|I have been studying weather since I was eight years old. It is a passion. It is in my blood and family! My great uncle, Robert Dodson, was a meteorologist and war hero. The United States Air Force named an award after him - The Dodson Award. You can read more about this award by visiting this web-site. The passion for weather is difficult to explain. The sound of thunder, the wind rustling the leaves in the trees, the first snowflakes of winter, the first rainbow of spring. Watching the billowing cumulus clouds on a warm summer’s day. Waiting for that first clap of thunder. The pitter patter of raindrops outside my window.
I love weather! The atmosphere fascinates me. I am driven to try and understand what makes the atmosphere work.
|Peoria, Illinois||Wall Cloud Waterloo, Ontario||Swiss Alps|
I used to listen to NOAA Weather Radio on the school bus, at school, during recess, in my sleep. The principal at my high school (Massac County High School) welcomed me into his office, during my lunch break, to watch The Weather Channel. I was a weather geek! One hundred percent pure weather geek.
I grew up in Massac County, Illinois. Near a little place called Round Knob to be exact. Metropolis was just a few miles away (hometown of Superman!). We had a lot of extreme weather events. See the history page above for some photos and information about some of those events.
|Kyoto, Japan||Flying in Toronto, Ontario||Great Wall of China|
|I still remember the smell of facsimile paper at the local flight service station. FRESH facsimile paper, as the machine would slowly spit out the latest day one severe weather outlook or surface map. I would have my fingers on it before the ink would dry! I used to pester the lady at the flight station, here in Paducah, Kentucky. We would dial up radars, through the telephone, and watch storms in Texas or Oklahoma (that was in the days when Texas and Oklahoma actually got storms) I think she enjoyed it as much as I did.|
|Niagara on the Lake||Snow Sculpture, Quebec City||Amish Buggy|
|Oh yeah and who can forget A.M. Weather? I was probably the only kid in my school that woke up at 6 a.m. for the morning aviation weather briefing. It doesn’t get geekier than that.
I have been chasing storms since I was a teenager. There is something about the overpowering, awe inspiring, and surreal feeling of being in the shadow of a Cumulonimbus cloud. The towering white and gray clouds...overshooting tops...distant lightning bolts. Standing in the country, feeling the warm summer breeze, smell of distant rain, and listening to the rumble of thunder. It makes you feel so small. A reminder that something or someone else is in control. I know many of you reading this know exactly what I am talking about. It can't be explained to those who fear the weather. It can't be explained to those who have witnessed the terror that storms can bring. Perhaps it is a passion to want to understand that which we fear. To understand that which is bigger than anything man-kind can make or tame. Whether it is a snowstorm, a tropical storm, or a cyclone...it doesn't matter. The passion remains the same. Chasing is just an extension of that passion. Photographing Mother Nature at her best and worst.
|Waterloo, Ontario||Super cell over Paducah, KY||Rainbow over Ohio River|
|Unfortunately, I also see the destructive side of weather. Having had friends lose loved ones because of tornadoes I know how lives can be forever changed by Mother Nature's wrath.
I saw the complete devastation of my own community after the May 2003 tornado outbreaks. An event that forever changed my life and the lives of thousands of others.
I have witnessed firsthand the destructive power of F5 tornadoes in Birmingham, Alabama, Andover, Kansas, and a number of F4 events as well. One will never forget the site of scorched earth. Wind so strong that even the grass is gone. The pavement from roads removed. Trees debarked. I will also never forget the Marion, Illinois tornado. We had golf ball size hail from that system at my house.
I have also witnessed the power of tropical weather. Having been through Hurricane Cindy and Dennis and then seeing the destruction from Hurricane Katrina and Rita I can say that I have no desire to live on the coastline of the Gulf Coast of America.
Although Mother Nature can be beautiful she can also be destructive. It is the nature of the beast.
|Hurricane Katrina demolished the Mississippi Coastline.||Bay St Louis, Mississippi. Destroyed
by Hurricane Katrina.
|I also spend a lot of time covering severe weather for Ballard and McCracken Counties of western Kentucky. I am the Severe Weather Tech and Meteorologist for the McCracken County Emergency Management Team. I have a complete severe weather center at my house to help cover big events in our region. I cover critical weather events using the latest radar technology and weather software available to the public and private sector. This is part of my passion...public safety and awareness. I like being able to share what I know about meteorology. I find myself totally immersed in extreme weather events once they enter our region. Unfortunately, sometimes this means trading my chaser hat for my emergency management hat.
I have volunteered some of my time to the American Red Cross as a Disaster Relief Volunteer. I served as the local Disaster Vice-Chair for the Paducah Area Chapter of western Kentucky. The local chapter covers four counties and service nearly 100,000 people. They have a large group of wonderful volunteers...prepared to take on any event that might impact our area.
|This is where I monitor the weather for Emergency Management.||The new and improved center for 2007!|
|I encourage everyone in the weather and chase community to take the time to give back something to those who find themselves at the mercy of severe weather. You won't regret it.
In 2005 I spent two months helping people pick up the pieces from Hurricane Katrina and Rita (or Karita as I like to call them). I can say that I have never witnessed destruction like what I saw on the Mississippi Coastline. Incredible, raw, and nothing less than pure devastation.
|Feeding volunteers after Hurricane Katrina.||Hurricane Katrina and Rita -2005||My friends Pedro and Helen from
New Orleans, LA.
|At the Houston Astrodome I was able to make two special friends, Pedro and Helen (seen above). They had only been married for a few weeks when Hurricane Katrina destroyed their home. They were placed on a bus and driven out of New Orleans and brought to the arena in Houston. They still managed to smile through it all. They were an inspiration to me and left a fingerprint on my heart. Mother Nature may be strong but the human spirit is stronger.
I have, from time to time, also found myself at the mercy of the weather. Having to take shelter as Category 4 Hurricane Dennis approached the Gulf Coast during the 2005 Hurricane Season. This came right on the heels of Hurricane Cindy, which I felt first hand in Destin, Florida.
|Red Cross Volunteers set up thousands of cots at the Houston Astrodome.||Thousands of hurricane victims make the Astrodome their home.|
Outside of other business ventures I recently graduated from Mississippi State University. I was enrolled in the Broadcast Meteorology and Bachelor of Science Program. The meteorology program took three years to complete.
|Mount Sinai||Diving in Red Sea||Jordan|
|2004 award recipient of the "Six Who Make A Difference." Awarded by NBC WPSD-TV 6 to six residents of the four state area who have served their community in extraordinary ways. The award was presented for the work the Shadow Angel Foundation did following the F4 Tri-County Tornado that struck on May 6, 2003.
2006 award recipient of the "Caesar J. Fiamma Volunteer Service Award." This award was presented by my friend Sue Henry (right), Executive Director, of the American Red Cross - Paducah Area Chapter.
|Terror In The Night - fundraiser book||Six Who Make a Difference||My friend, Sue Henry, presents me with the "Caesar J. Fiamma" Award.|
| 2005 Service Award Certificates from the American Red Cross. Given to volunteers who gave their time in helping others after Hurricane Katrina and Rita.
2006 award recipient, along with NBC-WPSD TV-6, of the Mark Trail Award. We were honored with this National Service Award for our efforts to promote the NOAA Weather Radio Program. WPSD TV has been responsible for more than 10.000 NOAA Weather Radios being distributed throughout the four state region. We started this program in response to the May 6th, 2003 Tri-County Tornado. The ripple effect of this program has even spread to other parts of the nation.
|Service Award Certificate from
American Red Cross
|Mark Trial Award||Kentucky Colonel Award|
|Now you know a little more about me. I enjoy reading the biographies of other people, so I figured someone might want to know the person behind this camera and web-site.
All of that is good and well, but what is truly important in life is family, friendships, and LIFE itself. Spending time with those you care for and love. Following your dreams. Following your passions. Doing what you think you need to do...the pursuit of happiness!
Taking time out of your day to listen to the snowflakes falling outside your window. Listening to the trees crackle when the temperature is 5 degrees outside. Watching a spectacular sunset or sunrise. Nothing beats that! Oh and don't forget the meteor showers.