Hurricane Chasing History (The Early Years 1926-1994):

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Hurricane Chasing History (The Early Years 1926-1994):

#1 Postby ncforecaster89 » Wed Jan 22, 2020 11:56 pm

Hi Everyone,

I spend an inordinate amount of my spare time researching hurricane history.  Recently, I found myself wondering about the history of hurricane chasing...such as who might've been the very first known hurricane chaser? From there, I expanded my research into determining who are/were some of the pioneers, so to speak, of this unique endeavor. Given this project entailed combing the web searching for all available information on the subject, as well as purusing various chaser websites and YouTube channels, I also began compiling a listing of each chasers' total hurricane "eyewall" and "eye" experiences.

In case this information might be of interest to others, as well, I thought I would begin sharing some of the ongoing research via this particular thread. In addition, I'm planning on displaying some of the best videos captured by these chasers through the years, also.

As a veteran Hurricane chaser, myself, I feel it's important to emphasize that ones totals and/or experience doesn't necessarily mean they're any more special, or talented than any of the others (I.e., suggesting some sort of chaser ranking system); at least that's how I look at it.
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#2 Postby ncforecaster89 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:19 am

To the best of my knowledge, the very first Hurricane chase was conducted by a gentleman named, Ralph Radnor Earle. He was a reporter with a news reel company (Pathe News), who traveled to Miami, Fl to document a powerful category-four hurricane in the Fall of 1926. By doing so, He captured some amazing images of a truly historic event...known as "The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926!

This remarkable footage can be seen in the following video beginning at the 0:47 mark:

https://youtu.be/LRAJ7Bc0O5E
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#3 Postby ncforecaster89 » Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:01 pm

After Ralph Ednor Earle's incredible expedition into the eye of the 1926 hurricane, many other journalists would subsequently follow in his footsteps.

The advent of the "amateur" photojournalist/hurricane chaser - one who intercepted hurricanes unaffiliated with a news entity - appears to have begun in 1965. A small group of students from Florida State University (FSU) decided to impulsively "chase" after Hurricane Betsy, as it was moving through the Gulf of Mexico on its way to a devastating Cat 4 landfall in SE Louisiana. I'm not sure who all the participants were of this particular chase, but I do know that one of those students would continue to intercept hurricanes for the next 35 years! His name was "Terry Nixon."

The following year, Terry was joined by another one of his friends at FSU to go after Hurricane Inez, as it threatened S Fl. This friend was "Richard Horodner." Mr. Horodner has since continued to chase and film landfalling tropical cyclones throughout the past 55 years!

In 1972, a weather enthusiast by the name of "Jim Leonard" began his legendary chase career by intercepting Hurricane Agnes along the Florida Panhandle. He would continue to chase and document multitudes of hurricanes and Typhoons, right up until his unfortunate death in 2014.

By the end of the 1985 hurricane season, other veteran hurricane chasers had begun to enter the fray, so to speak. People such as Michael Laca, Andy Dressler, Richard Pasch, and Tim Marshall.

https://youtu.be/SAU9yKvIIb4


https://youtu.be/ZoZl2AJvG6k

Within the next four years (circa 1989), a new wave of chasers had embarked on their own initial hurricane chases. This group included Chris Collura, Warren Faidley, Steve Wachholder, Mark Sudduth, and myself (Tony Brite).

Important note: There may be a few additional chasers left unacknowledged between the period of 1965-1989, but these are all the names I've been able to identify, to date. Will most certainly amend these lists, as necessary.
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Sat Feb 08, 2020 4:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#4 Postby ncforecaster89 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:46 pm

1979 - 1980:

Here is some of the earliest hurricane footage captured on film by the first wave of amateur hurricane chasers, or pioneers of the field:

Hurricane David (1979) Palm Beach, Fl:

This is the earliest known amateur storm chaser footage of hurricane conditions in the U.S. It was captured by Jim Leonard from the eyewall of a Cat 2 landfall, as it brushed along the eastern Florida peninsula on its way to a second landfall near the GA/SC border.

https://youtu.be/Iololiy32rs

Hurricane Frederic (1979) Mobile, Al:

This is the earliest known amateur storm chaser documentation of the direct aftermath from a "major" hurricane landfall. It was filmed the morning after Frederic's Cat 4 assault on the Alabama coastline, the night before. Given the night time conditions, neither Jim Leonard nor his chase partner (Richard Horodner) filmed any of the actual hurricane, itself. Nonetheless, they did intercept the eye and eyewall of this powerful hurricane!

https://youtu.be/4NQSyjNRrJA

Here are a couple links showing segments of live local news coverage, as Frederic made its historic landfall:

https://youtu.be/RrzPqy4EpNA

https://youtu.be/0Y2gIoaFQZY

Hurricane Allen (1980) Brownsville, TX:

This is the earliest known amateur chaser footage of "major" hurricane conditions captured in the U.S. It was filmed by Jim Leonard from the eye wall of a Cat 3 landfall.

https://youtu.be/TgEUNEIpvsY

Here is archived local news coverage from near the area where Allen came ashore:

https://youtu.be/yg77AVOwuiY
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:55 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History (The Early Years):

#5 Postby ncforecaster89 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 4:37 pm

Hurricane Chase Video (1981-1985):

In this section, I'm going to provide links to all of the known hurricane chaser video taken during the aforestated period.

It's important to note that both Jim Leonard and Richard Horodner also documented the landfalls of Hurricanes Alicia 1983 and Danny 1985. Tim Marshall chased Alicia 1983. Jim also chased Hurricane "Juan" in Louisiana during the 1985 season.

In addition, Terry Nixon and Tim Marshall also intercepted Hurricane Danny along the Louisiana shoreline in August of 1985. Terry Nixon chased Hurricane Elena during the 1985 season, as well...while Richard Horodner filmed "Gloria" at Nags Head, NC.

Unfortunately, none of these chasers currently have any of their footage, from those specific storms, uploaded to YouTube.

Hurricane Diana (1984) Kure Beach, NC:

Richard Horodner and Jim Leonard intercepted the eye of Diana near and just south of Wilmington, NC (at Kure Beach and Holden Beach) on 9/13/1984. Here is a still image taken by Richard:

https://www.canebeard.com/albums/album_ ... 102130.htm

TWC/NEWS Coverage of Hurricane Diana (1984):

https://youtu.be/sMJ1qJoWElY

https://youtu.be/7NuskCbwWvI

https://youtu.be/E--SrxzARew

TWC/NEWS Coverage of Hurricane Danny (1985):

https://youtu.be/3ZturdeRpUg

https://youtu.be/6Dm4GuklnEI

Hurricane Elena (1985) Biloxi, MS:

The scenes displayed in this video were captured by Michael Laca during the morning hours of 9/2/1985. He was joined by fellow chase participants: Jim Leonard and Richard Pasch.

They bore witness to the brunt of a Cat 3 eyewall. When the "eye" passed directly overhead, Michael documented one of the most spectacular views of a stadium-effect hurricane eye ever caught on film...from the ground! It was the first time a hurricanes' eye had ever been captured on video by a chaser.

https://youtu.be/MW5rcNYv4CA

Richard Horodner also chased "Elena", over the course of a few days, from Cedar Key, Fl to Biloxi and Gulfport, MS. By doing so, he secured imagery of, quite possibly, the first known hurricane-induced storm surge ever caught on video...from East Point, Fl. He recorded the strongest eyewall winds in Biloxi, prior to driving to Gulfport, MS to document the eye, there.

https://youtu.be/CbGu23XW_Uk

TWC/NEWS Coverage of Hurricane Elena (1985):

https://youtu.be/sLziqvjBUm4

https://youtu.be/haVn3nMJruQ

https://youtu.be/CqWAhgiqkTw

https://youtu.be/R4AXAbIr-aU

Hurricane Gloria (1985) Cedar Island, NC:

During the early morning hours of 9/27/1985, Michael Laca and Jim Leonard documented the western eyewall of a strong Cat 2, borderline Cat 3, hurricane...as it made landfall at Cape Hatteras, NC.

https://youtu.be/skJFb1IO8RQ

TWC/NEWS Coverage of Hurricane Gloria (1985):

https://youtu.be/Hni0JnVjvDU

https://youtu.be/wo-NfN1026U

https://youtu.be/ZIQpSdcjpnM

Hurricane Kate (1985) Indian Pass, Fl:

From the afternoon hours of 11/21/1985 through the early morning hours of 11/22/1985, Michael Laca and Jim Leonard documented the effects of a Cat 2 hurricane landfall from the most powerful quadrant of the eyewall.

https://youtu.be/ScsEoV1_4Uk

Hurricane Kate (1985) Mexico Beach, Fl:

Richard Horodner and Terry Nixon chased Kate to Cape San Blas, Fl. While Terry chose to remain at that location, Richard drove through the eyewall to get to the point where the center of the "eye" crossed the coastline; Mexico Beach, Fl.

https://youtu.be/RK9v1_AaFtg

TWC/NEWS Coverage of Hurricane Kate (1985):

https://youtu.be/0IjVqxEb-jo

https://youtu.be/2u6hgybhddY

https://youtu.be/WoEHgyMc4bQ

https://youtu.be/1vOLGRZCDww

Credit: All TWC/NEWS coverage recorded via VCR by veteran hurricane chaser, Steve Wachholder.
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Sun Feb 16, 2020 5:19 am, edited 16 times in total.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#6 Postby ncforecaster89 » Fri Jan 24, 2020 10:50 pm

Hurricane Chaser Videos (1986-1988):

This section is devoted to all known storm chaser videos taken of Atlantic basin hurricane landfalls for the period of 1986-1988.

Hurricane Bonnie (1986) High Island, TX:

On 8/26/1986, Michael Laca was in position to record video from the eastern eyewall of a Cat 1 hurricane along the upper Texas coast.

https://youtu.be/cxCB1rZf7U8

Note: Richard Horodner and Jim Leonard also penetrated the eyewall of this hurricane, but don't currently have their respective videos posted online. The same applies to Richard's intercept of Cat 1 Hurricane Charley on the Outer Banks of NC in August of 1986.

Hurricane Floyd (1987) Key Largo, FL:

On 10/11/1987, Chris Collura begin his chase career by intercepting the eye of "Floyd" at Key Largo in the Florida Keys. Here's a link to his brief chase account containing photos of the event.

https://www.sky-chaser.com/floyd87.htm

As is the case for many of the others during this era, there isn't any video available on the internet from either Jim Leonard, Michael Laca, or Richard Horodner...who also chronicled this event in the Florida Keys.

TWC/NEWS Coverage of Hurricane Floyd (1987):

https://youtu.be/wHEtjQPKMbo

Hurricane Gilbert (1988) Playa Del Carmen, MX:

This dramatic video was captured by a famous cave diver (Wes Skiles) who was on the Yucatan Peninsula at the time that the southern eyewall of this Cat 5 made landfall!

https://youtu.be/GGSyAmkDmxI

Jim Leonard also recorded some amazing video from another location on the Yucatan Peninsula, but his footage isn't uploaded to the Internet. If I'm not mistaken, the rest of the chasers, who documented "Gilbert", did so on or near South Padre Island, TX. At that time, the eyewall passed far enough to the S of the U.S. mainland that no hurricane-force winds affected the area.

TWC/NEWS Coverage of Hurricane Gilbert (1988):

https://youtu.be/k_ILOhn23Gg

https://youtu.be/l8rg3GiG4iM

https://youtu.be/WtZLerotUTY

There was one additional hurricane that made a U.S. landfall during the 1988 season. It was Hurricane Florence, and Jim Leonard and Michael Laca were both there to document the event. Again, their footage isn't currently available anywhere on the web.

Credit: All TWC/NEWS coverage recorded via VCR by veteran hurricane chaser, Steve Wachholder.
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Thu Feb 06, 2020 11:50 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#7 Postby chaser1 » Sat Jan 25, 2020 12:56 am

[quote="ncforecaster89"]

The advent of the "amateur" photojournalist/hurricane chaser - one who intercepted hurricanes unaffiliated with a news entity - appears to have begun in 1965.

The following year, Terry Nixon was joined by another one of his friends at FSU to go after Hurricane Inez, as it threatened S Fl. This friend was "Richard Horodner."

In 1972, a weather enthusiast by the name of "Jim Leonard" began his legendary chase career by intercepting Hurricane Agnes along the Florida Panhandle. He would continue to chase and document multitudes of hurricanes and Typhoons, right up until his unfortunate death in 2014.

By the end of the 1985 hurricane season, other veteran hurricane chasers had begun to enter the fray, so to speak. People such as Michael Laca, Andy Dressler, Richard Pasch, and Tim Marshall.

https://youtu.be/SAU9yKvIIb4
https://youtu.be/ZoZl2AJvG6k[quote]

Ah, such were the day's..... Fun times, interesting characters, and some harrowing experiences. Neil Frank thought we were all crazy LOL but back then, that simply made hanging out at the 'ol "OK Corral" (NHC) that much more fun. It's kinda funny to think of myself as among a small niche of weather folklore. Boy how the field of (hurricane & tornado) Storm Chasers grew thereafter and through the years. I was fortunate to share the exhilaration of multiple hurricane chases with the likes of Jim, Mike, Richard, & Terry. Jim's passing was very sad and I often reflect back to the last major hurricane chase I (Andy) shared with him over in Port Charlotte during Charlie.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#8 Postby ncforecaster89 » Sat Jan 25, 2020 2:09 am

chaser1 wrote:
ncforecaster89 wrote:
The advent of the "amateur" photojournalist/hurricane chaser - one who intercepted hurricanes unaffiliated with a news entity - appears to have begun in 1965.

The following year, Terry Nixon was joined by another one of his friends at FSU to go after Hurricane Inez, as it threatened S Fl. This friend was "Richard Horodner."

In 1972, a weather enthusiast by the name of "Jim Leonard" began his legendary chase career by intercepting Hurricane Agnes along the Florida Panhandle. He would continue to chase and document multitudes of hurricanes and Typhoons, right up until his unfortunate death in 2014.

By the end of the 1985 hurricane season, other veteran hurricane chasers had begun to enter the fray, so to speak. People such as Michael Laca, Andy Dressler, Richard Pasch, and Tim Marshall.

https://youtu.be/SAU9yKvIIb4
https://youtu.be/ZoZl2AJvG6k

Ah, such were the day's..... Fun times, interesting characters, and some harrowing experiences. Neil Frank thought we were all crazy LOL but back then, that simply made hanging out at the 'ol "OK Corral" (NHC) that much more fun. It's kinda funny to think of myself as among a small niche of weather folklore. Boy how the field of (hurricane & tornado) Storm Chasers grew thereafter and through the years. I was fortunate to share the exhilaration of multiple hurricane chases with the likes of Jim, Mike, Richard, & Terry. Jim's passing was very sad and I often reflect back to the last major hurricane chase I (Andy) shared with him over in Port Charlotte during Charlie.


Hi Andy! Thanks for taking the time to post and share a little about your own fascinating chase experiences. You are deservedly so considered one of the genuine pioneers of the hurricane chasing field!

As you alluded to, it seems that the hurricane chase community really exploded in numbers following the 2004-2005 seasons.

Never had the pleasure of meeting Jim in person, but was fortunate to have talked hurricanes with him on the phone, on a few occasions. I really appreciated his thoughtfulness, humility, and unique sense of humor.

After the barage of hurricane landfalls we experienced in SE NC during the late 1990's, he very generously put together a VHS tape of all the footage he had captured from those storms, and sent it to me...although I never asked for it. That's an example of the man I personally remember; very thoughtful!

Your last "major" hurricane chase with Jim was most certainly a memorable one! To think, Charley was the first Cat 4 or stronger hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Cat 5 Andrew, and you were there to endure the absolute brunt of both of those monster hurricanes. Truly amazing! :)
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#9 Postby Dave C » Sat Jan 25, 2020 11:07 am

I also, had the pleasure of talking to Him on the phone back in the 90s. Very polite and patient and wouldn't let you feel rushed to end the conversation. Jim also was at Guam in the 90s and caught cat 3 Omar and supertyphoon Keith on Saipan although missing the eyewall. Wish I could have met him in person.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#10 Postby ncforecaster89 » Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:53 pm

Hurricane Chasing (1989-1990):

These two years corresponded with a total of three distinct hurricane landfalls on the U.S. mainland. The first was Cat 1 Hurricane Chantal on the upper Texas coast in August of 1989. Unaware if there were any chasers who documented this event. A month thereafter, the most powerful known hurricane (in recorded history) to have ever made landfall on the East Coast, north of West Palm Beach, FL, barreled ashore just N of Charleston, SC. Its name was "Hugo", and it battered the area with Cat 4 winds and a 20' storm surge! Then in the middle of October of 1989, Cat 1 Hurricane Jerry struck the TX coastline near Galveston. As was the case with Chantal, I don't know of anyone who actually intercepted this storm, either.

Back to the monumental landfall of Hurricane Hugo. Before it reached the U.S. mainland, Hugo slammed a number of the Eastern Carribean Islands with devastating fury. One such locality was the Island of Puerto Rico.

Hurricane Hugo (1989) Luquillo, Puerto Rico:

During the middle to late morning hours of 9/18/1989, a small group of veteran chasers would find themselves in the eyewall of an intense Cat 4 hurricane. Two persons (Terry Nixon and Richard Horodner) from the original group of five had repositioned to a separate location, nearby, while the other three (Michael Laca, Andy Dessler, and Jim Leonard) remained in Luquillo, P.R. to record the following dramatic video:

https://youtu.be/UVAb7a1Hp_g

Hurricane Hugo (1989) Charleston, SC:

I believe this is video taken by Steve Wachholder, as he and his chase partner (possibly Jim Leonard, as he too was in Charleston) were driving around Charleston, SC a few hours prior to Hugo's arrival. Unfortunately, I can't locate any other chaser footage taken during Hugo's historic East Coast landfall.

https://youtu.be/wULgKnmTn6c

Richard Horodner was in Myrtle Beach, SC for this event, but I'm uncertain if he was accompanied by anyone else. Likewise, I'm not sure if either veteran chasers Andy Dressler or Terry Nixon were on hand for round two in the U.S.?

Video stills of the direct aftermath (taken by Richard Horodner):

Georgetown, SC:

https://www.canebeard.com/albums/album_ ... 101799.htm

Near Charleston, SC:

https://www.canebeard.com/albums/album_ ... 101798.htm

Personal note: This event constituted my own first " official" hurricane chase. Being a nineteen year-old college student, who was still living at home, my parents restricted a trip any further S than the NC/SC border. Consequently, I experienced wind gusts upwards of 70 mph... that fell just short of genuine hurricane conditions. Ironically, another veteran hurricane chaser (Mark Sudduth) had a very similar experience...as he too was of similar age and his parents didn't allow him to venture any further south than Carolina Beach, NC. Nevertheless, Hugo also correlates to his own very first hurricane chase event, as well.

TWC Coverage of Hurricane Hugo (1989):

https://youtu.be/NKEezx_9iqU

https://youtu.be/ZlgmolTKfrY

https://youtu.be/hw3ws24Y-vM

https://youtu.be/BjUgSna5ChQ

https://youtu.be/Qz6qRM14SZ8

https://youtu.be/2CsCAAjy9T0
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:14 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#11 Postby ncforecaster89 » Sun Jan 26, 2020 10:25 pm

1991-1992:

The 1991 season produced only one hurricane landfall. On 8/19/1991, Hurricane Bob brushed past the NC Outer Banks as a 100 kt Cat 3 hurricane. Although it weakened slightly on its trek up the East Coast, it still provided SNE with its strongest hurricane landfall in 37 years! It doesn't appear anyone actually chased it up into SNE, but Michael Laca did chase it into eastern NC. However, the eyewall stayed far enough offshore that he didn't experience hurricane-force winds.

The following year delivered the U S. mainland its first category 5 hurricane landfall in 23 years, and only the third known one in recorded history...up until that time!

In the early morning hours of August 24, 1992, a small contingent of storm chasers had gathered in south Florida to document a prodigious moment in American history known as "Hurricane Andrew."

Hurricane Andrew (1992) Perrine/Cutler Ridge, Fl:

The absolute peak winds of this Cat 5 behemoth moved across the Cutler Ridge and Perrine areas of Miami/Dade County where Richard Horodner and Andy Dressler had taken refuge in Richard's home. Here is a first-hand account of their terrifying ordeal:

https://www.canebeard.com/andrew.html

Here is the footage Richard took from his home:

https://youtu.be/ttaohrF_3y4

As he mentions in his written account, they were unable to film during the peak of Andrew's Cat 5 winds. As can be seen in the above clip, Richard Horodner was also in Franklin, La. for the second U.S. landfall.

Hurricane Andrew (1992) Kendall, Fl:

Chris Collura had sought shelter just north of Kendall, Fl and also experienced the northern eyewall of Andrew...at a position about 5 nm N of Andy and Richard. Here is his personal account of the encounter:

https://www.sky-chaser.com/andrew92.htm

Hurricane Andrew (1992) Coconut Grove, Fl:

Michael Laca, Warren Faidley, and Steve Wachholder selected a reinforced-concrete parking garage in Coconut Grove to record the action. This placed them at the northern extent of Andrew's N eyewall, and roughly 9 miles to the north of Andy and Richard. Although just outside the RMW, they were the only chasers who captured video from the eyewall of Hurricane Andrew's assault on SE Florida.

Listed below are two separate videos taken from the aforementioned parking garage. The first was shot by Michael Laca:

https://youtu.be/lO0TGcRm6LM

The second is a NWS documentary containing the footage recorded by Steve Wachholder:

https://youtu.be/LIuRYuLaeW8

Lastly, Terry Nixon rode out the N eyewall, himself, about 7 miles to the N of Richard and Andy, and due W of downtown Miami...where Dennis Smith of TWC was reporting. Unfortunately, I can't find any video or a written account of his own rendezvous with Andrew.

Hurricane Andrew (1992) New Iberia, La.:

Pioneering tornado chaser, Jeff Piotrowski, was in New Iberia, Louisiana and intercepted the eye of this powerful Cat 3 hurricane, during the early morning hours of 8/26/1992.

TWC Coverage of Hurricane Andrew (1992):

Live archival footage of both U.S. landfalls.

https://youtu.be/-McqJvljeaU
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Sat Feb 15, 2020 11:18 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History (The Early Years):

#12 Postby ncforecaster89 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 6:14 pm

1993-1994:

These two seasons combined to produce just one hurricane direct hit upon the U.S. mainland. Hurricane Emily delivered a Cat 3 strike on the Cape Hatteras portion of the NC Outer Banks...on 8/31/1993.

The next season brought Hurricane Gordon's Cat 1 threat to the NC Outer Banks on 11/18/1994, but it stalled abruptly just offshore before hurricane-force conditions affected the coastline. This was my second hurricane chase, but was only able to encounter peak wind gusts in the 55-60 mph range, as a result.

Hurricane Emily (1993) Buxton, NC:

During the late afternoon of 8/31/1993, the western eyewall of an intensifying Cat 3 hurricane blasted Hatteras Island with wind gusts upwards of 115 mph and a storm surge exceeding 10'! Storm chasers Richard Horodner and Andy Dressler were in Buxton to document the event:

https://youtu.be/rkrTHo8PcEk

It appears Michael Laca chose to chase alone and recorded the action at Stumpy Point, NC...about 10 nm to the NNW of where the other three chasers rode out the eyewall of Emily. Unable to locate Michael's video of this occurrence.

TWC Coverage of Hurricane Emily (1993):

https://youtu.be/sFZ1J_5VTpI
Last edited by ncforecaster89 on Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:27 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History (The Early Years 1926-1994):

#13 Postby ncforecaster89 » Fri Feb 07, 2020 1:52 am

UPDATE:

I've gone back through this thread to add some additional chaser video I've since located, as well as adding a lot of TWC live coverage archived from the time of the various hurricane events.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History (The Early Years 1926-1994):

#14 Postby ncforecaster89 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:12 pm

Update:

Will be amending portions of this thread to account for the hurricanes Jeff Piotrowski had intercepted during this time frame. He's currently in the process of compiling a complete list, and hopes to get it to me within the next few days to a week.

He's the only one I'm aware of, who intercepted the eye of Andrew at its Cat 3 landfall in New Iberia, La, on 8/26/1992.
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#15 Postby beoumont » Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:44 am

chaser1 wrote:
Ah, such were the day's..... Fun times, interesting characters, and some harrowing experiences. Neil Frank thought we were all crazy LOL but back then, that simply made hanging out at the 'ol "OK Corral" (NHC) that much more fun. It's kinda funny to think of myself as among a small niche of weather folklore. Boy how the field of (hurricane & tornado) Storm Chasers grew thereafter and through the years. I was fortunate to share the exhilaration of multiple hurricane chases with the likes of Jim, Mike, Richard, & Terry. Jim's passing was very sad and I often reflect back to the last major hurricane chase I (Andy) shared with him over in Port Charlotte during Charlie.



Neil Frank really looked down on us chasers; or as you noted, figured we had a loose Phillips head screw in our heads. Lectured us repeatedly on 2 matters:

"We at the NHC are doing our darndest to convince the public to leave all areas likely to be devastated; and your guys adventures can only attract others to do the same. We don't need dozens or more thrill seekers and copycats roaming around hurricane warned areas during the events." Partly because of Neil's lectures Jim Leonard, Terry Nixon and myself always chased incognito; not seeking personal attention or publicity during any hurricane event. Many times TV crews came over to try and do a live interview during the early stages of a hurricane; and we always told them to get lost.

And as Nc89 has mentioned, we were fairly successful at not encouraging many others to chase - as it was the mid 1980s before even a few more chased a hurricane; and 2005 before the number increased greatly.

"I see you guys rented two vehicles to chase Hugo in Puerto Rico, declared Neil. Driving someone else's $25,000+ equipment (Avis renta-car, etc) into hurricane conditions and surge is the height of irresponsibility." I did note to Neil that when we brought our two Volvo's back to Hertz, the clerk noted, "These are the only 2 rental cars we had rented out to tourists the days before Hugo that have been returned without any damage." (We had to survive the storm in those cars; as opposed to the hundreds of other cars rented by tourists, that were left parked on the street, exposed to the worst of conditions. )

NC89's history of hurricane chasing posts are fairly well done; but not complete as he noted.

I personally completed a full manuscript several years ago pre-titled "The History of Hurricane Chasing" that contains a full chronology (I think) of hurricane chasers; with many anecdotal stories associated with many of those chases.

All of the chase intercepts NC89 noted in this thread are mentioned in that manuscript; researched through non-internet sources, conversations, NHC and NHRL contacts, and interviews over the last five decades. There were a handful of other non-TV people that chased and intercepted one or two hurricanes before 1965, that NC89 did not come across in his internet research as well.

There is a man from Georgia who began chasing the same year as Jim Leonard, and continued for 3 decades.

Another chased Donna 1960 to the northern Keys, took a "quick" nap in his motel room; then woke up floating on his mattress two feet from the ceiling.

There is a network cameraman I met at the Wilmington affiliate after Diana, 1984; who had been assigned to film almost every landfalling US hurricane since the early 1950's; his black and white footage (Connie, Diane, Hazel, etc) of the many landfalls are periodically shown on his network. The basic filming and safe chasing tips he gave me during our long conversation served me well for decades.

Several of the locations of intercept, and persons chasing various storms are not correct in NC89s accounts harvested from the Internet. (I quickly counted 13 such instances). But, overall I find his posts quite well done; a majority of which are fairly accurate.

Good luck trying to find a publisher who feels this subject matter is worth investing in, distributing and marketing a book to the general public. I have tried to find one for my manuscript for many years now.
Last edited by beoumont on Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:55 am, edited 2 times in total.
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List of 79 tropical cyclones intercepted by Richard Horodner:
http://www.canebeard.com/page/page/572246.htm

ncforecaster89
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Re: Hurricane Chasing History:

#16 Postby ncforecaster89 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 1:16 am

beoumont wrote:NC89's history of hurricane chasing posts are fairly well done; but not complete as he noted.

I personally completed a full manuscript several years ago pre-titled "The History of Hurricane Chasing" that contains a full chronology (I think) of hurricane chasers; with many anecdotal stories associated with many of those chases.

All of the chase intercepts NC89 noted in this thread are mentioned in that manuscript; researched through non-internet sources, conversations, NHC and NHRL contacts, and interviews over the last five decades. There were a handful of other non-TV people that chased and intercepted one or two hurricanes before 1965, that NC89 did not come across in his internet research as well.

There is a man from Georgia who began chasing the same year as Jim Leonard, and continued for 3 decades.

Another chased Donna 1960 to the northern Keys, took a "quick" nap in his motel room; then woke up floating on his mattress two feet from the ceiling.

There is a network cameraman I met at the Wilmington affiliate after Diana, 1984; who had been assigned to film almost every landfalling US hurricane since the early 1950's; his black and white footage (Connie, Diane, Hazel, etc) of the many landfalls are periodically shown on his network. The basic filming and safe chasing tips he gave me during our long conversation served me well for decades.

Several of the locations of intercept, and persons chasing various storms are not correct in NC89s accounts. But, overall I find his posts quite well done; a majority of which is accurate.

Good luck trying to find a publisher who feels this subject matter is worth investing in, distributing and marketing a book to the general public. I have tried to find one for my manuscript for many years now.


Thanks for the very informative post and kind words!

It encouraged me to reexamine all the listed "locations of intercept" and the "persons chasing various storms." In doing so, I've made quite a few necessary revisions to this particular thread, in that regard.

This excellent and extremely informative interview, you had given to Jim Willliams, was most beneficial in helping to correct the aforementioned errors:

https://youtu.be/Fv7KuAjA6rQ

During that broadcast, you elaborated on Arthur Pike's harrowing experience when he chased hurricane Donna (1960) in the middle Florida Keys. Incredible story!

Unlike myself, who's mostly reliant on scouring the web and YouTube, you have a tremendous amount of first-hand and second-hand knowledge - gained over a period exceeding 55 years. Naturally, any additional information you'd be willing to provide, herein, would be greatly appreciated by all who find this topic quite compelling, as do I.

Obviously, your very own experiences comprise a significant portion of this story; A fascinating part of weather history I'd like to see shared with a new generation of storm chasers and weather enthusiasts, alike.

Thanks again!

Edit: Forgot to ask if you knew the name of that "man from Georgia" who chased for more than three decades...who began intercepting hurricanes the same year as Jim Leonard? Don't want to leave anyone unacknowledged.
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