Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My 'Twister' moment

At the beginning of the movie "Twister," there's a scene in which a young Jo Harding (played by Alexa Vega) watches as a tornado sucks her father from a shelter on their Midwest farm. That event fueled her fixation with tornadoes.

For me, it was a night at the Eastlake Drive-In, a few miles from my home in northeastern Ohio. It happened decades ago  -- OK, many decades ago -- when my dad took me and two of my brothers to see a movie. A severe storm swept across the area, nearly overturning our Ford station wagon.

What normally was a 10-minute ride home took us hours, as we tried to find a street that wasn't blocked by downed trees. After that, I was a weather geek.

This if the first post of "Weather Guy," my new blog, and I want this to be a place for discussion between myself and other weather geeks -- and there are many of you out there. I also think this blog will be a chance to report weather news that otherwise wouldn't be a part of the Observer's main news coverage.

I'll share some weather trivia and tell you about some of the interesting websites I've discovered.  And I'm sure you'll show me a few that I haven't found.

Let's set one thing straight.  I'm not a meteorologist.  Meteorology is physics and math.  I don't know if my high school physics teacher, Mr. Murawa, is still alive, but he would cringe at the thought of my writing about something involving physics.  I got a "D" for the year, and that was generous.

But over the last 10 or 15 years, I've asked meteorologists hundreds of questions, I've read dozens of books, I've attended seminars and workshops, and I've learned a lot.

Here are five of my core meteorological beliefs:

1. The greatest influence on me was Dick Goddard, a legendary Cleveland TV meteorologist since 1961.  He's 79 and still on the air every day.  If he can't get you interested in weather, nobody can.

2. I was here in Charlotte for Hurricane Hugo, but my most memorable storm was Jan. 26, 1978 -- an incredible blizzard that swept across the Great Lakes with winds and barometric readings low enough for a hurricane.  I'll write about this storm in the future.  Hugo was memorable, too, though. And Wednesday is the 21st anniversary. (Personal note: That blizzard was enough for me ... I moved to Charlotte five months later.)

3. Charlotte has an amazing number of truly talented meteorologists -- a lot more than you'd expect for a city this size. Some of them -- Eric Thomas, Brad Panovich, John Wendel, Mike Dross, Jeff Crum -- are good people who have been very helpful to me.

4. The scariest weather event for me isn't tornadoes or hurricanes. It's giant waves, and I even have nightmares about them. Other than Kate Gosselin, it's the scariest thing I see on my TV set. I'll write about waves, too.

5. I hate snow.  I spent the first 28 years of my life in the snow belt of northeastern Ohio.  That was enough snow for three lifetimes.

That's enough for one day.  More on Wednesday.


Anonymous said...

This blog looks like it will be a great forum to share weather info/stories. Thanks for creating it Steve. This should be an interesting place when we get some winter weather around here this winter.