Remembering The Perfect Storm

It was 18 years ago today that the Andrea Gail encountered what was to become 'The Perfect Storm' while in the Atlantic Ocean. Tonight, The Weather Channel launches it's new Friday night programming lineup that includes feature-length movies. It kicks off with 'The Perfect Storm' appropriately enough. If you've never read the book by Sebastian Junger, I highly recommend it.

As it happens, the story of the Andrea Gail and it's crew and rescuers would become important to me some 9 years later. In 2000, I worked with The Weather Channel when they interviewed the real-life survivors and rescuers from that fateful event. Traveling with Weather Channel producer Simon Temperon (now my staff producer), we interviewed the four surviving Air National Guard helicopter crewmen and the Captain and First Officer of the Coast Guard Cutter Tamaroa, which rescued the crew from the raging waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Mike with heros

Pictured above in Gloucester, MA is Michael Forrester, Air National Guard Lt. Col. Graham Buschor, Coast Guard Tamaroa Captain  Lawrence Brudnicki and Lieutenant Commander Kristopher Furtney. The Tamaroa crew rescued Buschor and four other crew members from their downed H-60 helicopter. We also interviewed the other surviving crew members from the helicopter including Maj. David Ruvola, SSft. Jimmy Mioli and TSgt. John Spillane.

Later in 2000, I returned to Gloucester for the Media Day event prior to the premiere of the movie 'The Perfect Storm.' During that visit, I was able to meet and interview author Sebastian Junger and movie director Wolfgang Peterson. Below, we pose in front of the Lady Grace, which played the part of the Andrea Gail in the movie.

Mike with Graham and Jim

During the media event, I was also lucky enough to meet George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg along with other cast and crew. It was quite a memorable event and hearing the stories of those involved first hand was fascinating.

Thoughts on storm chasing

If you haven't seen it, Discovery Channel has a series called 'Storm Chasers.' It features Research Scientist and Meteorologist Josh Wurman and IMAX filmmaker Sean Casey as they partner to find and film the biggest tornadoes in the U.S.

Tornado Storm chasing has slowly been moving into the mainstream media in the last several years, thanks in part to the large number of storm chasers in the Midwest that carry cameras with them along with extensive media coverage of landfalling tropical cyclones.

I've been chasing storms professionally since 1999 and have had the priviledge of working for The Weather Channel, National Geographic, The Weather Network (Canada) and others since that time.

Meteorologist Jim Cantore has been a friend since I met him in 1999 while we covered Hurricane Dennis in Wrightsville Beach, NC. He stopped by the studio today to say hello and catch up with all of us who have worked with him. Between 'Storm Chasers' and my conversation with Jim, I suddenly found myself wishing it were early May - and prepping to head to the Midwest to watch the skies and hope for some good storms that develop in some undeveloped farm land.

If you've ever had a desire to go chase a tornado, there are several tour operators that operate organized tours in the Midwest each year. One that I chase with is Storm Chasing Adventure Tours. Their website is Check them out. And be sure to say hi if we happen upon the same storm.

Wishing the best to those in the path of Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike is several hours away from landfall, but already the Galveston, Texas area has been feeling the effects for most of the day. Most of the access to the mainland has now been cut off and a recent report from the Galveston City Manager claims that 45% of the residents have remained.

Considering a person would only have to drive 50 miles (at the most) to reach a safe, free shelter, many are taking their lives in their hands. I remember during Hurricane Katrina the National Hurricane Center issued reports that if you entered your attic, make sure you had a saw or tool that would allow escape through the roof.

I hope everyone makes it through Hurricane Ike, but by this time on Sunday, I'm afraid we'll be hearing some bad news from the networks.

Hurricane Ike takes aim at Texas

It's been interesting watching the computer models try to determine the path of Hurricane Ike. First it looked like a Florida landfall - then moving into the Gulf - much like Katrina. Then Mississippi and Louisiana were in the target.

But weather being what it is, conditions change and so does the track. A couple of days ago, it looked like Ike might be pushed into south Texas or even Mexico, but slowly weather conditions change and the ridge erodes, allowing it to begin a northward turn toward Houston.

We will all be watching in the coming days. A couple of good sources of information can be:
National Hurricane Center
The Hurricane Information Center

The networks, including The Weather Channel and CNN will have extensive live coverage. One of our stringers will be working with The Weather Channel for live coverage during landfall.

Having gone through many landfalls and the aftermath, including Katrina in Mississippi, I have witnessed firsthand the destruction from a hurricane and it can be beyond words. So many deaths are unnecessary - drowning, traffic accidents and suffocation from generators are all mostly avoidable. Slow down, evacuate to higher ground (and that doesn't mean driving 100 miles) and put generators outside the house.

I hope we see Hurricane Ike weaken prior to landfall, but if I were in Texas, I'd be preparing for the worst.

Hurricane Gustav on radar now that TS Fay is gone

The remnants of Tropical Storm Fay are dumping some much needed rain on Atlanta this morning. We followed Fay all over Florida last week. We started last Monday in Lake Worth, then moved to Melbourne and Indiatlantic, then north to St. Augustine, then finally to Panama City Beach where passed after making a record four landfalls in the Sunshine State. The Weather Channel moved inland to Tallahassee for one final day of coverage before everyone headed home (though our cameraman flew home on Saturday morning).

Hurricane Gustav has been on our radar since Saturday. It was quickly upgraded to a tropical storm yesterday and has just been upgraded to hurricane status this morning. The graphic below, provided by Jonathan Vigh at Colorado State University shows the forecast tracks of Gustav.

Gustav826_0600 We've been providing camera crews to The Weather Channel since 1999 and have covered every major hurricane making US landfall since that time. We've also covered most of the tropical storms impacting the Southeast United States.