Hero Offers Help Again After Moore Tornado

Jacob Lyles assists tornado victims with clean up in Moore, Oklahoma.   Image from News9.com.

Jacob Lyles assists tornado victims with clean up in Moore, Oklahoma. Image from News9.com.

MOORE, OK – It was less than two years ago when a teenager helped save at least two children following a tornado that hit the Plaza Towers Elementary School.  Last week, he responded again to those in need.

News9.com reports that Jacob Lyles pitched in to help following widespread damage that occurred when high winds and a tornado hit the city of Moore, Oklahoma on March 25.   The city is a hot spot in Tornado Alley that’s been struck several times since 1999.

Lyles, who is now an EMT, told the Oklahoma City television station that he was assisting others by cleaning up debris left by the storm.

“Just a lot of debris from other houses, boards, big tree limbs, just all kinds of stuff blowing around and landed in the backyard,” he said while describing what he was clearing from the damage area.

The scene brought memories back from the deadly twister of 2013.

Lyles said, “It all comes running back.  But at least this one wasn’t as serious and we didn’t lose any lives this time.”

First Tornado Warning In March Occurs in Arkansas

Image courtesy of National Severe Storms Labratory.

Image courtesy of National Severe Storms Labratory.

LOWELL, AR – It took awhile, but Mother Nature finally got back in rhythm on Wednesday when severe weather  produced tornadoes across Arkansas and Oklahoma.

The first tornado warning for the month of March in the U.S. occurred at 4:51 p.m. CDT on Wednesday when a severe thunderstorm was capable of producing a tornado near Lowell, Arkansas.  The warning was issued for portions of Benton, Carroll, Madison and Washington counties.

There would be 19 more tornado warnings issued throughout the evening with at least 8 reports of twisters according to the Storm Prediction Center.  The hardest hit area was 4 miles west of Sand Springs, Oklahoma where 1 person was killed as the result of damage in a mobile home park.

In addition, large hail the size of softballs fell in Chandler Park in Tulsa creating vehicle and property damage.

Image courtesy of RadioInsight.com

Image courtesy of RadioInsight.com

Moore, Oklahoma, a city that was hit hard by deadly tornadoes in 1999, 2003 and 2013 was struck again by high winds and a tornado on Wednesday.

The storm was blamed for widespread structural damage and toppled 2 of the 3 KOKC-AM radio towers with the third being snapped in half.

School District Uses “Blizzard Bags” to Keep Students Working on Snow Days

Image courtesy of WILX-TV

Image courtesy of WILX-TV

DERRY, NH – One New Hampshire school district has created a way for students to keep working when classes are cancelled due to winter weather.

Derry Cooperative School District has experienced repeated interruptions that kept kids from classwork, according to school administrators.  Therefore, “blizzard bags” are designed to keep students up with their studies.

Blizzard bags contain assignments that students complete when they are home on days that school is not in session due to inclement weather or other emergencies.  Officials say the assignments are due the day students return, but they may be given an additional five days to finalize their work.

Unionleader.com says administrators told school board officials that a blizzard forced classes to be called off on January 27th and 28th.  Another snow day was declared on February 16th.

Blizzard bags were used by the entire district on February 2nd and 9th.

Chasers Converge for Storm Assist

Storm Assist Logo

After witnessing a tornado tear through Carl Junction, Missouri, on May 4, 2003, it left a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.   Immediately afterwards, there was an eerie quiet sound.  Then, a man emerged from rubble and hollered “is everyone okay?  Is anyone hurt?”  Another voice shouts out “watch out for shotguns, they may discharge if you step on them!”  The smell of pine filled the air.  Trees had been uprooted.  Houses were torn to shreds.  In the distance, I see a family crawling out of their basement.  They had lost everything.

Everyone appeared to be okay in the midst of the damage.  They were  in shock.  We all were.  A tornado had just turned lives upside down.

When a disaster strikes a community, there are some things that insurance can replace.  There are other things that it will not cover.  Some of nature’s biggest thrill seekers felt that needed to change.

Storm chasers are often the first on the scene of a storm to witness the wonder of weather.  Seeing devastation first-hand has forced the formation of a group that wants to give to those affected.

Darin Brunin is the president of StormAssist.org.  He says the idea morphed from an annual storm video series on DVD into a fundraising program for storm victims.  The response has been overwhelming.

“Storm Assist is a collaborative effort between storm chasers to give back to those affected by natural disasters.  A lot of times that would be tornadoes, things that we chase, even hurricanes,” Brunin said.

Storm Assist team members raised $500.00 in two hours at ChaserCon in Denver.  Pictured (from left to right) Jonathan Williamson, Jennifer Casey, Jennifer Brindley Ubl, Skip Talbot,  Darin Brunin and Matt Sellers.

Storm Assist team members raised $500.00 in two hours at ChaserCon in Denver. Pictured (from left to right) Jonathan Williamson, Jennifer Casey, Jennifer Brindley Ubl, Skip Talbot, Darin Brunin and Matt Sellers.

One might wonder how Storm Assist can decide who to help.  Storms can produce damage throughout the year in nearly every state in the country.  Brunin says Storm Assist focuses on being local.  “We really want to help out at the local level so victims of natural disasters can see the benefits right away.  These will be the same storms that chasers might have been on.  We want to help the community get back on their feet in unique ways.”

To raise money the organization sells merchandise from their website.  “We sell DVDs, calendars, t-shirts, and are coming out with other products in the near future.  The DVD is a compilation of video from storm chasers from all across the country and world.  That is then made into a highlights DVD and images are used in calendars,” Brunin explained.

Storm Assist Tornado LogoFor instance in 2013, Storm Assist has contributed twice to those in need.  The
group sent proceeds to a local United Way in Georgia and to a pet shelter in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Brunin said after a tornado hit the community, some storm victims could not afford to board their pets because they were staying in a hotel.  Other pets were not claimed by their owners after the storm.  Storm Assist’s donation supplied food for the animals and covered their care.

18 people have roles within Storm Assist.  Those members help the group with day to day operations.  Nearly 80 others have helped contribute images and video to create merchandise for fundraising.

Brunin says, “We’re gonna be around for a long time.  It’s our goal to build and build and build, helping out as many people as we can and become the face for charitable giving for storm chasers around the world.  A vast majority of storm chasers around the world are very caring, giving people and we want this project to showcase that and also make a big difference for those affected by natural disasters.”

To grow, Storm Assist is always looking for more people to become a part of their grass movement.  Brunin says, “This project wouldn’t be possible without so many wonderful people coming together to make it happen.  We’d love for every chaser to get involved no matter if you’ve been chasing for a year or 30 years.”

For more information on how to contribute as a storm chaser or how to make a donation, visit Storm Assist.

Lifelong Passion Leads to Forever Chasing

Forever Chasing

Movers and Shakers: Forever Chasing

There are thousands of storm chasers across the world. Talking to each one individually would make you think that there are a thousand different methods of how to follow storms. The truth is, every storm chaser shares the same passion. They love extreme weather.

Bryce Kintigh and Justin Dean have been chasing together since 2007.  The two were stranded for several hours in Northwest Kansas during a tornado outbreak. Since then, they have bonded and become great friends. Kintigh and his friend Jon Behle have known each other for twelve years now.  They also shared an interest in weather.  All three formed the group KSC, Kansas Storm Chaser Storm Tours.  Their plan was to share their storm experiences with others while providing an educational background as to what was happening. Just last year KSC added two members, Terence Danker who became instrumental in the company’s technical and business side and Dan Welch, who owned the name Forever Chasing.  The crew of five merged and adopted the Forever Chasing brand.

Storm chase tour teams aren’t anything new. But the group’s approach of scheduling passengers to ride along is a bit more flexible than most.  That was the goal of Forever Chasing. Kintigh says, “We provide low-cost storm tours on a more one-on-one basis.  Unlike some companies that have several vehicles and 20 tour guests, we have a maximum of 5.  We also have impromptu chases days that, unlike other tour companies, we don’t make our participants schedule their tours well in advance.  Instead, we go through a list and contact people through Twitter and Facebook when we believe we will be actively chasing, and let our followers know when we have availability.”

The adventures with Mother Nature have their ups and downs.  There are days when a recipe for storm chasing doesn’t materialize.  That can result in hours of waiting and mounting receipts for gasoline, with no payoff from the skies above.  There are also times when you can see too much. “We were in Joplin on May 22, 2011, the day the tornado was moving through town. We arrived at the first area of damage within 15 minutes of the tornado passing.  I didn’t expect that day to turn out the way it did. The better dynamics were well east of Joplin.  The storms we witnessed near Parsons, KS that afternoon didn’t appear very impressive. Just as the storm crossed into Missouri, things turned for the worse.  Looking back at video from that day still brings tears to my eyes.  The feeling of helplessness is an awful feeling when you know you still have a house to sleep in that night, while thousands of houses in Joplin were leveled,” Kintigh said.

Experience leads to education.  Each story of adventure leads to more interest from others who want to be a part of the team’s adventures. Long time business, Wichita Roofing sponsored Forever Chasing’s annual mission.  According to Kintigh, “We have been able to retrofit our chase vehicle with new technology and cameras that help us get where we need to quickly and (hopefully) save lives by giving timely and pertinent information to the media and National Weather Service.”

Look Who I Found On Twitter! A Big Welcome to the Newest Member of the Storm Report!

The cool guy we hired for social media

The cool guy we hired for social media

The Storm Report would like to welcome Harrison Sincavage to our social media team.  Harrison is a freshman at Penn State University and is currently attending the Berks campus.  He is from the small town of Wyomissing outside of Reading, PA.

I found Harrison in a rather unique way.  I found him on twitter.

Here’s what happened: I received a tweet from Harrison when the coastal low was plaguing the Mid Atlantic coast back in October.  He tweeted about buoy data and coastal conditions off the DE coast.  It was a well thought out tweet with great information and I sent it out.  I checked out his profile on Twitter and Facebook.  Harrison impressed me immediately.   By reading his previous tweets, you could tell he loves the weather and has a vast knowledge on the subject.    And he is a freshman!   Once I saw he is a Penn Stater, that sealed the deal to reach out to him since that is where I received my met degree!  After chatting with Harrison, I knew this is someone who could really be an asset to the Storm Report.  He is a well grounded, hard working, meteorologist to be.

I asked Harrison to tell me more about what got him into the world of weather.  “My interest in weather has always been with me since I was a little kid. My most prominent memory of a major weather event at a young age was Hurricane Floyd back in September of 1999. I remember watching it be tracked on The Weather Channel and them saying that the flooding was going to be bad. It turns out, we had over 13 inches of rain in two days. Our basement flooded and our backyard was completely flooded due a storm drain that was connected to the local creek. It backed up because the flooding was so major and the water line reached our house. I remember standing downstairs in the basement with my dad and brother watching the water pour through one of our basement windows down onto the floor. That was the most amazing thing I have ever seen, and it has stuck with me ever since.”

I asked Harrison what he is excited about most about working for The Storm Report.  “I am very excited to be with The Storm Report as I for one, will be able to help out in the warning process when dangerous weather occurs and potentially save lives. But I am also excited and fortunate enough to work with meteorologists who have spent decades in the field and be able to take what I learn in the classroom, and apply it to real life scenarios.”

 

Jennifer Narramore, Social Media Coordinator for the Storm Report

Twitter:  @thestormreport

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thestormreportradionetwork

Google +: https://plus.google.com/108426057235565595001/posts

 

Longtime Washington D.C. TV Meteorologist Retires

Meteorologist Bob Ryan

Meteorologist Bob Ryan

Legendary meteorologist Bob Ryan of WJLA-TV in Washington is retiring.

Ryan has been with the ABC affiliate for three years.  Prior to that, he was the head meteorologist at WRC-TV in Washington.  He began his 40-year-career in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

WJLA-TV News Director Bill Lord said, “Bob has done a brilliant job for us over the past three years making great contributions to the success of our outstanding 11pm newscast. He has also led the charge on our national award-winning website which derives about a quarter of its page views from the weather pages Bob helped design and populate. We have not yet worked out all the details of Bob’s departure but we will keep everyone in the loop as things develop.”

The station and staff celebrated Ryan’s career on the air on Wednesday.

 

Volunteer Firefighters Honored After Superstorm Sandy

Breezy Point, New York Volunteer Firefighters.  Image from ABC-TV.

Breezy Point, New York Volunteer Firefighters. Image from ABC-TV.

It’s been six months since Superstorm Sandy unleashed a wave of destruction on the small beach community of Breezy Point, New York.  The town’s volunteer firefighters remember each moment vividly.  Marty Ingram, the chief of the fire department said, “…horrific comes to mind.”

During the course of the storm, wind-whipped flood waters rose 8 feet high.  The firehouse was almost completely destroyed by the floodwaters.

Meanwhile, Ingram and his team left the firehouse to help with a six-alarm blaze on the tip of the Rockaway peninsula in Queens.  High winds blew embers that set 125 homes on fire, reducing them to rubble.

The volunteer firefighters were honored by Good Morning America’s Sam Champion recently.  The group risked their lives to save others, so Champion presented them with a $10,000 check from Direct Relief, a medical relief organization.  The money will be used to help make repairs to the firehouse.

 

NOAA Earns Spot in TIME Magazine’s Top 50 Websites

noaa-national-weather-serviceTIME magazine recently conducted their annual salute to websites and services.  The criteria included informative and entertaining websites that save you time and money and could even change your life.

Among TIME’s Top 50, was the National Weather Service Weather.gov website.

The publication said, “Weather.gov probably isn’t as slick as the weather app on your phone, but compared to other popular websites, the National Weather Service excels at offering no-nonsense forecasts, maps another other weather details with minimal clutter.”

Other sites that ranked among the 50 best include SoundCloud.com, Twit and NPR’s First Listen.

 

 

Meteorologists Earn “Hot Stuff” Award

KXAS-TV Meteorologists David Finfrock and Rebecca Miller have been honored by the North Central Texas Council of Governments.  The two were recipients of the Hot Stuff Award.

Midlothian Mayor Pro Tem Joe Frizzell presented the award for their outstanding service to the North Central Texas Emergency Preparedness Planning Council.

Frizell said Finfrock and Miller spent countless hours to produce a documentary educating the public.

The video can be seen here: