Remembering Hurricane Rita and a dog named Rita

It's been just over seven years since I was a cameraman covering the landfall of Hurricane Rita for The Weather Channel. I was working with On-Camera Meteorologist Jim Cantore and his producer, another cameraman and our satellite uplink truck operator. 

We ended up in downtown Houston for the landfall, but shortly after the winds subsided, we drove east to the little town of Orange, Texas. We quickly set up live shots right off Interstate 10 near a restaurant that had nearly been destroyed by the driving winds and heavy rain.

When we are out covering tropical systems, we carry plenty of bottled water and non-perishable food. I've learned that a hot meal is about non-existent after a hurricane blows through a community. There have been numerous times we've shared our supplies with locals who either ask, or look like they need some nourishment. This trip, however, our producer found a local who couldn't ask for herself. You see, she was a chocolate lab puppy.

Injured, hungry and probably scared, this puppy quickly made friends with the crew. Our satellite truck operator agreed to let her come inside so she could rest. After lapping up some water and munching on some human food, she quickly fell asleep. It was obvious she hadn't rested well lately.

When the time came for us to depart Orange, there wasn't a lot of discussion as to the fate of our new-found 'Rita' as we called her. John, the truck op, thought he could find a good home for Rita, As it ends up, she would become an excellent addition to his family. Once home, a veterinarian determined she had a broken hip, likely sustained during the hurricane. Surgery was performed to get Rita back to health.

Now seven years later, John updates me that 'Katie' as she is now known, is 'fat and happy' and still very much a part of his family.

Hurricane Rita - Orange, TX
The Hurricane Rita crew in Orange, TX with puppy Rita being held by our producer.

The Weather Channel posted a small article about Rita on their website shortly after our return. Here's a link:

I can't begin to count how many tropical systems I've covered over the last 13 years, but needless to say, it's in the dozens. I've seen many things I'd like to forget, but this was one occasion that I happily recall.

While your video project may not require us to work in severe weather, we're just as happy to have you as a client. Give us a call at 800-201-8102, or 770-226-9250. Visit our website at to learn more about our services.

Taking the news with you

The Marietta Daily Journal is Cobb County's oldest newspaper, delivering news since 1866. While they may be old, they certainly aren't old-fashioned. Realizing the changing needs of the consumer, they created apps for both the iPad and iPhone to keep readers updated on their mobile devices.

Since the MDJ was argeting a specific audience, we chose to shoot their new commercial at three Cobb County locations - East Cobb Park, Marietta Square (Glover Park) and The Mill restaurant in Acworth. The commercial features the three most popular forms of receiving their news, the iPad, the iPhone and newsprint.

Shot in High Definition video and edited on our Final Cut Pro system, the commercial is airing now in Cobb County.

As a Cobb County business, it's always enjoyable to work with our neighbors in Marietta, Smyrna, Kennesaw and Acworth.

Live business news from Augusta

It's no secret that a lot of business gets done on the golf course. Couple that with The Masters tournament in Augusta, Georgia and you're bound to get some movers and shakers in town. No doubt that's why one of our broadcast clients, Bloomberg News, decided to make a visit to Augusta and asked Forrester Media to once again provide crews, cameras and uplink for 3 days of live coverage from a private club just outside the gates of Augusta National.


We started each day at 3:00AM to prepare the outdoor set for the anchors who hosted the 2-hour morning show from the Azalea Club.


While we usually have potted plants brought in for background props, we didn't have to do that for this event. The pink azaleas were in bloom and bordered the artificial putting green where our talent was seated.


The three-camera images were fed live to New York where they were switched into the show. We downlinked both programming and teleprompters for the two anchors.


The set was lit with two 1200-watt HMI's, 2 400-watt HMI's and 2 200-watt HMI's along with some smaller Arri fixtures that had CTB gel applied to them to match the daylight-balanced HMI's.


To keep the light just right during the pre-dawn hours, the spill from the lights is controlled by a variety of scrims, flags and diffusion material.

The end result? A successful set of live shots and shows each day culminating with an interview with golfing legend Gary Player, also known as the 'Black Knight' who played in The Masters 52 times, winning three of the tournaments. Here's my view from behind the lens just prior to the live shot with Mr. Player.



A visit to Embarrass, MN with The Weather Channel

If you are a fan of The Weather Channel (one of our long-time clients), you may remember a fun-hearted competition between International Falls, MN and Embarrass, MN. It was a challenge to International Falls long held title of 'Icebox of the Nation' - a title I'm not sure I'd exactly desire, but nonetheless, a challenge.

It was almost obligatory for The Weather Channel to cover this challenge, so I traveled to International Falls with Producer Michelle Birnbaum and Meteorologist Stephanie Abrams for a few days to try determine the winner. All I can tell you is that this native Floridian was freezing the entire visit.

The photo above pretty well captures the essence of our visit - freezing temperatures. That doesn't stop the locals from enjoying Ice Box Days each January. Hardy locals brave bone-chilling temperatures for some outdoor activities, which fortunately for me, included a nearby bonfire.


While temperatures might indiciate Embarrass is a bit colder than International Falls, my thin blood couldn't tell the difference. It was simply COLD!

The Weather Channel - a decade later

It occurred to me a few days ago that I've been freelancing for The Weather Channel for a decade. It was May of 1999 that I shot my first piece of video that aired on Weather Center. In August of 1999, the Assignment Desk called me to send me out with Meteorologist Jim Cantore to cover Hurricane Dennis from Wrightsville Beach, NC. It's funny how I can still remember details from that assignment and somewhere around here I probably still have some pictures of me that a visitor took and sent me.

That same year, I also covered Hurricane Floyd and Hurricane Irene for The Weather Channel. It was the beginning of a relationship that would change my life.

In 2000, The Weather Channel sent me to Oklahoma to cover the one year anniversary of the deadly May 3rd tornado outbreak that hit the greater Oklahoma City area. I especially remember visiting Bridge Creek, Dell City and Mulhall, OK where we interviewed survivors. They told us their stories of survival, pain, fear and recovery. We also heard about heroes who came to the rescue of those in need.

In 2001, The Weather Channel recommended me to Canada's The Weather Network as a cameraman for their trip to the Midwest to follow a storm chasing tour group. I ended up returning every year to continue to chase storms for at least 25 days each spring. My footage of tornadoes appeared on The Weather Channel, The Weather Network, CNN and National Geographic, plus a few other networks and shows.

In 2004, I covered Hurricanes Charlie, Ivan, Frances and Jeanne. Hurricane Charlie barreled through my hometown of Kissimmee and caused widespread damage to the area, including the homes of my parents, extended family and friends.

In 2005, there were four hurricanes my company covered, including Hurricane Katrina. I was assigned with Meteorologist Stephanie Abrams. We started coverage in Gulf Shores, AL, but were moved east to the Destin, FL area so we could remain on air when Katrina made landfall - which we did. After covering 15 tropical systems for The Weather Channel, this was the first time I saw scores of Coast Guard helicopters flying overhead. They were headed to Biloxi, Gulfport and New Orleans.

The next morning, we headed to Gulfport to pick up Jim Cantore, WIll Rembert and Simon Temperton, who had covered Katrina from a mere 100 yards from the shore and ended up having all their vehicles lost in the storm surge. We stayed for three days for aftermath coverage and saw firsthand the death, the suffering and the loss that most only saw from the comfort of their living rooms. I saw things I still cannot explain.

While wrapping coverage for The Weather Channel, National Geographic called me to shoot HD material for them. I made a quick trip home, cleaned up, swapped out gear and headed back for another 9 days, shooting mostly in Mississippi, but also venturing to western Alabama. By this time, help was arriving in meaningful numbers.

The hurricane season finished with me in Houston (with Cantore) to cover Rita, then in Naples, FL (with Abrams) to document Wilma. That was Keith Krystofiak's first hurricane. Quite memorable!

When not covering severe weather, we also shot segments for Atmospheres, Storm Stories, When Weather Changed History, Forecast Earth and many other specials that aired on The Weather Channel.

Throughout the years, we also provided live shots for them from Maine to Florida, from New York to California. In 2008, we even covered the tornado that struck downtown Atlanta.

It's been a wonderful decade of service. I've had the opportunity to work with some of the best people in television. They've allowed me to be a part of their family and have always treated me as such. The connection to The Weather Channel has provided other opportunities as well. And it all started with a simple phone call. What a decade.