Meet NewsChannel 15's own Storm Chaser
Tue, 21 May 2013 22:40:50 GMT —
One priceless element of the tracking system in Oklahoma was the storm chasers, who provided live video coverage of Monday's devastating twister as it hit.
There is someone who provides the same service to our area.
The next time severe weather threatens the Grand Strand or Pee Dee, you may see WPDE NewsChannel 15 Storm Chaser Gerard Jebaily driving toward it, while others head in the opposite direction.
Jebaily says chasing a storm can be an adrenaline rush.
"Some strictly love the excitement of it and that's what they're out there to get, is to get that feeling of excitement, seeing something incredibly powerful, incredibly awesome to see," Jebaily said.
But he adds, he believes the job has a more serious purpose: informing the public.
"When you're out seeing a dangerous storm, sometimes you have the power within you to save lives by just giving out simple information. What are you seeing?"
This University of Oklahoma grad with a degree in meteorology has chased more than a few twisters in the Sooner state, and in South Carolina, like the tornado that struck Darlington three years ago.
Not only did he feed live video of the twister to WPDE NewsChannel 15, as a ham radio operator, he had a direct connection to inform the National Weather Service about it.
"Before they could even see it on their radar, they decided, 'All right, we better go ahead and issue a warning,' which led to a little bit of extra time for the public to actually take cover," Jebaily said.
Spotting a tornado on radar is fine, Jebaily says, but for some people, it takes live video of a storm cloud to make it believable.
"This is exactly what's happening, they can see it and that's one more thing that may make them take cover, it's proof that it's happening."
With an anemometer on board, along with a rain gauge, live radar on his laptop computer and other weather instruments, Jebaily can gather accurate, real time weather data.
But it doesn't mean much if people don't heed the warnings about severe storms.
"They have happened before and they will happen again, and the important thing is what should you do when they happen again?"
So when you see some dramatic video from Gerard Jebaily's dash board, pay attention and take cover.
To see Jebaily's video of the April, 2010 Darlington tornado, click here.