Hurricane Georges by Jim Edds
Key West, Florida September 25, 1998
(all photos copyright 1998 Jim Edds unless otherwise noted)
was my first hurricane to photograph. It was also my first time to
ride shotgun with Jim Leonard, the Godfather of Hurricane and Typhoon
hunting. He was one of those guys that was born to chase storms -
for the fun of it - even if he didn't make a dime off it. Just being
in a mean storm made him happy. I had know Jim from another mutual
Todd Kimberlain back in the 1980s. Since I had lived in Guam, Jim
wanted to know what it was like before he went there for his historic
Typhoon chasing adventures.
Jim made the trip to Puerto Rico to "just
get close" as he put it, to Georges because it was not forecast to be a
bullseye. Now who do you know that would drop some seriou tourist
dollars to get in a storm? Not many folks that I know. I
hadn't heard from him in a few days until I got this email: Unbelievable!,
I'm on battery now -got to go". Jim had captured some of his best
footage ever at Luquillo in northeast Puerto Rico. The image below
is a video still taken from his video showing part of a roof being ripped
away by a 125mph gust.
Hurricane Georges was an all daytime event. It blew
hard all day long and really rattled the ole nerves of most everybody in
Key West. I remember one girl called into the local radio station
104.1FM that we were monitoring and asked how long the storm would last -
she was terrified in her closet! Funny how we were having a great
time and she was so scared.
We found a nice sheltered spot on the downwind side up a Pizza Hut and got
some nice shots of the wind blowing though Key West which hadn't seen a
good blow in a very long time! I took this shot of Jim, in t-shirt
and flip-flops, his standard hurricane combat attire, for the Key West
Citizen. When the wind would peak over 100 mph and the sky turned
white, Jim's eyes would get real big and he'd say "Wow". Oh yeah, it
was rocking his world for sure.