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News/Blog & Recent Events - George Kourounis

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June 09 2019 - Heading to Newfoundland
 
I'm on my way to Newfoundland for the next few days. I'll be teaming up with my friends over at OceanQuest and an Australian TV crew. They are filming a program about icebergs and I've been invited out there to help them out... By ice-climbing on one of them, and placing a satellitte tracking beacon on top of it. This is very similar to what I did there a few years ago, while we were filming the Angry Planet TV series.
 
The weather in Newfoundland looks rater cold and dreary right now, but conditions look to improve later this week.

Newfoundland

May 29 2019 - Canadian Geographic Challenge
 
Students at the Canadian Geographic Challenge answer a video question that I provided for them about ice on Lake Erie. Way to go, guys! Special appearance by fellow Explorer-In-Residence, Jill Heinerth as the quizmaster!
 
Watche the ice shove video here!

Canadian Geographic Challenge

May 27 2019 - Announcement
 
It is a great honour to be included amongst The Lavin Agency’s listing of their top motivational speakers!
 
If you are interested in having me come out to speak at your conference or event, give them a shout.

Lavin Speaking Agency

May 26 2019 - Victoria, British Columbia
 
One last stop in my recend whirlwind tour around North America! This morning, I flew out to Victoria, British Columbia to give a talk at the BC Water & Waste Association Conference.
 
The weather here is absolutely stunning, it's too bad that I'm only going to be here for one night, then immediately after my talk tomorrow, I fly back to Toronto.

Victoria, B.C.

May 25 2019 - Explore Podcast Released
 
The latest episode of Canadian Geographic's podcast "Explore" has been released.
You can listen to it wherever you find your podcasts.
 
Learn more here.

Explore Podcast

May 23 2019 - Jefferson City, Missouri
 
Approximately 15 minutes before midnight, a tornado emergency was issued for the Jefferson City area. Minutes later, an EF-3 tornado caused extensive damage on the southwest side of the city. At least 20 people were injured but luckily there were no fatalities reported. This occurred on the 8th anniversary of the 2011 Joplin tornado. I was on my way back home from Tornado Alley with the Weather Network crew, and it was only a short diversion to go and report on the destruction in Jefferson City.

Jefferson City Missouri Tornado

May 22 2019 - Tornadoes and Incredible Lightning in Oklahoma
 
We started the morning in Norman, OK with the idea of chasing northeastern Oklahoma. There were two issues with that: 1) bad chase terrain with a lot of hills and trees and 2) a ton of flooded out roads. We had to be really careful to ensure not to go too far north and east of Tulsa due to the flooding. Oh, and it was my birthday so the pressure was on to get a birthday tornado (actually, I've witnessed numerous birthday tornadoes over the years).
 
As we were departing Norman, the NWS SPC upgraded the risk to a MODERATE RISK for storms and a 15% hatched for tornadoes. We waited in Prague, OK for a while to assess the situation. Some storms started firing just to our south while a larger, more potent looking storm was firing down near Lawton, OK. We finally decided to head east out of Prague, OK toward Okemah, OK. Here we paused looking west when we saw our first tornado of the day pass just northwest of our location. That tornado dissipated but the storm still looked good. To keep up with the storm, we decided to head east to Henryetta, OK. The entire time the wall cloud was spinning like crazy.
 
Several times it was so close to producing another tornado then dissipated. Finally, closer to Okemah, OK, the storm produced a large tornado. The issue is we had trouble seeing it due to trees and hills. At one moment, it appeared there might be two on the ground. Eventually the tornado dissipated.
 
To continue to track the storm, we went north out of Henryetta to Okmulgee then to Muskogee and north out of there. We passed through Wangoner, then Choteau, then Pryor. From Pryor we ventured west but got too close to the rotation so we backtracked east toward Salina, OK. On the way to Salina, we stopped a couple of times because the lightning was spectacular. I got some of my most dramatic lightning photos there!
 
From Salina we headed south until we found a good vantage point to watch. Unfortunately it had gotten dark so we were only able to catch glimpses of the wall cloud. We decided to call it a day since we couldn't get visuals anymore.
 
See more at the 2019 Chase Page.

2019_05_22_Okemah_&_Henryetta_OK_01

2019_05_22_Lightning_3

May 20 2019 - High Risk Outlook & Tornado near Mangum, Oklahoma
 
This day had us all worried. We started off in Childress, TX in the morning and the Storm Prediction Center had issued a very rare "high risk" outlook, and the tornado potential was also at a rare 45% hatched forecast. We were expecting a large outbreak of tornadoes, but luckily, only a few were reported that day, including the one we witnessed in Mangum, Oklahoma.
 
We got up early to ensure we were prepared and spent a long time waiting around in Childress. Eventually a PDS (Particularly Dangerous Situation) Tornado Watch was issued for the region. We headed west and south out of Childress where a couple of storms had fired up.
 
Eventually one storm became dominant and we followed along with it north and east from north-central Texas into southwest Oklahoma. As we approached the storm from the south nearing Mangum, OK, it was producing a large cone tornado. Unfortunately visibility was very poor with a lot of moisture/haze in the atmosphere and may hills and trees, so it was low-contrast at points. As we got to Mangum, the tornado became thinner and started to rope out. We split from the other chasers and continued north through the town as the tornado clipped a few structures on the north side of town.
 
We continued with the storm as it was still looking good toward Granite, OK. It produced strong circulation that passed the road in front of us and into the field beside us.
 
See more at the 2019 Chase Page.

2019_05_20_Mangum_02

2019_05_20_Mangum_Damage_07

May 17 2019 - Tornado in McCook, Nebraska
 
The busy schedule continues. After a very long drive down from Canada yesterday, we managed to document a tornado today in Nebraska. The dusty, rope-like tornado touched down just outside of McCook, where we had spent several hours earlier in the day having lunch. We drove around for nothing! We could have sat right there, and waited for the tornado to form.
 
See more at the 2019 Chase Page.

2019_05_17_McCook_NE_01

May 15 2019 - Sudbury Neutrino Observatory
 
What a cool experience. I got to help out Joe Grabowski from Exploring By The Seat Of Your Pants do a live classroom broadcast from 2 km underground inside SNOLAB, a research facility deep inside an active nickel mine in Sudbury, Ontario. The scientists at SNOLAB are studying things such as neutrino particles and dark matter. Some of the most mysterious things in the universe. Neutrinos pass right through most matter (including YOU right now), and by having the detection equipment deep underground, it makes it much easier to shield their sensors from background radiation and other contaminants. The problem is that to be that deep underground requires some special procedures to get down there and back, and to keep the lab as clean as possible. No easy task.

Sudbury Neutrino Observatory

May 14 2019 - Ottawa - Podcast Recording
 
This morning I returned to RCGS headquarters ay 50 Sussex in Ottawa to sit down with David McGuffin, host of the Canadian Geographic's "Explore" podcast. We recorded it in the Christopher Ondaatje reading room, which was the perfect setting. We talked about exploration, weather, Canada, and so much more. The podcast will be released soon, and I'll be sure to make an announcement when it does.
 
The moment we finished up recording, I hopped into my car and made the long drive from Ottawa to Sudbury for something super-cool that I'm doing tomorrow.

Can Geo Explore Podcast Recording

May 13 2019 - Ottawa Grand Opening of RCGS Headquarters
 
I arrived home from Oklahoma last night, and was only home for about 13 hours before I het the road again. This time driving to Ottawa to be present at the grand opening of the Canadian Centre For Geography and Exploration. The building, as 50 Sussex Ave. right on the confluence of the Rideau and Ottawa rivers is the home of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society as well as Canadian Geographic publishing. The building has actually been open for about a year, but this was the official, ceremonial event, and it featured an incredible lineup of guests.
 
Prime minister Justin Trudeau was there to say a few words at the opening, and I got to meet him and chat briefly.
 
Jeopardy! host & RCGS honorary president, Alex Trebek was also on hand. He looked great, and was i terrific spirits despite his recent well-publicised battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
 
Also in attendance were: Astronaut Roberta Bondar, Ethnobotanist Wade Davis, Oceanographer Joe Macinnis, as well as several other RCGS explorers-in-residence besides myself.
 
A plaque was unveiled, speeches were made, and we als welcomed in a brand new EIR, Inuit actor & explorer, Johnny Issaluk.

Prime Minister Trudeau - Grand Opening of RCGS Headquarters

Grand Opening of RCGS Headquarters

May 10 2019 - Surfside Beach, Texas
 
On the Texas Gulf Coast. Wrapping up with the Tornado Verification & Doppler Radar Analysis Project team.
 
News & Blog 2019 Our chase trip is winding down, and since we were already in southern Texas, we decided to head down to the coast since there were no storms to chase. We proceeded from Fairfield, Texas down to Surfside Beach, south of Houston. We had easy access to the Gulf Of Mexico there, and it wasn't all that far to drive.
 
Pictured L-R: Donald Dolan, George Kourounis, Jade Vajna, Tom Dolan with Explorers Club flag #114. See more at the 2019 Chase Page.

2019_05_10_B

May 07 2019 - Stinnet, Texas
 
Today was a complicated chase day. We ended up on about 4 different storms, all with tornado warnings. We chased large portions of the Texas Panhandle including: Stinnet, Borger, Pampa, Canadian, and eventually finishing up in Shamrock..
 
The storm of the day was south of interstate 40, near Tulia, but we were on the storms further north, so never got to intercept that one, but we were in excellent position for the Stinnet storm, where we were abl;e to get very close to the wall cloud. It did apparently go on to produce a tornado, but we never saw it.
 
The flag in the picture is one that is on loan to us from The Explorers Club (Flag #114). These flags are brought on expeditions around the world, and each one has a deep history of travelling with various explorers. See more at the 2019 Chase Page.

2019_05_07_A

May 04 2019 - Adrian, Texas
 
Well we hit the ground running. Upon landing in Oklahma City and meeting up with the rest of the team, we immediately drove west on Interstate 40 into the Texas Panhandle where we were able to intercept a tornado warned storm near Adrian, west of Amarillo. We didn't even have time to set up our equipment in the vehicle, we just grabbed a few essentioals (laptop computer & GPS) and hit the road. It was a gorgeous storm, and a great way to kick off the chase season.

2019_05_04_B

April 28 2019 - Getting Ready For Tornado Alley
 
May is going to be a very busy month for me. It all starts off on May 4th when I head down to the central U.S. on another tornado chase. This year is special for me since I have had to miss the past 2 years of tornado season, so it will be nice to get back out there again.
 
Also, I'm teaming up with some new people this year. I'm joining Tom and Donald Dolan from california. They are storm chasers from california who spearhead a research project called the "Tornado Visualization and Doppler Radar Analysis Project". I'll share more details about that later. We also have the honour of carrying one of The Exlporers Club's historic flags on this trip, so that's exciting.
 
We''l be in Tornado Alley from May 4th - 12th, then after that I have some other plans, so stay tuned.
 
I'll be posting daily updates HERE.

Tornado Chase 2019

April 22 2019 - Earth Day
 
Happy Earth Day everyone. All I hope for is better stewardship of this vessel we call Earth. The only home we have.

Earth Day

April 06 2019 - Montreal, Quebec
 
I'm in Montreal, Quebec right now. Earlier this morning, I was onstage at the Bonneventure Hotel, giving a keynote talk for something called The EVENT. Its a conference for event planners, who have gathered here from around the country.
 
It was a lot of fun to be involved with this... Sharing my stories and experiences with the audience. I fly back home to Toronto this afternoon.

The EVENT - Montreal

March 28 2019 - Smithsonian Channel
 
The program I worked on last year "The Weather Files" is now broadcasting on The Smithsonian Channel. The program, which was also airing in Canada on Cottage Life TV, features people who work in extreme weather and contains interviews, real footage, as well as some dramatic recreations... It's a bit weird to see an actor playing me on TV for parts of this. Cool, but weird.

Smithsonian Channel

March 18 2019 - The Explorers Club Annual Dinner
 
The past few days have been an absolute blur. I don't know where to begin. The Explorers Club Annual Dinner was the biggest ever held, with almost 1700 people in attendance at the Marriott Times Square Ballroom. The theme this year was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing. In attendance were 8 Apollo astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins from Apollo 11. Hearing their stories was fascinating. I hope we get people back on the Moon again soon.
 
Other highlights included:
- Snacking on exotic foods such as tarantulas, cockroaches, scorpions, iguana, and jellyfish. These odd foods have been a tradition at ECAD for decades.
- I got to meet Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Canada's Governor General, and a former astronaut herself.
- Hanging out with so many incredible people, seeing new friends, making new ones, all who are incredibly accomplished.
- There were so many excellent presentations at the open house at club HQ on Sunday. The place was packed!
- I got to spend a bit of time with Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart. An amazing guy, who is currently working on systems to protect Earth from asteroid collisions.
- I was able to spend a few nights with my frequent storm chase partner Scott McPartland, and his wife Cecilia. They graciously let me stay with them when I visit New York.
 
It's impossible to summarize how outstanding ECAD weekend really is. I will always endeavor to be there, when I can.

ECAD-03

ECAD-03

March 14 28 2019 - New York City
 
I flew to New York City last night for my annual pilgrimage for The Explorers Club Annual Dinner. This is the event that I was emcee for last year. It is considered to be the "academy Awards of Exploration". The big event isn't until Saturday, but between now and then I have Chapter Chair meetings, board meetings, special events, dinners, and a bunch of other things over the next few days.
 
It is so great to be back at the historic headquarters of the club. There's just so much history surrounding this building.
 
I just know that by Monday when I fly home, I'll be exhausted, and will have no voice left, and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Explorers Club - New York

March 10 2019 - Vanuatu Lava Lakes Obliterated!
 
I can now speak publicly about this. The beloved lava lakes that I frequently visit on Ambrym Island, Vanuatu are gone. A few months ago, fissure eruption on the flank of Marum drained the lava out the side of the volcano, then several days or weeks later, the summit craters all collapsed. Our base camp site no longer exists!! Here's a video from good friend Geoff Mackley (who has been visiting this volcano since 1997) showing some before and after imagery. I'm very privileged to have been able to make a dozen descents to the bottom of these craters over the years. Time will tell if the lava comes back...

Vanuatu Lava Lakes Obliterated!

Feb 28 2019 - GeoGala Toronto
 
What a great evening in Toronto. I was invited by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society to give the keynote talk at their GeoGala fund raising event in Toronto.
 
Last year, I was the Master Of Ceremonies, and fellow "Explorer In Residence" Adam Shoalts gave the keynote. This year we reversed roles. There was a great dinner, many great items up for auction (including several trips), the keynote talk, and Canadian roots-rock band The Skydiggers provided live music.
 
A great time was had by all, and we raised a bunch of money for the society. thank you to everyone who attended!

GeoGala 2019 Toronto

Feb 24 2019 - "Ice Shove" on Lake Erie
 
Extremely strong winds from a deepening Texas Low brought hurricane force gusts to the eastern end of Lake Erie. these winds pushed thousands of tons of ice up onto shore in a phenomena called an "Ice Shove".
 
I was out documenting the event in the towns of Crystal Beach, and then eventually at Fort Erie, where the ice was dramatically being pushed ashore, over the breakwall, into the adjacent park, and onto Lakeshore Road. At one point, the ice pushed up quickly, and we had to dash to get out of the way as the ice crashed towards us.
 
It is astonishing how fast the ice conditions can change.
 
Be sure to check out the dramatic video of the ice crashing towards us.

Ice Shove on Lake Erie

Ice Shove Video

Feb 14 2019 - Calgary City Teachers' Convention
 
It was an absolute pleasure to speak at the Calgary City Teachers'Convention today. I had the privilege of giving the opening keynote talk for the 2 day event, which is the largest teachers' convention in North America.
 
I had almost 2000 people in the audience for the talk. If you look closely at the picture, you can see me there, up on stage. Now it's time to fly back home from Alberta.

Calgary_Feb_2019

Feb 05 2019 - Filming
 
I spent most of today in front of the camera, shooting interviews for a TV project. More details later when I know more about broadcast dates etc.

Filming In Toronto

Jan 31 2019 - Polar Vortex
 
It was the wrong day to eat lunch outside...
 
North America is in the grip of another polar vortex, a dome of cold Arctic air that has descended down from the north. Many cities have been experiencing frigid temperatures, and bone-chilling wind-chills.
 
In Toronto, it has been freezing cold as well, with temperatures diving down below -20.
 
Of course, with temperatures that cold, a lot of people were outside demonstrating the effects of the cold. The most popular of these demonstrations is the old "toss boiling water into the air and watch it instantly turn to snow" gag.
 
Instead of doing that, I whipped up a quick batch of ramen noodles and left them outside for a brief period. The water froze quickly and the chopsticks were held, suspended in the air by the frozen noodles.
 
It's a fun trick that anyone can do at home in really cold weather. I highly recommend trying this with kids. It's fun, safe, and afterwards, you can thaw the noodles out and eat them!

Noodle_1

Noodle_2

Jan 28 2019 - Snowstorm Chaos in Toronto
 
An Alberta Clipper, combined with lake effect enhancement created chaos in Toronto, including a full shutdown of the Don Valley Parkway, the main north-south artery out of downtown. At first, I was teamed up with The Weather Network to help report on the storm, but on my way home afterwards, I found myself caught up in the middle of the highway chaos. It was like a post-apocalyptic scene. Snowplows couldn't clear the highway, people had run out of gas in the gridlock, cars were abandoned, and people were walking on the highway. I was also experiencing car battery trouble in the middle of it all, so I was struggling to keep my car from stalling. It was like a scene from a move.
 
In total, between 33 to 38 cm of snow came down in the metropolitan area.

Snowstorm Chaos In Toronto

Jan 26 2019 - Come Join Me On The Silk Road !!
 
Here we go... Come join me on the Silk Road adventure of a lifetime! July 20 - Aug 11 2019. Three weeks overland, crossing Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
 
This will be my first time returning to the "Doorway To Hell" flaming gas crater since my Nat Geo expedition there, and you can come along! We begin there, then cross all of the former Soviet 'Stans! This is going to be a real adventure. Special thanks to Exodus Travels.
 
Link to the trip

The Five Stans - Exodus Travels

Jan 21 2019 - Ice "Teardrops" on Lake Ontario
 
Whenever it gets really cold, I go down to the shore of Lake Ontario, to photograph the sunrise over some very cold and steamy water (It was -12C with a wind chill well into the -30's today). Today, the steam was OK, but the cool thing I found were these "Ice Teardrops" or "Ice Turnips". They form when icicles reach a body of open water that has gentle waves, as each wave passes over the icicle, it adds a layer of water that freezes in the frigid air. I'm always amazed at the shapes that ice can take on.

Ice "Teardrops" on Lake Ontario

Jan 06 2019 - "What On Earth?" Season Five
 
Watch for me on season 5 of “What On Earth?” on Science Channel. The new season starts airing Tuesday, Jan 8th at 9PM EST. We investigate bizarre and unusual things spotted on satellite imagery.

What On Earth? Season 5 on Science Channel

Dec 11 2018 - Storm-Hunters on Prime Video
 
Six episodes of the Storm-Hunters TV show that I sometimes co-host are now available on Amazon Prime Video. The program is produced by The Weather Network in Canada, but now, thanks to the streaming service, it is available in the U.S. Canada and the U.K.
 
To watch, head over to the Prime Video site and search for the show. (Amazon Prime Subscription required).

Storm-Hunters on Prime Video


An Archive of Previous Year's News Items Can Be Found Here

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

 

Any Questions/Comments?

Send E-Mail To George Kourounis

george@stormchaser.ca


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