27 September 1985
Huntington, Long Island, NY
6 am EDT: Turbulent & warm.
8 am EDT: Occasional gusts; light rain beginning.
9 am EDT: Strong wind, heavy rain in squalls last hour.
11 am EDT: Raining hard. Very windy. Trees on front lawn bending way over. Branches coming off.
12 noon EDT: Violent, damaging gusts. House vibrating. Large tree on back lawn blown down.
12:30 pm EDT: Calmed considerably. Much brighter oustide, not as dark. Barometer: 28.51 in. The eye.
I was a bored, weather-obsessed teenager in the mid-‘80s waiting for something exciting to happen.
And in the fall of 1985, an evil genie granted my wish and sent Hurricane Gloria sweeping up the East Coast right toward my town on Long Island. By the time the eye arrived and the wind calmed, our property was ripped up badly, my mother was in tears, and I learned to be very careful what I wished for.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about that moment—12 noon on September 27, 1985—when the storm hit its angry peak. That unnatural howl. Trees waving like mad, ripping out of the ground. Windows rattling. Normal life stopping—completely—as this tremendous force blasted through our world.
I got a strange rush from it. I felt guilty about this—I hated to see my mother cry. But I wanted to see it—hear it, feel it, be in it—again. And again.
Like a drug addiction, this need stayed with me.
04 July 2012
West Hollywood, CA
Years later, I’m a crazy-busy advertising executive living part of the year in Southern California, part of the year in Europe. I manage Symblaze, the digital advertising agency I co-founded in L.A. in 1999. At Symblaze, we use cutting-edge digital media to promote major consumer brands in cool, exciting ways.
But a few times a year, I escape all that to get back to my roots and feed my soul—to prowl the globe for violent cyclones.
Armed with maps, instruments, video camera, experience, chutzpah, and the ever-present craving—and working with a team of awesome dudes—I intercept hurricanes approaching coastlines in North America and East Asia. The goal is always the same: get in the cyclone's violent inner core, close to the coastline, as it comes ashore. Get in the most intense part of it—the radius of maximum winds. Record the experience.
And feed the addiction I never outgrew.
Photo courtesy of Scott Brownfield.