Tornado flattens Hopkins Co. homes, businesses; fire station destroyed

Tornado flattens Hopkins Co. homes, businesses; fire station destroyed

Red Cross volunteers walk across debris from a home destroyed by a tornado in Birthright, Texas.

The National Weather Service is expected to survey a nearly five-mile wide debris field to determine if a tornado is responsible for extensive damage in Hopkins County on Thursday, April 3.

A trained storm spotter reported a possible tornado that touched down around 9:15 p.m. Wednesday in the community of Birthright, north of Sulphur Springs. Businesses and homes were flattened, with debris covering roads and scattered across pastures.

Throughout the night, first responders searched homes trying to find anyone in need of medical attention.

As soon as the storm passed, Weldon White began sifting through debris, looking for belongings. Continue reading

Up close: West Texas storm chase intercepts tornado

West Texas Storm Chase 1

The KLTV Mobile StormTracker chase vehicle is equipped with a Davis weather station, National Weather Service radar, wireless high-speed internet, and a half-dozen cameras.

Chasing funnel clouds through the rolling hills of Rusk County to being pummeled with hail on the interstate in Harrison County, the KLTV Mobile StormTracker vehicle has already been put through the gauntlet. Wanting to test some modifications to the camera system on the chase vehicle, Meteorologist Grant Dade and I set out to track storms in West Texas.

Our journey began Thursday, May 23 with live reports on Good Morning East Texas as we drove toward Wichita Falls. Grant and I explained to viewers that the conditions were ripe for development to our west later that afternoon.

After several hours behind the wheel, we came to a stop in an area known as the Caprock, separating the high plains of the Texas panhandle. Watching radar in the vehicle, Grant let me know the chase was on. At more than two-thousand feet in elevation, we found a lookout northeast of Lubbock that was the perfect perch for watching the skies. Almost immediately, a thunderstorm caught Grant’s attention. Winds were whipping as we set up video and still cameras in the vehicle to capture bolts of lightning, flashing in the distance. Continue reading

Storm chase heads straight into path of destructive East Texas tornado

Waskom Tornado 1

The Mobile StormTracker chase vehicle endured a beating from hail & heavy rain before tracking a tornado’s path through Harrison County.

The threat of severe weather was looming and I got the call from KLTV 7 meteorologist Grant Dade that our latest chase was hours away. After filling up the Mobile StormTracker chase vehicle, Grant spent some time checking models, radar and forecast discussions to pinpoint the ideal place to watch storms fire up.

An impressive wall cloud moved through Marshall, signaling the prime time to move east. With his eye on live radar data, Grant warned that we were about to drive into some strong weather along Interstate 20; he was right. In all of our previous chases with me at wheel, this was certainly becoming the most nerve-wracking. Continue reading

Storm watch: Inside the National Weather Service

Inside the Forecast Office at the National Weather Service located in Shreveport, Louisiana.

While the robotic voice announcing emergency alerts over your NOAA weather radio sounds like it couldn’t be further from life, there are actually dozens of real people behind the message who are working to save lives.

I recently got a behind the scenes look at the National Weather Service (NWS) Forecast Office in Shreveport, Louisiana. Local TV meteorologists and other staff from six Ark-La-Tex television stations participated in a workshop to coordinate ways to better serve the public.

We toured their complex, located along the edge of the Shreveport Regional Airport grounds. Also housed on the property, a weather balloon launch and tracking station, as well as the Doppler radar site. In January the radar equipment will be upgraded to a dual polarization radar, providing greater ability to detect and measure hail and other meteorological objects. ‘Dual Pol’ also will bring enhanced resolution and allow meteorologists to more accurately determine where heavy rain is falling at that moment. It will be particularly useful during tornadic weather. Wind measurement will improve, helping identify if a tornado has touched the ground, as well as pick up tornado debris on radar returns. Continue reading

WATCH: Hurricanes Gustav and Ike dump heavy rain, force evacuations

Click the video below to watch a montage of my reports on the evacuation and sheltering of tens of thousands of Louisiana and Texas residents during hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Standing eye-to-eye with Hurricane Ike

Gusts of wind topping 100 miles per hour, 20 foot storm surge, hazardous airborne debris; you couldn’t ask for a more hazardous work environment.  Who would be crazy enough to voluntarily brave the elements?

I’ve always thought it irresponsible and somewhat sensationalist for TV journalists to stand out in the middle of a hurricane, all for a 50 second live shot. I’m not writing this post because I felt I was put in harm’s way.  In fact, my managers have done everything possible to ensure we keep personal safety at the forefront of everything we do.   It certainly makes for compelling live television, but what journalistic value does standing in a storm provide?  Continue reading

Day 16: Flooding devastates North Texas community

WFAA field producers, reporters, photographers, and interns worked inside this mobile newsroom, one of the station’s satellite production trucks.

Early Monday morning torrential rains soaked much of the northern part of the Metroplex. Gainesville was the unfortunate target for the brunt of Mother Nature’s fury. So far officials have estimated damage at more than 30 million dollars. Several people lost their lives, while others find themselves with only the clothes on their back.

Flood waters ripped through low lying areas, sweeping away everything in its current. Homes, businesses and cars-very little was left untouched. This small town, as often demonstrated in the most trying of times, has sought comfort in the arms of its neighbors.

Today, I spent the day in Gainesville to follow rescue searchers looking for missing residents. As you can imagine, the muggy Texas heat was relentless. While the search for the missing has turned up a few happy reunions, much of the town remains somber. Yesterday, two bodies were pulled from the creek that was responsible for much of the flooding. So far six people have died in relation to the flood. Continue reading