Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hurricane Igor: Storm Chase Recap!

September 16–19, 2010 – Bermuda

Well, after nearly a week of chasing the strongest hurricane thus far in the 2010 Atlantic season, I am finally back home in New York! Despite the storm’s weakened state upon its approach to Bermuda, chasing Hurricane Igor on that tiny north-Atlantic island was undoubtedly one of my greatest moments as a weather enthusiast!

The chase began on Thursday, September 16, as Greg Nordstrom and I were to depart from New York’s JFK airport but were delayed until Friday morning, September 17 due to severe weather in the area. We spent the night trying to sleep on the cold terminal floor, which sounds absolutely awful, but we did manage to have a bit of fun. We made friends with a girl by the name of Vanessa and the three of us huddled together, enjoyed some cocktails at the airport bar and tried to make the most of the situation.

On Friday morning the flight departed and arrived as smooth as could be. Upon arrival in Bermuda a local journalist by the name of Patricia contacted us and she was doing a story on Hurricane Igor and the storm chasers that were invading her island nation. We spent a few days before Igor’s landfall traversing the island with Patricia and we are so grateful for that opportunity, for without her guidance we would never have seen the things we did! From viewing roaring, crashing waves on Bermuda’s south shore to witnessing locals boarding up their homes in the lovely neighborhoods that line Bermuda’s coast – it was truly a unique experience.

On Friday afternoon Hurricane Igor began to somewhat deteriorate in organization as it officially made that northward turn and began its approach towards Bermuda. However, well in advance of what was a category 2 hurricane at the time (on its way to a category 1 from a strong category 4), Igor was responsible for a significant coastal battering. Surge was already rolling in along Bermuda’s south shore, especially into tributaries and inlets opening up to the fierce Atlantic. We were informed that areas we were looking at that appeared as a lake or river, were actually land – and this was at least 30 hours prior to Igor’s near direct hit.

Since Hurricane Igor was so massive in size, having been the third largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, conditions started going downhill on Saturday evening. By the time we went to sleep we were easily experiencing tropical depression conditions and by the middle of the night a weak tropical storm was in full effect.

Sunday was the day! By sunrise the winds were howling and the rain was pouring. The surf was kicking up more than it had in day’s prior and Bermuda was well entrenched in strong tropical storm conditions. Throughout the day the winds steadily increased and as evening dawned upon us we were officially experiencing Hurricane Igor, and would for the several hours to come.

During the height of the storm we took some risks but safety was on the top of our minds. While it might appear that we were too close for comfort, we made sound decisions and never felt that our life was in danger.

Although category 1 Hurricane Igor never made a direct hit to Bermuda, for the duration of the storm we were in the northeast quadrant – the strongest part of the storm, so we did feel the brunt of the impact. Many people said (locals and storm chasers alike) that Igor was the “best” and/or “strongest” category 1 hurricane they had ever experienced. I have not been in many but from what I witnessed in chasing this massive storm, I concur!

Throughout the storm as conditions and connectivity allowed, I kept everyone up to date on
The Northeast Quadrant Facebook page. I know they really enjoyed seeing all the footage first-hand and I am so grateful to have been able to share the storm with them. I also submitted some footage to The Weather Channel which was aired on television and is still available online. I also conducted an interview with The Weather Channel via Skype, which aired live on Sunday morning just before the onset of Igor’s hurricane force winds.

Below you will find a movie I put together which combines the best footage from over 100 clips I filmed before and during the storm, as well as a slideshow of photos. Despite the dramatic feel these medium convey, as you can imagine it in no way showcases actually being in the storm!

Thank you so much for allowing me to share this experience with all of you – it is, after all, not only chasing Igor, but also me chasing my dream!

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