Wednesday, September 21, 2011

At last...a breather

We were a little busier than usual in the weather office last week. There wasn't a huge episode of severe weather but we did debut our new 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. newscasts on KSCW. If you haven't seen them yet, I hope you get the chance soon. It's another time we've set aside to present you the latest news and of course the weather forecast.

The new shows coincided with the Kansas State Fair. I had the pleasure of talking to a number of folks on Friday and more on Sunday during my two visits to Hutch. As you can imagine, we had plenty of questions about this summer's heat and drought. I think a few folks were a little concerned that they would miss out on this weekend's rains but we were definitely happy with some of the reports received. Hopefully you had some decent rain in your neighborhood.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by! And if you didn't see Millie, there's always next year!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I was heading to Hutchinson

That's the answer to "Where Were You?”, a theme I’ve heard many times in this past week, leading up to today's 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.

The day started in rather ordinary fashion. I had slept in a little bit that morning, just coming off the early shift the previous day. I was working at Channel 3 at the time and had turned on the TV expecting to see Mark (Bogner's) forecast. I was scheduled to appear at the State Fair later in the morning, so I wanted to see what updates Mark made to our forecast.

Out of the commercial followed several seconds of black on the TV. My first thought was there must be some kind of technical issue at work. Just as I finished that thought, an image of the burning North Tower of the World Trade Center appeared on the screen. I listened to NBC's coverage thinking, "how the heck could a plane hit that building? No clouds, no fog...it's a picture-perfect, clear blue day."

I continued to watch, not knowing the shock set to unfold just minutes later. As the second plane hit the South Tower, I was flabbergasted. I called my girlfriend (who is now my wife), yelling "What the hell is going on!?!"

"It's got to be terrorists," she responded.

Despite everything unfolding in New York and Washington D.C, I still had to prepare for my trip. I showered, dressed and jumped in the truck, headed up K-96. KFDI was carrying the live TV broadcast of ABC News, and I was glued to the coverage. I don't recall exactly where I was on the "State Fair Freeway", when the South Tower collapsed. But I listened as Peter Jennings narrated a replay of the event: “This is what it looked like moments ago….(about 4 seconds of silence)..My God….” Not seeing the event for myself though, I couldn’t believe what he was saying. A building that big fell? I called Mark who obviously had a TV on in the office. "It collapsed?” I inquired. "Yeah," was his simple reply.

Upon reaching the Fair, I helped a couple of gentlemen lower the flags to half-staff near our booth. Needless to say, people weren't in much of a mood for chit-chat. They wanted news from the East Coast.

It didn’t take long before the decision was made to head back early to work. Before I left the Fairgrounds, I joined a huge gathering of people around a TV in the Pride of Kansas Building. I called my girlfriend again to check up on her and told her my plans. I jumped back in the truck and was glued to the radio again on the now much longer drive back to Wichita.

I didn’t even bother to go back home to change into my suit and tie. I didn’t have any on-air duties that day so I just went right to Exploration Place in shorts and a polo shirt. Thank goodness the weather was quiet because I couldn’t concentrate on it. My mind was elsewhere.

Later on the day, I talked to friends and family, who were just as shocked and angry as me. But we were getting a clearer picture of the events of the day as more news trickled in and after hearing the President’s speech. We learned of the heroes in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.

Sleep was a major challenge that night.