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News/Blog & Recent Events - George Kourounis

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Dec. 29 2011 - New Year & New Adventures
 
With 2011 drawing to a close and the new year just around the corner, it's time for me to announce my latest set of adventures that are coming up in January. Mark Robinson and I will be teaming up again. This time to film new episodes of "Stormhunters" for The Weather Network.
 
We kick off 2012 with an epic, Canadian winter road trip that will take us from coast to coast to coast, filming winter weather in the Maritimes, the Great Lakes, the Prairie provinces and then further west to British Columbia & the Rocky Mountains. Then we turn north and keep going into the Yukon, then drive to the Northwest Territories, past the Arctic Circle and then onto the ice roads to the Arctic Ocean, destination Tuktoyaktuk.
 
More details can be found here:

6Canada Coast to Coast to Coast


Dec. 24 2011 - Merry Christmas Everyone
 
I wish you and your family a safe, happy and memorable holiday season.
 
It's already looking like next year is going to be filled with many adventures so keep checking back to see all the latest photos and stories from around the world.

6

Dec. 09 2011 - Wales & Stonehenge, England
 
The U.K. journey continues. Yesterday I drove from the Lakes district on England, down through some amazing winding roads in Wales. I didn't know what to expect in Wales and I happened to stumble upon what has become one of my favorite roads in the world. The B4520 road was so much fun, that I almost forgot that it was pouring rain all day. Remnants of the big storm in Scotland that caused travel chaos.
 
Today, I had to start making my way back towards London, so I played tourist and went to Stonehenge. The monument is actually quite impressive and if you find yourself in southern England, I do suggest you go there to check it out. There's a lot of history there.
 
My time in Europe is coming to a close. I fly back to Toronto tomorrow afternoon. It has been a great week and a half and I can't wait for the net time I come out here. I'll have a full photo gallery of the trip online as soon as I can edit all the photos! Thank you everyone who helped me on this journey and a special shout-out to the TEDx Athens organizers! Thanks for having me.

6Stonehenge

Dec. 07 2011 - Loch Ness, Scotland
 
I have been working my way north through the U.K. After London, I continued up to Liverpool, then up into the Highlands of Scotland. What a gorgeous place! Of course I had to pay a visit to Loch Ness and specifically, the famous Urquhart Castle. The fresh snow and zero tourists were just an added bonus.
 
The weather has been difficult, with a strong storm that wreaked havoc on the Scottish coast bringing rain, snow waves, and very high winds to the entire region. It's going to take a while to sift through all the photos.
 
I'm continuing on to Wales, then eventually back towards London before heading home to Canada.

Loch Ness, Scotland6

Dec. 04 2011 - London, England
 
What a busy couple of days.
The TEDx Athens event was amazing. What a great group of diverse speakers, musicians and more. Everything went smoothly and I had a great response to my talk. The theme of the event was "The Art of Disruption" and I talked about how I try to capture the artistic side of the most destructive forces on Earth and how it is we humans that decide what is "art" and what are "disasters". The crowd really seemed to get into it.
 
The very next morning, I dashed off to London where I met up with a whole bunch of friends from Cloud 9 Tours. We get a lot of British people joining us on the tornado chasing trips and it was great to meet up with some of them in downtown London and they showed me around. We went to the observatory in Greenwich, to Piccadilly Circus and the Ice Bar, which is kept at a freezing cold -5C and everything is made out of ice. Everything. Including the walls, the bar and even the glasses! What a "cool" place, literally and figuratively.
 
Thank you to Nathan, Mark, Ian, Cheryl and Ray for such a great time.
 
The next day Nathan and I continued up to Liverpool, where we checked out the waterfront area despite the high winds, rain and even hail. I knew the weather in December was going to be bad, but this was just nasty, even by my standards.
 
Tomorrow, I continue north into Scotland. It looks like there's going to be plenty of snow up there.
 

6

On stage at TEDx Athens

Ice Bar, London

Dec. 01 2011 - Athens, Greece
 
Well, I made it to Athens and I must say that the folks from the TEDx conference have been treating me like royalty. I'm so grateful for their hospitality. Shortly after arriving from my overnight flight, I managed to drag my jet lagged body over to the theater where the event is going to be on Saturday. It is a beautiful room with a huge stage that seats about 1000 people. This is going to be a great event.
 
Here's a shot from the balcony of my room at the Hilton, overlooking Athens and the Parthenon.

6Parthenon & Acropolis

Nov. 26 2011 - Europe Bound
 
In a few days I head across the Atlantic. First to Athens, Greece where I will be speaking at the TEDx Athens event on Dec 3rd. The theme will be 'The Art of Disruption" and I will be talking about how I view natural disasters from a different perspective than most humans do. TED events are all about ideas worth sharing and each speaker get no more than 18 minutes on stage to get their point across.
 
It's been over 20 years since I was last in Greece. A lot has changed since then and I'm looking forward to being a part of such an inspiring event. It is an honor to be invited to.
 
Once I am done in Greece, I will be flying to London for a bit of a road trip across the U.K. I'm hoping to get to Stonehenge and Loch Ness as a few of my destinations while there.

Greece

TEDx Athens

United Kingdom

Nov. 22 2011 - Motivated Magazine
 
A five page featured article that I wrote for Motivated Magazine hits news stands on December 1st. The article is called "Flirting with Disaster" and includes some crazy stories as well as tips for overcoming fear.
 
 
Motivated Magazine Online

6Motivated Magazine

Nov. 15 2011 - Upcoming Event: The Leaders Lounge
 
This Thursday, Nov. 17th I will be appearing at a new event called "The Leaders Lounge". It's an intimate evening of Q&A, hosted by Drew Dudley of Nuance Leadership.This will be the inaugural night of the series that features a different thought leader each month, each with their own area of expertise.
 
This is a FREE event but seating is almost at capacity. To attend, go to www.leaderslounge.ca and sign up. Attendees will also receive a 5 disk boxed set of the second season of Angry Planet.

6The Leaders Lounge

Nov. 13 2011 - Ripley's Book
 
My adventure at the Kawah Ijen volcano in Indonesia has made the pages of the "Ripley's Believe it or Not - Special Edition 2012" book. The trip where I took an inflatable rubber raft out onto the world's largest lake of sulfuric acid is given an entire page with photos and an interview.
 
This is the second time that I've been featured in a Ripley's book... Believe it, or not!
 
To buy the book on Amazon go here
 
See more photos and details about the acid lake.

Ripley's Believe it or Not - Special Edition 20126

Nov. 10 2011 - Ottawa, Ontario
 
All the talks are done for the week and now I'm spending some time with family and friends before I have to head back to Toronto.
Yesterday the weather was great so I took a trip to downtown Ottawa where I walked around the Byward Market and the Parliament Buildings.

Parliament Buildings, Ottawa6

Nov. 01 2011 - Speaking Dates
 
I love giving talks to groups and it looks like I'll be doing quite a few more of them coming up. Here's a quick rundown of where I'll be doing presentations.
 
- Nov 7th - Ontario Emergency Managers Conference - Kingston. Emergency managers, Red Cross workers and first responders will all be in attendance as I offer my own unique view on natural disasters and severe weather events.
 
- Nov 8th - Darcy McGee High School - Gatineau, Quebec. 2 presentations. One during the day and another at 7:00 in the evening which will be open to the public.
 
Also, just announced!! I've been invited to speak at the upcoming TEDx conference in Athens, Greece on December 3rd. This will be my 2nd appearance at a TEDx event and the first time I've been back to Greece since 1989! The theme of this year's conference is "The Art of Disruption".
 
It is a great honour to be invited to speak at this conference and I'm really looking forward to it. If you are able to attend any of these events, please feel free to come over and say hi.

Emergency Managers Conference

TEDx Athens

Oct. 29 2011 - Human Library Festival
 
Yesterday I participated in the Get A Life - Human Library Festival at the public library in Innisfil, Ontario. People could reserve "human books" and then get 30 minutes to ask them questions before having to return the books. I was one of these human books along with numerous others with stories to tell including a skydiver (Yay Jill!), someone who helps with charities in Kenya, a food & farming expert, an artist, a cancer survivor and others.
 
It was a great experience and I was asked all kinds of great questions. Usually when I give a talk at a library, it's in front of a crowd. This intimate, one-on-one approach was a refreshing change.
 
While I was at the library, parts of the U.S. east coast were getting hammered by an unusual October Nor'easter which dumped tremendous amounts of snow in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The snow storm brought down tree limbs onto power lines, leaving millions without electricity.

6Human Library Festival

Oct. 22 2011 - Chicken Soup For The Soul
 
Just Released - I was invited to be a contributing writer for the new book "Chicken Soup For The Soul O Canada". The mega popular "Chicken Soup" series has sold millions of copies worldwide and it was a great honor to be asked to submit a story for this brand new book.
 
This edition is a compendium of 101 heartwarming and inspirational stories by and for Canadians. My contribution is about how Canadians handle their extremes of weather and how I got my start chasing storms.
 
Other contributors include: Amy Sky, Marc Jordan, Matt Duschene, Laura Robinson and Liona Boyd.
 
Purchase a copy on Amazon

Chicken Soup For The Soul O Canada6

Oct. 22 2011 - Toronto Zombie Walk
 
Every year, the annual Toronto Zombie Walk sees thousands of people dress up as zombies and walk (lurch actually) through the streets. The walk started at Trinity Bellwood Park and went east along Queen Street, then north on Spadina, then west along Dundas back to the park. Some of the costumes were outstanding and there was even a real zombie wedding at the start of the event. Below is a small selection of the zombies, ghouls and other ghastly creatures that were prowling the streets, leaving a trail of blood behind them. Gareth Rowberry joined me as we followed these hideous beings on their quest for human flesh. Beware, there's a lot of blood and gore.

Toronto Zombie Walk 2011

Oct. 18 2011 - Discovery Channel "Adrenaline Lab" with Bear Grylls
 
Just Released - Here's a link to the recently released video interview I did for the Discovery Channel website. It's called the "Adrenaline Lab". Myself and other adventurers from around the world gathered in New York and we were interviewed by "Man vs. Wild" host and survivalist Bear Grylls.
 
Watch The Video
 
We had a lot of fun shooting it. Here are a couple of behind the scenes videos too:
Behind The Scenes #1
Behind The Scenes #2

Discovery Channel - Adrenaline Lab

Oct. 16 2011 - "Occupy Toronto" Protest hits the streets of Toronto
 
What started out as "Occupy Wall Street" has spread across the world and has reached Toronto. Protesters rally against corporate greed and the broadening gap between the rich and the poor. I was there with my camera to document the march through the streets from the central business district, along Adelaide Street to St. James Park.
 
They've set up tents in the park and it looks like they're expecting to be there for quite some time, perhaps even days or weeks.

Occupy Toronto Protest

Oct. 04 2011 - Cold Lake, Alberta
 
This morning I flew from Toronto to Calgary, Alberta where I then hopped onto a chartered jet that took me up to Cold Lake in the northern part of the province. There are 2 main industries in Cold Lake, the oil & gas business and the Air Force base (where our jet landed). Myself and a handful of others have come here to spend the day tomorrow talking to high school kids about innovation.
 
I'm joined by others from a wide range of professions from blockbuster special effects designers to an actress/physics student/Miss Universe contender. We will all be sharing our stories and wisdom on how to be creative and innovative. My talk will, of course also focus on adventure!
 
In the evening there will also be a dinner event that's open to the general public. After dinner we'll be giving brief talks as well.
 
So far the trip has been going great and I'm really looking forward to spending some time with the students tomorrow.
 
Update: The talks went great and it was great fun to meet so many students participating in the Osum innovation challenge. Thank you so much to the organizers, teachers, other speakers and of course, the students of Cold Lake.
 
I'm back in Toronto now, looking at new adventures on the horizon.

Osum

Cold Lake Jet

Sept. 30 2011 - The "Amazing" James Randi
 
The other day I had the great pleasure to meet James Randi - Magician, author, science promoter and professional skeptic. He was speaking at an event here in Toronto. He's been featured in countless television shows over the decades including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. His specialty is debunking pseudoscience and superstitions including psychics, faith healers and the like while simultaneously promoting critical thinking, science and logic.
 
Randi and his foundation are responsible for the million dollar challenge which offers one million dollars to anyone who can prove that they have any supernatural ability whatsoever. Over the years, many have applied and exactly zero have even come close to claiming the prize... Hmmm.
 
It was great to meet him and even join him on stage during his talk when he needed someone with electronics knowledge to evaluate a dowsing device sold to the U.S. military that claims to be able to detect improvised explosive devices... It was a scam device with no useful electronics inside. Who knows how many lives have been lost due to unscrupulous companies selling this garbage to the military?

James_Randi

Sept. 14 2011 - University of Guelph
 
Tonight I will be the featured speaker at Guelph University as part of athe "Momentum 2011" program for the Department of Student Life. It's part of a 6 week event that gives the first year students the chance to start the year off right by engaging in thought-provoking discussions outside of regular classes.
 
It should be a lot of fun. The talk is being held in the historic War Memorial Hall building.

University of Guelph

Sept. 13 2011 - Radio Interview - Big Picture Science
 
Last week I did a radio interview for "Big Picture Science", which is a one hour science show that is produced at the SETI institute's radio studio in Mountainview, California.
 
Yes, it's the same SETI institute that is searching the skies for signs of radio signals from intelligent life on other planets! Very cool indeed, but we were not talking about extra-terrestrial life. This episode was all about the weather.
 
The entire episode, entitled "Whither the Weather can be found here.
My segment on storm chasing, can be found at this link
 
The show is carried on the NPR Public Radio Satellite System and is also podcast on iTunes. It was a lot of fun being interviewed by such a prestigious, scientific organization.

Big Picture Science

SETI Institute

Sept. 02 2011 - Still Watching the Tropics
 
I'm currently back in my home base of Toronto, patiently watching the Atlantic for more tropical developments. Of most interest to me is hurricane Katia which is slowly intensifying, far out in the Atlantic. Most of the computer models suggest that Katia will eventually re-curve out to sea and not affect the east coast, but as I watch each new forecast, it seems to keep edging further west. I think there might be potential for another hurricane intercept in about a week or so.
 
My confidence in this happening is low, but I'm keeping a close eye on it.

Hurricane Katia Forecast

Aug 28 2011 - On The Scene As Irene Strikes New York City
 
Hurricane Irene scraped up the eastern seaboard of the U.S. first making landfall in the outer banks of North Carolina, then eventually came north to New Jersey and to my location on Long Island, New York.
 
For this chase, I teamed up with regular chase partner, Mark Robinson, we then traveled south to team up with Dave Lewison and Scott McPartland, who both live in New York. The center of Irene tracked right over New York City and we were positioned in one of the hardest hit areas along the southern coast of Long Island.
 
More pictures can be found on the Hurricane Irene page here.
 
We are all fine, but parts of Long Island took a pounding with a lot of storm surge flooding in the Broad Channel area where power lines were coming down as well. We eventually made it through the flooded roads down to Long Beach where we experienced the strongest wind gusts.
 
The media really did hype this storm up, and for the most part, the effects were not too bad for most, but some of the harder hit areas were certainly hit hard with flooding and storm surge. It's not often that New York takes a hit from a storm like this so I think it was good that they evacuated so many people and took extreme precautions. It's always better to over-prepare for a potential disaster than to not be prepared at all.

Irene_02

Irene_03

Aug 25 2011 - Hurricane Irene Bearing Down on the U.S.
 
Right now, Hurricane Irene is crashing through the Bahamas as a major, category 3 hurricane and it looks like the U.S. eastern seaboard is not going to miss this one. The real question is... Where is Irene going to hit and how bad will it be?
 
It looks like Irene will strike in North Carolina near Morehead City, then track just offshore, heading straight towards New York City.
 
It's very tempting for me to head down to North Carolina for the initial landfall, but there are several factors that are likely going to keep me aimed at the northern target area.
 
- The impact will be huge. This historic storm will affect the lives of millions in this high population density area
- It's relatively close to my home base, so it's an easy target to get to.
- I've never chased a hurricane in that part of the country before
- I'll be teaming up with New Yorkers Scott McPartland and Dave Lewison, who know lots of great places to film.
 
Weather Network meteorologist Mark Robinson and I will be departing Toronto on Friday morning. On Saturday, we'll be better informed as to where we'll eventually need to go. It could be as far south as Maryland or New Jersey OR we might end up on Long Island.... No matter what, this is going to be a high impact weather event.

Hurricane Irene

Aug 22 2011 - Severe Weather Roundup
 
There's a lot going on right now. Close to home, a destructive tornado struck the town of Goderich, Ontario yesterday doing extensive dame, injuring 37 people and killing one. Environment Canada is still investigating it, but put it's preliminary strength at high end F2 or low end F3 with wind speeds around 300km/h. I was watching it on radar as it came ashore off Lake Huron and it had an impressive shape, similar to any supercell storm I'm used to seeing in Kansas.
 
Hurricane Irene hit Puerto Rico last night and is forecast to strengthen and head towards the U.S. It originally looked like Florida was in it's sights, but newer forecasts suggest that a landfall in or near South Carolina, possibly as a major hurricane is possible. I'm watching the situation closely and I'm already making plans to be there for an intercept some time over the weekend. More details to come as the week goes on.

Hurricane Irene

Aug 15 2011 - Scuba Diving The "Pit Of Doom"
 
This past weekend, several of us went scuba diving in a 100 year old, abandoned iron mine in Coe Hill, Ontario. The water was freezing cold, stagnant, filled with trees, logs, branches & algae and there was near zero visibility. The decomposing plant matter caused a buildup of noxious gas which almost made me vomit. Just to get to the spot, we had to carry a couple hundred pounds of equipment through the forest for almost a mile. With me on the dive was Peter Klose and Mark Robinson . By far, the worst diving conditions I've ever experienced.
 
Why did we do this? Well, nobody has seen the bottom of that pit in over 100 years, and that's reason enough for me.

George_Pit_Of_Doom

Aug 07 2011 - Discovery Channel Curiosity Project
 
The Discovery Channel "Curiosity Project" website features an image from my expedition to the Naica Crystal Cave in Mexico. The cave is considered one of the "10 amazing geological features"
 
The Curiosity Project is a new TV & web series that sets out to answer some of the most fundamental questions about the world we live in.

Curiosity Project - Discovery Channel

Naica Crystal Cave

Aug 05 2011 - Top 10 Event: A Great Success
 
What a great evening. Last night's "Top 10 Event" was a smashing success. It was a great privilege to be included in such a talented pool of people, each one talking about what they are passionate about. We each had 10 minutes on stage to discuss what the audience should know before they die. My topic was about getting out of your personal comfort zone. The Isabel Bader Theatre was sold out to its 500 seat capacity and the crowd was awesome. We raised over $20,000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation which helps with the AIDS crisis in Africa!
 
It was an honor to share the stage with these other, amazing people:
 
Stuart Knight - Host, Organizer, Entrepreneur
W. Brett Wilson - Dragon's Den, Risky Business
Lisa Ray - Bollywood Star
Donna Dooher - Chef, Author, Food Network Host
Rex Harrington - So You Think You Can Dance Canada
Jake Gold - Music Industry Artist Manager
Shevaun Voisin - Entrepreneur, Motivated Magazine
Kelly Carlson - Actress, Nip/Tuck
Sammie Kennedy - Founder, Booty Camp Fitness
Bruce Poon Tip - Founder, Gap Adventures
George Kourounis - Yours Truly
Dr. Samantha Nutt - Founder & Director, War Child Canada Charity
 
To the right are links to a newspaper article in The Grid, and a feature news story on the event from Global TV Toronto.

Top 10 Event

The GRID Toronto

Global News Toronto

Aug 02 2011 - Lots Going On
 
Wow, there's a lot going on lately... Here's the quick breakdown:
 
- CBC News Network - The "Ask Me Anything" segment that I filmed with the CBC a while back aired on the prime time news show Connect with Mark Kelley last night on their special severe weather show. Here's a link to the video of the segment.
 
- Toronto Star Newspaper - A large feature article on my adventures was splashed across the front page of the entertainment section today. Here's the article.
 
I have 2 special speaking engagements this week as well.
 
- Salon Voltaire - The Spoke Club, 600 King Street West, Toronto 6:30 P.M. - Thought provoking speakers and interactive debates. More info here.
 
- Top 10 Event - Isabel Bader Theater, 93 Charles Street West, Toronto 7:00 P.M. - 10 Celebrated Canadians, 10 Minutes each, 10 things you should know before you die. More info Here.
 
Also, I'm keeping a very close eye on tropical storm Emily in the Caribbean. If there is a chance of a good storm intercept along the U.S. coastline, I'll be there. It is most likely going to re-curve out to seas, but it bears watching closely nonetheless.

CBC News Network "Ask Me Anything"

Toronto Star

Salon Voltaire

Top 10 Event

July 27 2011 - New York City with Bear Grylls
 
I flew into New York last night to take part in a web project for the Discovery Channel website called "Adrenaline Lab". What a fun day. Bear Grylls from "Man Vs. Wild" fame did on-camera interviews me as well as other extreme sports athletes and adventurers, each one was from a different discipline - Climbing, exploration, storm chasing, base jumping, wing walking... You name it.
 
He was a great guy and I had a lot of fun sitting down and chatting with him about a lot of the things that we have in common. I don't know when the videos will be up online yet, but as soon as I know, I'll let you know.
 
The entire crew was great and the set they had set up was interesting. It had 2 different levels with monitors displaying my footage behind us as we talked. They even had a second crew wandering around shooting a bunch of "behind the scenes" footage. It was a big shoot, spread across 3 days with 3 cameras, (one of which was on a crane), and about 40 crew/execs there.

George Kourounis & Bear Grylls

July 23 2011 - 12,000 Foot Skydive
 
I've been meaning to do this for a while but finally got around to doing it. For my wife Michelle's birthday I booked us a day of skydiving. We jumped from 12,000 feet and had almost 50 seconds of free fall at terminal velocity of about 120 miles per hour.
 
What a rush!! There was almost no sensation of falling, just incredible wind and a great view. I didn't want the sensation to end, but eventually I got the signal to pull the rip cord and we glided back down to Earth.
 
Many thanks to Igor, my instructor and also thanks to Peter Klose, my adventure buddy for making the arrangements for the jump.
 
Here is the video of the jump!!

12,000 Foot Skydive

July 22 2011 - BBC website Guest Blogging
 
The BBC invited me to be a guest contibuting blogger on the website for their environmental program "23 Degrees" Here is the blog post I wrote for them.
 
I wrote about my thoughts on the 2011 tornado season.

BBC - 23 Degrees

July 12 2011 - Filming with the CBC News Network
 
I just spent the better part of the day filming with a crew from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) for the show Connect with Mark Kelly. The segment we were filming is called "Ask Me Anything". The crew set up a table and a couple of chairs on the boardwalk down by the beachfront on Lake Ontario here in Toronto. They then grabbed passers-by and invited them to have a seat and well, ask me anything. It was a lot of fun, I got to meet some cool people, some of them fans of the Angry Planet show.
 
The program is scheduled to air at 8:00PM eastern time on Monday, Aug 1st.

Connect with Mark Kelley

July 09 2011 - Warrior Dash Adventure Race
 
Whew, what a day. Peter Klose and I just completed the Warrior Dash race in Barrie, north of Toronto. It's a 5km trail run with many, very difficult obstacles including very steep hills (it was held at Horseshoe ski resort), mud, wrecked cars, tires, mud, cargo nets, a bungee maze, more mud, jumping over fire and crawling through even more mud. Over 4 thousand people participated throughout the day in waves that started each half hour.
 
After spending the past 2 months sitting down, driving, and eating American road food, this race was no easy feat for me. Time to get back into shape, I'm glad to say that I did complete it with only a few minor scrapes and scratches.
 
What a cool event. I hope to have photos soon.

Warrior Dash

July 05 2011 - RADX - Big Life
 
The RADX (Risk, Adventure,Danger) cable TV network shot a small featurette with me several months ago, before tornado season as part of a series called "Big Life" each spot profiles a different person who leads a particularly adventurous life. The interview portion was filmed at the Ontario Science Centre in their "Nature Unleashed" exhibit.
 
The video is now online HERE. It's about 10 minutes in length... Enjoy, & let me know what you think.

RADX - Big Life

RADx TV Network

July 02 2011 - Updates In The Works!!
 
Many new photos and video clips from this year's storm chase trip are in the process of being edited and prepared to put up here on the website.
 
Many new photo galleries have been added. check here and look for any flagged as NEW.
 
I've also updated the 2011 tornado chase blog with more photos here.

June 22 2011 - Back From The Tornado Chase
 
The past 6 weeks have been a wild ride. It was great to be involved with Cloud 9 Tours again. This was my 8th year guiding storm chase trips with them and I want to thank everybody on the team (Charles, Mike, John & Michael) and all the tour participants for making this year's chase safe and memorable.
 
In total, I spent about 50 days on the road, driving over 31,000 km (that's over 19,000 miles for you non-metric folks) across 2 countries and 19 states. Our guests on the three 2-week tours came from such places as Holland, Australia, The US, Canada, Switzerland, Paraguay, and the U.K. It really was an international group.
 
 
The highlights of the trip are far too numerous to mention here so I invite you to check out the special 2011 chase blog page HERE or you can go over to the photo galleries page HERE and just look for the items that are flagged as NEW.
 
With tornado season winding down, I will soon be turning my attention to the tropics as hurricane season is now officially upon us.

Tornado Chase 2011 Blog

Tornado Chase 2011 Blog

June 15 2011 - Missouri River Flooding
 
Parts of Nebraska and Iowa were bracing for the worst as the Missouri river kept rising and rising. We documented some of the flood preparations near Nebraska City, then saw the floodwaters 2 days later as they began to encroach on the town of Hamburg, Iowa. It was amazing to witness how much the water rose in those 2 days!
 
The local shops were all closed and barricaded with sand bags as the flood waters crept higher and higher nearby. Military helicopters were flying overhead and parts of Interstate Highway 29, that were dry 2 days ago were now covered in water. I had to wade through floodwaters on an inundated on-ramp to get to where some of the worst flooding was.
 
This has been a terrible year for flooding in the U.S. with many large rivers spilling their banks.

Missouri_River_Flooding_10

Missouri_River_Flooding_17

June. 04 2011 - National Geographic News
 
The front page of the National Geographic News website features a photo by photographer Mike Theiss showing me about to get pounded by a huge wave at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia during hurricane Noel.
 
I remember that day well, that rogue wave was a monster.

National Geographic News

May 22 2011 - Tornado Disaster In Joplin, Missouri
 
What an emotional roller-coaster today. It was day ONE of tour two and we intercepted the Joplin, Missouri storm that produced the EF-5 tornado that wiped out much of the city. We were right behind the rain-wrapped tornado as it crossed the highway 2 minutes ahead of us. We had to stop when we reached the damage path and help out. There were a dozen or so trucks that had just flipped over and some of the motorists needed medical help.
 
See my detailed report here. We were one of the first on the scene after the tornado crossed interstate 44.
 
This was one one of our most difficult and emotional days we've ever had. It will be a long time before the town of Joplin is back to normal.

Tornado Disaster in Joplin, Missouri

Tornado Disaster in Joplin, Missouri

May 03 2011 - Tornado Chase 2011 Is Now Underway
 
From now until late June, I will be on the road for my annual tornado chase. Daily blog reports from the field will be available on my special Tornado Chase 2011 Blog Page.

2011 Tornado chase blog

April. 26 2011 - New York
 
The past 2 weeks has seen unbelievable numbers of tornadoes rake across parts of the southern U.S. and there are still tornadoes on the ground right now as I write this...with even more possible in the forecast for tomorrow.
 
Am I out there chasing them?
 
No. Not yet.
 
First I have some business to attend to in New York. That's where I am right now. Tomorrow I'm meeting up with a TV production company that is producing a new 2 hour special for the History Channel. This one is all about how the Earth has shaped the course of human evolution over the past couple of billion years!
 
I love working on shows like this. The subject matter is really interesting. Did you know that 99.9% of all species that have ever lived are now extinct? That's wild. The rise of homo sapiens was truly a "wildly improbable evolutionary event"
 
When I return to Toronto, my schedule will remain as busy as ever, including preparations for tornado chase 2011 ramping up.

April. 18 2011 - Canada AM Morning Show
 
The past few days have seen a historic tornado outbreak with hundreds of tornadoes reported from Oklahoma to Mississippi & Alabama, all the way to the Carolinas.
 
The storm season is certainly off to a dramatic start and it doesn't even peak until May & June. Statistically, that's when the majority of tornadoes occur.
 
I appeared on the national morning show Canada AM to comment on the tornado outbreak and talk about how tornadoes form, what kind of warnings are in place and what the rest of the spring might be like... More tornadoes are actually likely later this week.
 
It won't be long now until I'm out there chasing them myself. The 2011 storm chase blog will be up and running once the chase begins in early May.

Canada_AM_2011_04_18

April. 16 2011 - Volcano Suit Testing
 
This weekend I did a test of the heat suit that I use whenever I descend into an active volcano or get up close to hot lava. How do you test such a thing in Canada? Well, I recruited friend and fellow storm chaser Mark Robinson and we took turns alternating between wearing the suit and breathing fireballs at each other.
 
I always knew that learning how to breathe fire would come in handy for something.
 
The result? Everything worked exactly as planned. The suit worked and nobody got burned and we ended up with some rather dramatic video of the test. My favorite quote from the video *To Mark* "Uh, your face is on fire!!"

Heat Suit You Tube

April. 12 2011 - Getting Ready For Storm Season
 
April is the month when tornado season in the U.S. really begins to start ramping up and this year has been no exception. There have already been tornado outbreaks in Iowa and Wisconsin and as May approaches, I'll be getting all my equipment ready for another 6 weeks of storm chasing.
 
The peak of storm season comes in May and June so that's when I'll be out there, and as usual I'll be guiding with Cloud 9 Tours, one of the foremost storm chasing tour companies out there. When the trip starts, I'll begin a daily blog specifically for the storm chase.
 
In other news, I've been busy with several Explorers Club functions including the Film Festival and I also gave a presentation for the Toronto Chapter on "Tornadoes, Hurricanes & Volcanoes."
 
The "Gates of Hell" program that I appeared in finally aired on the History Channel in Canada and I'm pleased to announce that I will be teaming up with the same production company again. This time on another History Channel 2 hour special, but this time, it will be about how the forces of the Earth have altered human evolution. Interesting stuff.
 
To get all the latest, up to the minute lowdown on what I've got going on, you can friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

March. 19 2011 - Explorers Club Annual Dinner - New York City
 
After finishing the last of my 21 presentations at the Ontario Science Centre, I hopped on a plane and headed down to New York to be the master of ceremonies at the 2011 Explorers Club Annual Dinner. This is the big event for the club and it is held in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan. The black-tie affair is a huge production with presentations, awards, a raffle for a Rolex watch, an auction, live animals on stage including a full grown jaguar... It goes on & on.
 
It was a real honour to be invited to be the on stage ringmaster for this complicated and prestigious event and I'm glad to say that it was a great success!! The theme this year was "Exploring 2012, the Maya Prophesy" and we did a lot of debunking of the myths surrounding it. What a rush it was to be onstage in front of about 1000 of the most accomplished explorers in the world. I'll be writing up a full report in the days to come.
 
Many thanks to Lorie Karnath and everyone at the E.C. for making the evening possible.
 
Here I am backstage with Wilson the playful monkey, one of the animals brought onstage by Jim Fowler of "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom" fame.

Explorers Club Annual Dinner 2011

Explorers Club Annual Dinner 2011

March. 13 2011 - Nature Unleashed
 
All this week, I'm giving 3 presentations a day at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto as part of March Break and the "Nature Unleashed" exhibit that details the science behind natural disasters. I even have my trusty storm chase vehicle with me inside the museum. The kids love to check it out and look at the gadgets and especially all the hail dents.
 
The presentations are daily at 11:30. 2:00 and 4:00 with the last day being Friday the 18th.
 
In other news, Japan is still reeling after the horrific series of disasters that have devastated parts of the nation. The earthquake rating has been re-calculated and now sits as a 9.0 on the Richter scale. The full scope of the tsunami devastation is just starting to be realized and the death toll has risen to 10,000 and is still climbing. In addition to all this, there are 6 nuclear reactors that are in a state of emergency with explosions having occurred in at least 2 facilities now. Cooling the damaged reactors seems to be the main problem. The earthquake appears to have also unsettled the Shinmoedake volcano which has just erupted.
 
Mother Nature certainly has unleashed her fury on Japan this week, my thoughts are with the victims and the courageous rescuers there.

Ontario Science Centre - Nature Unleashed

March. 11 2011 - Largest Earthquake In The History Of Japan Triggers A Massive Tsunami.
 
By now, the world is aware of the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake that shook northeastern Japan. This is the 5th strongest earthquake in recorded history and it triggered a devastating tsunami that flattened coastal areas. The death toll is still unknown, but will easily top 1000 and will probably go much higher.
 
Several nuclear reactors have had trouble shutting down, prompting local evacuations.
 
Tsunami watches and warnings were posted for much of the Pacific Ocean coastline and the tsunami did reach North America, but by then it had lost most of its strength. In Japan it was between 7 to 10 meters high (30 feet) and destroyed everything in its path.
 
Over the next few days, more details and video will surface, but what I've already seen has been jaw dropping and horrific. This is a historic event and the only silver lining is that Japan is probably the most prepared nation in the world for just such an emergency.
 
I will be appearing on CP24 News tonight at 9:00 to comment on the disaster.

Video Links
Helicopter footage of the tsunami
The Tsunami crashing ashore
Whirlpool caused by the receding tsunami interacting with the incoming tide.

March. 01 2011 - Back From Greenland
 
Wow, what a great journey. Greenland was full of rugged, amazing beauty including northern lights, the Greenland ice cap and more.
 
My base of operations for this trip was Kangerlussuaq, this town is a former Danish, then U.S. Air Force base. The town is the only one in Greenland not directly on the coastline. It is situated on a fjord, very close to the Greenland ice sheet.
 
The weather was perfect most of the time with clear, cold conditions except for when I was actually on the ice cap itself. We were buffeted by strong katabatic winds that came whipping down the glacier, carrying with it plenty of blowing snow, making even the most basic walking around difficult. The ice cap is so vast and thick that it is difficult to comprehend the scale of it, it is so heavy that it actually pushes down the Earth's crust.
 
Many thanks to everyone who helped me out on this trip, especially my new Danish friends who were invaluable as translators since I don't speak a single work of Danish. Just getting there was grueling since I had to fly from Canada across the Atlantic to Copenhagen, then backtrack across the Atlantic again to eventually land in Kangerlussuaq.
 
I would love to return to Greenland in the summer to see how different the place is. I'm sure that I would hardly recognize the place when it isn't covered in snow.

Greenland - Northern Lights

Greenland - Ice Cap

Feb. 22 2011 - Off To Greenland
 
I'm out the door now and I don't expect to have any internet connection while in Greenland, but I will post plenty of photos upon my return.
 
With 300 nights of clear skies per year plus a 60% chance of solar flares this week, I'm hopeful for some good northern lights opportunities.

Feb. 19 2011 - Getting Ready For My Next Adventure: Greenland
 
I can't tell you how excited I am right now. For years, I've been wanting to go to Greenland and I've finally managed to make the time to go and explore this incredibly desolate, and fascinating island.
 
Since I specialize in documenting extreme places and foul weather, it was only a matter of time before I made it here, and of course, I'll be visiting in the dead of winter where the temperatures lately have been about -15C for the daytime high and down to about -25 at night with wind chills making it feel more like -35C.
 
Getting there is not going to be easy. First I have to cross the Atlantic and fly to Copenhagen, Denmark via Germany. Then I have to back-track most of the way across the Atlantic and finally land in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland.
 
While there, I'll be documenting the shrinking Greenland ice cap, some of the local wildlife, and if the conditions are good, I'm hoping for a brilliant display of the northern lights. I depart on Tuesday, so the rest of this weekend is going to be spent packing and preparing. Gotta run...

Greenland Map

Feb. 12 2011 - TEDx Salon.
 
Last night I attended the latest TEDx event in Toronto. This one was a small, intimate "salon" gathering of about 60 people held at a design firm in the Queen West area. The theme of this event was "The Big Goal" and attendees were encouraged to share their current goals with the group.
 
The 2 featured speakers were youth leadership mentor Drew Dudley and author Neil Pasricha. I shared the stage with both these inspiring guys at the large TEDx Toronto event at the Glenn Gould theatre last September. It was great to meet up with them again.
 
Attendance was on a first come, first served basis and spots were snatched up quickly. Luckily, I was able to get a spot on the waiting list and was notified just hours before the event that a spot had opened up.
 
Upcoming - In keeping with the big goal theme, I've just set the wheels in motion for yet another epic adventure. I'll post more details in the days to come as I solidify my plans, but no surprise... it involves travel to an extreme destination...

TEDx_Salon

Feb. 02 2011 - Snowstorm Fouls My Travel Plans.
 
Well, this was disappointing. I was supposed to take off today and fly to India where I had been invited to speak at VSSUT University in Burla. The plans had been in the works for months and I was even going to take a side trip into Bangladesh after I was finished at the school.
 
Mother Nature had other plans for me.
 
A large and potent winter storm came through Southern Ontario just in time to wreak havoc with the airport and my flight ended up being canceled. With a very tight schedule, I was left with not enough time to make it there in time for my guest lecture, so the entire trip was called off. I was not amused, but instead of moping around, I decided that if a storm was going to destroy my plans, I'd might as well go chase it.
 
The storm brought blizzard conditions to Hamilton and widespread winter storm warnings. Some areas received between 20-30 cm of snow and the winds were gusting to over 70 km/h at times.
 
I look forward to getting the opportunity to go back to India and eventually give the presentation in Burla that I never got the chance to do.

Groundhog_Day_Storm_06

Jan. 27 2011 - Upcoming Museum Exhibit.
 
This Saturday at 2:00, I'll be speaking at the Bruce Country Museum as part of their Extreme Nature exhibit. I'll be giving a talk about many of my encounters with different forces of nature from around the world. If you are going to be near Southhampton, Ontario this weekend, come on over.
 
Here's a link to the museum's website

Extreme Nature at the Bruce County Museum.

Jan. 20 2011 - Updates
 
I've got lots going on right now and life has been whizzing past. The recent trip to the Bahamas was amazing. We were able to dive with dozens of sharks and also swim with dolphins. These are two items that I can now strike off my bucket list. It was all even more fulfilling since my wife and I were celebrating our anniversary.
 
Yes, I actually do have a bucket list of things I want to do or accomplish before I eventually kick the bucket. It seems though, that every time I complete a new item, I tend to add two more new ones. Oh well, it makes for great adventures. Maybe one day, I'll publish the list here on the blog.
 
Here are more pictures of swimming with dolphins
 
AND
 
VIDEO of the recent shark dive.
 
So, what else is coming up? Well I can't say quite yet, but there is certainly more exotic travel coming in the near future. I am very grateful for all the adventures I get to have and for all the great friends I've made over the years along the way. The best part about having incredible adventures is sharing them with others.

Swimming with Dolphins

Shark Dive Video

Jan. 09 2011 - Nassau, Bahamas - In The Water With Dozens Of Sharks!
 
Wow, what an amazing experience. Michelle and I got to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary in the most intense and wild way. Surrounded by about 3 dozen Caribbean reef sharks. They were literally everywhere, all around us. Often coming within mere inches of us as they circled, trying to get a taste of the fish bait that was being served up for them. One of them even smacked me in the face with its tail.
 
This was not a scary experience at all. Actually, it was more exhilarating than frightening, but they are wild animals and we didn't have a safety cage around us, so there is real danger, especially when they would get into "feeding frenzy" mode.
 
I'll upload more photos and video when we get back home. For now, we still have some time here on the island.

Caribbean Reef Sharks

Jan. 06 2011 - Off To The Bahamas!
 
Tomorrow morning, Michelle and I head off to Nassau to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary (a couple of weeks late). How are we celebrating? Well, we got married on an exploding volcano, so we needed to come up with something epic for our anniversary celebration so we're going to be going shark diving... Without a cage.
 
In the Bahamas, there are places where you can find large populations of Caribbean Reef Sharks and we expect to be in the water with probably a couple dozen of them. This will be a nice break from the cold, Canadian winter and a great underwater adventure at the same time.

bahamas_map

Jan. 01 2011 - A New Year Begins
 
Hello everyone. I want to wish you all a safe, happy and prosperous new year filled with amazing adventures. I have a lot of wild travels planned for 2011 so keep checking back to see what extreme places I've been exploring.
 
I try to keep my Facebook page and Twitter feeds up to date so you can easily follow me there to get all the latest.
 
So, what's first up for 2011? Well, my wife Michelle and I are going to be celebrating our wedding anniversary... In a very unconventional way. Details to come in a few days.


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

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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