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Monday, January 26, 2009

"Storm Stories" Greensburg and Chaser-fest

(C) Lanny Dean 2007 watermarked
Greensburg tornado at 9:48pm just as it was hitting the south side of town

For those who have been keeping up with The Weather Channel since the NBC buy out, good news.... they are bringing back "Storm Stories" These 30 minute shows touch on human nature in relation to severe weather events of all kinds.

I have been fortunate to have done a few of these shows with most notably the Mulvane event coming to mind. I have enjoyed doing them and so far, the production people have been a blast to work with. I will be taking part in another one regarding the Greensburg event and its after effects. We are set to do the interviews tomorrow evening (weather permitting) and various b-roll stuff. Anyone who knows me or got a chance to see our show Tornado Hunters, knows that the whole Greensburg deal was pretty tough for me to deal with. I am not ashamed to say that I had to go see a psychologist due in part, to what I saw, and had to deal with that night. In looking back, I sometimes wish that I had not driven into what was left of Greesnburg. I know that sounds selfish and it is.....but I wonder where I would be today (as a chaser) both mentally and physically if I had bypassed the whole situation? After many deadly weather events through the years, including 5-3-99 and 5-4-03, I have seen my share of and death destruction so why was this event any different than all the others?

I suspect, after many hours on the old leather couch, that the base reason and difference was that I became a part of the story....and in some crazy way, I saw my own mortality.
At the time, I was working for KAKE in Wichita as their severe weather reporter and in house photographer and I loved the job. It was a dream job that most chasers could only wish for....getting paid a real salary to chase severe weather, and when there was no weather, I "became" an in house photographer, I loved it. In the 3 years I spent at KAKE, I filmed more than 60 tornadoes with almost half of them "live" I was even lucky enough to receive two Gold awards from the Society Of Professional Journalist (SPJ), one Bronze award and was nominated for an Emmy regarding my weather reporting. I was in heaven until Greensburg. That's when things really changed for me
Some of you may read this post and wonder why I am bragging about my accomplishments, for those who may be curious.....I am not bragging, that's the last thing I want to do. I guess I am just trying to set the stage to show what was and what is now.
Of course its my blog, I write what I want and I am focused on myself but there were other people who were affected in much the same way if not more so. At this point I do not feel the need to name names but I do feel I would be remiss if I did not openly show respect for those directly involved with Greensburg including those who were first on scene that fateful night...
Those guys are the true heros.
For obvious reasons, I left KAKE about 3 months after Greensburg.......I left Kansas soon after and for those that do not know, I basically took a year away from chasing, if for nothing more than self preservation, I had to. After leaving KAKE, I went to work down here in Tulsa at KJRH as their weather reporter and photographer, but again, I just could not do it. I had basically lost my edge, no questions, no exceptions.
So here I am almost two years later with a tour company and getting ready to do another show regarding Greensburg, and of course speaking at public forums and get togethers, anywhere I can get the word out, anywhere I can send the message to be prepared because you never know whats going to happen.

On to other things......The Tulsa area Chaser-fest is still on for Jan. 31 in Catoosa, OK

I am excited to be a part of it and although I am somewhat reluctant to speak about Greensburg, in doing so, I can only hope that the message gets out as it is intended. I will be showing some video from that horrible night that has not been seen before as I beleive it may help to show what it was really like. Everyone is welcome and I would encourage all to come by.
Jeff Smith is also going to present his "mission of compassion" and there is even a "car show" to boot!
For directions or info, feel free to send me a message here or through my e-mail at:

1 comment:

Jeff Smith Photography said...

Conrats on Storm Stories!! I look forward to seeing it air.
I want to thank you for sharing your experience in Greenburg this coming Saturday--I know it is painful to talk about it but it is a chance for us chasers to see a side of these beasts we sometimes don't see, and also help us to prepare for what might be waiting for us down the road. Thank you Lanny!