Welcome to my Hurricane Gustav Video and Photography blog page. It has taken a while for me to post this blog due to contractual obligations since I was in the show Tornado Road and the production company was with me during the chase.
I had a non-disclosure agreement that prevented me from saying much about this chase at the time and it went on for a while until after the episodes were broadcast. Now that those episodes of Tornado Road have been broadcast around the world, I can freely talk about what the heck happened.
In August of 2008, I was done filming the show for over a month and thought I was done with the TV stuff in front of the camera. I was gearing up to go chase Hurricane Gustav which was on track to make landfall near New Orleans, LA around the same time as the three year anniversary.
A few days before I left to drive down to New Orleans, LA for Hurricane Gustav, I got the call from the production company. They wanted to end the show with a hurricane chase since the July and August tornado season was a total bust for them and the other teams that they had lined up. I said yes as long as I would not have ANY chase partner with me this time unless it was someone that I picked to go with me. Watch the show if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Never in my wildest nightmares did I ever think I would be back in New Orleans for a hurricane and get here on the day of the three year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina for Hurricane Gustav.
When I got to NOLA to meet up with the crew, the hotel that we stayed at for the first night was just west of New Orleans, LA and when I say we, I mean me and the boys from the TV crew. Jared was back out for the chase along with some new friends and that homeless guy we picked up in Colorado back in June.
The big question for the storm was where will Hurricane Gustav hit? That is the 64 Million Dollar Question friends. The computer models were saying somewhere in the Gulf between Gulfport and Houston.
That night, the NHC current track was centered on the area just west of New Orleans, LA toward the city of Houma, LA.
So it looks like the worst of the storm surge and the worst of the flooding could be heading this way with the worst of the winds heading towards the area just to the SW of New Orleans…
Oh Wait that is the center track, New Orleans is in the middle of the right side of the Three Day Cone.
What does that mean? That my friend’s tells me that NOLA could get this thing with a head on hit. How many hurricanes hit and turned to the right at the last minute? Um yeah, most of them do in the Gulf. Even that last thing, TS Fay turned to the right at the last minute. Charley did in 2004 and so did Katrina and Rita. I had a feeling I might have been seeing the eye of Katrina in the worst spot possible.
When I got into NOLA, if you were not in there by that time, your not getting into this town. New Orleans is pretty much on a lock down with St. Charles Parish being locked down this morning.
The good thing about this storm is Katrina woke up everyone and this time everyone is ready. I made sure after what I went through with the other hurricanes, I had all the supplies I needed to last me for a week to survive if this was a worst case storm.
Day Two: August 30th, 2008 6:00 p.m.
As I woke up in New Orleans, LA for what I thought was going to be a Katrina Part 2 with traffic rushing to get out on Interstate 10 near the Causeway Overpass, I found that the traffic jams that I saw in Katrina were not happening before Gustav. Part of it was because the cities population took a major hit after Katrina and now there was a lot less people to evacuate. The other part was that a lot of people got out of the area as soon as they could.
Here is a photo that one of the crew members took of Simon and I. Simon is on another chase team on the show.
Now the hurricane was on track to make landfall further to the west and the Houma, LA target looked better and better.
Today was the final prep day. While I was working on ENG footage from Brian in Florida, I was also working on making sure the crew would not get hurt or worse, go hungry.
Last night Jared and I went to Sams Club in Kenner to stock up on food and drinks for our team. After looking at what was picked up for the camera crews by the people that the production company hired to get stuff setup for them before they showed up and looking at all the survival supplies I had, Jared and I hit Sams about 15 minutes before they closed and picked up several hundred dollars of food and water for the next few days.
That morning when the other chase teams camera crews saw what we did with stocking up on supplies, they were not too happy with the supplies they were setup with. Jared sent me back to Sam’s Club with my photographer Thomas to go and get supplies for the other teams.
On our way back from Sams Club in Kenner, LA we passed the hotel that I stayed at during Hurricane Katrina and I saw that they were still open. Once we dropped off the supplies to the other teams, I drove over to the hotel that I wanted to stay at which was the same one I stayed at during Katrina to see if the same family still owned it and to say hello to them.
Once I got over to their hotel, I recognized all the familiar faces that I became friends with during Hurricane Katrina.
There was another reason I wanted to stay at this hotel. Ok there was several reasons why I wanted to stay at their hotel. The hotel that I just spent the night at did not have a back power supply and the staff said that after Katrina, they had five feet of water in the lobby. Plus I did not want to be stuck with the other teams and I wanted to be near the airport and outside of Orleans Parish if the levee system failed again. So I booked up my room and went back to the crew and told them I just moved hotels and if they want to stay at a real hotel, they needed to act fast to change hotels.
The rest of the day was spent on forecasting and prep work along with filming evacuations. The forecast now was for the storm to hit further to the west but New Orleans was sill in the cone from NHC.
Oh and the really strange part about this chase, I’m staying in the same room as I stayed in during Hurricane Katrina, Room 318.
August 30th 8:37 p.m. update – more to say.
I spent the day shooting ton’s of footage on the new camera I have been testing out. It’s the HD Sony EX1 XDCam tape-less setup and the Underwater setup on the other camera.
For most of the day I scouted out the area around New Orleans and it is going to be insane when this storm hits. This place is in a state of panic but it is in a controlled panic. Controlled as in everyone is getting out of here and the evacuation is already started with tons of people leaving. My evacuation forecast for NOLA is there will be more law enforcement then people in the region when the storm hits.
And now on to the storm. Here is the latest NHC forecast track for Hurricane Gustav and the track is shifting east more and more.
Yes, that is correct, the winds are 150 miles per hour and it is heading almost straight for me. The good news, I’m here and there won’t be very many other chasers here due to the fact that the Police and National Guard are booting everyone out. The bad news is that we may be stuck here for a while.
Here is the latest visible satellite images before sunset. Gustav has a very well defined eye on it and it made a direct hit on the Isle of Youth in Cuba and is now slamming into western Cuba during the overnight hours as it enters the Gulf of Mexico.
In all honesty, nobody knows were this storm will hit. Just look at all the computer models below. This thing could end up hitting Florida still.
Ok, time to get some rest before I go back out and do it all over again.
August 31st, 2008 12:41 a.m. I just got back in from shooting a ton of footage around New Orleans of the last minute prep work that is being done. There are more police on the street then I have ever seen. This place is a police convention!!!
I’m looking at the latest data and I’m a bit concerned after looking at the latest GFDL and HWRF forecast model runs. They show that Gustav is going to be a strong storm and then die right as it moves over land. Here is the 11pm NHC forecast track showing the storm is a Strong Cat 4 with winds of 140 MPH.
Now here is the 2AM NHC forecast map that shows the storm has lost some strength since the last update.
Notice that the track keeps moving more and more to the east now compared to yesterday. I have a feeling that the cone may shift more towards the LA and MS boarder area. I think were going to be in for a surprise with this forecast by this time tomorrow.
Off to get some sleep now for a few hours.
August 31st, 2008 4:00 p.m.
We have moved hotels and now were trying to rest up before the storm hits. The crews are busy finishing up gearing up their stuff and I am busy forecasting this storm and trying to see where the best possible area to chase would be.
I would love to be on the coast to the Southwest of here down by Houma, LA but that is not going to happen. The police situation down here is insane in the post Katrina setup in New Orleans and the surrounding area. The best way for me to describe what is happening here is Martial Law with police patrols about every two minutes past our hotel.
Hurricane Gustav is looking more and more like it will miss New Orleans, LA which is a good thing because this city is still recovering from Katrina. Another good thing is that all of the satellite trucks and all of the TV networks that blew off the RNC convention in Saint Paul, MN are broadcasting from Canal Street in downtown NOLA.
I’ve become more concerned with the forecast track and it shifting further to the west. There is not must area for us to chase in down to the southwest of NOLA and the forecast models show the storm might fall apart before making land fall. Great news for NOLA but bad news for us and the TV show.
September 1st, 2008 – 4:05 a.m.
Ok, no graphics to show and no photo’s. Just Hella tired but working here. I’m in Kenner now and I moved the crew and myself yesterday to the same hotel that I stayed at in Katrina. The hotel has a massive backup system for power that powers everything except for the rooms. So that means I am in the dark right now.
Yep, we just lost power but I was out filming the power flashes from the transformers being knocked out. I’m already to go with the wet suit on so if I get wet, oh well… But it worked out perfect because as soon as the power went, I was helping the owner of the hotel to get the backup power system on line.
Time to take a nap and then go chase the core of Gustav at sunrise.
September 1st, 2008 – 6:00 a.m.
I could not sleep last night and I have been up for 24 hours now with no coffee, just soft drinks and energy bars to keep me going. The worst part is I have at least another 24 hours to go before I’m done for the day after this storm hits. Ok, so I’m with the guys that film the crab shows so I’m going to make them stay up with me like its a crab show.
Hurricane Gustav is going to miss New Orleans, LA and I’ve just woken up the crew to get them out of bed and to get ready to go chase the storm. I don’t think they have slept much ether but hey, it is hurricane time.
The plan now is to head to Houma, LA and intercept the storm.
September 2nd, 2008
Still alive, just a quick update on the Hurricane Gustav Chase. The Crew and I chased Gustav yesterday and made it down to Houma LA for the eye of the storm. The storm was not as strong as forecasted but we were still able to get a lot of great content.
So Houma got hit pretty bad and the area around Grand Isle is really messed up but due to the downed trees and flooding I could not get that far south to intercept the storm when it was at it’s strongest as it made landfall.
I posted a video YouTube for the blog video.
Time to go back to work in front of the camera and then get ready to go back home tomorrow to Minnesota as Hanna is not looking that good for a chase. If Hanna looks better in the morning then I will head over to the east coast for her tomorrow.
Also anyone looking for Gustav footage, I shot most of it on XDCam HQ HD format with some of it using an underwater HDV camera.
Here are the photos that I shot during the Hurricane Gustav chase. The first two were with my underwater housing. The rest were shot with my D-SLR camera.