along a book with lots of information on tornadoes. That comes in handy when they one hits the highway. Nancy luckily remembers what to do and gets everyone to lie down in a ditch and hold on. The tornado nearly lifts her up, but she holds onto a patch of grass to survive. Seriously? Even I have a hard time buying that one.
As soon as they arrive, Nancy spots a green duffel bag stuck in a tree. The girls dig through the nearly demolished barn and find a ladder as well as Berta's old car. Nancy gets the bag and finds threatening letters inside about some kidnapping. Just then, a random man shows up at the farm. He claims the bag is his, fights with Nancy, and stalks off but does tell them that he helped Berta a lot. He claims his name is Joe and that Berta promised the farm to him.
While putting the bag in her trunk, someone shoves her head against the car and runs off with the bag. Nancy then meets a waitress named Trudy who she tells about the bag. She also goes to the police station and learns that the cops don't even want to hear her story because it sounds like a prank. Since a university is so close by though, she heads over and finds the tornado research center. One student helps her out by explaining that the bag could have blown in from up to 20 miles away.
When a storm breaks out, everyone goes crazy and heads out in these specially designed VORTEX storm chasing vehicles. Derek, a man in the center, offers to take her with him. He tells her that he was once a student but had to drop out to support his mom and hopes Dr. Johnson, the professor in charge of the research center, will offer him a scholarship. They do some storm chasing, but Derek seems really off putting. He keeps forgetting where he is, starts staring off into space for no reason, and sometimes even forgets Nancy is with him.
After the storm, Nancy heads back to see Trudy again. Trudy introduces her to Mary, a woman who claims the bag belongs to her. When Nancy asks her a few basic questions and then tells her someone stole it, Mary suddenly takes off like a bat out of hell. It turns out that Trudy is still pretty new in town and doesn't know many people, so she has no clue who Mary is and has never seen her before.
Luckily though, Nancy and her friends go into town with Carson and Hannah to stop by the local bank and see Joe inside. He's conveniently having a huge fight with Mary and storms off. They then meet up with Derek in the student union on campus and find him with this woman named Candace. Candace claims that he found her books when she lost them. Bess is the only one who thinks there is something a little off about this guy. Nancy has to agree that something is weird when she asks if he can drive them somewhere. He tells her that he'll be back in a few minutes but is gone for over an hour.
Feeling a little suspicious, Nancy heads over to the research center and finds him in the middle of a huge fight with Dr. Johnson. The professor asks Nancy to take care of her friend and get him out of there before they call the police. Derek kind of apologizes but tells Nancy that the professor wouldn't even listen to his ideas. I've been out of school for awhile, but I'm pretty sure fighting with him won't result in a scholarship.
After Joe comes back to the farm and yells about them stealing his property, Nancy decides to follow him. Derek drives her and the gals around as Joe picks up Mary and takes her to a fancy neighborhood. To get a better look, she sneaks into the backyard and sees Mary with Candace. They seem to fight a bit before Candace breaks down and Mary has to comfort her. A dog starts barking, so Nancy runs off, but she finds that Derek and her friends are gone.
Joe catches her and forces her into his truck with Mary. Nancy tells them all about how she figured out their plan and how they want to kidnap Candace, but Mary reveals that they are actually half-sisters. Joe and Mary though Nancy's crew found the letters that he wrote Berta while he was in the military and the letters she wrote him back, which he saved in a matching gym bag. They thought the group kept the letters a secret because they didn't want to give up the farm to him.
Still unsure over whether to trust him. Nancy sets up a ruse. The girls pack up and head out of town in the RV, but they actually stop long enough for Nancy to sneak out. Joe follows the RV, not realizing she's not in there. Derek then picks her up but starts acting stranger than ever. When she sees the bag in the backseat of his car, she realizes that he was behind everything.
Derek tells her that Candace is actually Dr. Johnson's daughter. He planned to kidnap her and demand a ransom large enough for him to go back to college. Since Nancy screwed it all up, he'll just kill them instead. Nah, he'll really escape first and let people think he died but leave Nancy to really die. He drives them directly into the path of a tornado, which lifts them up into the funnel. Derek then gets hit on the head by flying debris and passes out.
Our brave hero decides that she's close enough to the ground to survive a fall. She kicks open the car door, jumps into the freaking tornado, and survives a fall all the way to the ground below. Not only does she survive, but she's barely winded. Joe shows up with the girls in his truck. They somehow figured out what happened and came to find her.
While getting ready to leave the farm, they conveniently come across Berta's letters that really do state she wanted Joe to have the farm. Carson draws up the paperwork, which lets Joe buy the whole property from Hannah for just one dollar. He then tells Mary that they can finally get married and live happily ever after. Nancy then suggests they hop in the RV and take off to beat the storm that's a coming.
*There's a scene where they come across a couple who had their house knocked down by the same tornado in the very beginning. They both keep worrying about their “son” who turns out to their dog who survived the storm and comes bounding out of their house. It's a completely random waste of five pages or so because they never show up again.
*Nancy, Bess, and George worry that Berta's car won't start because it's “so old,” but she then says it's roughly 10 years old. Man, what would she think of my 2000 Toyota?
*Bess and George both go crazy in the student union cafeteria because there is so much food to sample. George gets an Oklahoma burger the size of her head, Bess orders spaghetti with massive meatballs and garlic bread, and sensible Nancy sticks with soup and salad.
*The cafeteria really is pretty impressive. It has random stalls set up for different cuisines like Mexican, Chinese, and Italian, but there are also separate areas for salads, desserts, burgers, and other foods. This place makes my college's cafeterias look like crap!
*Bess makes a comment about how solving a case is much more fun than what they did yesterday and how boring it was. Hannah acts all offended because Bess spent the whole day with her. It's hard to describe but was actually a pretty funny scene.
*Joe kept all the letters Berta sent him in a green gym bag he stored in her barn, yet somehow, Nancy found those same letters wrapped up in a bundle in a drawer in the kitchen. That makes absolutely no sense. Even if she found the letters he sent Berta, him saying stuff about her giving him a farm isn't proof of her wishes. What's to say he didn't just plant the letters there?
*Berta supposedly loved him like a son and wanted him to have her farm when she passed, but she actually left a will. Hannah didn't get it because she was her last of kin but because of her will. If she loved him so much, why wouldn't she change her will?
*The outfit Nancy wears on the cover looks like an Elizabeth Wakefield outfit! Also, I'm pretty sure pleated khaki shorts were no longer in fashion in 2000!