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2010 Archive News/Blog & Recent Events - George Kourounis

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Dec. 24 2010 - End of 2010
 
It has been a busy year and I want to extend my thanks to all the people I spent time with in 2010 for helping it to be an amazing, extraordinary adventure. 2011 is already shaping up to be another great year, full of travel, more adventure and good times. Of course, I'll keep posting news here on my website, but also look on Twitter and Facebook. Have a great holiday season and an epic new year everyone.
 
I want to round out 2010 with a great quote from P.Z. Meyers:
 
I believe in reason, evidence and the human mind,
the only tools we have;
they are the product of natural forces
in a majestic but impersonal universe,
grander and richer than we can imagine,
a source of endless opportunities for discovery.

I believe in the power of doubt;
I do not seek out reassurances,
but embrace the question,
and strive to challenge my own beliefs.

I accept human mortality.
We have but one life,
brief and full of struggle,
leavened with love and community,
learning and exploration,
beauty and the creation of
new life, new art, and new ideas.

I rejoice in this life that I have,
and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me,
and an earth that will abide without me.


Dec. 12 2010 - Winter Wallop
 
A big winter storm is heading into Southern Ontario with a mix of rain and snow, especially for areas north of Toronto. 15-30 cm of snow could come down today and the worst part is that behind this storm system is a blast of Arctic air that is going to trigger several days of snow squalls downwind of the Great Lakes. This will be on top of the staggering amount of lake effect snow that fell in areas like London last week. They received almost 100 cm of snow (with even higher totals in towns closer to Lake Huron) and this new round of squalls might add another 30 cm or so to some of the areas that are still digging out from the last big hit.
 
How the next few days plays out is still uncertain, but we'll see what happens. I expect some crazy snow totals by the end of the day on Tuesday. One thing is for sure, temperatures will plunge tonight and I expect to wake up to air temperatures of around -15C. Brrr.
 
Winter is here.

Snow Squall Map

Nov. 08 2010 - More Television Appearances
 
Tonight the Travel Channel is airing 3 back to back episodes of a new series entitled "World's Worst Weather". This show features numerous storm chasers, including myself doing on-camera interviews talking about our most incredible encounters with severe weather and other natural disasters. I have not seen the final edit, but I will appear in at least 2 segments focusing on tornado chasing and some of my volcano explorations.
 
This programs air starting on the Travel Channel in the U.S at 8:00 eastern.

Travel Channel

Oct. 27 2010 - Television Appearances
 
This morning I was a guest on Canada AM, CTV's national morning show. I was on commenting on the widespread severe weather caused by the deep low pressure system that brought heavy snow to the prairie provinces, high winds to the Great Lakes and tornadoes to the United States.
 
Also.
 
Watch for me on The Weather Network in Canada this Friday Oct. 29th. The newest episode of "Stormhunters" is set to air several times during the day, starting at the top of the hour. This program features this season's 2 hurricane chases with Mark Robinson including hurricane Earl in Nova Scotia and hurricane Igor in Bermuda.
 
I look forward to seeing it myself.

Canada AM
Stormhunters

Oct. 18 2010 - Articles
 
Here are a couple of links to some articles I've had published recently. The first was for the Discovery Channel news website and is about the recent rise in tornado tourism.
 
The other is my regular blog space for the Halogen TV network. The most recent blog post there is on the Naica Crystal Cave.
 
In other news Supertyphoon Megi lashed the northern portion of the Philippines as a strong category 5 storm. Megi might have been one of the strongest storms at landfall ever recorded. It has now exited the Philippines and is over open water again and re-strengthening back up to a major typhoon status. This time taking aim at China.

Discovery News

Halogen TV USA

Sept. 30 2010 - TEDx Toronto
 
The TEDx Toronto Conference was a great success! It was such a treat to be involved in a whole day of diverse, visionary people who had a lot of great ideas to share.
 
There were poets, a live band, a dozen different speakers giving presentations and the entire event was held live at the Glenn Gould Theater with simulcast to several other venues around town plus a live web stream. The edited videos of the talks should be released in about 3 weeks or so and I'll post a link on the blog here when it becomes available. In the meantime, you can go to my TEDx profile page and see the preview teaser clip video we shot to promote the event.
 
 
During my talk, I discussed a bit about my explorations and why I do them, then I talked about fear and how it is a good thing to have a little bit of fear and that without it, I'd be more likely to make mistakes which in my line of work, could be fatal. I went on to talk about one of my scariest moments when I had a real fright involving a deadly virus in an African cave.
 
It was truly a privilege to be asked to speak at a TED event. Thank you so much to the organizers, the other speakers and everyone who attended or watched online.
 
 
Photo by: Riyad Mustapha

YTEDx Toronto

TEDx Toronto Presentation

Sept. 27 2010 - Cave Photos Uploaded.
 
I'm still adding photos from my recent trip to Bermuda including ones from Prospero's Cave. This amazing cave was located right on the hotel property where we were based during the intercept of Hurricane Igor.
 
What a cool cool bonus to have at a resort! I think I need to go back to Bermuda to explore the other countless caves located on the island.

Bermuda_Caves_01

Sept. 19 2010 - Bermuda - Hurricane Igor.
 
Hurricane Igor impacted the island of Bermuda today with heavy seas, hurricane force winds and intense rain that lasted for hours. Igor weakened to a category 1 storm, but due to the enormous size of the storm, it packed quite the punch. I teamed up with Tim Millar and Mark Robinson for this intercept that ended up being the wildest category-1 storm we've ever experienced.
 
The great news is that no one was seriously injured or killed during the storm and it did less damage than originally feared.
 
Watch the wild video here.

Igor_01


Sept. 15 2010 - Hurricane Igor... Decision Made.
 
OK, I took the bait. My flight is booked and I'm going for it. Igor, here I come.
 
It took a while to make this decision but after weighing the options, I think it'll be worth the trip to Bermuda. Igor is forecast to be very close to the island on Sunday morning and even though I am not guaranteed a direct hit, the storm is large and the effects will be felt in a broad swath.
 
There are a couple of other reason why I decided to go.
1) I've never been to Bermuda before and I love going to new places, regardless of the weather.
2) I'm going to be helping my chase partner, Mark Robinson on a project for The Weather Network. We'll be filming for an upcoming episode of "Stormhunters"
3) It looks like quite a few of my storm chaser friends will be there too, including Tim Millar, Mike Laca and there may even be more turning up. It could end up being a storm chaser beach party... We'll see.

Hurricane Igor

Sept. 14 2010 - Hurricane Igor... What to do?
 
Hmmm. Right now Hurricane Igor (great name btw) is a strong category 4 storm and it looks to be headed straight for the island of Bermuda. For a storm chaser like me, it would seem like a slam dunk right? Hop on a plane to Bermuda and wait for the storm.
 
Well, it's not so easy.
 
Igor is strong now, but the wind shear is forecast to increase, which will weaken the storm, plus it is not expected to be near Bermuda until Saturday and a lot can happen between now and then.
 
Here are the problems:
- Yes, Igor will weaken, but how much?
- Bermuda is a tiny target in a huge ocean. Any slight change of course and I end up with nothing to show for my efforts and last minute flights to Bermuda are not cheap.
- The possibility of the storm striking after dark. No light = no photography.
- The airports will close early, so I'd have to leave tomorrow to get there in time, leaving plenty of time for the hurricane to change course between now and Saturday.
 
The jury is not out on this one yet. Right now I say my chances of an intercept are about 50/50. The final decision needs to be made no later than tonight.


Sept. 13 2010 - TEDx Toronto
 
I am very honored to announce that I've been selected as one of the speakers at this year's TEDx conference that is going to be held Sept. 30th at the Glen Gould Studio in the CBC building.
 
TED (Technology, Entertainment & Design) is a global set of conferences formed to disseminate "Ideas worth spreading".
 
I'm really looking forward to this, there are going to be so many interesting people there, all sharing different ideas an perspectives on a wide variety of topics.
 
Visit the TEDx Toronto Home Page for more details

TEDx Toronto

Sept. 12 2010 - Halogen TV Blogging & Active Atlantic Ocean
 
I have recently started writing a new, yet slightly different blog over at the website for Halogen TV, which is the U.S. broadcaster for Angry Planet. It is a weekly blog that I'll be using to go into detail about things that I wouldn't necessarily expand on here. I'll write about behind the scenes moments and other things you never got to see on TV. The first few entries are already up.
 
Also, the Atlantic hurricane season continues being very busy. Firstly, hurricane Igor has blossomed today, strengthening from a category 1 storm this morning, into a cat 4 monsters by the afternoon. It is certainly possible that Igor could become the first category 5 storm of the year. Right now, Igor is no threat to land, but Bermuda could be in its cross hairs later in the week and the situation bears watching closely.
 
Tropical Depression 12 is also strengthening and will likely become Tropical Storm Julia at some point in the next 24 hours. I don't expect this storm to be a threat to land at all, but there is a third area of interest that could intensify and form a storm that might impact the Yucatan... Obviously, there's a LOT of uncertainty right now, but I need to be on the ball because if an intercept of any of these storms is in the cards, decisions have to be made quickly and with plenty of lead time.

Halogen TV USA

Hurricane Igor

Sept. 04 2010 - Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia - Hurricane Earl Landfall
 
Myself, Mark Robinson & Brian Owsiak successfully intercepted hurricane Earl along the Nova Scotia coastline. This was the only place where we could a direct hit from the storm after it had already grazed North Carolina and Cape Cod.
 
Once we gained access to Peggy's Cove, we were treated to an amazing spectacle of giant waves crashing against the rocks, but we had to be careful because these waves were also tossing large rocks towards us so we had to keep a respectable distance.
 
More photos and a full description of the chase can be found here.
 
Here's a video clip of Earl making landfall in Nova Scotia

Hurricane Earl

Sept. 03 2010 - Shelburne, Nova Scotia -
 
After the long drive from Toronto to Nova Scotia, I'm finally ready to intercept hurricane Earl. The storm has weakened quite a bit, which was expected, but it is still large enough to pack a pretty good punch here, especially along the coastline. I expect some really big waves and possibly storm surge flooding along with tropical storm force winds.
 
We're spending the night in Shelburne and will be up at 4 A.M. to get into position on Cape Sable Island which should receive the brunt of the storm. I will probably not report back until after the storm has passed.

Sept. 01 2010 - Getting Ready For Earl -
 
The decision has been made... I'm on my way in the morning towards the Nova Scotia coastline for hurricane Earl. All the forecasts are predicting a Saturday morning landfall southwest of Halifax.
 
Right now, the storm has been bouncing back and forth between category 3 & 4 and will probably brush the Outer Banks of North Carolina tomorrow after dark. Instead of heading down there for a night time close approach, I figure my best chances will be with a direct hit, even though it will be much weaker by the time it finally reaches the Canadian Maritimes. It's a calculated gamble.
 
As usual, Mark Robinson and I will be teaming up for this chase and we'll be filming the entire event for the Weather Network program "Storm Hunters". If all goes well, we should get the chance to experience some hurricane force wind gusts and possibly some very violent seas, similar to what we experienced during Noel.
 
But wait, there's more!... The Atlantic is a very busy place. Behind Earl are two more tropical storms, Fiona and Gaston. I'm watching them closely and there might be another storm chase in the not too distant future, but for now, I'm concentrating on Earl.

Hurricane Earl Track Map

Aug 30 2010 - Watching Hurricane Earl Closely -
 
Hurricane Earl has just strengthened to a category 4 storm and it's still getting stronger. Earl is currently located north of the Virgin Islands and will soon be curving north, sweeping along the U.S. coastline. Right now it looks like the hurricane will probably not make a direct hit in the U.S. but it will come close to the Outer Banks in North Carolina and Cape Cod. The storm will eventually hit colder water and increased shear and weaken before hitting Nova Scotia.
 
How much energy will Earl still have when it reaches the Canadian Maritimes? That's the big question. It is a long way from Toronto to Halifax and I hate that drive but if it looks like there will be a significant impact, I'll be there for it. I still have some time before I have to make any final decisions. Stay tuned for updates.

Hurricane Earl Satellite Image

Aug 29 2010 - Hurricane Season -
 
Well it's almost September and that means the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is upon us. Despite all the predictions of a hyperactive season, it seems to have gotten off to a slow start, but that all looks like it's changing. There is currently a parade of storms coming off the African coastline, making their way across the Atlantic.
 
Hurricane Danielle was a Category 4 storm at one point, but it has since weakened and is passing east of Bermuda without affecting land. Tropical Storm Earl is getting interesting. Earl is about to graze the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles as it strengthens into an official hurricane later today or tomorrow. After that, the track puts it very close to the US coastline. If it keeps trending west like is has been doing, an intercept on Long Island, Cape Cod or Nova Scotia might be a possibility by the end of the week. I'm watching it closely.
 
Behind all of these is another area that is expected to become the next tropical system. It is the future "Fiona" and it has the potential to be the one that has a real impact. What will happen? I don't know yet, but it looks like there will be a hurricane intercept in the not too distant future.
 
Today also marks the 5th anniversary of hurricane Katrina making landfall on the Gulf Coast. I was there in Gulfport Mississippi and witnessed the devastation firsthand as it happened. It was a historical storm for so many reasons and it was also a turning point in my own life. Katrina, as destructive and terrible as it was, became the catalyst in my own life that allowed me to eventually become a full time storm chaser.
 
Here is a video of what I experienced that day.

Aug 29 2010 Atlantic Overview

Hurricane Katrina

Aug 18 2010 - New York City Premiere & New Jersey Explorations -
 
I've just returned home from a whirlwind trip to New York City for the world television premiere of the "Gates of Hell" special on The History Channel. The show really looked great and I ended up having quite a large role in the final edit. Not only is my Erta Ale volcano expedition featured as the climax of the show, I also make appearances throughout the entire program, commenting on different historical aspects.
 
Even though I don't personally believe that Hell exists, it was an interesting exercise to learn more about the places on Earth that some people think are gateways to the underworld.
 
In New York I joined up with the production team and we all watched the show as it aired live. Right after the party, I had to start heading back so I drove through the night, straight back to Toronto.
 
I've heard through the grape vine that the ratings for the show were great!
 
On the way to New York, I took the time to explore a few old abandoned train tunnels in New Jersey. It was fascinating to see how these once mighty rail lines have been left to decay for decades. The dark, wet passages were filled with collapsed ceilings, thick mud, fog and deep water is places, what's not to love?
 
Photos of the Oxford Tunnel and the Manunka Chunk Tunnel can be found here.

Times Square - New York

Oxford_06

Aug 09 2010 - History Channel Special - "Gates of Hell"
 
I am featured in the upcoming 2 hour History Channel TV special called "Gates of Hell". The show is about the numerous places on Earth that have historically been considered actual gateways to the underworld.
 
Some of these sites include caves in Greece & Belize, volcanoes in Honduras & Iceland and the Erta Ale lava lake in Ethiopia.
 
My 2005 expedition to Ethiopia is highlighted in the show along with several interview segments. It was a lot of fun going to New York to shoot the interview in St. Patrick's Cathedral and from the small preview that I've seen, I expect the program to look great.
 
 
The show airs at 8:00 P.M. eastern on Tuesday, Aug. 17th. You can see a 30 second promo video for the show on their Facebook page.

The History Channel

Gates of Hell

Aug 05 2010 - Ripley's Believe It Or Not
 
My adventure of rafting out onto the acid lake at the Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia has been featured in the latest Ripley's Believe It Or Not book.
 
The sulfuric acid lake has a ph value of about 0.5 and during my brief voyage out in a small raft, I had a fair amount of this acid drip into the boat off the paddle I was using. It started to burn my legs so I had to retreat to shore and cut off my pant legs with a knife.
 
Each year, Ripley's publishes a book filled with amazing stories and incredible photographs of the most bizarre and strange things from around the world.
 
I can still remember watching the Ripley's TV series when I was a kid. The odd stories were made even more compelling by the halting, gravelly voice of the host, Jack Palance...
 
...Believe it or Not.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not

Acid Lake

July 31 2010 - Book Cover -
Crush The Test - Cover Photo. One of my Komodo Dragon photographs is on the cover of a new SAT math test preparation book written by Matthew Kohler Ph.D.
 
The book gives students examples of the difficult math questions found on the SAT tests, so that they can aim to get scores in the 700+ range. I just like the idea of a giant lizard on the cover eating a math test!

Crush The Test

July 29 2010 - Misc. Updates
 
I've been up to a few cool things this past week. First off, I did a presentation for the kids of the Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Clarington. The kids are learning about natural disasters and they invited me to come in and speak with them about my encounters with nature. A great time was had by all and they asked a lot of interesting, thoughtful questions.
 
Later in the week, I spent a day with the folks from Safari Zoo Camp, based out of Jungle Cat World in Orono, Ontario. The goal was to set up an awesome, scary, exciting zip line across a river near the town of Warsaw. The Zip Line was installed by Fred and Andrew from One Axe Pursuits with myself & Jungle Cat World director, Peter Klose helping out with the initial setup and testing.
 
Wow is all I can say. This was the fastest zip line that any of us had ever experienced! The scariness factor was also ramped up a notch if you decided to take a run off the edge of the 150 foot cliff. It was almost like a diagonal free fall.
 
Despite the scariness of it all, not a single zoo camp participant chickened out, and everybody had a great day. Good times!

Zipline_01

Zipline_02

July 17 2010 - Rise Up Event - Belwood, Ontario
 
The Rise Up event is a day where kids (many of them with special needs) from the Fergus area came out to a local farm and participated in a day of activities geared towards empowerment and boosting their self esteem. It was an awesome day and I had a great time participating. There were several stations set up around the property where groups of the kids would rotate from one to the next. At each station, there were activities for them to participate in ranging from arts & crafts, learning about organic farming, designing their own painted-on tattoos, learning about first nations culture and more.
 
My station had a horizontal rope set up as a zip-line. I talked to the kids about overcoming fears and I told them about the time I rigged ropes across the volcanic boiling lake in Dominica a couple of years ago. A few of the kids were afraid of the heights at first but almost every single one of them went for it. I was so proud of them, many were as young as 5 or 6 years old!
 
In the morning, before I started the zip-line, my good friend Peter Klose from Jungle Cat World was putting on a demonstration of various animals for the kids, but there was a problem, he wasn't able to bring an animal handler with him, so I got the job. It was great. We got to show them a tarantula, scorpion, a few snakes, a red tailed hawk, a skunk, fox and even a wolf cub. I think I might change careers and become a full time animal handler.
 
During the lunch break, I helped entertain the kids by putting on a fire breathing demonstration. I offered to warm up their lunches but surprisingly, nobody took me up on my offer! Go figure.
 
The response from the children was really positive and the weather certainly cooperated with us. About 40 kids had a great day and perhaps we managed to change a few lives for the better. We may never know.

July_17_2010_A

July_17_2010_B

July_17_2010_C

July 12 2010 - Videos Uploaded -
OK, it took a while, but I've finally uploaded several new videos onto my YouTube channel. Here are the links:
 
Tornado Outbreak in South Dakota - May 22
Tornado crossing right in front of us, also in South Dakota - May 24
Photogenic Colorado Tornado - May 31
G20 Protests in Toronto - June 26

George Kourounis on YouTube

July 02 2010 - Travel Channel -
Starting tomorrow, Travel Channel International is having an "Angry Planet Weekend" They're airing 5 back to back episodes of Angry Planet on both Saturday and Sunday starting at 11:00 A.M.
 
This site has all the details including a video clip, photos, an interview with me plus they're giving away prizes too!

Travel Channel

June 26 2010 - G20 Protests turn to riots -
For a second day, anti-G20 protesters take to the streets of Toronto. This time though, the demonstrations don't all remain peaceful. I was in the thick of things as the city descended into chaos, sometimes getting squeezed in between the protesters and the riot police.
The rioters were mainly a small group of criminals who seemed bent on vandalism and violence, the vast majority of the protesters were peaceful and not involved at all.
 
Hundreds of arrests were made, tear gas was used and several police cars were set ablaze. I've never experienced anything quite like it in this city. There were times when I, along with other journalists literally had to run to keep ahead of the advancing police as we photographed the protests.

G20 Protesters in Toronto

June 25 2010 - G20 Protests - Toronto
The craziness this week continues with the G20 and G8 summit meetings going on in Toronto and wherever you have world leaders gathering, there's going to protests. Today, thousands of protesters took to the streets and were met by almost as many police officers in full riot gear. I've never seen so many police officers at once.
 
There were a few tense moments, but the cops had the situation under control and the demonstrations were peaceful. There will be more marches tomorrow and I anticipate being downtown for that event as well.
 
More photos to come when I get the chance to sift through them all.

G20 Protesters in Toronto

June 24 2010 - Mayhem in Ontario! -
What a day yesterday was. I was out on a storm chase when something I could've never predicted happened. We had a earthquake! The 5.0 quake was centered in Quebec, north of Ottawa. It rattled buildings, scared a lot of people and damaged few bridges. Moderate earthquakes are uncommon in eastern Canada, but they do happen every few years.
 
Getting back to the storm chase. I hooked up with about a half dozen or so other storm chasers and went to where we all thought the best potential would be, down near Stratford, Ontario. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and there was a tornado touchdown in the town of Midland. We missed the tornado, but I went to Midland this morning to document the damage.
 
The tornado, rated F-2 on the Fujita scale did a tremendous amount of damage to the Smith's Camp Trailer Park where over 50 residences were destroyed. The amazing thing is that there were no fatalities or serious injuries. Hard to believe considering the amount of damage. Many trailers were lifted, tossed and flipped by the tornado.
 
What a crazy past 24 hours it has been!

June 23, 2010 5.0 Earthquake

Midland Tornado

June 22 2010 - Magazine Articles -
I'm still getting caught up after all the insanity surrounding my recent tornado chase trip plus the City Chase event. I'm slowly getting back to "normal" (whatever THAT is).
 
I've recently been featured in 2 magazine articles:
 
Status Magazine - A Greek magazine that features a full page piece on me in the larger context of men who have odd or dangerous occupations. Click on the magazine cover at right to see the article. It's all Greek to me.
 
American Lifestyle - An American magazine that features a whopping 8 page interview I did with them a few months back. It also showcases numerous photos of me chasing storms and exploring other, various extreme forces of nature. The magazine cover to the right links to a PDF file of the relevant issue of the magazine. Enjoy.
 
 
In other news, it looks like tomorrow has the potential to be a severe weather day here in southern Ontario with thunderstorms and possibly even tornadoes. I'm monitoring the forecast closely and if there looks to be a serious threat, then I'll be out chasing the system.
 
I'm also eying a tropical disturbance in the Caribbean, south of Hispaniola right now. It just might become the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season. Time will tell and it has a long way to go, but if the forecasts come true, this could be a very active season.

American Lifestyle Magazinr - July 2010

Status Magazine - Greece

June 20 2010 - CTV Live Interview -
This morning I did a live telephone interview with CTV News regarding the massive flooding across southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Towns are under water and the Trans-Canada Highway has been damaged in several places by the flooding, including a large sink hole.

CTV News

June 19 2010 - Mitsubishi City Chase 2010 -
City Chase is an amazing urban adventure race that I can only describe as "The Amazing Race, compressed into one day". Teams of two have to decipher cryptic clues then dash off to various parts of the city to complete unique tasks using only public transportation or running. These tasks could range from the daring, to the physically strenuous, to mental challenges or even absurdly funny tasks.
 
My partner for this event was fellow adventurer Peter Klose. We, aka "Team Extreme" completed the race in about 4 hours and 13 minutes. Not bad considering we were first time competitors and we chose to do the most time consuming checkpoint of them all. The 28 story rappel down the side of Toronto City Hall! 330 feet straight down! We actually signed up for this race solely to get to experience this challenge alone and our day would've been awesome had we only done that challenge.
 
The rest of the day's events were just the icing on the cake.
 
How often do you get the chance to rappel down the side of a 28 story building? To say that it was incredible would be an understatement, especially since I was able to be the very FIRST person in the race to go over the edge!

Mitsubishi City Chase 2010

Mitsubishi City Chase 2010

June 15 2010 - Tornado Chase 2010 Completed!! -
Wow, what a storm chase season it has been. I'm finally back home after an epic road trip that found me traveling over 30,000km across 13 U.S. states in 50 days.
 
This year I was again guiding/driving for Cloud 9 Tours but this time I was there for all 3 of their 2 week tours and we had great storms for all 3 trips. It was great to meet up with so many old friends and making new ones too.
 
Throughout the trip, we were on tornado warned storms on 18 days and witnessed about a dozen or so tornadoes, some were very photogenic and at close range.
 
The daily tornado blog chronicles the day to day aspects of the chase and I have also created separate pages for all the major events. These can be found on my Galleries page, just look for anything labeled as NEW.
 
Many thanks to all the tour guests, you guys made the long drives a lot of fun. Also great thanks to Charles Edwards, John Guyton and Mike Theiss. I'll see you guys next year.

Tornado Chase 2010

Tornado Chase 2010

April 27 2010 - Tornado Chase 2010 is Underway -
Here we go. I've created a special blog page just for my 2010 tornado chase trip where I'll be posting daily updates and photos from the chase. This trip begins April 28th and runs until mid-June.
 
Click Here For The Tornado Chase 2010 Daily Blog Page
 
Regular blog posts will resume on this page after the tornado chase is completed.

Tornado Chase 2010

April 22 2010 - Happy Earth Day -
Even though today is technically Earth Day, I believe that we, as a species have a long way to go to properly learn how to manage the resources of our planet responsibly. Our population is growing at an alarming rate, yet the resources and space on Earth are finite.
 
Am I the only one who sees a huge problem looming here?
 
Anyway, if we make every day Earth Day and we'll be making a good start towards sustainable living.
 
As part of Earth Day, I did an interview on 680 News here in Toronto. Tune in, they'll probably be airing it numerous times today.

April 21 2010 - Update- My recent trip to New York City was a blast. I did 2 television interviews - One for CBC News Network which was live to air and lasted about 6 minutes, and the second one for the History Channel documentary. This interview was an epic 4 hours long and covered topics as diverse as Ethiopian volcanoes to the Salem witch trials.
 
In fact, the interview went so long that I ended up missing my flight home and had to stay another night. It was worth it since it all went so well. I'll make an announcement here before the show airs later this year.
 
On another note, my focus is now shifting to the 2010 tornado season which is just around the corner. My last minute preparations are coming together and we all have our fingers crossed that Europe's air space will remain open for our overseas guests who are very stressed right now. How ironic for me that it's volcanic ash that interferes with a tornado chase!

NYC_2010

April 16 2010 - Back to New York -
Well I'm off to the Big Apple again. This time I'm doing 2 TV interviews. The first one is for CBC news regarding the current volcanic eruption in Iceland and all the air traffic chaos that has been a result of it. The second interview is for a new History Channel program. This show is all about the places on Earth that have historically been regarded as gateways into Hell. I've become a bit of an expert on some of these places, considering the number of volcanoes I've explored over the years.
 
It should be a fun long weekend for me, especially since I'll also get the chance to spend some time visiting with friends in the area that I rarely get to see.
 
On another note... Many of you have been asking me about it and NO, I'm not on my way to Iceland for the recent volcanic eruption. I wish I were but I have too many obligations right now and I cannot just drop everything and fly off. I really need to work on a cloning device of a Star Trek style transporter!!
 
It's also less than 2 weeks from my 2010 tornado chase trip. As usual, I'll be guiding chase trips with Cloud 9 Tours but this year, I'm extending my journey with Cloud 9 out to 6 weeks. It'll be exhausting, but a lot of fun. Daily blog reports from Tornado Alley will be posted here in May and June so be sure to check back for all the latest news from the road.

April 04 2010 - Caving - Warsaw, Ontario -
The fantastic weather this long Easter weekend made a day of outdoor adventure irresistible, so I joined up with my wife Michelle and a few friends (Peter, Nicole and Victoria) and we all headed out to the Warsaw Caves. There are numerous charted and uncharted caves there and we explored 3 of them, but we couldn't get into some of the areas we wanted too because the spring runoff kept the water levels inside the caves a lot higher than we were expecting. Nonetheless, it was an awesome place to go caving with plenty of very technical, tight passages. Anyone with claustrophobia would've been screaming!
 
After the caves, we went to a nearby cliff face to practice some vertical rope techniques including Aussie style, forward facing rap-jumping and inverted rappelling where you start off with a normal rappel, then flip completely upside-down and continue down the rope.
 
Great fun.

Warsaw Caves

Warsaw Caves

April 01 2010 - 3D Camera Test - Vineland, Ontario -
I'm always interested in the latest and greatest media technology, so I got together with a few experts to shoot a demo of one of the newest digital, 3D camera systems. To give you an idea of the type of quality image I'm talking about, this camera is capable of being used for IMAX 3D films!
 
In order to test the gear in an extreme environment, we brought it out to a steep sided 100 foot overhanging river gorge where we did some face first, high speed, Australian style rappelling. It was quite scary going over the edge, looking straight down while zipping down the rope with only one hand to use as a brake, but it was a blast! Of course, we had to do it more than once.
 
I can't go into a lot of detail as to exactly WHY we were testing this equipment, but I should be able to post some more photos soon. Many MANY thanks to everyone who came out to help with this test.

3D Camera Test

March 30 2010 - Discovery Channel News -
I interview Geoff Green, founder of Students on Ice, for Discovery News. Read the interview here.

Discovery News

March 23 2010 - New York City -
The Explorers Club Annual Dinner was an incredible event to attend. The main ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria was packed with some of the finest scientists and explorers in the world. The main dinner on Saturday night had a very funny Dan Aykroyd as the master of ceremonies and featured acrobats, a string quartet, a taped message from Stephen Hawking, talks from astronauts and other explorers and I even got the opportunity to taste electric eel. No, it didn't taste like chicken (shockingly).
 
Sunday was filled with events at the Explorers Club headquarters and included annual meetings and lectures from several prominent members. Myself and Peter Rowe gave a presentation on our exploration of the Naica crystal Cave which was very well received.
 
I can't wait to go back next year. New York is such a bustling and vibrant city with its fair share of interesting people.

Explorers Club Annual Dinner

March. 20 2010 - Urban Exploration -
I've always been a fan of urban exploration, especially abandoned places. On my way to New York City, I spotted an old rail bridge in Columbia, New Jersey that has obviously gone unused for quite some time. I was not in a rush, so I took some time to investigate. I even found cavern-like passageways inside the bridge.

Abandoned Train Bridge

March. 17 2010 - Getting Ready for ECAD -
This coming weekend I'll be heading to New York City for the 2010 Explorers Club Annual Dinner. It is the biggest Explorers Club event of the year and is a black tie affair held at the Waldorf Astoria.
 
The theme this year is "On the cusp of infinity, exploring the universes out there" so I expect there to be quite a few astronauts attending, along with a great number of other explorers and scientists. It is actually a multi-day event with the formal dinner and awards on Saturday night (With Dan Aykroyd as the master of ceremonies), then there will be meetings and presentations on Sunday where Peter Rowe and myself will giving a presentation on our exploration of the Naica crystal cave. I expect it to be an amazing weekend and I'll be posting updates and tweets all weekend.
 
Oh, and happy St. Patrick's day.

The Explorers Club

March. 16 2010 - Hangin' Out -
Yesterday was spent shooting some promo material for a new website that will be launching soon. More details will come on the project itself when it ready, but doing the initial filming for it was a blast.
 
I decided that it would make for a great visual to set up a zipline across a stream, then zip across and deliver a few lines to the camera . Well, getting the timing of the camera moves, the coordination of me rolling past at high speed, plus saying my lines to camera took quite a bit of choreography to pull off, but after a few takes and a few modifications, we got it just right.
 
Luckily, the weather was working with us. We had to delay the shoot by a day due to heavy rains. At least the rain made for some swift water in the stream.

Stream Traverse

March 09 2010 - CANWARN Training Dates - The schedule for the 2010 Ontario Storm Spotter training sessions is now set. Each year environment Canada trains ham radio operators and other weather enthusiasts how to observe & recognize severe weather features and the procedures used to report them to the weather office. If you're in the area and are interested, just show up to any one of them.
 
Note: Environment Canada does NOT endorse or support storm chasing. They train their spotters to observe from a safe distance.
    Windsor - Mon. April 12, 7PM - Caboto Club, 2175 Parent Ave.
    London - Tues. April 13, 7PM - Four Points Sheraton Hotel, 1150 Wellington Rd.
    Hamilton - Sat. April 17, 9AM - Nash Auditorium, Wilcox Building, Chedoke Hospital, Sanitorium Rd.
    Sarnia - Tues. April 20, 7PM - Kinsmen Centre Oakroom Room, 656 Lakeshore Rd.
    Peterborough - Tues. April 20, 7PM - Canadian Canoe Museum, 910 Monaghan Rd.
    Kitchener - Wed. April 21, 7PM - Bingemans Conference Centre, 425 Bingemens Centre Drive.
    Orillia - Sat. April 24, 9AM - Highwayman Inn, 201 Woodside Drive.
    Toronto - Sat. May 01, 9AM - Environment Canada Headquarters, 4905 Dufferin St.
    Cornwall - Sat. May 01, 9AM - Cornwall Legion, 415 Second St. W.
    Ottawa - Sat. May 08, 9AM - Kanata Legion, 70 Hines Rd.
    Sudbury - Sat. May 15, 9:30AM - Lionel E. Lalonde Centre, 239 Montee Principale, Azilda
    Sault Ste. Marie - Sun. May 16, 7PM - Waterfront Inn, 208 St. Mary's Drive
    Timmins - Mon. May 17, 7PM - Days Inn, 14 Mountjoy St. South
    North Bay - Wed. May 19, 7PM - OPP Communications Centre, 877 Gormanville Rd.

March 08 2010 - FHM Magazine -
The latest edition of the India edition of FHM magazine has just come out and it features a 4 page interview with me. In the article, I discuss storm chasing, common sense and nature. I got a kick out of the article because it says that I have "balls of steel", uh, OK.
 
The magazine is on news stands in India right now and the full article can be read here.

FHM Magazine - India

March 05 2010 - New Music Video -
I have just recently updated the music video I use whenever I give live presentations for groups of people. The old one hadn't been updated in years so there was a lot of new material to add.
 
Take a look, I guarantee that you'll say to yourself: "holy crap" at least a couple of times while watching it.
 
I call it "Exploring the Extreme"
 
Enjoy it. Now I'm off to the Explorers Club Film Festival. I hope to see you there.

George Kourounis on YouTube

Semeru_08

March 02 2010 - Tune in to City TV Toronto tomorrow morning. I'll be a guest on the Breakfast Television morning show some time after 7:30 A.M.
 
I'll be showing video clips from the new season of Angry Planet which premieres this Sunday at 10:30 on OLN.
I'll also be promoting the Explorers Club Film Festival coming up this weekend. I'll be giving the keynote address on Saturday night.

Breakfast Television

Feb. 26 2010 - Update - It's been a while since I updated this blog. It's mainly been due to the fact that I've upgraded my computer and I haven't been able to do website changes for a while but I'm back!
 
What's new? Well, plenty, but I'll keep this post short.
 
I'll be attending the Outdoor Adventure Show this Saturday at the International Centre near Pearson Airport in Toronto. If you see me there, please come over and say hi.
 
Tonight I'm going to be a guest on my buddy RJ Evans' internet radio show "American Heathen. Check it out at 9:00 PM Eastern HERE

www.shocknetradio.com

Feb. 14 2010 - Jungle Cat World - Orono, Ontario -
I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day. My wife and I spent the day visiting with friends, one of whom is the program director at Jungle Cat World, about an hour east of Toronto. What a great experience it was. We got the rare opportunity to interact with numerous species of animals including a lynx, ring tailed lemur, snakes and even a 3 month old baby Siberian Tiger. Talk about cute. She was absolutely adorable but it won't be too much longer before she gets too big to hold in your lap.
 
Jungle Cat World has a very active breeding program and they have successfully bred numerous species of big cats. Check out the photos from the visit while I got and tend to all the scratches that I have now.
 
At one point as I was feeding the big male lion, I was crouched down beside him while he was chewing up his chicken dinner I was on the other side of the fence, but only a few inches away and just when I turned my head to look away for a second, he let out a roar that made me almost jump out of my skin!
 
What an impressive animal. I love these big predators and it is a shame that they keep losing their habitat. Several of the species I saw will likely become extinct in the wild eventually.

Jungle Cat World

Jungle Cat World

Feb. 12 2010 - Get Ready for Season Three -
Here we go... The third season of Angry Planet is getting ready to broadcast in Canada. The premiere will be Sunday, March 7th at 10:30 P.M. eastern time zone on OLN. As they say... "Check your local listings".
 
It has been a grueling year and a half of production leading up to this and I'm very proud of this third season. It'll feature some of my wildest adventures yet, in some of the most odd and inaccessible locations all over the world. New episodes will air every week for 13 weeks, then they will likely be re-run them again so that you can catch any shows you might have missed the first time 'round.
 
Angry Planet Season 3 Broadcast Schedule

Angry Planet Season 3 Schedule

Feb. 11 2010 - Discovery News - Jan. 2010 - Photos from my exploration of the Naica Crystal Cave have been showcased on Discovery Channel's news page. See the photos & article here.


Feb. 10 2010 - Africa Geographic - One of my photos from the Nyiragongo lava lake in eastern Congo appears this month in the Africa Geographic digimag.
 
To see the entire online magazine go to : africageographicdigital.com
 
Other photos from my expedition to this incredible volcano can be found here
Nyirogongo was one of my favorite volcanoes to visit, but it is not so easy to get there and the weather conditions at the 11,000 foot summit can be harsh. We were pinned down in our tents by storms for 3 nights.

Africa_Geographic


Feb. 05 2010 - Toronto - I'm back in Toronto after my latest Asian explorations. On a whim, I decided to started my stopwatch as I was leaving the guest house in India and I turned if off when I finally reached my front door at home. The total travel time was 43 hours!
 
Coming up - I will be speaking at the gala dinner of the Explorers Club Film Festival coming up on March 5th and 6th in Toronto.
 
The festival will showcase numerous programs and documentaries of exploration from around the world. It is sure to be an interesting time with plenty of tales of adventure.
 
Everyone is invited to come. Please see the poster for more details.
 
..And yes, that's me on the poster, climbing up a huge frozen waterfall in Alberta.

Explorers Club Film Festival

Jan. 31 2010 - Kshitij 2010 - Kharagpur, India - After a great series of adventures in the United Arab Emirates, I've relocated to Kharagpur, India where I am a guest speaker at Kshitij 2010 which is Asia's largest technology management festival. It is held each year at the India Institute of Technology, one of the most prestigious schools in India. One of the most incredible things about this festival is that it is completely organized by the students.
 
I gave my presentation on the Saturday and the response was so great that I was asked to give another one on Sunday. Each time, the theater was packed with about 1000 people. Everyone at IIT was so welcoming and warm, I felt right at home.
 
Kshitij also featured lectures from film makers, physicists, entrepreneurs and many others plus it showcased robotics & computer programming competitions, 3D holographic motion capture demonstrations and other eye popping technologies.
 
One very cool part was learning the ancient art of breathing fire. On my last night there, a few of us were practicing it in one of the courtyards... It was fun and spectacular (not to mention dangerous)

Kshitij Festival - Kharagpur, India

Breathing Fire

Jan. 26 2010 - Shark Diving in the Dubai Aquarium - What a surreal experience. After several days of diving along the east coast of the United Arab Emirates and Oman with poor visibility, the "Angry Planet" crew moved on to a spot where we were guaranteed to have clear water, plenty of fish life and an abundance of sharks...
 
The Dubai Mall!
 
SCUBA diving inside this massive aquarium was so much fun. Everywhere you looked, there were grey reef sharks, sand tiger sharks, rays, giant grouper, moray eels, you name it! The craziest part was being at the bottom of the aquarium and watching sharks swim past only a few feet away and seeing people in the background shopping in the mall's stores and shops. Very weird, but wonderful.
 
The aquarium is about 40 meters long, 20 meters wide and 12 meters deep.
 
This mall is just one example of the countless extreme engineering projects that have been built in this incredible city.

Dubai Aquarium

Dubai Aquarium

Jan. 23 2010 - In the Empty Quarter Desert (United Arab Emirates) - The vastness and inhospitability of this place is overwhelming. The sand dunes stretch on forever and our pace getting through them is slow. Every few seconds we have to re-evaluate our route and adjust according to the terrain. There is no such thing as driving from point A to Point B in a straight line.
 
Despite the harsh, hot days, windy, cold nights, blowing sand and endless wasteland, I find myself really loving this place. It is an intimidating, daunting, hellish landscape almost completely devoid of life but yet it is beautiful and enchanting at the same time.
 
Last night we camped out close to the Saudi Arabian border and I realized that most of this desert lies beyond its borders. This place is so vast that it is hard to wrap your head around it.
 
It's like being on another planet. A planet made of shifting sands where very few life forms can survive and any underestimation of nature's power could spell disaster.
 
More photos from this incredible place can be found here.

Empty Quarter Desert

Empty Quarter Desert

Jan. 11 2010 - Departing for the Empty Quarter - I'm in the final processes of getting ready for my next expedition. This time I'm off to the Middle East to explore the Empty Quarter which is a huge, almost completely uninhabited desert wasteland that stretches across 4 countries - Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates. The Empty Quarter (also known as the Rub' al Khali) is one of the most harsh places on Earth filled with huge sand dunes and not much else. This desert is larger than the Netherlands, Belgium and France combined!!
 
My journey will begin in Abu Dhabi and then I'll be taking a four wheel drive vehicle out into the vast emptiness. This should get interesting...
 
This trip was originally supposed to have happened last month but for various reasons, it was postponed until now. In addition to the Empty Quarter, I'll be spending a few days in Dubai and then I'll be diverting to India briefly.

Empty Quarter Map

Jan. 05 2010 - House Fire - At about 1:00 A.M. last night I was out photographing a 4 alarm house fire in the Beaches area of Toronto.
 
Firefighters were called to Wheeler Ave. just before midnight where they found a home under renovation engulfed in flames. 20 fire trucks and 85 firefighters were called to battle the blaze in the house which was gutted for a major renovation. Flames spread to two adjacent homes, with total damage estimated at $1.5 million. A couple and their five-year-old child were evacuated from one of the neighboring homes.

2010_01_05 4 Alarm Fire

Jan. 01 2010 - Hello 2010 - With a new year here, I'm very excited about what's in store for the next 12 months! No doubt there will be many wild adventures all over the world that I'm going to be thrilled to share with you all. My first big expedition of the year is coming up in a couple of weeks and it is going to be a good one. I'll be exploring the Empty Quarter Desert on the Arabian Peninsula, one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. This trip was postponed from 2009 and it is finally happening so check back often to see the updates on the preparations.
 
Thanks so much to all the people out there who enjoy watching Angry Planet and come to this website regularly. I love getting emails from fans all over the world and people who are interested in weather and natural forces. I really do try to answer every email I get. A good way to keep up to date with what's going on is to follow me on Twitter or Facebook since it is often easier for me to update those from the field than doing blog posts. I can't believe that this is my 7th year of doing regular blogs. I guess I was blogging before I knew what blogging was, I just called it "news."
 
I wish you all an amazing new year, packed full of personal adventure, prosperity and great people to share your experiences with.
 
Cheers,
George Kourounis

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

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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