After a very long couple of days, here is what my job is really like when I look back at this chase. It sounds like fun but its a lot of work.
Starting out on 9/14/2004 in Minneapolis with no sleep.
Shooting video for the morning show for The Weather Channel on 9/15/2004.
Then I got on the first flight out on a long flight to Orlando and catch a couple hours of sleep on the plane.
A 400+ mile drive to Mobile Alabama from Orlando, FL. A full night of storm chasing with no sleep shooting and net-feeding the news footage of Hurricane Ivan Video for The Weather Channel for the overnight broadcasts during the storm when the satellite dish feeds were down because of the high winds.
An hour nap after the storm in the Jeep before the long drive back east to try and get home.
Hit a major huge traffic jam trying to head to the east and get the hell out of the damaged area.
A 16 hour drive back east to get out of the damage path to find a hotel room that was not booked and fuel after using up all of my spare fuel reserves.
Eight hours of sleep near Lake City Florida then a mad dash drive back to Orlando to get the heck out of Florida for what I thought would be the last time since Hurricane Jeanne was suppose to head out to sea… But little did I know, I would be back in a few days…
So more details of the Ivan chase. I got into Orlando and drove up to the target area and met Jim Edds and Chris Collura. We checked out the area but Chris wanted to get into the eye at night in the middle of some small town, Jim wanted to check out another spot. I remained in Mobile where there was power and you could see what was happening. I ended up in the same spot that several other chasers camped out in a parking garage at a hotel.
Here is the video that I shot in Hurricane Ivan. There was not much since I the storm came in at night and I was pretty much confined to areas where we had street lights.
The video below is from my drive in on Interstate 10, which had parts of it destroyed by the hurricane a few hours later. Also the police checking out some looting going on at a store.
Here is the main part of the video from the overnight as the hurricane made landfall hours.
The footage below is the aftermath of the flooding and damage around Gulf Shores Alabama.
Hurricane Ivan was a difficult storm to chase since the majority of the chase I was by myself. This was the third hurricane for me and while I’m a fast learner, it was still a lot to handle and take on. I did manage to also take a lot of still photographs on this chase.
Here are the photographs that I took during and after Hurricane Ivan.
As I headed west on Interstate 10 towards Tallahassee Florida, the convoy of first responders was already getting ready just outside the effected areas. For a while it looked almost like they were going to war, a war on the weather… a war on Hurricane Ivan
As I crossed over the Escambia Bridge in Pensacola Florida, Little did I know that theses some of the last photographs of the bridge before it was destroyed in a few hours.
As I got into Mobile, AL, the looters were already at work smashing and dashing with products from the stores.
In position in Mobile, AL, I met up with Chris and Jim, who were with me during Hurricane Charley and Frances and we also met up with several other chasers that made the trip and also lived in the area like Blake Michaelski.
Now Hurricane Ivan hit at night so taking photographs was pretty much out of the question for the most part since it was dark and I was more focused on shooting video then taking stills. But here are a couple stills in downtown Mobile Alabama during Ivan.
After being up all night, I got a few hours of sleep until Chris came back and found me and woke me up as I was sleeping in the SUV. As we left the Mobile Alabama area, we found that Hurricane Ivan was a lot worse just to our east. The surge washed out the area along the bay and Battleship Parkway was flooded after Hurricane Ivan passed through Spanish Fort, Alabama.
As we passed through the Gulf Shores and Foley Alabama area, we soon realized that we really got lucky with Ivan by missing the worst of the storm at night. Gulf Shores was now inaccessible due to roads being covered with water or just washed away. The damage was everywhere.
Now as we got into Pensacola Florida, we found the reports of Interstate 10 being destroyed were true. The bridge was gone, and we had to find another way home and fast due to all the people flooding back into Pensacola to return home, if they had a home left…
With the Interstate 10 bridge destroyed, we had to find another way around the bay. Chris and I both looked on our GPS’s and thought we could go up to the 90 bridge that went over the northern part of the Escambia Bay. We soon found that the police had that bridge closed as well until they could verify it was safe to use.
So, we had to take the very long way around through Baghdad Florida.
The further East we drove the more normal things seemed to get. The government was working to get aide in fast and the long lines at the gas stations started as people were running low on fuel. I’m sure glad I now bring lots of extra fuel with on the hurricane chases. Running out of food, water and fuel will suck. But then again, the people who don’t get ready for the storms and then try to take your stash, well they suck too.
And last but not least, this truck tried to turn around under this bridge just west of Tallahassee when they heard about the road being closed. But they bottomed out and got stuck.
Below are the images I took from the plane as we flew over what was left of Ivan. The best image of whole trip was the last one, the sight of Minneapolis, MN and home.