You've seen it on network television and on The Weather Channel, and now it's on NewsChannel 11. Stormchaser David Drummond braved the 120 mile per hour winds that Hurricane Rita brought to the Gulf Coast and shares his story and video.
The NewsChannel 11 stormchaser looks a little different now than before. "We were proud of ourselves," said chaser David Drummond.
He and his fellow chaser painted "Chased Rita. 120 mph winds" after braving the entire category three hurricane.
Last Wednesday afternoon they headed to Beaumont, exactly where Rita's eye would hit, but everyone else was headed in the opposite direction.
"I thought at one point, there's something wrong when all the other cars are going that way and we're the only ones going this way!"
They set up in a parking garage with area police cars and waited, but it wouldn't take long before the storm hit. They saw dozens of generators explode and finally all the power went out.
"You heard stuff breaking and we kept hearing things breaking and we'd try to identify what it was by sound; that sounds like a roof," said Drummond. "The van was shaking like crazy the whole time. We didn't see anything, we turned on the lights and all you see is rain. It's a white out of rain and it sounds like a 747 was sitting on the roof."
Drummond has been chasing tornadoes for over 20 years, but Rita is the team's first hurricane. "To us it was kind of like our Mt. Everest of chasing. It was something we hadn't done before."
The experience wouldn't be complete without trying to walk in the conditions. "What did you think of that," David asked his fellow chaser. He replied "Wow!!"
Winds were only 80 miles per hour at that time, Drummond says when Rita's eye passed, Beaumont sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.
The storm left washed away parts of Beaumont, and it emotionally washed out Drummond who's not sure if he would do it again. "I don't know," said Drummond, "We said we probably wouldn't, but now that I'm recovering from it I might."
Many people try to compare hurricanes to tornadoes, but Drummond says that's a difficult comparison. He says while a tornado has fiercer winds, it's usually over within minutes and it hits a relatively small area, whereas hurricanes have lesser sustained winds for hours on end and they cover hundreds of miles.
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