Storm Preparedness Week--Meet the Meteorologists - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/21/07

Storm Preparedness Week--Meet the Meteorologists

Pat Prokop Pat Prokop
Dave Turley Dave Turley
John Wetherbee John Wetherbee

Thunderstorms, tornados, tropical storms. Living on the coast, we know the power of Mother Nature's fury.

"I think this year is going to be an above average-year," said WTOC meteorologists John Wetherbee. "Odds are it will be busy."

Two national hurricane experts are already predicting 17 named storms, nine of them hurricanes, and five of those major hurricanes, category three or higher.

The National Hurricane Center will issue its predictions Tuesday.

"You could have 14 storms and not one hit the US," said WTOC's Pat Prokop. "You could have two and one hits the coast."

It's that one storm that could hit us that's the important storm. When severe weather strikes, the WTOC-TV weather team has the tools, technology and trust to give you up-to-the-minute information when you need it most.

"One of the things we have here is our live Doppler Max 11 radar," said Pat. "We can see conditions, going on right now, as they're happening and relay that right back to the public."

And not just by the power of TV or radio. The internet, and the WTOC weather page, have changed the way we can get information to you. The WTOC website lets you track the storm, instantly check our radar, and will send weather alerts to let you know when a bad storm is heading our way.

"People are relying on your forecast, they're looking at you, it's a lot of weight on your shoulders," said WTOC meteorologist Dave Turley. "You don't want to alarm people but you do want to alert if something is going on in the area."

"Here is one of the most important things we've got: that's time," said John. "WTOC gives us the time to make the explanations, to let people know exactly what's going on."

The time and experience of the WTOC-TV weather team in forecasting is second to none, each having dealt with the power and fury of hurricane weather.

In Savannah, Hurricane Floyd is known as the mass exodus, but Dave Turley was right in the center of the storm living in North Carolina at the time.

"It's something you don't really want to go through, not even a category one hurricane," he said. "No electricity, no food. You see all the damage, power lines down, the devastation done by a hurricane."

John Wetherbee was doing live reports from the Gulf Coast in 2005 when Hurricane Rita hit.

And Pat Prokop is the dean of Savannah weather. He's been forecasting at WTOC since 1980. Pat knows that the weather information he is relaying will have a direct impact not only on your home, but his as well.

"1989, Hugo, boy that storm was close, the storm looked like it was going to move right on Chatham County as a category three, maybe four," Pat recalled. "That day I left my house, backed out of the driveway and thought if predictions are right, that house won't be there tomorrow."

A hurricane hasn't hit our area in decades, but we know they can. Twelve hurricanes hit Savannah in the 1800s directly from the Atlantic, and that doesn't include the impact of storms we felt that have come up through the Gulf.

"We haven't seen that in the 1900s or early 2000s, but it can happen because it has happened," said Pat. "So we have to keep our guard up knowing the beast is out there, and we have to be ready if and when the beast arrives."

And we hope it never does, but with the team, tools, and technology in place, WTOC is ready to bring you the real storm team coverage when every second counts for you and your family.

Coming up tomorrow night on THE News at 5, we'll see how officials are ready for severe weather in South Carolina in as WTOC's special Storm Preparedness Week series continues.

Reported by: Mike Cihla, mcihla@wtoc.com

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